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More on Azomite

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  RoOsTeR on 7/7/2013, 3:53 pm

I think Mel, pretty simply I might add, already addresses the scenario you posted above Turan. 5 different types of compost, or a WELL ROUNDED homemade compost. If you aren't adding things to make a well rounded compost, that's NOT a fault of the method or of Mel's.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  Turan on 7/7/2013, 4:07 pm

@boffer wrote:
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.  

 Agreed.  The reasons of why we get into gardening colors the concerns we bring to making our MM.  If we are concerned about mineral dense foods then how to optimize that in our new garden is going to be part of this. 
Here is a link that is probably a seed to the interest in what shows up in this thread as an interest in Azomite.  Victory Gardens For The 21st Century

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  Turan on 7/7/2013, 4:21 pm

@RoOsTeR wrote:I think Mel, pretty simply I might add, already addresses the scenario you posted above Turan. 5 different types of compost, or a WELL ROUNDED homemade compost. If you aren't adding things to make a well rounded compost, that's NOT a fault of the method or of Mel's.

 I do not think any one has said it was.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  boffer on 7/7/2013, 4:24 pm

Turan, I follow what you're saying.  The same line of thought is used when determining just how 'organic' a veggie is: when chemicals are used on the crops that feed the animals that produce the manure that create the  compost to grow the vegetables.

I agree that if all your compost sources originated from the same depleted soil, you could end up with some vegetables lacking some micro-nutrients.  But which veggies, and how much?  It could be that if just one of the composts was nutrient  complete that it alone could provide the sufficient nutrients lacking in the other composts used.  

Short of thorough analysis  by a lab, we don't know what nutrients are in our vegetables. Are we just talking theory here?  

Personally, I'm satisfied using a variety of composts, from a variety of sources.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  boffer on 7/7/2013, 4:32 pm

@Turan wrote:Here is a link that is probably a seed to the interest in what shows up in this thread as an interest in Azomite.  Victory Gardens For The 21st Century

If that website was on TV, it would be called an infomercial.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  Turan on 7/7/2013, 4:48 pm

@boffer wrote:
@Turan wrote:Here is a link that is probably a seed to the interest in what shows up in this thread as an interest in Azomite.  Victory Gardens For The 21st Century

If that website was on TV, it would be called an infomercial.  

 Probably.  I was searching for some of the seeds to the concerns about mineral deficient foods from such soils.  I hear this among friends of mine as well and they mention something called brix in connection with this so I googled it. Laughing  I admit to never having paid it much attention until I read this thread.  So I have been trying to show how the logic can go.  And then realized the connection with my own reality that I deal with by throwing a handful of bonemeal and/or kelp into my compost every once in awhile when I start to see purple leaves etc.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  llama momma on 7/7/2013, 5:04 pm

I want to mention that Mel doesn't talk about azomite but he certainly Does Discuss Additional nutrients to add to the garden!!!   Check out pages 84 and 91 in the answer book for details.  He tells how to add Calcium, P and K.  Also Nitrogen.   And he explains how to add Boron for beets. So this idea that compost is the answer to everything folks... well sometimes it is Not.  Now if someone wants to go even farther and add azomite with about 70 trace minerals I don't see the  big deal to debate about it.  Do it and see if it works because everyone's compost will be different anyway. There are too many variables making compost therefore it's silly to say 5 sources will keep your garden producing for all time for all veggies. It's a starting point and yes it can be terrific but not in every single solitary case. Thank you my dears, I'm done What a Face

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  RoOsTeR on 7/7/2013, 5:39 pm

@llama momma wrote:I want to mention that Mel doesn't talk about azomite but he certainly Does Discuss Additional nutrients to add to the garden!!!   Check out pages 84 and 91 in the answer book for details.  He tells how to add Calcium, P and K.  Also Nitrogen.   And he explains how to add Boron for beets. So this idea that compost is the answer to everything folks... well sometimes it is Not.  Now if someone wants to go even farther and add azomite with about 70 trace minerals I don't see the  big deal to debate about it.  Do it and see if it works because everyone's compost will be different anyway. There are too many variables making compost therefore it's silly to say 5 sources will keep your garden producing for all time for all veggies. It's a starting point and yes it can be terrific but not in every single solitary case. Thank you my dears, I'm done What a Face

Someplace, perhaps even in this thread I posted an email I received from Mel on this topic. His biggest concern is the confusion threads like this create for the beginners. While seasoned gardeners such as yourself llama or Turan, may be able to "tinker" with amendments for better results, I think it's a disservice to the new Sfg'ners to possibly give them the impression that their Mel's Mix need these amendments to properly produce, or solve all of their gardening woes. I think Mel refers to these amendments as "feel good" items that while they may give things a little boost, they certainly aren't required, and mostly add to the confusion of the beginning gardener.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  RoOsTeR on 7/7/2013, 5:57 pm

Here is the email from Mel for reference:

Dear Colin,
That's a very interesting letter. They all acknowledge the SFG Method, they just want a better soil, not because they've had any deficiencies, but would like to toot thier horn and suggest other fancy additions.

You could post my answer as:
Those are all great ideas and testing will certainly help us decide if those other added ingredients are worthwhile and actually necessary. If so, the idea of a regular Mel's Mix to start with, with a super charged one, or special additives, for those that want advanced soil technology, they would possibly make an excellent product.

Are they needed for the average gardener? No. But they would be advantageous for the advanced "gotta get the most out of what I have" type of gardener. We will have our soil company do some experiments and if any of you trying some of these advanced additives would share with us your results, we might be able to come up with an even better addition to the SFG method.

For the average gardener, especially beginners, we don't want to confuse them and make it complicated. Nature is in our corner and mother nature constantly says, "don't make it complicated" Remember the old Bill Clinton saying KISS: Keep it simple, stupid. We can always complicate it later. And that's exactly what we're doing with Square Foot Gardening. Those people that have written could be part of that complicated later. Good ideas and good letters here, keep them coming, but also, keep it simple.


Last edited by RoOsTeR on 7/7/2013, 6:13 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  sanderson on 7/7/2013, 6:07 pm

Boy, this is really getting exciting!  For those of you who interpreted what I meant correctly, thank you.

I just want to clarify that I did NOT mean that the vermiculite is the source of minerals for our plants.  It's added to MM for a totally different reason just like the peat moss is for a different reason.  In many countries, vermiculite and peat moss are not even available, unless you are rich enough to import it.  All they use is compost.  Ergo, the compost is the most important ingredient.

Heck, I used more perlite than vermiculite because I couldn't find coarse vermiculite and what was available came in small, expensive small bags.  It wasn't until late in mixing that I found a cheap giant bag of vermiculite and it was only medium grade.  As a newbie, I could not find 5 sources of compost, so I used Kellogg's red-striped compost.  When the plants started to fail, I used half-strength Miracle Grow while I ordered worm castings and kelp meal from eBay. Got some Starbucks and composted cow manure (complete with sticks and rocks!).  Screened and mixed to make an emergency mix, and added a scoop to each square and pot. Great improvement.  Added non-fat powdered milk and Epson salts to my tomatoes.  Supplements under specific conditions may be needed but I notice that Mel lists organic (part of the living world) sources for the supplements.  Egg shells, coffee grinds, banana peals.

Meanwhile, I have my first compost cooking so I can beef-up and replenish the compost part of MM.  I used 12 different products from 11 different organic sources (once part of the living world) sources.

Hi, Rooster, I see you posted while I was typing.  You have a good point about   newbies vs. experienced gardeners.  Newbies should be directed to follow Mel to a tee.  I can't find any fault to his method or Mix.  And with a BA in Biology,  something has to make chemical or biological sense before I will accept it at face value.  Experienced gardeners can experiment or do anything they want.  Let everyone who wants to add AZ or anything else that comes in a box, bottle or bag, add it.  Whew!

Hi again, Rooster. I like what Mel said: "KISS, you can always make it complicated later."

Newbies, follow the book for the first year.

Amen

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Lots of food for thought

Post  EricS on 7/7/2013, 6:14 pm

Its good to have a community where different ideas can be debated civilly - try doing that on a politics forum these days haha.
 
I will add that although I'm a beginner- I'm not coming at it from confusion but rather an attempt to start with the best I can. Anything I do, I tend to "over do" haha. You can always count on me to over-engineer a better mouse trap.

My default inclination was that if it didn't hurt, I may as well do it. If the risk was that I might waste twenty bucks, I guess I'll probably waste more than that anyway.

But I guess the lead issue does give me pause. Yes its a low amount that is probably not going to cause harm. But if I can avoid that low amount then I may as well. And although I brought this up because of my experience as a kid with vegies that were grown in mineral rich vs. depleted soil - I don't have any reason to believe my mels mix will be depleted.

Well I guess I'll be looking at worm gymnasiums and robot sprinklers next haha.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  sanderson on 7/7/2013, 6:38 pm

Eric,  I like your sense of humor.  Over-engineer!  Believe me, go simple on the Mel's Mix, for there will be plenty of engineering you can do with lots of different projects!!

Such as:

Irrigation method
Box design, and re-design
Box location and relocation
What to plant
Where to plant
Crop rotation
Green house or boxes for starting seedlings
Peat containers vs. tray of vermiculite vs. seedling pots
Trellis (Again, I personally recommend starting out simple using Mel's electrical conduit and 5" square netting)  Kind of ugly but they work.  There are a "1,000" different designs for trellises, some are engineering feats of design.  There you go. Smile
Pathway covering vs grass
Sun screening
Identifying pests
Destroying pests
Identifying diseases, what you can do, tearing out the diseased plants
Worm tubes vs. bins
Compost container type, buried, or pile

As you can see, you have lots of room for your creative juices to flow.thinking

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  boffer on 7/7/2013, 9:08 pm

@EricS wrote:Its good to have a community where different ideas can be debated civilly - try doing that on a politics forum these days haha.
I hear ya!  It works out here because we're all basically on the same side of the spectrum.  Just wait until a stubborn row gardener shows up and insists that it's impossible to grow what we're growing in 6 inches of Mel's Mix.  [insert fireworks emoticon here! Razz ]


@RoOsTeR wrote:Here is the email from Mel for reference:
...Are they needed for the average gardener? No. But they would be advantageous for the advanced "gotta get the most out of what I have" type of gardener. We will have our soil company do some experiments and if any of you trying some of these advanced additives would share with us your results, we might be able to come up with an even better addition to the SFG method...

Thanks for re-posting Mel's email.  I'm a simple-minded gardener interested in keeping things simple.  But, I think it would be fun for interested SFGers to do controlled experiments with their successful SFG boxes, and to share the process along the way.  It's one way we can contribute to the success of the on-going SFG movement.  No one says SFG is perfect, but no one has offered fundamentally sound improvements either.  I alluded to that in this thread, but the conversation didn't develop the way I hoped it would.

Can  anyone with a science background provide a simple step-by-step process for conducting a valid experiment?  Does the process start with a premise, an objective, or a problem to be solved?  Am I correct in assuming that the process must be repeatable by others?  And that others should get the same results by following that process?   Help Mr. Wizaaaaaaaard!

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  jazzycat on 7/7/2013, 10:55 pm

@Turan wrote: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.

That is a very good point, that even the compost you make yourself can still be mineral deficient.  I never really thought about it that way, but it makes sense.

I did the 5 different composts (most bagged, but one came from a local nursery who gets it from a local organic farm), and I still have problems.  I didn't buy cheap bagged composts either, but the best I could get.  

I have since learned the compost that's made locally is some of the best compost that can be had around here, and probably anywhere.  I learned this by talking to various people in town: professional gardeners, home gardeners, people at the health food store, people at several different local nurseries, people involved in the local food movement, and they all said the same thing.  The people who make this compost have been doing it for a long time.  They use fish parts from local fisheries, chicken manure from their farm (from free range, organic chickens), organic green scraps, etc. from the farm, and it's balanced at 6.5 ph and OMRI certified.  Best of all, it's only $55 per cubic yard.  So I can get a truckload of it for $55.  Had I known, I could have saved myself a TON of money upfront by just using this, instead of buying all that bagged compost to try and make a "balanced" mix.  

I really think Mel, and the more experienced people on this forum, should tell newbies to try and find a source like that, if they can, instead of buying 5 different bagged composts.  It's really a disservice to people who are trying to learn, by telling them to buy bagged compost if there is a local source like this around.  I had actually planned on just using that, until I read that I should have 5 different kinds of compost to have the most balanced mix.  soooooo...  (Please don't take that the wrong way.  I'm not meaning to assign blame or point fingers, I'm just saying, maybe it's something to think about.  It would certainly make it less confusing and more cost effective for people who are new at gardening, if a source like this is available.)

I will say, I did add azomite to my mix.  I don't think it was a mistake to add it, and I don't believe it hurt anything.  Trace minerals, including things like lead or mercury, occur in nature in small amounts, and because we've toxified the environment so heavily in so many ways, it's probably in most bagged compost as well, especially if it contains anything that comes from the oceans (because of run off contamination).  Coming from a source like ancient rock dust is a more natural form of it (if that makes sense), and it's probably less bioavailable that way (in a natural state like in rock dust, where it's bound with other minerals, as opposed to being dumped into the environment in a more pure form.  Of course, I could be completely wrong about that.  I'm just guessing).

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  RoOsTeR on 7/7/2013, 11:01 pm

@jazzycat wrote:I really think Mel, and the more experienced people on this forum, should tell newbies to try and find a source like that, if they can, instead of buying 5 different bagged composts. It's really a disservice to people who are trying to learn, by telling them to buy bagged compost if there is a local source like this around. I had actually planned on just using that, until I read that I should have 5 different kinds of compost to have the most balanced mix. soooooo... (Please don't take that the wrong way. I'm not meaning to assign blame or point fingers, I'm just saying, maybe it's something to think about. It would certainly make it less confusing and more cost effective for people who are new at gardening, if a source like this is available.)

The reasoning behind this has been gone over time and time again on this forum.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  jazzycat on 7/7/2013, 11:40 pm

@RoOsTeR wrote:
@jazzycat wrote:I really think Mel, and the more experienced people on this forum, should tell newbies to try and find a source like that, if they can, instead of buying 5 different bagged composts.  It's really a disservice to people who are trying to learn, by telling them to buy bagged compost if there is a local source like this around.  I had actually planned on just using that, until I read that I should have 5 different kinds of compost to have the most balanced mix.  soooooo...  (Please don't take that the wrong way.  I'm not meaning to assign blame or point fingers, I'm just saying, maybe it's something to think about.  It would certainly make it less confusing and more cost effective for people who are new at gardening, if a source like this is available.)

The reasoning behind this has been gone over time and time again on this forum.

 And I understand the reasoning, IF there isn't a good source available.  But I don't think it should be dismissed as an alternative, if quality compost can be had from a local source.  But that isn't even mentioned in the book as an alternative.  In fact, it's actively discouraged.

In the book, it says (under the caption "If You Decide to Buy Compost"), "Don't buy all of one kind of compost if you decide not to make it yourself.  Don't let the clerk sell you the "best and most popular," especially if it's loose and not bagged.  Here's why.  All commercial compost is a byproduct from one industry.  It might be wood, cattle, mushroom, cannery, cotton or soybean industry that has a waste product and they need to get rid of it..." etc.

That doesn't address compost that comes from a source like the one I mentioned, but because I read that, it made me suspicious of the source I had found.  And now it turns out, the source I found is probably better than any compost I can actually make myself.  So all I'm saying is, perhaps that statement, or that paragraph, should be revised and made more clear about what is acceptable as a local bulk source of compost, and what isn't.  If people can find a good, local compost that has a blend from several different sources, then that should be acceptable as the total 1/3 compost part of the mix.  I WISH I had known that before I spent so much money on bagged composts, when all I really needed was the bulk compost from the local organic farm.

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  camprn on 7/7/2013, 11:50 pm

Jazzycat, we, all of us, live and learn. The onus is on you to determine the difference between commercially bagged compost, a production homemade compost, like the one you found and then your own homemade compost. You know now more than you knew when you began this SF gardening adventure. It's time to move ahead with your new knowledge.



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Re: More on Azomite

Post  jazzycat on 7/8/2013, 12:30 am

camprn, I agree.  I only posted this because I think other people new to gardening might want to know.  Like I said, I'm not meaning to assign blame or to point fingers.  I'm responsible for my own decisions.  I am just making an observation that I think should be addressed.  No one ever seems to make that suggestion when the subject comes up.

Now, that's all I'm going to say about it.  

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  Triciasgarden on 7/8/2013, 12:41 am

Jazzycat you are so lucky to find that organic compost!  It sounds wonderful and your situation in finding that is probably extremely rare!  It's frustrating when you look back on things and say "I wish I had known that" or "I wish I had done that different".  We all go through that!

People have had frustrating times as we have seen on this forum before.  I think it is important to remember that we are like a family on this forum.  I am appreciative when we try to understand someone else's frustrations.  Maybe they or someone in their family have health issues and that is why they are feeling so strongly about our food being so nutritionally depleted, compost maybe being not what we would like, etc.  That sure gave me something to think about that I hadn't thought of before.

I am not saying this about this topic (maybe a little applies, I haven't analyzed it), but I know some people are really great at expressing themselves well in words so that what they are trying to say is easily understood.  Some have a hard time explaining what they are trying to say and it may come out harsh or entirely different than what they meant.  In some of those situations it would be easy to come down harshly on the person who cannot explain things the way they would like.  Then I have seen some people treat that person(s) very kindly and work with them to find out what they are really needing help with and have gone out of their way to help them.  That is one of the great things about this forum!  I have seen so many of you go way out of your way to research someone's weather, an insect, a nutritional deficiency, etc.  Those are other great things about the people on this forum!

I know Azomite may or may not be what any of us need in our sfgs and it is better for the beginner to follow the book because it is tried and true.  By having these discussions we may learn something we didn't know we needed to learn or we may learn that it is something not important to us.  Luckily we can make our own decisions with the information we have learned.  I am putting here a disclaimer, I am neither saying I am for or against Azomite.  So you all have a great week and keep growing your gardens and showing your pictures!

Triciasgarden

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Re: More on Azomite

Post  southern gardener on 7/8/2013, 1:35 am

@jazzycat wrote:
@Turan wrote: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.

That is a very good point, that even the compost you make yourself can still be mineral deficient.  I never really thought about it that way, but it makes sense.

I did the 5 different composts (most bagged, but one came from a local nursery who gets it from a local organic farm), and I still have problems.  I didn't buy cheap bagged composts either, but the best I could get.  

I have since learned the compost that's made locally is some of the best compost that can be had around here, and probably anywhere.  I learned this by talking to various people in town: professional gardeners, home gardeners, people at the health food store, people at several different local nurseries, people involved in the local food movement, and they all said the same thing.  The people who make this compost have been doing it for a long time.  They use fish parts from local fisheries, chicken manure from their farm (from free range, organic chickens), organic green scraps, etc. from the farm, and it's balanced at 6.5 ph and OMRI certified.  Best of all, it's only $55 per cubic yard.  So I can get a truckload of it for $55.  Had I known, I could have saved myself a TON of money upfront by just using this, instead of buying all that bagged compost to try and make a "balanced" mix.  

I really think Mel, and the more experienced people on this forum, should tell newbies to try and find a source like that, if they can, instead of buying 5 different bagged composts.  It's really a disservice to people who are trying to learn, by telling them to buy bagged compost if there is a local source like this around.  I had actually planned on just using that, until I read that I should have 5 different kinds of compost to have the most balanced mix.  soooooo...  (Please don't take that the wrong way.  I'm not meaning to assign blame or point fingers, I'm just saying, maybe it's something to think about.  It would certainly make it less confusing and more cost effective for people who are new at gardening, if a source like this is available.)

I will say, I did add azomite to my mix.  I don't think it was a mistake to add it, and I don't believe it hurt anything.  Trace minerals, including things like lead or mercury, occur in nature in small amounts, and because we've toxified the environment so heavily in so many ways, it's probably in most bagged compost as well, especially if it contains anything that comes from the oceans (because of run off contamination).  Coming from a source like ancient rock dust is a more natural form of it (if that makes sense), and it's probably less bioavailable that way (in a natural state like in rock dust, where it's bound with other minerals, as opposed to being dumped into the environment in a more pure form.  Of course, I could be completely wrong about that.  I'm just guessing).

Your locally made compost sounds like a goldmine! wow. Maybe they should market their compost! How is your garden doing overall? I don't add things to my garden because I WANT to, it's because I need something. My garden still seems to struggle despite following the MM recipe to a T. It's doing a LOT better than last year, but I see other's gardens doing so well, I can't help but ask what they're doing differently. That seems to be one of the points of a forum? If my garden was doing great, I wouldn't change a thing, since it's not, I need to try and figure out what to do. It would seem silly to keep doing the same thing and expect different results.

southern gardener

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Re: More on Azomite

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