A couple of weeks ago I reconnected with my rock dust supplier/friend Klaas, from Boreal Agrominerals Inc (formally known as “Agricultural Mineral Prospectors Inc”). Two years ago he gave me some of his micronized (ground really fine) “Spanish River Carbanatite” to “play” with (see “Fun with Rock Dust“), and while I’ve certainly put it to good use in a variety of ways (and have mentioned it multiple times here on the blog), I have yet to do any formal testing.
My renewed interest in rock dust is in large part due to the fact that I am working with European Nightcrawlers a lot more. They seem to be more sensitive to acidic conditions than Red Worms, so I’ve been thinking that a calcium-rich rock dust might serve as a valuable supplement for these worms.
The material Klaas left me with this time around isn’t micronized, so it has more of a sandy look about it, but I actually like it better that way. As you can see, they now have some nice packaging, and offer bags in multiple sizes. Klaas gave me a 10 lb bag and a bunch of the small “single serving” (1.23 oz) packets. I really like these new mini packs, and think these would be great for making batches of compost tea – just empty it into your bag of compost, submerge in the water, and away you go. They could just as easily be used for adding a sprinkle here and there in your worm bins (worm towers etc etc) as well.
Speaking of “sprinkling”…
I actually sprinkled some of the rock dust around the base of my recently-planted (at the time) tomato plants – they were looking a bit sad early on – and was amazed to see them looking much better by the next day! Apart from offering plenty of bio-available calcium, the mix is reported to offer a wide range of other nutrients and micronutrients – so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised by the boost in vitality.
For my first “official” rock dust experiment, I am looking at the effect (if any) of the material on Euros in small plastic worm bins. I’ve kept things very simple for now – setting up two rock dust treatment bins and two controls. I filled each of these containers about 3/4 of the way with aged horse manure. I then added a small amount (used a little plastic cap) of rock dust to two of them. The contents in all the bins were mixed up well and moistened. Lastly I added two adult Euros to each one.
Initially I am simply letting the worms get settled in their new home. Sometime this week I will start adding some “food”. In this case I will be using pureed apples (I recently diced up and froze quite a few apples that were no longer good for eating). I will mix the apple with a small amount of rock dust for that treatment, and leave it as-is for the control. I may also mix in some coffee grounds. This is another material I happen to have lots of – and I’m just generally interested to see how the Euros do with it as a food.
I want to see if there are any differences in terms of growth, reproduction and overall health of the worms in these two system. At the end of the experiment I would also like to compare plant-growth-promoting properties of the vermicomposts produced in these bins.
If I might toss in one more plug for “Volcanic Minerals Plus” – since Klaas has been nice enough to give me all my sample material for free – I wanted to mention while they are still working on establishing U.S. distributorship for the larger bags (widespread availability up here in Canada, though), the smaller packs ARE currently available to U.S. customers. If you have an interest in trying out some this material, without breaking the bank, these are a great option. Just drop me an email and I will get you connected with Klaas.