Ormus: what do you think about it?

Ormus is apparently a miracle product: Plums 2010

It’s suppose to be some sort of mixture made out of minerals from the dead sea (although I read recipes to make your own…!). It is said to benefit all life forms, but especially plants (and fruits, of course!)… … Seems similar to glacial rock dust, which I also know nothing about, really… Your thoughts?

Another question: since plants do not “create” minerals from light, but actually use them to live and grow (just like we do) and since clay is a condensed mix of minerals, would adding clay to soil do the same thing as using glacial rock dust or Ormus?

Can’t speak to Ormus, but clay binds up nutrients and minerals. It forms microscopic “sheets” that trap positively charged ions in the soil so plants can’t get them. I wouldn’t add clay, needless to say.

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Thank you for that info!!! Could have made a big mistake.

It’s not that simple on adding clay, although in general I tend to agree with &ampersand.

There are clays (from specific locations/sites) which tend to have high concentrations of some elements, and they are used as supplements for those elements. Soft rock phosphate is the colloidal clay and other residue left over from the phosphate rock mining operations, which tends to be high in phosphate and many other minerals. Can be very useful if that’s what your soil needs.

If your soil is lacking in clay and other cation binding sites then adding some clay might be useful. But it isn’t the sort of thing I’d throw in my soil without doing tests and being very sure of what I was doing. It is much harder to mitigate for too much clay than the reverse.

I am generally pretty skeptical of any miracle fixes I hear about. Not that they didn’t happen as reported, but rather that the reason they worked may have had more to do with the particular problems that site/plant/person was previously having and the fact that this miracle cure could address that need. From the POV of plant growing, better to try and understand the nature of your location (soil, water, climate, etc) and come up with a plan to address those deficiencies. Of course, all just IMO.

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Very interesting @Steve333 ! Here is a little info I read (wikipedia) about soil testing:

“Laboratory tests often check for plant nutrients in three categories:
Major nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus §, and potassium (K)
Secondary nutrients: sulfur, calcium, magnesium
Minor nutrients: iron, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, molybdenum, chlorine!”

I am new to this, but I suspect my soil is poor in 3 categories… (Old, used, city lot and certain diseases often associated with lack of certain elements have appeared on some of my plants). I have read how to add NPK by making compost tea and by planting nitrogen fixer plants close to fruit trees and using other homemade solutions, but I am not sure how to add the rest of the minerals… Furthermore, even If I grew comfrey and made compost tea out of it, if my soil does not contain lots of P and K… how is the comfrey tea gonna be effecive?

Jessica, if you are serious enough about your gardening to post here you are serious enough to get a basic soil test done with samples you provide. Your county cooperative extension can probably steer you to a reliable lab in your state which will provide you with directions for taking samples.

An old city lot might have an excess of calcium (leached from concrete or from the water source), but that will be covered in any soil test- just knowing your soils pH is usually adequate on evaluating that issue.

Newbies often incorrectly assume their soil is a clay and without some experience in a range of soils you may need to learn a method to accurately measure your soil’s texture to analyze that. Texture is also something that can be analyzed in a lab test.

Jessica, I put off getting a soil test. Then, when I did, I discovered that my soil was very rich on phosphorus and potassium, very acidic, and incredibly high in iron. I dont need any phosphate or potassium added at all, and more could be harmful.

This is the company I used. Very informative.


They also have an option to test toxic metals like lead and arsenic. Raising children, you might want to check.

Thank you @Bear_with_me and @alan for your comments. Very informative.

Just as I wouldn’t use mineral supplements for myself without knowing if I really need them, I wouln’t also give them to my trees for the same reason. So I would definetly do a test (just as every book says you should)… My approach to life in general is to get what we need from our food and our environnement…not from supplement… so I intend to apply the same principal with veggies and fruits…

Perhaps I should redirect the topic here: did you ever use Ormus or Glacial rock dust and did you see a difference? If not, would you consider using it?

Good to know. So, what did you do with the results… Did you make changes, if so, what and how did you do it ?

Well you can but realize it’s going to take about 5 years for any minerals in the material to breakdown enough to become available to the plants. So no in general you will not see any difference adding the material. Best add by using fertilizer with macro and micro nutrients. Compost usually has them all. In forms plants can readily use. Using chemical fertilizers like Foliage Pro also has them all. Trees pull minerals from deep in the earth and deposit in the leaves. One of the best sources for minerals. Compost the leaves or shred and use as a mulch, you will have everything you need. The rock dust is a gimmick if you ask me. Much better sources to obtain trace minerals are around, such as leaves, compost, and any decent fertilizer. Many of the organic fertilizers have all the trace elements you need. I like using the espoma products. A little pricey but easily obtainable. Like Holly-Tone, Plant-Tone etc. I also like to use Alfalfa meal, or cottonseed meal as it is cheaper. I can use less of the organic fertilizers if I supplement feeding with the grains.
My soil lacks manganese and selenium. Many plants don’t use selenium, but all need manganese. So once a year I add manganese sulfate around my in ground plants.


Thank you @Drew51, very interesting too! Make sense that compost and mulching (fallen leaves) are probably more bio available…

Long term the rock dusts can be useful. In general it can’t hurt either. At least in most cases. Just don’t expect immediate results. Keep putting organic material back into the soil. Many people clean their perennial or vegetable beds out of old plants and leaves. i do too, shred it and put it back in!
Some exceptions. Diseased plants and leaves should be removed. Tomato, and bramble canes should be removed. Everything else can be put back.

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Beginning gardeners and gardeners in general are often inundated with ads for magical products festooned with glowing testimonials from ecstatic “customers”.

Not all these products are useless but they are usually overpriced to pay for all the mailings and they pretty much never add up to the hype.

I maintain an extremely productive vegetable garden and orchard without ever buying these types of products and base all my purchases on information I can reasonably rely on.

25 years ago I was pretty gullible even though I should have had enough hort education and experience at that point to know better- but these hustlers know what they are doing. By now I’m pretty jaded and look for actual university based research to back up claims that seem almost too good to be true.

What Drew says about holding onto organic matter is true. Mulching and in some cases incorporating organic matter is the most magical thing you can do for most soils and plants. Not just for nutrients in them but for the colloidal aspect of the humus they create, which is natures best delivery system of nutrients to plants.


Just a heads up, Espoma doesn’t have all the micronutrients anymore, only about half. Formula changed a few years ago, I guess.

Thanks, I try and switch up stuff too. I will use a different organic next year. last year I used Microlife a local Texas product I like. Espoma has added beneficial bacteria and fungi to their products. Plus with organics, like say alfalfa is included. Many of the trace minerals are in alfalafa like sulfur, yet you won’t see sulfur on the label. I also use Neptune’s Harvest liquid products as a supplement too.

All good advise on testing. I’ll throw my 2 cents in too…

In general there are several things you want to know about your soil: levels of nutrients (macro and micro), the availability of those nutrients, texture/composition of your soil, and organic matter are the major ones.

When it comes to testing, there are several different “camps” or philosophic/scientific approaches. The standard soil tests will give you NPK values which correspond to the total amount there (not necessarily the readily available amounts) and pH. That’s a good basis, and will tell you in very general terms where you stand with your soil. It isn’t necessarily a guarantee that the NPK that test shows will be available to your plants, that will depend upon soil temps, bio activity of the soil, how the nutrients are bound, and some other things, but at least you’ll know its there, and perhaps more importantly it will help prevent you wasting time and money adding more of anything which may already be there in excess. If you go thru your county extension agent, these tests are often relatively cheap or free in some areas.

Albrecht (former head of a state Ag school’s soils dept) came up with a “theory” of good/ideal soil based upon cation exchange capacity (CEC). It took a while to gain some acceptance, but now most labs will give you CEC numbers if you ask (and pay). To condense his life’s work into a sentence or two, Albrecht found productive soils had a certain ratio of CEC values (Ca 60%, Mg 15% etc). Those labs take a look at your CEC test numbers and give recommendations not only for the current crop, but also to push your soil’s CEC numbers in the right direction. They use the same conventional testing methods and so also give you total nutrient numbers not necessarily available numbers. One advantage of the Albrecht method tests is the lab I have used includes quite a few micro nutrient tests in their basic test, so it actually ends up far less expensive than going with the extension lab and paying extra for the micro tests. Albrecht was also the first (AFAIK) that said Ca was an important nutrient in its own right, and not just something you use to adjust the pH; an approach I agree with.

Reams was a somewhat controversial figure in Ag (and other fields), but he adopted a soil testing system which uses very mild extracting solutions for the tests. Similar to what plant roots excrete. So these tests tend to show numbers which are more in line with what the plant can extract from your soil (what’s really available). These numbers are useful as a comparison to the numbers from conventional tests which show you the total amount available in the soil. By comparing the two, you can get an idea of what nutrients you may need to supply even though it appears that there is plenty in your soil because it may not be that available to your plants. Reams labs also generally include some micro nutrient tests in their basic fees.

One other thing to be aware (cautious) of, some companies which do testing also sell fertilizer and supplements. I tend to avoid those labs, because I want numbers not just info on which of their products they want me to buy.

Another thing to consider in all this is that there is also foliar feeding, which is a way to give your plants nutrients directly (spraying dilute nutrient solutions on the leaves) as well as adding nutrients to the soil. This can be very useful for acute deficiencies where you don’t have the time for a nutrient to be broken down in the soil and made available, as well as just for a boost in non-critical situations.

There are also some simple tests you can do at home. The shaking some soil in a jar of water and letting it settle will tell you quite a bit about the makeup of your soil from a structural POV (see online for specific instructions).

Well this post is quite a bit longer than I thought it would be, hope I haven’t lost you in all this. As you can see there is quite a bit of info out there on soils, with several “schools” of thought on how to do it right. But perhaps the most useful thing you can do is get your soil tested, whichever test(s) you want. Just be aware of the limitations of the testing lab/philosophy you choose. With your test numbers, you will have an idea of where your soil is at, and what it needs more of (and what it doesn’t). Try out the different approaches and see which ones work for you.


Jessica,we made several changes due to the soil test.

No more fertilizers with phosphorus or potassium. our soil tested very high for both.

Some people use wood ashes for fertilizer. I dont, due to the high P and K.

The calcium and magnesium tested low. the pH was low - first time 5.1 and second time 5.3 as I recall. They recommended lime, to add calcium and raise pH, and provided recommended rates, so I did that.

i thought the iron was low due to leaf chlorosis on one tree. Test showed iron extremely high. So i dont add any iron. i think that tree just naturally has pale leaves.

They stated they dont test nitrogen, that it is too transient, and gave recommendations for nitrogen fertilizer. I use a urea type source in the range they recommended.

The test noted soluble salts were very low, so I am not worried about that.

I had planned to use wood ashes, which would have been bad. I had not planned to add lime, but that is the most important thing to add.

The copper tested low. If I want to use a copper spray for peach leaf curl, it will actually be beneficial. Which is nice to know.

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I would keep it simple and just get a basic test and find out what your texture is. 99% of the time that is all a non-commercial grower needs. Keep it simple for as long as you can.

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