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What is Basalt Rock Dust & How Do I Use it In My Garden?

Basalt Rock Dust is an all natural soil amendment that is made from ground up volcanic rocks. Basalt is comprised of Igneous rock that is found in many places around the world. Since basalt will break down easily in soils, it is a good choice for re-mineralizing flowerbeds and gardens.

But Why Is Basalt So Important To Use To Re-minrelize My Soil?

First you have to understand the basics of soil balancing. Most people know that you need to focus on the N-P-K levels of the soil. The Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium, are the most sought after nutrients when people first try to begin to balance their soils. They are considered macro-nutrients. Macro means large or big. In this case, macro means that the N-P-K along with things like Calcium & Magnesium are the largest nutrients available in the soil, and thus people feel they are the most important. That's not necessarily true.

Micro-nutrients can be just as important when looking to balance your soil. Micro-nutrients can be things like iron, manganese, boron, molybdenum, copper, zinc, etc.. Now I know you are thinking that if the soil only needs a little bit of these, why does it matter if I replace them or replenish them? For this you need to learn Liebig's Law of Minimums.

In the 19th century, Justus Von Liebig formulated the “Law of the Minimum,” which states that if one of the essential plant nutrients is deficient, plant growth will be poor even when all other essential nutrients are abundant. From this, it may be inferred that if the deficient nutrient is supplied, yields may be improved to the point that some other nutrient is needed in greater quantity than the soil can provide, and the Law of the Minimum would apply in turn to that nutrient. And so on, and so forth, until your soil is perfectly balanced.

What Does This Mean For Me When I Am Trying To Balance My Soil?

Basically whatever your soil is missing, no matter the amount needed in the soil, that  is the thing you need to focus on. Regardless if it's only a trace amount that is needed, you need to make sure that your soil contains that trace amount. If not, your plants won't grow to their fullest potential. The easiest way to figure all of this out is to get a soil test. Making sure to get a test that covers all of the micro-nutrients is a good idea to make sure your soil is performing optimally for best plant growth.

I Thought We Were Talking About Basalt Rock Dust Though?

This is where basalt plays a role in helping you balance your soil. Basalt brings in much needed micro-nutrients to deficient soils, and helps your plants uptake other nutrients. When your soils nutrients are out of whack, the uptake of one of more other nutrients may be effected. This is why it's so important to always do a proper soil test, and balance your soil over time. As your crops remove nutrients from the soil they will need to be replenished. Basalt can be one of the soil amendments you keep in your arsenal to do this very thing. 

Basalt will add things like iron, cobalt, zinc, and manganese to your soil. It also provides a source of silicon. Silicon in plants can help plants resist drought, heat, and other issue that may arise. It will protect the plants cell walls, and make them more robust to any environmental issue that you may get over the growing season.

There are other rock dust products that are used throughout the gardening industry such as Azomite. They both do similar things, but using them in conjunction to get the best of both worlds is always a good idea. The “kitchen sink” approach when using rock dust isn't a bad thing, provided your soil tests justify their use.

Depending on what your soil needs, and how long you want the dust to break down over time, you want to make sure to choose the correct grade of rock dust. Most rock dusts come in different grades. This just means they are ground up more or less. The finer the grade, the more dust like it is. The courser the grade, the more chunky the product will be. If you want it to break down slowly over a season or two, you want to get a courser grade chunky product. For a more immediate replenishment of nutrients, a finer grade will start to break down within a few weeks.

Use Rates for Basalt Rock Dust:

  • Garden Beds - 5lb. To 10lb. Per 100 Square Feet of Soil (10' x 10' area)
  • Potted Plants – ¼ to ½ CupPper Gallon Of Soil
  • Trees & Shrubs – 1 to 3 cups Spread Around The Tree Base & Watered In
  • Lawns – 3lb. To 5lb. Per 100 Square Feet of Lawn
  • No-till Cannabis Plants – ¼ to ¾ of a Cup Per 15 gallons of Soil After Each Cycle
Large yields, and a healthy garden are always the main goal of any farmer or gardener. The healthier your crops, the less you have to deal with environmental stresses, pest pressure, and disease issues. Using basalt rock dust can be one thing that can help replenish your soils lost nutrients, which in turn will make for healthier plants and a more robust field of crops. With a simple soil test you can learn to balance your soil nutrients making sure to pay attention to the micro-nutrient just as much as the macro-nutrients. When balancing your soil just make sure to keep what Von Liebig said about the Law of Minimum's in mind, the smallest nutrient needed to grow healthy plants is just as important as the largest nutrient needed to grow healthy plants.
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