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Dallas Morning News - December 21, 2017

Lava Sand Benefits

​Rock minerals are important for the soil and for plant health. I’ve often told folks that any kind of rock that is different than the native rock in the soil of your site will help – because that’s true. The main rock minerals I use myself and recommend to others include lava sand, granite sand, decomposed granite, zeolite, soft rock phosphate, greensand, Magic Sand, basalt and Azomite. I don’t use or recommend washed concrete sand or the weed-filled cushion sand used by many builders. It’s common because it’s cheap.

None of my recommendations has ever received the kind of criticism as has lava sand. It’s been fascinating, especially since this is one of the most beneficial soil amendments available to gardeners and growers. Some of my critics have even tried to claim that the only reason I recommend lava sand is that I own a lava sand mine somewhere. Wish I did.

Lava sand is crushed scoria, a reddish brown to black volcanic slag. It has an extremely porous texture that helps make soil nutrients more available to plant roots. It also provides aeration and porosity to the soil and helps retain the right amount of moisture in the soil.

Lava holds water, just at the right level, for a long time. If the soil has good moisture and a balance of minerals, organic matter, microbes and earthworms, plant production will usually be good. Lava sand offers a physical improvement to the soil that moves unhealthy, unbalanced soils toward balance and health. The mineral make up of lava sand is less important than the shape of each piece of sand. The angular, porous pieces of lava sand hold and exchange nutrients efficiently and they attract and redistributed the sun’s energy in the soil.

Lava sand can be used in potting soils, bed preparation, landscape management and food crops for improved plant growth and health. All you have to do to see its power is - try it!

In general, broadcast lava sand any time at a rate of 40 - 80 pounds per 1,000 square feet (1-2 tons per acre) or till into new beds at 80-100 pounds per 1,000 square feet. For perennial beds, you could use even heavier applications. You can use lava sand in any soil and with all plants. It is even more important in sandy soil s than in clay. All lava sands help retain moisture, but the products with the highest paramagnetism (like American Rio) work best. The manufacturer or supplier should have that information. If they don’t, you can expect a lower quality product and less plant health.
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