AK Pioneer Fruit Growers Association

Rock Powder is the Basis for Soil Fertility
March 9, 1988

Gardeners at Venetie, Alaska traditionally gather river silt to apply on their gardens, with good results. The same practice was discovered at an archaeological dig in Canada, by the Nation River north of the Yukon River. The Hunzacuts use it on their apricot trees in a desert type climate zone. Their health and longevity are well-documented. And Austria the government has been treating dying forests and acid lakes with ground gravel dust since 1983 with excellent results and no side effects. Sheep ranchers in Australia are pleased with their healthy animals and verdant pastures. All they did was apply gravel dust.

So how does this stuff work? Fungi and other microbes thrive on soil containing all the essential minerals. Lack of an essential mineral such as iron retards are cancels growth of most life-forms. When the soil becomes depleted of these minerals, either by not receiving organic or inorganic mineral replacement, fertility decreases. Since 1843 we have had NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) supplementation to increase the production of plants. Complications came with this practice: susceptibility to pest increase, lodging of grain plants, weakness in myriad forms, and salination of the soil. And now we see nitrate pollution of groundwater supplies, chemical warfare on pests and weeds. On a worldwide scale we learned of disasters in farm areas, and economic chaos as a result. All of these problems can be related to soil demineralization. “But this is a natural process,” you might add.  Yes, and we have the power to add to the process, or reverse it.

We would like to foster fruit shrubs, vines and trees beside our home here in Alaska, yet many of us have felt thwarted by the elements. My favorite (apple, pear, apricot ) won’t grow here, we lament and we are amazed at the newly-established fruit varieties brought to Alaska. We always have pioneers who will prove a point and flourish in most unlikely circumstances.

Take the Mennonites for example colon it migrated from Holland 3 Eastern Europe, and Northern Asia, Siberia, Manchuria. Although they are agrarian, they’ve had to keep moving for political reasons. They had three subsistence techniques we might well want to learn to ensure our own survival one day”

  1. number one save seeds and plant small fruit trees everywhere they went
  2. use riverbed silt on tree roots and gardens as a fertilizer
  3. propagate earthworms (red ringedtails)

In a settlement of Mennonites in northern China, they still keep worms indoors in winter, and pots of edible plants. All summer, these worms work in the garden outdoors, where worms may not survive winters on their own.

Nature creates healthy worms, trees, animals, and people when the minerals are all present. We can re-establish the process that originally created soil, on any scale we please. Let us begin by experimenting on our own fruit shrubs and trees, lawns, gardens and even that spruce down the road. For more information on this topic contact Paul Dozier, Alaska Soil Remineralization Association. P.O. Box 58615, Fairbanks, Alaska 99711. 488-7985

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