Need help finding volcanic rock powder

joel_bc(z6 BC)April 28, 2011

I'm in BC (the eastern Interior of BC, but even sources in the Lower Mainland might work). My problem is, I had a 2.2 lb sample, and I don't have any more of it!

My story: This is the first year I've tried using volcanic rock powder as part of our seed starting mix. Volcanic rock that's been crushed to a fine brown powder. I was sent a kilogram by a fledgling company that seems to have gone dormant or belly-up.

I decided to experiment with jalapeno-pepper and Bonnie Best tomato seed plantings. I mixed the volcanic powder into the potting soil for some trays, at about 15% of the potting mix. And then I planted comparison trays without it. After using the same seed, the same light, the same watering procedure, the difference was unmistakable. The trays with the volcanic-powder amendment literally looked twice as good as the comparison trays. Leaves had better and more even colour, overall growth of the little seedlings was much better.

I want to buy at least a 20 kg sack (44 lbs) and use it in our small greenhouse. Any brand names? Sources?

Please help!!

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The thing is volcanic ash or crushed pumice would differ depending on where they were sourced. So it may be perhaps that the powder you got may have a certain unique quality that may not be duplicated with other volcanic rock powder. remember that each volcano has its own unique character. The lava it regurgitates contain chemicals and minerals unique to that volcano. so what was it in that stuff you got that promoted really healthy plants. Well we may never know.

Anyway, try reaching out to bonsai clubs to see where they source their supplies. Bonsai usually uses these materials as part of their soil mixes.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 10:25PM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

ianna, what you're saying does make sense. Though I have to admit I'm confused. Because one farmer I know pointed out to me that around the world,agrarian people have always made use of volcanic soils (potential agricultural lands surrounding volcanoes). And a geologist commented to me that "loess" (technical term for 'volcanic-rock flour') has been historically important - he cited the Steppes as the example that came to mind for him.

Yeah, I have no reason to believe that results would have been as impressive with other samples from elsewhere.

I got my sample from Parmount Growth Holdings, here in BC. Main office in Victoria, I believe.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 11:30PM
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There is a source in Ontario:

Shipping costs would be huge-- this stuff is heavy. You might want to organize a co-op with some local gardeners / orchardists and maybe you can get a bulk delivery.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 8:59AM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

Hi, Bev. LOL I just spoke on the phone with someone at Global Repair yesterday! (same day I wrote my original post on this thread)

You're right - the shipping would apparently cost about three times, per bag, what the price of the rock powder itself would be.

I've heard a rumour that some gardeners on Vancouver Island have access to some brand or other of volcanic rock powder. I have no idea, though, what brand - or if it's as effective with seedlings as what I used this spring.

If I at least knew what brand to be asking about, I might be able to find a source somewhere in the BC Interior.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 10:18AM
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hello Joel,

I guess I was being far too particular. You are right. many slopes of volcanoes have great soil for farms. I actually work for geologists (but I'm not a geologist.) So I do happen to know something about this stuff and got bogged down with the itty bitty.

I guess what you may be seeking is crushed lava? Ones that have chelated iron? Aquarium stores will sell this stuff because it's used to underwater plant gardens. I do happen to garden underwater too.. (plant geek that I am). So I know this is a source if you want a small amount. This is the other source i've found - but I'm not familiar with this website. - you will notice they describe their products as amix of different volcanic rocks.

good luck

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 8:30PM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

I'm beginning to think that there is currently no retail source for volcanic-rock powder in BC. It's available in Ontario, but prohibitively expensive to ship.

Paramount Growth Holdings here in BC has been hoping to prove the product's worth to the extent that the vinyard (and other large-scale) industries will buy the rock powder - but (I'm speculating) the process of getting these industries to embrace the use of the product may be taking longer than they anticipated. In any case, PGH seems to be a rather dormant company. Getting more rock powder through them, for a homesteader/gardener like me, seems impossible at the moment.

But if you hear of anything helpful, please post here. Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 10:06AM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

I'm revising my thought in my last post (above)...

Someone mentioned a product called Azomite. Apparently it is a volcanic-rock dust or powder, and someone mentioned it to me as being (or having been) available in BC. But where - well, the person did not know.

But it's a new lead.

I did a web search that brought up info that suggests the product originates in Utah, in the U.S. Anyone know about obtaining Azomite in western Canada?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 10:22AM
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found this by googling Azomite which is a brandname. (Sold Online)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 10:27PM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

Thanks. Azomite sounds very interesting. From what I've heard, it is volcanic. Pretty pricey ($54.95/20kg) from the "Wheatgrass" source... and of course, I'd have to pay shipping from Edmonton.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 10:35AM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

For anyone who has followed this thread or is intrigued by the topic:

I got an email today from a representative of the Paramount Growth Holdings company (the source that supplied me with the volcanic-rock dust I used with some of my seedlings this spring). The company continues to exist, and currently is engaged in establishing commercial channels into the retail marketplace. This is all I know at the moment.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 1:49AM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

I was able to obtain another sample (larger than the first, which I wrote about before). So I will have plenty to experiment with, this year and next spring. But not enough to, for instance, properly supplement my greenhouse beds with.

I'm assured by the head guy (CEO ?) of the company that they are busy putting wholesale/distributor channels in place. Hopefully, the product is on the market next year in various bulk quantities. 20kg bags would be great for amateurs like me, and for some market gardeners. Larger-scale operators, no doubt, might want to buy 1000 lbs or more at a time, I suppose.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 12:34PM
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Joel: Gaia Green is the rock dust I bought, I bought it at Buckerfield's. I live on Vancouver Island. I was shopping and overheard a lady asking for it and said her plants literally woke up and paid attention....and she wanted a few bags! So I grabbed one too!lol! I see it advertised in the GardensWest magazine too now.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 10:38AM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

My own small, informal trials are enough to convince me of the value of using the "paramagnetic" volcanic powder. Back in the spring, I was starting several kinds of plants using a bagged potting soil my wife and I bought. I used that "growing medium" unamended, in sets of matched starter trays, except for those trays in which I'd added about 15% volcanic rock powder to the mixture. All those seedlings were started under grow lights. (I didn't take pictures of the results.)

Somewhat over a week ago, I again used starting trays ("six packs") and matched the basic growing medium, the watering regime, and the lighting on the experimental and control trays. However, I made up my own starter medium as follows: 50% sphagnum peat moss; 30% worm castings; 20% perlite - well stirred. This, in itself, is a pretty rich mix because of the worm castings. One of the trays contains this mixture as such. The other has this mixture with about 12% volcanic rock powder stirred into it. I made up only two trays, and identified each one to be able to interpret my results.

With each of the six packs, I filled each of the cells as close to the same level as I could. I planted each cell with two radish seeds from the same packet. I kept the trays on a bench in our greenhouse. Then I was careful to keep the watering and the light exposure the same. Seed germination took about 48 hours, on average - and the germination rate was pretty much the same, comparing the two six packs.

The picture, taken eight days after planting the seeds, pretty much tells the story. The seedlings (on the left) with the volcanic powder in their growing medium are clearly doing better. I'd estimate the difference in vitality and growth to be maybe 20%, at this early stage.

With my spring-time experiment, the difference seemed more marked - probably because the commercial growing medium was very basic and not high in nutrients (such as those the worm castings provide to the new mixture). With the spring experiments, the seedlings growing in the medium that included the volcanic rock powder did twice as well, in my assessment, in terms of vitality and size. However, I judged this difference not after eight days, but after a month or so.

I was thinking some people who look at this thread might like to see a picture that conveys the benefit. While Paramount Growth Holdings is not yet retailing their product, other sources for this sort of volcanic rock powder in the U.S. and Canada might be available.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 1:21PM
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joel, your 'findings' got me looking for such a product in Ontario for use with my perennials. I found it here:

I purchased a couple of bags of "Rich Valley" which is described as "Contains rare volcanic, metamorphic and sedimentary minerals, calcium, rock phosphate and humates,..."

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 6:28AM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

rouge21, thanks for posting. Have you used that product yet, at all? If so, would you mind describing the results?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 10:04AM
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Joel, there is no way I can comment on the results as I use it very unscientifically (ie no 'control' group as you have pictured above).

This past August and September I would sprinkle it around the base of existing perennial plants as well as mix it with small amounts of topsoil when planting new ones.

Now that Autumn weather is setting in and rain is predicted for the rest of the week just yesterday I went around and liberally hand 'sowed' this rock dust on the surface of the garden....directed to the base of each perennial. My hope is that such nutrition will stand these plants in good stead for the winter ahead and with extra healthy plants going into the cold weather will mean minimal winter kill coming out.

(I would very much like to hear of your further experiences using such 'rock dust' in controlled plant propagation).

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 7:41AM
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Hi Joel,
Your long search for Azomite in BC and Canada will soon be over. Mark Loran of ML Agri-Products is almost done with all Federal approvals to bring Azomite into Canada! Looks like product will start shipping into Canada in March 2013. He can be contacted at 250-359-5926.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 7:09PM
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Isn't Gaia Green rock dust produced by a Grand Forks company?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 11:22PM
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Has this been finalized? I would like to be able to get this for my garden. Also, where is this going to be sold?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 5:32PM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

I'd been away from this thread for many months. Thanks very much, paddlehard1, for posting that Mark Loran will be distributing Azomite. Besides ML Agri-Products, I believe Mark is a partner in a garden-supply business that is located not too far from where I live. I've got a call into him today... eagerly awaiting reply!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 12:26PM
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