Rock Dust Fertiliser for Plant Health

magnolia LIttle Gem Rock Dust

 

Add Basalt rock to your garden. It’s volcanic and chokkas full of minerals.

Rock Dust Fertiliser for Nutrient Dense Plants.

The only supplementary gardening products we promote and sell is stuff we actually use in the nursery for growing and maintaining the plants to the standard that you see out here.  As well as what we use in the gardens that we maintain.

We make our potting mix for the nursery out of select raw materials.  In our own garden, we use a quality, composted soil conditioner to plump up our existing soil which grow our plants   One special ingredient we add to both potting mix and soil conditioner is Rock Dust.

We stumbled upon Rock Dust quite by accident, years back,  while ordering some road base for a new section of nursery.  Upon overhearing a vineyard operator asking for ‘fertiliser dust’  – found out what it was and proceeded to order 10 m3 as a trial,  adding it to our potting media. It didn’t take long to see results.  Plants were stronger and healthier, and customers started to comment on the health of their plants purchased from us, months after putting them in the ground.

Jack’s been using it to top dress the lawn, after a clumsy spill on the grass produced a brilliant green colour within a week!

What is Rock Dust?

It’s not a true fetiliser as it doesn’t contain NPK. It just commonly gets called ‘fertliser’ .

Rock dust is Volcanic Basalt Rock. The name Rock Dust sounds magical and if there was a miracle product, this would be it.  On top of the real life results we’re seeing in our plants here in the nursery, we’ve been doing a bit of reading as to why it’s so good.

Rock Dust is ground up volcanic rock, sand like in texture, that holds water, and adds lots of goodies that are instantly available to all plants – fruit trees, vegetables, natives, exotics, trees and palms, even proteacea (such as Grevillea, Banksia, Protea and Leucadendron) will all benefit from the addition of this product.

As you already know, volcanic regions produce some of the most mineral rich, nutrient dense soils on Earth.  Rock Dust is full of minerals and trace elements  ( micro and macro nutrient) that are lacking in our dry infertile, sandy soils. Rock Dust  helps us to build the soil structure, buffer the pH, retain moisture as well as encourage healthy soil organisms which have a mutually beneficial arrangement with plants – they help plants access more nutrients and water – and  in turn, these microbes get their sugary carb fixes from plants.  Rock Dust improves the Cationic Exchange Capacity (CEC) of soil. Soil then becomes adsorbant –  meaning the soil holds onto and chemically binds nutrients like nitrates and phophates in for plants to use, rather than being leached away.

 

Add Rock Dust to Your Soil

Add Rock Dust to composted soil conditioner and you have yourself a great all round planting mix.  And you’ll see the results in your garden with lush, healthy plants and nutrient dense fruits and veggies with superior flavours. You can sprinkle some into your already established gardens at any time.

Talking to you in the nursery, we find that those of you living on the coast are quite disheartened to have to contend with sandy soil on your house block- and often have trouble establishing a garden.

What we’re living on is a strip of land called The Swan Coastal Plain . It’s about 30km wide and runs up and down the coast, North of Perth all the way down South to Cape Naturaliste. This land is mostly sandy, infertile and highly permeable which means that it doesn’t hold much water. While there are thousands of unique, local endemic species that have adapted to this type of ground over many years, this vegetation has mostly been cleared for farming or development.

If you’re in a new house in a newly built suburb, this sandy substrate, gets cleared of any natural top soil, with yellow builders sand plonked down on top.  Furthermore, this infertile sand has tendencies be hydrophobic. ie – water repellent . The theory is that sand here in Western Australia is coated in a wax like substance leftover from plant residues, and microbial byproducts, that prevents water from actually seeping into the soil below.  No doubt, you’ve seen this before. Water runs right off the soil instead of penetrating into the soil beneath.

To remedy this, build up your soil structure using composted soil conditioner, make sure the soil conditioner that you purchase is not diluted with sand. (don’t need more sand!) Good Soil conditioner  is comprised of well composted organic material called humus and is a breeding ground for the microbial good guys – essentially bringing your soil and garden to life. Adding mulch keeps your soil moist and microbes alive while also adding more organic matter to the soil. Use a wetting agent  if your soil dries out.

If you build your garden soil this way, you can grow a wide variety of plants.

By the Way, there’s one advantage to all of this sandy soil. It’s easy to dig to work in soil conditioners and clay and is also free draining!

Where Can I Get Rock Dust?

Rock Dust is produced locally from volcanic rock deposits found nearby. We have access to Basalt Rock right in our own backyard!  5 minutes away from us, across the highway, in Gelorup, ( Bunbury ) there is a Quarry that mines this Basalt rock. They use it to produce the blue metal, gravelly stuff of varying aggregates for road construction to use loose for your driveway, or hot-mixed into a highway.  Rock dust is actually a by-product of this, called blue metal fines.

basalt rocks in Bunbury - rock dustIncidentally, this rock dust is from ancient lava flow that formed around 130 million years ago when Australia was separating from India and Antarctica. Pictured here are basalt rocks at Bunbury’s Back Beach.This area used to be the site of a basalt quarry from 1890 – 1951 with gravel used for road construction.

 

We keep a pile of Rock Dust to sell by the scoop – bring your ute or trailer – you don’t need much – and it’s pretty cheap –  $35 will get you a tractor scoop which goes a long way. (cheaper than sand!) or come and grab a bag and shovel and fill yourself – grab some clay and compst as well.

basalt rock dust

Alternatively, for those of you who don’t want a pile of rock dust in your backyard to shovel into the garden, we’ve got some pre-packed on the shelf  which is ‘No Frills’ Rock-Dust-Plus.

Rock Dust Plus 20kg

It’s basically the rock dust, with other added essentials that your plants will love – It’s got some added ingredients that help to break it down so that it is readily available for plant uptake –  A Great product. It’s easy to apply by the handful – with a little going a long way. 

Our Soil Conditioner is also available by the tractor scoop or by the bag. We sell it for $35 per scoop or $10 per bag. *We also have a soil organics, clay and rock dust mixture avail in scoops for $45. Bring your ute or trailer.

This post is an update . OP April 2015.

How to Garden In Sandy Soil

soil blend, rockdust, clay, zeolite and compost

 It’s easy to lament our Sandy soils here in Western Australia.

If you’re living close to the coast here in WA, chances are, you’re on the Swan Coastal Plain. A stretch of sandy, gutless soil that dominates the area from the foothills of the Darling Scarp to the sea and extends from Quindalup to North of Perth.  While it’s great living so close to the beach, we’re on some of the most infertile soils in the world! To top that off, the area where you’re living in has most likely been cleared of any native soil along with the natural bush, with yellow, builder’s sand used to create a building pad. These infertile sandy soils are often hydrophobic – water runs right off the top. Doesn’t even penetrate. If it does go through, it’ll often slip straight through sand channels. A complete waste of water.

sand

While it may sound like all doom and gloom, please take heart. Let’s put things into perspective. There are so many good things about gardening on the Swan Coastal Plain. Think about all of the glorious sunshine we get here! We have around 9 months of the year for plants to actively grow. And native plants are actively growing in Winter time. So all year, there is something happening in the garden and you can certainly build a garden for year round interest. (contrast this to other places in the world where it snows! )

Sand is easy to dig

Spare a thought for those further inland who have hard clay or even rock to deal with. Now that we’re going to show you how to amend it, that sandy soil aint looking so bad now…Check this picture out. We may be getting a bit carried away here with this close up of our blend of soil improver, but read on. What you see is a blend of compost, clay, rock dust and zeolite.

soil improverThe best type of soil to plant into is a loamy soil that is free draining, while at the same time holds onto water and nutrient so that plants can regulate their nutrient uptake. Soil needs to be alive with healthy micro-organisms and have a good Cationic Exchange Capacity (CEC) which is the ability to hold onto and chemically bind nutrients like phosphates and nitrates for plants to use - rather than being leached away. Good soil also stops becoming hydrophobic. 

Here’s How to Build your soil profile

Organic matter/Compost 

We use a well composted, quality soil conditioner that we keep in a big pile here at the nursery. This soil conditioner adds humus (which is composted organic matter) and is made through the composting process of soil micro-organisms that break it all down. Plants and microbes have a symbiotic relationship, they get along really well –  plants give microbes their sugar fix, while the microbes break down nutrients so they can be delivered to plants. Soil Organics/compost also add to the CEC of your soil.

Clay 

Plants love clay. In sandy soil, it fills the gaps between sand, making it less porous, while still allowing oxygen to get to the root zone. (your beneficial microbes need oxygen) It also has good water and nutrient holding abilities. Soils with more clay, have a greater CEC.  (If you’re in mostly clay soils, this is great! Your plants will love it, although, you already know that what you need to work on is drainage, which is another topic…)

Rockdust 

This is the superhero of the soil structure. Over 80 minerals are directly available for plants to take up. Holds water, has a high CEC,  and is readily available for the plants to take up

Zeolite

Your plants will be healthier with the addition of zeolite, which will improve the efficiency of any fertilizer you add, retains water and reduces loss of nutrient. Zeolite is a natural mineral  that is very porous – it traps and stores nutrients ready for use by plants.

Mulch 

The best mulch to retain water is the kind that is large and irregular in shape. Avoid the finer, sawdusty type mulches as they actually wick water out of the garden beds. Add Mulch regularly, as this will contribute to the organic matter that you need to top up a couple of times a year. Make sure you use mulch for the warmer months, you don’t want your beautiful soil drying out and killing off your beneficial microbes! (remember they’re needed to keep plants well fed)

What you want to achieve is soil that holds onto nutrient and water, it’ll be cheaper for you – you will use less water and fertilizer which will decrease your environmental impact via unnecessary nutrients leaching into waterways. And of course, you’ll have a beautiful, healthy garden. 

If you build your garden soil this way, you can grow a wide variety of plants with much success. Pests and diseases are also kept at a minimum this way. Plants are healthier and just look better. It’s a great base for your garden.

We have these soil amendments – Rock Dust, Clay and Soil Conditioner as well as a good irregular shaped Bush Mulch available separately in piles by the tractor scoop for $35.  Bring your trailer or a ute.

In bags , we have special blend of Compost, Clay and RockDust with added zeolite called Soil Saviour ready to throw in the back of your car or delivered with your plant orders. Find it here

soil saviour - blend of rockdust zeolite, compost and clay

When Is The Best Time to Plant?

planting tree

Chances are, the reason you’re reading this article is because you’ve got some plants to get in the ground.   So here’s our quick answer –  yes, it is ok to plant right now, what ever time of year it may be. You see, we’re opportunistic around here and know that ‘when you’ve got the time’  is often the most realistic time.  It does depend on what you’re planting out though. Some things are best left planted out in the Warmer months like tropical plants such as Mango or Avocado, while other garden shrubs are ok at any time. A lot of people plant native plants in Autumn or Winter to take advantage of the months of rain before Summer. Even still, those native plants will need to be watered in the warm weather to grow and become established in the ground before they become waterwise.

What if it’s Summer?

Yes, there are more ideal times of the year to plant, than summer time, but if you’re not prepared to wait,  read on to find out how you can triumphantly complete your garden planting. We’ve successfully planted gardens at all times of the year. Many in the scorching heat of summer.

Want to know the trick to planting any time of year?

Prepare your soil

Get your soil holding onto water and nutrient. Your plants will love it.    We use a simple planting mix of clay, rock dust and compost added to sandy soil – plus a slow release fertiliser. Read more about it here.

Clay | Rock Dust | Compost Clay has a high cation exchange capacity (CEC) – this is a very good thing. It means that the soil holds onto nutrients that can be taken up by plants. (sand has a very low CEC,so is very poor at retaining nutrient)  Rock dust also has a high CEC. Rock dust is crushed basalt rock, it’s volcanic, so is full of trace elements and minerals. Read more about rockdust here. Both Clay and Rockdust build your soil profile.  Organic matter such as compost also has a high CEC and  adds micro-organisms to the soil that feed your plants.  Plants have a lovely symbiotic relationship with these micro-organisms. The microbes extract nutrient and make it available for the plants . Plants feed microbes in exchange.

Mulch  It helps the soil retain water. It also adds more organic matter to the soil as it gets broken down.  Choose mulch that is large and irregular shaped. Avoid tiny particle mulch like sawdust as it actually wicks water out of the soil

Plant choice Choose plants that are known survivors. We can show you what to use. Plants that are grown out here in our nursery, are sun hardened so will more than likely adapt well to your place.

Water   Make sure that your that your retic is working, check sprinklers aren’t blocked and that drip line isn’t clogged.   Whatever your watering system or schedule, stick your finger in the soil and physically check that it is sufficiently wet and not drying out. Check that the soil hasn’t become hydrophobic. Get your hose out and water and use a wetting agent if it has become water repellant. Even plants that are labelled as ‘drought tolerant’ or ‘water wise’ need plenty of water, especially when they’re first planted and getting their roots established.

Season By Season you can plant all year here in the Southwest

Autumn

Autumn is just a nice time to be outside. Getting plants and trees in the ground now mean they have a bit of time to get some root and foliage growth since the ground is warm with plenty of sunshine. Autumn also heralds the first rains of the year after Summer. We’ve been in the nursery industry for around 16 years and there’s been a longstanding saying – most notably from older generations – that a good time to plant is after the first rains of the year after summer, around April.

Winter

Winter around the Southwest and Perth is pretty mild compared to other parts of the world. (It doesn’t snow!)  It’s really nice to be outside, working and planting this time of year on a sunny winter’s day. And there’s rain.  Plants love the rain. Ever noticed that the garden looks really great after a good downpour? Especially after a thunderstorm.  All that electrical activity converts atmospheric nitrogen into a form that gets dissolved into the soil by the rain which is then used by your plants. This is called nitrogen fixing. Your plants get a good nutrient fix and green up beautifully!  Winter and early Spring is also the time when many deciduous trees are dug up and are available as bareroot trees. They’re dormant,  and a great time to get them into the ground.

All that electrical activity from a thunderstorm converts atmospheric nitrogen into a form that gets dissolved into the soil by the rain - giving your plants a good feed.

Spring

It’s Spring! So many reasons to be outside. It’s the beginning of the warm growing season. Many plants are still dormant in early spring and as the weather warms up, everything starts coming to life. The ground starts to warm up again and shrubs have around 9 months of good sunny growing weather ahead of them – a good time to take advantage of this.

Summer

Okay, so it’s getting warmer now, but it’s the festive season and you’ve got to get your yard looking gorgeous for Xmas and all those barbecues outside!  Summer is peak growing time. In the nursery, our  plants go nuts! They put on stacks of lush, green new growth. All this greenery cools down your house and backyard. Use the planting mix as described as above. You will need to be right on top of keeping your new garden watered. Your clay, rock dust, compost and mulch will help retain water. Make sure soil is wet before you plant and give them a good drink after planting.

Want some help with your getting your garden planted? Not sure where to start? Contact us or come in and have a look around.  We can help with plant groupings and steer you in the right direction regarding design styles 

* btw we’re talking about planting container grown shrubs and trees, not digging up and transplanting plants which is a different topic.

How to Garden In Sandy Soil

soil blend, rockdust, clay, zeolite and compost

 It’s easy to lament our Sandy soils here in Western Australia.

If you’re living close to the coast here in WA, chances are, you’re on the Swan Coastal Plain. A stretch of sandy, gutless soil that dominates the area from the foothills of the Darling Scarp to the sea and extends from Quindalup to North of Perth.  While it’s great living so close to the beach, we’re on some of the most infertile soils in the world! To top that off, the area where you’re living in has most likely been cleared of any native soil along with the natural bush, with yellow, builder’s sand used to create a building pad. These infertile sandy soils are often hydrophobic – water runs right off the top. Doesn’t even penetrate. If it does go through, it’ll often slip straight through sand channels. A complete waste of water.

sand

While it may sound like all doom and gloom, please take heart. Let’s put things into perspective. There are so many good things about gardening on the Swan Coastal Plain. Think about all of the glorious sunshine we get here! We have around 9 months of the year for plants to actively grow. And native plants are actively growing in Winter time. So all year, there is something happening in the garden and you can certainly build a garden for year round interest. (contrast this to other places in the world where it snows! )

Sand is easy to dig

Spare a thought for those further inland who have hard clay or even rock to deal with. Now that we’re going to show you how to amend it, that sandy soil aint looking so bad now…Check this picture out. We may be getting a bit carried away here with this close up of our blend of soil improver, but read on. What you see is a blend of compost, clay, rock dust and zeolite.

soil improverThe best type of soil to plant into is a loamy soil that is free draining, while at the same time holds onto water and nutrient so that plants can regulate their nutrient uptake. Soil needs to be alive with healthy micro-organisms and have a good Cationic Exchange Capacity (CEC) which is the ability to hold onto and chemically bind nutrients like phosphates and nitrates for plants to use - rather than being leached away. Good soil also stops becoming hydrophobic. 

Here’s How to Build your soil profile

Organic matter/Compost 

We use a well composted, quality soil conditioner that we keep in a big pile here at the nursery. This soil conditioner adds humus (which is composted organic matter) and is made through the composting process of soil micro-organisms that break it all down. Plants and microbes have a symbiotic relationship, they get along really well –  plants give microbes their sugar fix, while the microbes break down nutrients so they can be delivered to plants. Soil Organics/compost also add to the CEC of your soil.

Clay 

Plants love clay. In sandy soil, it fills the gaps between sand, making it less porous, while still allowing oxygen to get to the root zone. (your beneficial microbes need oxygen) It also has good water and nutrient holding abilities. Soils with more clay, have a greater CEC.  (If you’re in mostly clay soils, this is great! Your plants will love it, although, you already know that what you need to work on is drainage, which is another topic…)

Rockdust 

This is the superhero of the soil structure. Over 80 minerals are directly available for plants to take up. Holds water, has a high CEC,  and is readily available for the plants to take up

Zeolite

Your plants will be healthier with the addition of zeolite, which will improve the efficiency of any fertilizer you add, retains water and reduces loss of nutrient. Zeolite is a natural mineral  that is very porous – it traps and stores nutrients ready for use by plants.

Mulch 

The best mulch to retain water is the kind that is large and irregular in shape. Avoid the finer, sawdusty type mulches as they actually wick water out of the garden beds. Add Mulch regularly, as this will contribute to the organic matter that you need to top up a couple of times a year. Make sure you use mulch for the warmer months, you don’t want your beautiful soil drying out and killing off your beneficial microbes! (remember they’re needed to keep plants well fed)

What you want to achieve is soil that holds onto nutrient and water, it’ll be cheaper for you – you will use less water and fertilizer which will decrease your environmental impact via unnecessary nutrients leaching into waterways. And of course, you’ll have a beautiful, healthy garden. 

If you build your garden soil this way, you can grow a wide variety of plants with much success. Pests and diseases are also kept at a minimum this way. Plants are healthier and just look better. It’s a great base for your garden.

We have these soil amendments – Rock Dust, Clay and Soil Conditioner as well as a good irregular shaped Bush Mulch available separately in piles by the tractor scoop for $35.  Bring your trailer or a ute.

In bags , we have special blend of Compost, Clay and RockDust with added zeolite called Soil Saviour ready to throw in the back of your car or delivered with your plant orders. Find it here

soil saviour - blend of rockdust zeolite, compost and clay

Edible Garden Workshops With Peter Coppin

peach tree fruit

In the nursery, we get lots of questions regarding fruit trees. How to plant them, train them, prune them, water them and what to do when things go awry.   While we are always happy to discuss and answer your questions and dilemmas, we thought we’d get one of WA’s most respected horticultural consultants, Peter Coppin to come and host a series of 3 x 1 hour workshops as a way to educate you, and keep you excited about your edible gardens.  Peter has years of experience in dealing with our local environment and will tailor these courses to suit our SouthWest Conditions.

Both the Sat & Sun workshops have been sold out. Sorry if you missed out. We’ll plan another workshop real soon. What do you reckon?  If you would like to be kept in the loop on upcoming workshops and events, we use email first to notify everyone. Just leave your details above on the top right – ‘sign up to newsletter’.

We have 3 workshops available on Saturday June 20 2015 and is for customers who have purchased plants through us. (not a customer yet? no probs, just buy your plants from us first! )   Cost is $15 per workshop, each running for 1 hour.  Come to one, or come to them all.  Spots are limited – with 10 spots per workshop available. Each workshop attendee will get a complimentary bag of our compost planting mix ($10value) and 20% discount on all plants in the nursery on the day (excluding grass-trees)

Each workshop must be pre-paid.  Click each workshop below to grab your spot or go here.

Workshop 1 – Planting & Care  10am-11am

  • Designing and Planning an edible landscape
  • Selecting the best position for your fruit trees/plants
  • Soil Preparation – building healthy, living soils.
  • Growing fruit trees & ornamentals in pots and containers
  • How to Plant for longevity
  • Care & Nutrition
  • Q&A session

Workshop 2 – Pruning & Maintenance  11.30am – 12.30pm

  • Pruning Training and espaliering fruit trees & vines
  • How to correctly prune for high fruit yields
  • Care & nutrition of your trees
  • Q&A session

Workshop 3 – Pests, Diseases & Disorders  1pm-2pm

  • How to Identify pest or disease
  • Corrective Measures
  • Care & Nutrition
  • Q&A session

Tea and coffee and nibblies will be available throughout the sessions, however, byo lunch if staying for all three.

You will walk away armed with the knowledge needed to grow your own fruit in a safe and sustainable way.