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Re: More on Azomite

Post  camprn on 7/7/2013, 12:44 am

Azomite is not a component of Mel's Mix and frankly you will not need it if you find 5 sources of good quality compost. My advice is to save your money.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  sanderson on 7/7/2013, 1:39 am

You've already ordered it. Maybe you can still use it around the non-SFG areas?

I ordered my sea kelp from the same site, kelp4less on eBay. I really liked it.
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Re: More on Azomite

Post  southern gardener on 7/7/2013, 2:07 am

EricS wrote:I've read pros and cons for using azomite (mostly pros) so I think I'm going to add it to my new SFG in the initial batch of Mels Mix I'm putting together. I mentioned this on another post but I wanted to ask specifically about the azomite.

All the advice is geared toward how much azomite to use per square foot. But when filling a raised bed I'm dealing with cubic feet. My bed is about 36 cu. ft.

I'm inclined to just mix in a 10 lb bag. Thoughts?

Some people have talked about azomite improving the taste. I'm hoping it does. It reminds me of an experience when I was a young teen. I visited my grandparents in North Dakota for the summer, where we ate vegetables from their large garden. When I returned to California I found the grocery store vegies tasted bad. Especially potatoes- even Idaho potatoes- I couldn't even eat them for a while. My grandfather told me that its because the soil on their farm isn't irrigated, while the commercial farms are and that the irrigation washes away the minerals.

So anyway, thats what I'm hoping for!

Hi Eric: We ordered some Azomite from Kelp4less too. I called them, and they recommended 1/2 cup per SQUARE foot, not by a cubic foot? They said you can't really add too much. I don't know if you'd be wasting money by adding so much more. I realize your beds are really deep, so you're looking to add more. Maybe call them and see what they say. I haven't really noticed a huge difference, it seemed the plants perked up a bit right afterwards, but I can't say it was the Azomite. They also told me I might not SEE a difference, but the minerals in the foods will be better, and that's the point of growing our own food..is to get GOOD food, at least for us anyway. Once we really start harvesting our gardens, I'm hoping to taste a difference, or hopefully, our bodies will feel a difference! Good luck!!
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Re: More on Azomite

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/7/2013, 3:05 am

If the minerals are taken up into the plants, then does azomite have a half-life/natural expiration date?  Is there an optimal replacement rate?
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Re: More on Azomite

Post  sanderson on 7/7/2013, 3:58 am

I just lost what I had typed.  But here is the gist.  You don't really need it.  Even if your first year Mel's Mix compost part is poor to middling.  There are other things you can add to improve store bought compost until you get your own compost pile cooked and cooled (takes a few months).

I am wary of Azomite because it does contain heavy metals, including lead, which is a known poison.  Public Lab results I witnessed showed lead in all of the produce from a garden grown in lead-contaminated soil.  Also the chicken eggs from the chickens raised on the property.

There is no "safe" level of lead.  True, adults can daily excrete extremely low levels of lead, but not children under 6.  They are in a growing mode, absorbing every nutrient like Calcium, Potassium, and Iron, and lead is absorbed right along with these.  (long explanation)  Lead makes lousy bones!

I guess as a former public health lead inspector I have to put in my thoughts and caution against using it.  I am propelled to caution against AZ because of what I saw first hand with the lead poisoned kids for 11 years.  I am truly sorry for this downer reply.Sad
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Re: More on Azomite

Post  LittleGardener on 7/7/2013, 5:37 am

sanderson wrote:
I am wary of Azomite because it does contain heavy metals, including lead, a known poison.  Public Lab results I witnessed showed lead in all of the produce from a garden grown in lead-contaminated soil.  Also the chicken eggs from the chickens raised on the property.

There is no "safe" level of lead.  True, adults can daily excrete extremely low levels of lead, but not children under 6.  They are in a growing mode, absorbing every nutrient like Calcium, Potassium, and Iron, and lead is absorbed right along with these.  (long explanation)  Lead makes lousy bones!
Gone back & forth trying to decide: is Azomite bad, or good? - And I think you're right. - Knowing that most of earth's soils have become minerally-depleted the past 100 years, it's natural for people to want to Add :)to, to replenish food-growing soils, but when harmful minerals are mixed in too, obviously that's Not the route to go. - For that reason, we supplement orally Smile  so via Lab-tests we know exactly what we're ingesting, absorbing & benefiting from.
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Re: More on Azomite

Post  camprn on 7/7/2013, 8:43 am

Marc Iverson wrote:If the minerals are taken up into the plants, then does azomite have a half-life/natural expiration date?  Is there an optimal replacement rate?
Add homemade compost after the growing season. At least , if not more, than a trowel full per square.
Sanderson, I so appreciate your reply about lead. I work in a public school and the effects of elevated lead levels in children is devastating and life altering. We even had a death of a toddler in NH several years ago, from lead poisoning. Your warnings are facts and should be known more widely.

The occasional amendment WHEN it is NEEDED is ok by me, HOWEVER, unless the gardener is seeing symptoms of nutrient deficiency, adding stuff could be causing problems to the growing mix.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  sanderson on 7/7/2013, 11:25 am

CampRN, Appreciate your testament about the permanent affects of lead poisoning. In many low-level lead poisonings, the effects are not noticeable until the child starts school.
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Re: More on Azomite

Post  llama momma on 7/7/2013, 12:12 pm

Find your level of comfort by reading up on lead in natural soils, lead in azomite.  Lead occurs in soil, and arsenic too!  Azomite is tested with lead results of 6.2ppm.  which is far less than regular soil that is over 7ppm to 400ppm or some large crazy number like that. 
 
The great thing about Mel's mix is we use don't use natural soil to begin with.  We use compost, manures, organic matter.  These things in particular have been tested and shown to impede the uptake of lead and arsenic.   For details you can google,  is there lead in soil?  And I think you'll quickly see that azomite may not be something to fear after all.


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Re: More on Azomite

Post  RoOsTeR on 7/7/2013, 12:22 pm

...and also not part of Mel's Mix.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  llama momma on 7/7/2013, 12:30 pm

yeppers
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Re: More on Azomite

Post  boffer on 7/7/2013, 12:33 pm

The second best thing a SFGer can do (after making good homemade compost) is to understand the marketing hype that creates fads in the world of backyard gardening.

A question that I rarely see asked on the forum is: "What does this 'new' product add that my MM doesn't already have?"
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Re: More on Azomite

Post  Turan on 7/7/2013, 1:55 pm

The question being asked then is if so much food and feed is mineral deficient and thus would not the composts produced be as well.  In which case a good mix of composts will not have the levels of minerals that is optimum.  And the general soil tests are not geared to measuring this which is part of the reason agricultural lands and produce from them get so low. 

A case in point is alfalfa hay land, like mine.  Alfalfa is known as a high calcium crop which is one reason it is preferred for dairy cattle.  The minerals (it is calcium in a ration with various other trace minerals) comes from the fields it was grown in.  If the fields do not have the minerals the alfalfa does not and the cows suffer and their manure is low in minerals as well.  When I started gardening here anything but grass looked wretched, until I spread a 50 pound sack of bone meal around.  Yes the sheep and horses have a mineral block but that is going to take years and decades to restore the ground from a century of wheat and hay farming.

Azomite, kelp, greensand, lobster/crab composts, all these things bring trace minerals into the planting medium.  You would need more of the lobster compost to have similar mineral amount of a cup of azomite and the shipping will kill you if you live inland.

In general the biggest problems newbies have here are related to nutrient poor composts, not their looking at other fads.  Yes, the biggest nutrient lack is nitrogen but that does not mean there are not other common sub acute deficiencies that 5 composts is not addressing.   We are seeing too many comparison trials here of say onions grown in MM and in the regular garden soil where the non MM grown is doing much better to just blow it all off as people making something simple complicated by following fads.

I do not have an opinion on Azomite per se actually.  It is news to me.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  Turan on 7/7/2013, 2:12 pm

EricS wrote:All the advice is geared toward how much azomite to use per square foot. But when filling a raised bed I'm dealing with cubic feet. My bed is about 36 cu. ft.

I'm inclined to just mix in a 10 lb bag. Thoughts?

Usually amendments are given in square foot terms with the understanding that the garden soil is 3 dimensional (cubic, tilled 6+ inches deep).   I would spread the azomite at the stated square foot spread just like you will when spreading bean seeds etc.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  sanderson on 7/7/2013, 2:20 pm

If I understand the problem with trace mineral depleted soils, it is the fact that it is just that, soil.  It has been there for eons with nature's plants taking when they grow and giving back when they die and decompose.  Then along comes man and he grows crops on the same soil for generations, only adding back manure maybe, maybe a nito-fixing winter crop, plowing it under in the spring.  Of course, the original trace elements will eventually be exhausted.

But the thing about MM is that we don't use the native soil.  We only use things that are mineral (vermiculite) or were once living plants or animal (peat moss and compost).  Therefore, the mix should be complete and only needs a booster of good blended compost when replanting.  And the compost does not travel down feet below the surface.

Yes, Azomite only has low levels of lead, and other heavy metals in low amounts.  Will it really affect your health?  Probably not. I would suggest that you add half the stated amount, like they say about fertilizing. Half the amount, twice as often.
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Re: More on Azomite

Post  EricS on 7/7/2013, 2:27 pm

sanderson wrote:I just lost what I had typed.  But here is the gist.  You don't really need it.  Even if your first year Mel's Mix compost part is poor to middling.  There are other things you can add to improve store bought compost until you get your own compost pile cooked and cooled (takes a few months).

I am wary of Azomite because it does contain heavy metals, including lead, which is a known poison.  Public Lab results I witnessed showed lead in all of the produce from a garden grown in lead-contaminated soil.  Also the chicken eggs from the chickens raised on the property.

There is no "safe" level of lead.  True, adults can daily excrete extremely low levels of lead, but not children under 6.  They are in a growing mode, absorbing every nutrient like Calcium, Potassium, and Iron, and lead is absorbed right along with these.  (long explanation)  Lead makes lousy bones!

I guess as a former public health lead inspector I have to put in my thoughts and caution against using it.  I am propelled to caution against AZ because of what I saw first hand with the lead poisoned kids for 11 years.  I am truly sorry for this downer reply.Sad

Hey no need to apologize- I appreciate your taking time to write a thoughtful reply. I stirred up an interesting discussion at least. Looks like I'll let the bag of azomite sit on my shelf for now. It was only twenty bucks haha. But I tend to agree with the principle of avoiding lead & mercury whenever possible. Most likely those concentrations wouldn't represent a problem but better on the safe side with this stuff.

Thanks everyone else for the informative discussion.
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Re: More on Azomite

Post  RoOsTeR on 7/7/2013, 2:28 pm

sanderson wrote:If I understand the problem with trace mineral depleted soils, it is the fact that it is just that, soil.  It has been there for eons with nature's plants taking when they grow and giving back when they die and decompose.  Then along comes man and he grows crops on the same soil for generations, only adding back manure maybe, maybe a nito-fixing winter crop, plowing it under in the spring.  Of course, the original trace elements will eventually be exhausted.

But the thing about MM is that we don't use the native soil.  We only use things that are mineral (vermiculite) or were once living plants or animal (peat moss and compost).  Therefore, the mix should be complete and only needs a booster of good blended compost when replanting.  And the compost does not travel down feet below the surface.


 Thank you.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  Turan on 7/7/2013, 2:46 pm

If I make MM using home made compost from the products of my fields (hay, straw, horse and sheep and chicken manures, garden/kitchen stuffs) it will have the same mineral deficiency that my fields have.  If I bring in composts from other sources that were grown on or fed from other mineral deficient soils those composts will also be similarly deficient.

Compost comes from and is part of soil.  It is all a web.

How well does vermiculite compare with Azomite as a trace mineral source in the levels used in MM?

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  camprn on 7/7/2013, 3:07 pm

Turan wrote:
How well does vermiculite compare with Azomite as a trace mineral source in the levels used in MM?

This is a silly question. Azomite and vermiculite are not equal nor synonymous. That is like comparing figs to shellfish. Yes they both have high calcium content, but they are different life forms. The point made was that vermiculite was a mineral and it's use in MM is to aerate, hold moisture and minerals and release them into the surrounding mix. Azomite is an amendment providing certain trace minerals.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  Turan on 7/7/2013, 3:16 pm

sanderson wrote:If I understand the problem with trace mineral depleted soils, it is the fact that it is just that, soil.  It has been there for eons with nature's plants taking when they grow and giving back when they die and decompose.  Then along comes man and he grows crops on the same soil for generations, only adding back manure maybe, maybe a nito-fixing winter crop, plowing it under in the spring.  Of course, the original trace elements will eventually be exhausted.

But the thing about MM is that we don't use the native soil.  We only use things that are mineral (vermiculite) or were once living plants or animal (peat moss and compost).  Therefore, the mix should be complete and only needs a booster of good blended compost when replanting.  And the compost does not travel down feet below the surface.

Yes, Azomite only has low levels of lead, and other heavy metals in low amounts.  Will it really affect your health?  Probably not.  I would suggest that you add half the stated amount, like they say about fertilizing.  Half the amount, twice as often.

 This post seems to assert that vermiculite is the mineral amendment that supplies all the minerals that composts may not.  Thus it is why one would not be needing azomite.  Thus my question.   If it is just the holder of minerals supplied by other means then that does not answer the need for minerals if they are not supplied by the composts.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  camprn on 7/7/2013, 3:21 pm

Turan wrote:
sanderson wrote:If I understand the problem with trace mineral depleted soils, it is the fact that it is just that, soil.  It has been there for eons with nature's plants taking when they grow and giving back when they die and decompose.  Then along comes man and he grows crops on the same soil for generations, only adding back manure maybe, maybe a nito-fixing winter crop, plowing it under in the spring.  Of course, the original trace elements will eventually be exhausted.

But the thing about MM is that we don't use the native soil.  We only use things that are mineral (vermiculite) or were once living plants or animal (peat moss and compost).  Therefore, the mix should be complete and only needs a booster of good blended compost when replanting.  And the compost does not travel down feet below the surface.

Yes, Azomite only has low levels of lead, and other heavy metals in low amounts.  Will it really affect your health?  Probably not.  I would suggest that you add half the stated amount, like they say about fertilizing.  Half the amount, twice as often.

 This post seems to assert that vermiculite is the mineral amendment that supplies all the minerals that composts may not.  Thus it is why one would not be needing azomite.  Thus my question.   If it is just the holder of minerals supplied by other means then that does not answer the need for minerals if they are not supplied by the composts.
Turan you know better than that, as I know you are an educated woman. I do not see anywhere in this thread where it say vermiculite is the mineral source for MM. Sanderson was pointing out the fact that vermiculite is a mineral (inorganic) and peat and compost come from plant and animal  (organic) sources.


Last edited by camprn on 7/7/2013, 3:22 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  boffer on 7/7/2013, 3:22 pm

Turan wrote:In general the biggest problems newbies have here are related to nutrient poor composts, not their looking at other fads. 

There is a time and place for amendments: when a problem arises, to prevent known recurring problems, or controlled experiments.  Every spring on the forum, we get  enthusiastic and ignorant new gardeners who scour the internet for gardening information.  (ignorant: Lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular)  They read about the great success that somebody gained by using a certain product, so they want to try it too.  They have no idea about the quality of their MM or how well it will perform; they just know that they want a great garden.  They are buying and using amendments because they want to (the advertising worked), not because they need to.  

In my above post, I specified 'good homemade compost'.   I think that the feedback that we're getting this year on the forum is inspiring.  First, from experienced gardeners trying SFG for the first time, using homemade compost, who are thrilled with the results they are getting.  Second, from second year gardeners who used bagged retail compost with poor results their first year, and are having wonderful results this year using their own compost.  

If a first year SFGer using bagged compost is experiencing issues, I'm all for helping them salvage their garden this year with the use of amendments.  But I don't think we should facilitate a dependency on amendments, when they can be avoided with the use of good homemade compost.  

I don't doubt that Azomite is helpful for some people with depleted soils.  But to be clear, I'm talking about backyard SFGers, not industrial farms, or homeowners with some acreage to feed their livestock.
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Re: More on Azomite

Post  RoOsTeR on 7/7/2013, 3:26 pm

Turan wrote:
sanderson wrote:If I understand the problem with trace mineral depleted soils, it is the fact that it is just that, soil.  It has been there for eons with nature's plants taking when they grow and giving back when they die and decompose.  Then along comes man and he grows crops on the same soil for generations, only adding back manure maybe, maybe a nito-fixing winter crop, plowing it under in the spring.  Of course, the original trace elements will eventually be exhausted.

But the thing about MM is that we don't use the native soil.  We only use things that are mineral (vermiculite) or were once living plants or animal (peat moss and compost).  Therefore, the mix should be complete and only needs a booster of good blended compost when replanting.  And the compost does not travel down feet below the surface.

Yes, Azomite only has low levels of lead, and other heavy metals in low amounts.  Will it really affect your health?  Probably not.  I would suggest that you add half the stated amount, like they say about fertilizing.  Half the amount, twice as often.

 This post seems to assert that vermiculite is the mineral amendment that supplies all the minerals that composts may not.  Thus it is why one would not be needing azomite.  Thus my question.   If it is just the holder of minerals supplied by other means then that does not answer the need for minerals if they are not supplied by the composts.

 Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I think sanderson is implying that we are sfg'ning, not farming.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  RoOsTeR on 7/7/2013, 3:30 pm

camprn wrote:
Turan wrote:
sanderson wrote:If I understand the problem with trace mineral depleted soils, it is the fact that it is just that, soil.  It has been there for eons with nature's plants taking when they grow and giving back when they die and decompose.  Then along comes man and he grows crops on the same soil for generations, only adding back manure maybe, maybe a nito-fixing winter crop, plowing it under in the spring.  Of course, the original trace elements will eventually be exhausted.

But the thing about MM is that we don't use the native soil.  We only use things that are mineral (vermiculite) or were once living plants or animal (peat moss and compost).  Therefore, the mix should be complete and only needs a booster of good blended compost when replanting.  And the compost does not travel down feet below the surface.

Yes, Azomite only has low levels of lead, and other heavy metals in low amounts.  Will it really affect your health?  Probably not.  I would suggest that you add half the stated amount, like they say about fertilizing.  Half the amount, twice as often.

 This post seems to assert that vermiculite is the mineral amendment that supplies all the minerals that composts may not.  Thus it is why one would not be needing azomite.  Thus my question.   If it is just the holder of minerals supplied by other means then that does not answer the need for minerals if they are not supplied by the composts.
Turan you know better than that, as I know you are an educated woman. I do not see anywhere in this thread where it say vermiculite is the mineral source for MM. Sanderson was pointing out the fact that vermiculite is a mineral (inorganic) and peat and compost come from plant and animal  (organic) sources.

 +1
boffer wrote:
Turan wrote:In general the biggest problems newbies have here are related to nutrient poor composts, not their looking at other fads.

There is a time and place for amendments: when a problem arises, to prevent known recurring problems, or controlled experiments.  Every spring on the forum, we get  enthusiastic and ignorant new gardeners who scour the internet for gardening information.  (ignorant: Lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular)  They read about the great success that somebody gained by using a certain product, so they want to try it too.  They have no idea about the quality of their MM or how well it will perform; they just know that they want a great garden.  They are buying and using amendments because they want to (the advertising worked), not because they need to.  

In my above post, I specified 'good homemade compost'.   I think that the feedback that we're getting this year on the forum is inspiring.  First, from experienced gardeners trying SFG for the first time, using homemade compost, who are thrilled with the results they are getting.  Second, from second year gardeners who used bagged retail compost with poor results their first year, and are having wonderful results this year using their own compost.  

If a first year SFGer using bagged compost is experiencing issues, I'm all for helping them salvage their garden this year with the use of amendments.  But I don't think we should facilitate a dependency on amendments, when they can be avoided with the use of good homemade compost.  

I don't doubt that Azomite is helpful for some people with depleted soils.  But to be clear, I'm talking about backyard SFGers, not industrial farms, or homeowners with some acreage to feed their livestock.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  Turan on 7/7/2013, 3:47 pm

I don't want to get into a nit picking of sandersons post but to try to keep pointing out that mineral deficient soils produce mineral deficient products that eventually are mineral deficient composts that go into your MM.  It is not a matter of plot size.  If there is a fad involved it is the rise of concern that our food does not have the mineral content it had a generation ago.

If the compost is deficient than is the vermiculite (a mineral) supposed to be providing those nutrients?  I do think sanderson was asserting that.  It could be so.  I have found a couple links that mention in passing that vermiculite also adds some mineral to the soil.  It is a reason given why it is better than perlite on ehow but is not enough to really go on.  But if vermiculite is supposed to reassure some one making MM with composts they are concerned about than it would be nice to have some sort of comparison or quantifier or something because we usually define vermiculite as inert nutrient ways in the mix.

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