All plants need nutrients in order to survive. We’ve talked about marconutrients and micronutrients in tip 28 and 29 respectively and in tip 48 (plant mactronutrients in more detail). This week we’re going to talk more about micronutrients and specifically, glacial rock dust – a term commonly used to describe these elements are trace minerals and can include things like boron, copper, manganese, and zinc.

Glacial rock dust is made from a variety of rocks that are collected and pulverized by the expansion and contraction actions of glaciers. When the glaciers receded a long time ago, deposits of these crushed rocks were left behind, and it is these deposits which are mined and used as agricultural amendments. Through our current farming and gardening practices, many micronutrients and minerals can be used up, lost through erosion or leached out through overwatering. Adding these minerals back in through glacial rock dust is a great way to feed the soil, feed our plants, and improve the microbial activity happening underground.

Glacial rock dust often includes minerals such as silica, iron, magnesium, sodium, iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium, copper, manganese, nickel, phosphorus, cobalt, strontium, boron, potassium and zinc. Adding in this dust helps to improve the mineral balance, which improves cation exchange capacity of the soil, which creates a more favorable environment for beneficial organisms such as worms, bacteria, and fungi.

We recommend incorporating glacial rock dust every year or every other year into all of your garden beds and containers. There are different brands and products offering these minerals. We like to use Gaia Green Glacial Rock Dust and include applications along with our spring time planting and seeding. You can add it to your compost bin, worm bin, or directly into your garden. The rock dust then slowly releases into your soil, helping to improve the overall ecosystem. Whether it is for your lawn, trees, flowers or vegetable garden, chances are your plants and garden will benefit from adding in these trace elements.

Cover Image by adam_miguel, used under its Creative Commons license.

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