Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Tomato Trials

In breaking with then normal flow of things at Lost in the Farmer’s Market in this mini update, today I’ll be talking about the results of the Azomite test.  For those of you who do not know the product well, Azomite is as the maker states the following.

AZOMITE® is unique highly mineralized ore that is a complex silica (Hydrated Sodium Calcium Aluminosilicate or HSCAS) mined in Utah from a deposit left by an ancient volcanic eruption that was ejected out of the side of a mountain.’

All I have to say about that is wow, now that is one heck of a description in all seriousness the manufacturer goes on to state in their frequently asked questions that Azomite is not a replacement for typical fertilizers as it does not provide nitrogen,  potash or, potassium (N-P-K) You can find the Azomite website here at this address.

So for the purposes of the tomato trials the idea was to see if this amendment worked at all with additional fertilizers or was simply a fluke. To see if it worked four tomato plants of the same cultivar were selected. In the original trial four ‘Patio’ tomato plants were selected, and treated with the following arrangement.

  1. Plant 1 (P1) – No Azomite or Epsom salts.
  2. Plant 2 (P2) – 1 application of Azomite.
  3. Plant 3 (P3) – 1 application of Epsom salts.
  4. Plant 4 (P4) – 1 application of Epsom salts and 1 application of Azomite.

Each of the plants was potted up with a peat moss-free soil mix and given no fertilizer other then their amendments. Water was supplied from water collected in rain barrels on the property. As it was discovered patio tomatoes didn’t quite grow as perceptibly as other tomatoes, often these plants would nudge out 1/16th an inch of growth a day. Additionally the lack of a set measure point skewed the results from already barely measurable plants. 

The trial was restarted with a new cultivar, this time ‘Mountain Spring’ a fairly well known variety available through Totally Tomatoes. This variety is known for its determinate height good fruit set and special resistance to cracking and blossom end rot.  
These four test plants went under the same setting with one change, instead of the peat moss-free soil mix a high quality topsoil was used to better replicate the soil of a well established farm environment. As above the plants were provided amendments in the same order. The Azomite treated plants had their amendments added into the soil before the plant was added to the pots. The Epsom salt treated plants had the Epsom salts added to the soil surface and watered in. All tomatoes were planted ½” deep as per tradition to promote better surface rooting. The results were as follows

  1. Plant 1 (None)   8 ¾” starting | 11”     final |
  2. Plant 2 (Azom.) –  8 ¼” starting | 12 ½”   final |
  3. Plant 3 (Epson) – 10 ¼” starting | 14 1/8” final |
  4. Plant 4 (Az+Ep) – 10”   starting | 12 ¾”   final |

With these results in mind collected over the same two-week period  you can see a definite difference in the rate of growth between the four plants and their treatments.

Plant #1 – grew 2.25 inches
Plant #2 – grew 4.25 inches
Plant #3 – grew 3.875 inches
Plant #4 – grew 2.75 inches

It is quite clear that overall the Azomite plant definitely grew the most but, that difference for growth and development is by a gap of 6/16th of an inch. For the sake of agriculture and organic gardening purposes it’s enough to say that yes Azomite does work. It is interesting to note that the double treated plant (#4) grew less then the plants that received single treatments.

These are the Patio tomatoes weeks later in their 6" fluted pots.

As a related side note the Patio tomatoes from the first attempt proved to display later characteristics that are worthwhile of note. I did continue their trial treatment conditions for the sake of seeing what would become of them in time. All four were placed in a full sun location where they could soak up more natural heat and light conditions. Each was transplanted into a 6” fluted pot with high quality topsoil being added as the soil material.
Below are the results of that move as noted on the same day as the second tomato trial concluded.

| Category     | Most to least           |
| Largest fruit| 2,4, 3&1 tied for third |
| Most fruit   | 4,1,3,2.                |
| Biggest Plant| 4,1,2,3.                |
| Tallest Plant| 2,3,1,4.                |

Ironically over time, the dual treatment plant (#4) had the most fruit and was overall biggest. The Azomite-only treated tomato ended up leading in largest fruit and tallest plant.

What these results tell me is that Azomite again definitely does something and that is relative to the plant treated. As it turned out the patio tomatoes hit a certain height and instead of continuing to grow set impressive fruit. The mountain spring tomatoes turned out to be just the sort of plant needed and displayed a different set of growth characteristics that for the original context of this trial proved Azomite works.

In short give it a try, and see if it works for you, it certainly cant do any damage and apparently Azomite is reasonably inexpensive. So I recommend giving it a try and determining if it works or not.

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