Mixing minerals for the garden
I did the first round of
remineralization of our garden soil this week. If you haven't
been reading along, you can learn how I
figured out how much of each mineral I needed here and here, and I also recommend
checking out the book The
for more information on why we want to remineralize our soil.
After doing the math to
calculate amounts, the next step was to come up with the
minerals. I could have asked our feed store to order 50 pound
bags of each, saving about 50% per pound. But we only needed 10
or 15 pounds of several different minerals, and you have to keep
moisture out of some of the compounds during storage. In our wet
climate, I figured it made more sense to order smaller quantities
online, and Alpha
Chemicals seemed to
be the cheapest choice for most.
I used a scale and some
mixing bowls to weigh out the quantities of the minerals I'm adding in
small amounts --- manganse sulfate, copper sulfate, zinc sulfate, and
borax. Even though my soil analysis called for salt, my
understanding of soil cations talked me into leaving the
salt out this year. Every part of our garden is getting gypsum to
flush out excess cations, and sodium is the cation that clings least
tenaciously to the soil particles. My understanding of the
chemistry says that if I add salt and gypsum at the same time, I'd be
flushing my salt right out of the dirt.
mixing all of the trace minerals together, then adding them to the
items you use in bulk (like gypsum and lime). I followed his lead
on my first garden area, but I won't in the future. Our gypsum
came from the feed store pelletized, and the other minerals are
powders, so the latter tend to sink to the bottom of the wheelbarrow no
matter how carefully you mix them together. Luckily, I spread
sparingly, making three passes over the garden, so each garden spot
probably got a relatively even helping of the trace minerals as well as
the gypsum. (There's no lime in this garden area, but I plan to
mix the lime and gypsum together for areas that use both.)
I crunched the numbers
to include spreading amendments on the aisles as well as on the
beds. I could have saved cash by only treating the latter, but I
figure some vegetables probably spread their roots out beyond the bed
boundaries, and we sometimes use grass clippings as mulch, so it's best
to remineralize everything.
Our chicken waterer keeps chicks from drowning and consuming their own manure.
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