If you started reading this hoping for a definitive answer to the question above, I’m sorry to disappoint. I’ve been reading about Zeolitef for a while and–given the nature of the soil in my garden–decided to give it a go this year, working about 3 pounds into roughly 300 square feet of garden space as a test. I’ll report back on the yields, but how well it works still remains to be seen. In the meantime, lets go over what Zeolite is, what it can do, and why exactly I decided to condition my soil with it this year.
What is Zeolite?
The first thing you’ll discover after a quick google-search of the word, is that Zeolite seems to have quite a few uses. In fact, most of the top results aren’t even gardening related! People apparently take the stuff as a dietary supplement, to deal with hangovers, and for a myriad of other different uses. That’s all well and good of course, but what exactly is it?
Zeolite is an aluminosilicate, which means it contains mostly aluminum and silicon compounds, as well as some oxygen, making it a fairly effective drying agent. While this may sound a little synthetic, it really just means its a clay-like particle. In addition, the mineral is alkalizing, so it can help out balance acidic PH levels. You’re probably starting to see why adding this particular compound to your garden can be effective, but it may not be for the reasons you assume.
What Can it Do for Your Garden?
Given the above, you may be thinking Zeolite would be good to add to overly damp, root-rotting soil. That’s actually not the case. The reason Zeolite is an effective drying agent is it actually attracts water to itself. In a garden, therefore, by working Zeolite into your dirt, you’re actually making it more capable of retaining water and nutrients (Zeolite holds Calcium, Potassium, Ammonium and a few other nutrients in suspension, while simultaneously keeping it available for plant uptake).
In my easily dense and compacted soil, I’m hoping Zeolite will help hold more water in place, giving relief to my parched plantings and helping break things up a bit. Given the small, molecular grooves in the mineral, Zeolite is capable of holding some 60-percent of its own weight in water, so I have high hopes. Additionally, my soil is fairly acidic. My field preciously served as a semi-commercial cornfield, and this year’s rainfall has been record-breaking. Zeolite should bring things a little more into balance.
While not one of my reasons for use, if you use extremely nitrogen-rich fertilizer, Zeolite can help even further. It reduces the nitrate leached by some such fertilizers, which can help keep groundwater free of contaminants, and keep your soil from getting all too acidic. A little acidity is good for some plants, of course, but there can always be too much of a good thing.
Have you used Zeolite? Do you love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll report back later this year on my experiences with the stuff.
A humble homesteader based in an undisclosed location, Lars Drecker splits his time between tending his little slice of self-sustaining heaven, and bothering his neighbors to do his work for him. This is mainly the fault of a debilitating predilection for fishing, hunting, camping and all other things outdoors. When not engaged in any of the above activities, you can normally find him broken down on the side of the road, in some piece of junk he just “fixed-up.”