Mineral Amendments

Lawrence F. London, Jr. london at sunsite.unc.edu
Tue Sep 16 00:05:41 EDT 1997

On Mon, 15 Sep 1997, Permaculture West wrote:

> 	A question I've never had answered is: When is the best time of year to
> apply mineral amendments?  I live in the Pacific NW where it rains all
> winter and the ground rarely if ever freezes.  My instincts tell me to
> apply them during the Fall so they will have the entire winter to slowly
> break down and become more available to the plants come Spring time.  Any
> comments from the crowd?

Fall would be a good time to apply compost and manure on top of 
a layer of rock powders on your raised beds. Rainfall would provide
moisture needed to finish decomposition of biomass & manure and enable
leaching of nutrients into the soil to nourish microorganisms. Manure and
compost and the fungi they nourish should help break down the rock powders  
into plant available mineral nutrients. I would apply a layer of mulch
across the tops of the beds to conserve nutrient-rich moisture and help
prevent nitrogen loss to the atmosphere.

Plant red and crimson clover and vetch as cover crops. Red clover will
help the fungi convert rock dusts and rock phosphate into plant
available phosphate. 

A living mulch on the beds as well as regular application of partially
decomposed plant material will facilitate formation of greater numbers 
of soil microaggregates (crumbs) which will lead to much greater
soil tilth and fertility.

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