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May 16, 2011

It's time to add gypsum to my garden soil again

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My soil is heavy clay and this is the second year I've added gypsum to break up the clay and make it more friable. Gypsum alone has profound beneficial effects on soil because of its chemical effects. Gypsum is used to improve sodic soils, to create more favorable solute concentrations in soil, especially after leaching with heavy rainfall, and even to correct subsoil acidity. The combination of gypsum and organics can result in biological improvement of soil more than can organics alone. This is an extremely important aspect of soil quality.

The need for gypsum and other amendments is urgent in the Intermountain West and other arid and semi-arid areas. If you live in these regions you should know that Gypsum contains both calcium and sulfur; each is an essential plant nutrient; however, calcium does much more than its role as a plant nutrient. Without it in a soluble form, soils would not be tillable. Without it in soluble or exchangeable form, other plant nutrients would not function properly. Soils usually contain considerable calcium in the soluble and exchangeable forms. Some soils also contain large quantities of calcium in the form of lime, but that form is not readily available to plants nor can it improve soil when existing as lime. When soil pH is over 8, the calcium in soil is not soluble enough to be of maximum value for either plants or soil. Large crop responses can be obtained to gypsum when soil pH is high and even under other circumstances.

A word of caution. Gypsum is a mineral and although all minerals are organic, some gypsum is mined in China and sold cheaply here. Better to find local or gypsum mined here because no one knows the quality of gypsum from China.

At Espoma Organic Traditions Garden Gypsum - 5 lb Bag #GG5

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Posted by Marilyn Renaker at May 16, 2011 2:25 PM
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