[permaculture] rock dust, need help filtering the hype from the facts

Wendy Smyer Yu creeksinger at hotmail.com
Thu Feb 12 20:34:07 EST 2009

I'm in the beginning phases of looking into rock dust as a garden soil amendment.  There's some info out there and some people swear by it.  From an uneducated point of view, it makes sense to add it if it seems the mineral content of one's soil has been leached away.  I have no experience with it and would like to solicit opinions.

I would assume that that results really depend on what your rock dust is composed of (for example I live near an area that has serpentine soils and I probably wouldn't want dust if it came from a serpentine quarry near here)... and not many of us are equipped to do nutrient testing on our vegies and fruits, or to check to see if micro-organisms have in fact increased as a result of application, so I wonder how much of the positive I hear is wishful thinking and how much is really based on results.

I came across this http://www.canadafreepress.com/2003/main011303.htm (titled "The Greening of Arsenic" in which it's noted that one supplier's dust contains a lot of arsenic and lead in addition to other more beneficial things... but there's not much of a conclusion at the end of the article.

In the end, I'm just researching this because I've moved into a suburban rental with some garden space after years of limited access to land and I'd like to make a really lovely perennial/annual mixed garden (probably heavier on the annuals until I get the ok from the landlord, but at least it's a start)...

Anyway, this isn't so much about what my plans are, but I'd like to know if rock dust is being touted as a panacea that it really isn't.  (I've read back through about 3 years of archives here and only seen it mentioned a few times).



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