Great Salt Lake: It’s the Minerals!
by Gary Kline


The oceans, we know, are full of salty water. You can’t drink the water, at least not very much of it. But you can swim in it, and you can drown in it. The saltiness is due to minerals, largely washed in over the eons from the land, but also from undersea vents and volcanic eruptions. The salt content is about 3.5%, and likely will always be at that concentration; in a state of equilibrium.

Great Salt Lake, a very big lake in Utah, is much like the ocean, only saltier; and if you go for a swim in it, you will not sink. You would have to work at it in order to drown. That’s because there is a much higher concentration of minerals in Great Salt Lake which causes a human to float, like it or not. This is a lake unlike more than 99% of all the lakes on the planet. Why is that? First, I want to examine a typical fresh water lake.

Black Lake is like nearly all other lakes. Four and a half miles long and 40 feet deep, Black Lake is not salty. It has a natural outlet at the south end, which is the Black River, and that river flows into the Chehalis River before entering Grays Harbor and emptying on out into the Pacific Ocean. Salmon make their way all the way up into Black Lake’s tributary creeks from the ocean. Black Lake also has a man-made outlet ditch at the north end, dug to Percival Creek, that empties into Capital “Lake” (actually an impoundment of the lower Deschutes River) and on out into Puget Sound.

I believe there are some shrimp-like critters that live in Salt Lake, but not much else. Biologically, the lake is like a desert; whereas the oceans harbor far more forms of life than exist on land. And, for the most part, those oceanic or marine life forms enjoy exquisite health, unlike what terrestrial and freshwater forms experience. It’s the water - - - or more accurately - - - it’s the minerals; all the minerals on the planet kept suspended in the water, almost as if it was planned that way. And, oh yes, our blood carries that same profile of minerals as found in the ocean, except much more dilute. Our own health rises and falls according to the mineral composition of our blood.

But the very existence of Great Salt Lake has much to tell us. The reason it is so salty is that it has no outlet; it is an enclosed, shallow basin. Water runs in from the surrounding land, but it can’t get out, except by evaporation. Rainfall is scant, but washes minerals from the land that then enters the streams, which manage to flow into Salt Lake. Exactly which minerals, I don’t know, but likely not the same proportions as found in the oceans all around the globe. Water evaporates, but the minerals stay behind and build up high density in the lake. If there got to be enough of them, I suppose we could walk on the lake as people do on Utah’s salt flats.

As minerals leave the land, they impoverish it from a fertility standpoint. Such is the case with the mineral fertility of our own Western Washington soils, given the high amount of rainfall we get. Our soils support big trees, but are not rich enough in minerals to permit sustained cropping of vegetables or decent game animals. Think of the puny black-tailed deer compared to the huge mule deer east of the Cascades where rain is sparse and the soils are mineral-rich.

Great Salt Lake is too salty to support much aquatic life, but it is not a waste. Those minerals in the water or on surrounding shores, are a valuable resource. They can he harvested (and probably are) and put back on the land at some optimum concentration to restore the minerals that have been lost or depleted. Such restored lands can be made to produce very high quality, nutrient-dense crops and livestock - - - the better to make people’s health. That it can do that, and that ocean water is a nearly perfect fertilizer matrix, when applied properly to farm and garden soils, has been experimentally demonstrated in numerous ways.

You can read about seawater, sea salt and use of seawater extract in fertilization in the 1976 book, Sea Energy Agriculture by Maynard Murray, and also the 2005 book, Fertility From the Ocean Deep, written by Charles Walters, telling mostly the story of Dr. Murray’s odyssey, his research and the practical experiences of his disciples. I have to say that the book by Walters is one of the most fascinating and informative books I have read, despite Walters’ obtuse writing and the book being riddled with distracting typos. Chapter 10 of that book, which primarily records the writing of an agronomist named Lee McComb, is a very straightforward and cogent summation of the seawater fertilizer story. McComb’s account of his 1931 visit to Salt Lake, where it all first clicked in his head, is what inspired me to write this little article for the lesson I think it uniquely illustrates regarding the leaching of minerals from soil by the agency of rain - - - often assisted inattentive man.

There is yet another, more modern, pioneer in the seawater as fertilizer saga to be mentioned, and that is Arthur Zeigler, author of the 2012 book, Seawater Concentrate for Abundant Agriculture, which is dedicated to the remembrance of Dr. Maynard Murray. Arthur Zeigler is the inventor and manufacturer of Sea-Crop Ocean Mineral Extract, made from Pacific Ocean water taken at the mouth of Willapa Bay in southwest Washington and sold by Black Lake Organic.

Since I have written several other articles about Mr. Zielger and Sea-Crop’s amazing effects on crops and animals, I will not repeat the information here. I will add, however, that I have learned two relevant things. One, it takes 30 gallons of seawater to make one gallon of Sea-Crop; and two, part of the biological life, along with organic compounds, taken in with the seawater remains live when it goes into the bottle, and this is a very big aspect in the synergy and effectiveness of the product and its 86 or so mineral elements (four more are the organic elements of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen). One more point to be stressed is that 95% of sodium chloride is removed by Zeigler’s secret process of mineral extraction. It should be noted, however, that Murray did not view sodium chloride as a hindrance to plant or animal nutrition. Indeed, our bodies need lots of sodium.

Maynard Murray developed a successful system of hydroponics he named Seaponics. It involved putting plants, such as tomato seedlings, in a bed of clean river rock and running a flush of seawater through the beds twice or three times a day. Reportedly, this yielded excellent crops of tasty, nutrient-rich tomatoes and other vegetables. The difference is that whereas conventional hydroponics relied on man-made chemical solutions based on the faulty NPK mentality, supplemented by mandatory pesticides to prop up the system, Seaponics relies on a wide-range of trace elements and a medium which contains very little N, P and K.

The amazing thing is that if you can bypass the hurdles of feeding plants via the soil and get trace elements (and even sodium chloride) directly to the plant roots, it is actually that array of trace elements which nourishes the plant and causes it to grow to utmost health stature and physiology. This turns regular farming on its head.

But more than that, it shows us how we can return our nation’s ravaged and depleted soils to high fertility and healthiness, which can lead to return of health in the nation’s population that has been in rapid decline since about the time of McComb’s 1931 visit to the Great Salt Lake. Now, all we need to do is work biochar into our agricultural soils to insure very long-term fertility through the retention of minerals otherwise leached away by rains and irrigation.

There is yet another impressive aspect of sea salt fertilization that I want to append here. Don Jensen, a Nebraska farmer and close disciple of Dr. Murray, wound up buying Murray’s experimental and production hydroponics operation in Fort Meyers, Florida, shortly before selling the Nebraska farm. Before leaving, Jensen decided to treat a section of ground with two coffee cans of sea solids (or salt) in a thousand gallons of water to which he spread wheat seeds and got the best wheat crop ever.

In another experiment he spread salt on a field which got washed downhill in a storm to a neighbor’s field and roadside ditch. The neighbor was upset and expected his pasture to be ruined. Instead, the grass grew luxuriantly, and whenever he drove his cows past the salted ground, they would stop to eat that grass and could only be moved past it with extra prodding. The cows (and Jensen’s buffalos) were simply crazy about salt-treated pasture grass.

The salt Jensen had spread on his Nebraska farmland was shipped up from Baja Mexico where it had been scraped out of a depression at the highest water line after spilling in and then being evaporated in the intense sun and heat. Sea salt is harvested from impoundments around San Francisco Bay, in Spain (Celtic sea salt) and a few other places around the world in much this same manner. Applications of up to a ton per acre of these sea solids were applied by Jensen and by Murray at various places around the United States, nearly always with impressive and ultra-healthy growth responses, which are detailed in the two books cited above.

I bring this up because there are huge salt beds, mainly below ground, in much of the southwest where salt is mined for making refined table salt (not good for you) left over after extracting the trace minerals to be sold at a premium for use in various industrial processes and manufacturing. These beds were laid down billions of years ago when the ocean covered this region. In the state of Utah, near the town of Redmond (about 135 miles south of Salt Lake), is one such mine which markets the unrefined salt as sea salt for seasoning food and also for making mineral blocks and feed supplements for livestock. We sell Redmond sea salt for use in fertilizing garden soils, and frequently it is a prescribed ingredient coming out of professional soil tests.

Yes, we are recommending that you put sea salt (or seawater extract) on your garden or farm soils for mineral enrichment. Sea-Crop can also be applied about once a month as a foliar spray on vegetables, fruit trees, pastures and ornamentals to perk up their growth like a health tonic. Taste and disease resistance are also imparted. In the words of Murray on the cover of Sea Energy Agriculture, “Nature’s Ideal Trace
Element Blend for Farm, Livestock and Humans”.
GLK




© 2013 Gary L. Kline
All Rights Reserved

Fertile Mulching: Why It Works So Well

by Gary Kline 

Fertile Mulching is the name of a gardening technique developed by Black Lake Organic that has proven unexpectedly effective in the revival and health maintenance of trees, shrubs and other perennial plants.  We can say this because of the amazing results reported by customers who have used this method.  But just what is the explanation for the incredible growth response we and customers see when Fertile Mulch is applied around plants?

Starting out, I want to be clear that we are talking about something more, much more, than simple mulching.  And, for that matter, more than simply fertilizing.  We are talking about a synergy of materials and processes where one and one equals five.  Recognize too, that the technique was developed for treating plants already established (or in the ground), but you could also adapt it for use at the time of planting, when you would have the opportunity to mix some of these ingredients down in the root zone.

Giving credit where credit is due, I have to acknowledge that the inspiration for this method comes from “The Dirt Doctor”, Howard Garrett, and his 1995 book The Dirt Doctor’s Guide to Organic Gardening.  However, I suspect that Garrett got the ideas or information from others who are not specifically acknowledged in his book.  I have to say too, that Garrett impressed upon me that oxygen is a fertilizing nutrient, and getting it to the roots is vitally important.

At the time I first formulated my version of Garrett’s method, I had some unanswered questions about how fertile mulching worked and what the different components contributed.  I think I’ve since figured most of that out, and that’s what I want to tell you about because this, truthfully, is a major contribution to horticulture and to the successful growing of plants in a way that makes the most of nature’s actors in concert.  It does so without doing harm.  Indeed, Fertile Mulching makes a hugely positive contribution to environmental health, if for no other reason than it potentially eliminates the need to routinely use toxic pest and disease control sprays in orchards and landscapes.  Try it, you’ll like it.

What’s involved here is the principle of nutritional pest control whereby pest deterrence is achieved through creation of internal resistance or plant immunity.  However, before it can work, gardeners have to be persuaded to switch paradigms.  In other words, you’ve got to become a believer, if you aren’t already.  I find that people get this (i.e., it clicks) when I point out that it’s the same thing that goes on with the human immune system. 

The next step of the paradigm conversion happens when you get the “mineral message”.  Immunity has largely to do with vitamins and enzymes, complex regulatory compounds that are powered mostly by various trace minerals.  If you’ve got them, great; if you don’t, you’re sick, and vulnerable to attack by pathogens and parasites.  The same goes for that sickly apple tree out in your backyard.  Ultimately, what makes this system work is that we get the required nutrients for optimal nutrition and health into the plant.  Pests and pathogens are repulsed by the taste of health.  But you get better taste, plus more and better fruit.  Such a deal!

Other growth factors, of course, are at work as well.  All higher plants need ample sunlight, warmth, water (but not too much), air (O2, CO2 and, ultimately, N) and anchorage (a good, loose medium to sink their roots into).  But if all those things are in reasonably optimal status, the thing that makes the greatest difference between superb and marginal growth is nutrition.  Plants, too, are what they eat, or are fed.

What the mulching system does is help to create an optimal soil environment for the plant’s roots, but also for all the cooperating and facilitating soil biota (microbes, earthworms, etc.) that process nutrient-supplying materials and more or less feed them to plant roots, a la nature.  Wide temperature fluctuations are prevented and moisture and air supply held more steady.

The BLO Fertile Mulching System is described in Gardening Information Leaflet (GIL) No. 4 that is available at the store and on the BLO website.  As GIL No. 4 points out, the old wisdom about roots extending out to the dripline is generally incorrect.  With most trees, the roots extend far beyond the dripline, and it is out on the fine root tips where most of the feeding takes place.  That’s where you want to put most of the fertilizer and mulch cover. 

Visualize a small cherry tree that’s been in the ground a few years but never received any fertilization at the time of planting or thereafter.  Chances are, unless that particular site happened already to be naturally very fertile, the tree is producing few cherries and maybe looks less than spunky.  There can be about four different ground environments around the base and under the canopy; namely, bare ground, cultivated ground, grass (or other low-growing vegetation), or a mulch covering of bark, chips or leaves, etc.  Which is best for the tree?

Surprisingly, grass is the worst; bare ground would be better, even if you had to hoe it up from time to time to keep grass and weeds out.  Why is that?  It’s because the grass competes with the tree roots for food.  It also chokes off the supply of oxygen to the tree roots. 

A person who drove that point home for me was Sir Albert Howard in his 1940 book An Agricultural Testament (see chapter IX).  Sir Albert conducted some experiments (a.k.a. grow trials) in India with a variety of fruit trees.  What he discovered was that the trees that had grass planted around them in the third year grew very poorly; whereas the trees that were clean cultivated underneath grew very well.  However, what Howard did not do in this test was to mulch under some of the trees, let alone mulch and fertilize.  Howard did find, however, that the older or larger the tree, the less effect grass had on it and, in the case of forest tree species, grass had no effect, apparently because deeper roots find more minerals and were less affected by low oxygen levels or got it from old root channels. 

Besides the mulch itself, there are two main fertilizing components in our system.  One of these is our BLOOM complete and mineralized organic fertilizers (according to the class of plant) and a liquid concoction we named Witches’ Brew, which gets poured on the bare ground and can also be applied as a foliar spray.  Witches’ Brew is made from equal parts liquid fish, liquid seaweed, molasses and apple cider vinegar.  You dilute it five tablespoons to a gallon of water and generously wet the ground. 

An interesting question is what does each of these liquids contribute?  Well, we know that liquid fish and liquid kelp are long-standing, premium natural fertilizers providing mainly the major elements (with fish) and a smorgasbord of trace minerals (with kelp).  The molasses is an energy-rich food for soil microbes.  The vinegar supplies certain kinds of microbes, also probably enzymes and vitamins, and may acidify the soil pH in a favorable way that helps to free-up various nutrients.  But, beyond all those separate effects, there no doubt is a special synergy involved. 

Another part of Howard’s research was to examine shallow and deep root growth patterns with the change of seasons in India.  He did this by digging down as deep as 20 feet and washing (or hosing?) off the roots.  What he found under the bare ground plants was that in the dry months, due to intense sunlight on the soil and high heat, the upper roots would go dormant or die-off.  In the monsoon months the ground water would rise and drown the roots at the lower level or cause them to go dormant.  Of course, when things are dormant there’s no growth going on.  The return of the rains would stimulate roots in the upper soil to regrow, thus sending out new foliage on the trees and fruiting. 

We can only wonder how those climatic extremes would have been moderated or what the effect would have been from supplying a mulch layer, and, more so, the effect of providing natural fertilizer that included nutrient minerals.  We know that it does amazing things here compared to simply mulching or to doing nothing and to allowing grass to grow under shrubs and fruit trees. 

One final thought about the Witches’ Brew, which you can purchase ready-made at BLO.  It was developed for the Fertile Mulching System.  If you use it as a more general liquid fertilizer, we can’t predict exactly what effect it will have or not have.  Proceed at your own risk. 

Once the liquid and granular fertilizers are put down and the mulch overlaid, then an ideal environment is created for microbes and earthworms to proliferate in a “climate-controlled” situation.  The earthworms dine on decaying organic matter and on microbes, and they carry these down into the root zone and effectively stir the upper soil layer, distributing fertility, opening up the soil for aeration and water drainage, as well as creating an ideal nutrient pellet with their castings.  Eventually, part of the overlying mulch gets decomposed, eaten and turned into a mineral-rich humus that further fosters feeding of the whole symbiotic network.

Meanwhile, the mulch (with optional cardboard layer) serves to suppress grass and weed growth beneath the tree and out as far as the applied mulch extends.  Be sure to wet the ground and the cardboard when putting it down.  Eventually, the cardboard also rots down and gets consumed by worms and microbes.  Everyone is happy.  Don’t say this story doesn’t have a happy ending.

                                                                                                 GLK

© 2013 Gary L. Kline

All Rights Reserved

Fertile Mulching: Why It Works So Well

by Gary Kline 

Fertile Mulching is the name of a gardening technique developed by Black Lake Organic that has proven unexpectedly effective in the revival and health maintenance of trees, shrubs and other perennial plants.  We can say this because of the amazing results reported by customers who have used this method.  But just what is the explanation for the incredible growth response we and customers see when Fertile Mulch is applied around plants?

Starting out, I want to be clear that we are talking about something more, much more, than simple mulching.  And, for that matter, more than simply fertilizing.  We are talking about a synergy of materials and processes where one and one equals five.  Recognize too, that the technique was developed for treating plants already established (or in the ground), but you could also adapt it for use at the time of planting, when you would have the opportunity to mix some of these ingredients down in the root zone.

Giving credit where credit is due, I have to acknowledge that the inspiration for this method comes from “The Dirt Doctor”, Howard Garrett, and his 1995 book The Dirt Doctor’s Guide to Organic Gardening.  However, I suspect that Garrett got the ideas or information from others who are not specifically acknowledged in his book.  I have to say too, that Garrett impressed upon me that oxygen is a fertilizing nutrient, and getting it to the roots is vitally important.

At the time I first formulated my version of Garrett’s method, I had some unanswered questions about how fertile mulching worked and what the different components contributed.  I think I’ve since figured most of that out, and that’s what I want to tell you about because this, truthfully, is a major contribution to horticulture and to the successful growing of plants in a way that makes the most of nature’s actors in concert.  It does so without doing harm.  Indeed, Fertile Mulching makes a hugely positive contribution to environmental health, if for no other reason than it potentially eliminates the need to routinely use toxic pest and disease control sprays in orchards and landscapes.  Try it, you’ll like it.

What’s involved here is the principle of nutritional pest control whereby pest deterrence is achieved through creation of internal resistance or plant immunity.  However, before it can work, gardeners have to be persuaded to switch paradigms.  In other words, you’ve got to become a believer, if you aren’t already.  I find that people get this (i.e., it clicks) when I point out that it’s the same thing that goes on with the human immune system. 

The next step of the paradigm conversion happens when you get the “mineral message”.  Immunity has largely to do with vitamins and enzymes, complex regulatory compounds that are powered mostly by various trace minerals.  If you’ve got them, great; if you don’t, you’re sick, and vulnerable to attack by pathogens and parasites.  The same goes for that sickly apple tree out in your backyard.  Ultimately, what makes this system work is that we get the required nutrients for optimal nutrition and health into the plant.  Pests and pathogens are repulsed by the taste of health.  But you get better taste, plus more and better fruit.  Such a deal!

Other growth factors, of course, are at work as well.  All higher plants need ample sunlight, warmth, water (but not too much), air (O2, CO2 and, ultimately, N) and anchorage (a good, loose medium to sink their roots into).  But if all those things are in reasonably optimal status, the thing that makes the greatest difference between superb and marginal growth is nutrition.  Plants, too, are what they eat, or are fed.

What the mulching system does is help to create an optimal soil environment for the plant’s roots, but also for all the cooperating and facilitating soil biota (microbes, earthworms, etc.) that process nutrient-supplying materials and more or less feed them to plant roots, a la nature.  Wide temperature fluctuations are prevented and moisture and air supply held more steady.

The BLO Fertile Mulching System is described in Gardening Information Leaflet (GIL) No. 4 that is available at the store and on the BLO website.  As GIL No. 4 points out, the old wisdom about roots extending out to the dripline is generally incorrect.  With most trees, the roots extend far beyond the dripline, and it is out on the fine root tips where most of the feeding takes place.  That’s where you want to put most of the fertilizer and mulch cover. 

Visualize a small cherry tree that’s been in the ground a few years but never received any fertilization at the time of planting or thereafter.  Chances are, unless that particular site happened already to be naturally very fertile, the tree is producing few cherries and maybe looks less than spunky.  There can be about four different ground environments around the base and under the canopy; namely, bare ground, cultivated ground, grass (or other low-growing vegetation), or a mulch covering of bark, chips or leaves, etc.  Which is best for the tree?

Surprisingly, grass is the worst; bare ground would be better, even if you had to hoe it up from time to time to keep grass and weeds out.  Why is that?  It’s because the grass competes with the tree roots for food.  It also chokes off the supply of oxygen to the tree roots. 

A person who drove that point home for me was Sir Albert Howard in his 1940 book An Agricultural Testament (see chapter IX).  Sir Albert conducted some experiments (a.k.a. grow trials) in India with a variety of fruit trees.  What he discovered was that the trees that had grass planted around them in the third year grew very poorly; whereas the trees that were clean cultivated underneath grew very well.  However, what Howard did not do in this test was to mulch under some of the trees, let alone mulch and fertilize.  Howard did find, however, that the older or larger the tree, the less effect grass had on it and, in the case of forest tree species, grass had no effect, apparently because deeper roots find more minerals and were less affected by low oxygen levels or got it from old root channels. 

Besides the mulch itself, there are two main fertilizing components in our system.  One of these is our BLOOM complete and mineralized organic fertilizers (according to the class of plant) and a liquid concoction we named Witches’ Brew, which gets poured on the bare ground and can also be applied as a foliar spray.  Witches’ Brew is made from equal parts liquid fish, liquid seaweed, molasses and apple cider vinegar.  You dilute it five tablespoons to a gallon of water and generously wet the ground. 

An interesting question is what does each of these liquids contribute?  Well, we know that liquid fish and liquid kelp are long-standing, premium natural fertilizers providing mainly the major elements (with fish) and a smorgasbord of trace minerals (with kelp).  The molasses is an energy-rich food for soil microbes.  The vinegar supplies certain kinds of microbes, also probably enzymes and vitamins, and may acidify the soil pH in a favorable way that helps to free-up various nutrients.  But, beyond all those separate effects, there no doubt is a special synergy involved. 

Another part of Howard’s research was to examine shallow and deep root growth patterns with the change of seasons in India.  He did this by digging down as deep as 20 feet and washing (or hosing?) off the roots.  What he found under the bare ground plants was that in the dry months, due to intense sunlight on the soil and high heat, the upper roots would go dormant or die-off.  In the monsoon months the ground water would rise and drown the roots at the lower level or cause them to go dormant.  Of course, when things are dormant there’s no growth going on.  The return of the rains would stimulate roots in the upper soil to regrow, thus sending out new foliage on the trees and fruiting. 

We can only wonder how those climatic extremes would have been moderated or what the effect would have been from supplying a mulch layer, and, more so, the effect of providing natural fertilizer that included nutrient minerals.  We know that it does amazing things here compared to simply mulching or to doing nothing and to allowing grass to grow under shrubs and fruit trees. 

One final thought about the Witches’ Brew, which you can purchase ready-made at BLO.  It was developed for the Fertile Mulching System.  If you use it as a more general liquid fertilizer, we can’t predict exactly what effect it will have or not have.  Proceed at your own risk. 

Once the liquid and granular fertilizers are put down and the mulch overlaid, then an ideal environment is created for microbes and earthworms to proliferate in a “climate-controlled” situation.  The earthworms dine on decaying organic matter and on microbes, and they carry these down into the root zone and effectively stir the upper soil layer, distributing fertility, opening up the soil for aeration and water drainage, as well as creating an ideal nutrient pellet with their castings.  Eventually, part of the overlying mulch gets decomposed, eaten and turned into a mineral-rich humus that further fosters feeding of the whole symbiotic network.

Meanwhile, the mulch (with optional cardboard layer) serves to suppress grass and weed growth beneath the tree and out as far as the applied mulch extends.  Be sure to wet the ground and the cardboard when putting it down.  Eventually, the cardboard also rots down and gets consumed by worms and microbes.  Everyone is happy.  Don’t say this story doesn’t have a happy ending.

                                                                                                 GLK

© 2013 Gary L. Kline

All Rights Reserved

Great Salt Lake:  It’s the Minerals!

 by Gary Kline

The oceans, we know, are full of salty water.  You can’t drink the water, at least not very much of it.  But you can swim in it, and you can drown in it.  The saltiness is due to minerals, largely washed in over the eons from the land, but also from undersea vents and volcanic eruptions.  The salt content is about 3.5%, and likely will always be at that concentration; in a state of equilibrium.

Great Salt Lake, a very big lake in Utah, is much like the ocean, only saltier; and if you go for a swim in it, you will not sink.  You would have to work at it in order to drown.  That’s because there is a much higher concentration of minerals in Great Salt Lake which causes a human to float, like it or not.  This is a lake unlike more than 99% of all the lakes on the planet.  Why is that?  First, I want to examine a typical fresh water lake.

Black Lake is like nearly all other lakes.  Four and a half miles long and 40 feet deep, Black Lake is not salty.  It has a natural outlet at the south end, which is the Black River, and that river flows into the Chehalis River before entering Grays Harbor and emptying on out into the Pacific Ocean.  Salmon make their way all the way up into Black Lake’s tributary creeks from the ocean.  Black Lake also has a man-made outlet ditch at the north end, dug to Percival Creek, that empties into Capital “Lake” (actually an impoundment of the lower Deschutes River) and on out into Puget Sound.

I believe there are some shrimp-like critters that live in Salt Lake, but not much else.  Biologically, the lake is like a desert; whereas the oceans harbor far more forms of life than exist on land.  And, for the most part, those oceanic or marine life forms enjoy exquisite health, unlike what terrestrial and freshwater forms experience.  It’s the water - - - or more accurately - - - it’s the minerals; all the minerals on the planet kept suspended in the water, almost as if it was planned that way.  And, oh yes, our blood carries that same profile of minerals as found in the ocean, except much more dilute.  Our own health rises and falls according to the mineral composition of our blood. 

But the very existence of Great Salt Lake has much to tell us.  The reason it is so salty is that it has no outlet; it is an enclosed, shallow basin.  Water runs in from the surrounding land, but it can’t get out, except by evaporation.  Rainfall is scant, but washes minerals from the land that then enters the streams, which manage to flow into Salt Lake.  Exactly which minerals, I don’t know, but likely not the same proportions as found in the oceans all around the globe.  Water evaporates, but the minerals stay behind and build up high density in the lake.  If there got to be enough of them, I suppose we could walk on the lake as people do on Utah’s salt flats.

As minerals leave the land, they impoverish it from a fertility standpoint.  Such is the case with the mineral fertility of our own Western Washington soils, given the high amount of rainfall we get.  Our soils support big trees, but are not rich enough in minerals to permit sustained cropping of vegetables or decent game animals.  Think of the puny black-tailed deer compared to the huge mule deer east of the Cascades where rain is sparse and the soils are mineral-rich.

Great Salt Lake is too salty to support much aquatic life, but it is not a waste.  Those minerals in the water or on surrounding shores, are a valuable resource.  They can he harvested (and probably are) and put back on the land at some optimum concentration to restore the minerals that have been lost or depleted.  Such restored lands can be made to produce very high quality, nutrient-dense crops and livestock - - - the better to make people’s health.  That it can do that, and that ocean water is a nearly perfect fertilizer matrix, when applied properly to farm and garden soils, has been experimentally demonstrated in numerous ways. 

You can read about seawater, sea salt and use of seawater extract in fertilization in the 1976 book, Sea Energy Agriculture by Maynard Murray, and also the 2005 book, Fertility From the Ocean Deep, written by Charles Walters, telling mostly the story of Dr. Murray’s odyssey, his research and the practical experiences of his disciples.  I have to say that the book by Walters is one of the most fascinating and informative books I have read, despite Walters’ obtuse writing and the book being riddled with distracting typos.  Chapter 10 of that book, which primarily records the writing of an agronomist named Lee McComb, is a very straightforward and cogent summation of the seawater fertilizer story.  McComb’s account of his 1931 visit to Salt Lake, where it all first clicked in his head, is what inspired me to write this little article for the lesson I think it uniquely illustrates regarding the leaching of minerals from soil by the agency of rain - - - often assisted inattentive man.

There is yet another, more modern, pioneer in the seawater as fertilizer saga to be mentioned, and that is Arthur Zeigler, author of the 2012 book, Seawater Concentrate for Abundant Agriculture, which is dedicated to the remembrance of Dr. Maynard Murray.  Arthur Zeigler is the inventor and manufacturer of Sea-Crop Ocean Mineral Extract, made from Pacific Ocean water taken at the mouth of Willapa Bay in southwest Washington and sold by Black Lake Organic.

Since I have written several other articles about Mr. Zielger and Sea-Crop’s amazing effects on crops and animals, I will not repeat the information here.  I will add, however, that I have learned two relevant things.  One, it takes 30 gallons of seawater to make one gallon of Sea-Crop; and two, part of the biological life, along with organic compounds, taken in with the seawater remains live when it goes into the bottle, and this is a very big aspect in the synergy and effectiveness of the product and its 86 or so mineral elements (four more are the organic elements of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen).  One more point to be stressed is that 95% of sodium chloride is removed by Zeigler’s secret process of mineral extraction.  It should be noted, however, that Murray did not view sodium chloride as a hindrance to plant or animal nutrition.  Indeed, our bodies need lots of sodium.

Maynard Murray developed a successful system of hydroponics he named Seaponics.  It involved putting plants, such as tomato seedlings, in a bed of clean river rock and running a flush of seawater through the beds twice or three times a day.  Reportedly, this yielded excellent crops of tasty, nutrient-rich tomatoes and other vegetables.  The difference is that whereas conventional hydroponics relied on man-made chemical solutions based on the faulty NPK mentality, supplemented by mandatory pesticides to prop up the system, Seaponics relies on a wide-range of trace elements and a medium which contains very little N, P and K.

The amazing thing is that if you can bypass the hurdles of feeding plants via the soil and get trace elements (and even sodium chloride) directly to the plant roots, it is actually that array of trace elements which nourishes the plant and causes it to grow to utmost health stature and physiology.  This turns regular farming on its head.

But more than that, it shows us how we can return our nation’s ravaged and depleted soils to high fertility and healthiness, which can lead to return of health in the nation’s population that has been in rapid decline since about the time of McComb’s 1931 visit to the Great Salt Lake.  Now, all we need to do is work biochar into our agricultural soils to insure very long-term fertility through the retention of minerals otherwise leached away by rains and irrigation.

There is yet another impressive aspect of sea salt fertilization that I want to append here.  Don Jensen, a Nebraska farmer and close disciple of Dr. Murray, wound up buying Murray’s experimental and production hydroponics operation in Fort Meyers, Florida, shortly before selling the Nebraska farm.  Before leaving, Jensen decided to treat a section of ground with two coffee cans of sea solids (or salt) in a thousand gallons of water to which he spread wheat seeds and got the best wheat crop ever. 

In another experiment he spread salt on a field which got washed downhill in a storm to a neighbor’s field and roadside ditch.  The neighbor was upset and expected his pasture to be ruined.  Instead, the grass grew luxuriantly, and whenever he drove his cows past the salted ground, they would stop to eat that grass and could only be moved past it with extra prodding.  The cows (and Jensen’s buffalos) were simply crazy about salt-treated pasture grass.

The salt Jensen had spread on his Nebraska farmland was shipped up from Baja Mexico where it had been scraped out of a depression at the highest water line after spilling in and then being evaporated in the intense sun and heat.  Sea salt is harvested from impoundments around San Francisco Bay, in Spain (Celtic sea salt) and a few other places around the world in much this same manner.  Applications of up to a ton per acre of these sea solids were applied by Jensen and by Murray at various places around the United States, nearly always with impressive and ultra-healthy growth responses, which are detailed in the two books cited above. 

I bring this up because there are huge salt beds, mainly below ground, in much of the southwest where salt is mined for making refined table salt (not good for you) left over after extracting the trace minerals to be sold at a premium for use in various industrial processes and manufacturing.  These beds were laid down billions of years ago when the ocean covered this region.  In the state of Utah, near the town of Redmond (about 135 miles south of Salt Lake), is one such mine which markets the unrefined salt as sea salt for seasoning food and also for making mineral blocks and feed supplements for livestock.  We sell Redmond sea salt for use in fertilizing garden soils, and frequently it is a prescribed ingredient coming out of professional soil tests.

Yes, we are recommending that you put sea salt (or seawater extract) on your garden or farm soils for mineral enrichment.  Sea-Crop can also be applied about once a month as a foliar spray on vegetables, fruit trees, pastures and ornamentals to perk up their growth like a health tonic.  Taste and disease resistance are also imparted.  In the words of Murray on the cover of Sea Energy Agriculture, “Nature’s Ideal Trace
Element Blend for Farm, Livestock and Humans”.

                                                                                 GLK

                                                                                       

© 2013 Gary L. Kline

All Rights Reserved

Great Salt Lake:  It’s the Minerals!

 by Gary Kline

The oceans, we know, are full of salty water.  You can’t drink the water, at least not very much of it.  But you can swim in it, and you can drown in it.  The saltiness is due to minerals, largely washed in over the eons from the land, but also from undersea vents and volcanic eruptions.  The salt content is about 3.5%, and likely will always be at that concentration; in a state of equilibrium.

Great Salt Lake, a very big lake in Utah, is much like the ocean, only saltier; and if you go for a swim in it, you will not sink.  You would have to work at it in order to drown.  That’s because there is a much higher concentration of minerals in Great Salt Lake which causes a human to float, like it or not.  This is a lake unlike more than 99% of all the lakes on the planet.  Why is that?  First, I want to examine a typical fresh water lake.

Black Lake is like nearly all other lakes.  Four and a half miles long and 40 feet deep, Black Lake is not salty.  It has a natural outlet at the south end, which is the Black River, and that river flows into the Chehalis River before entering Grays Harbor and emptying on out into the Pacific Ocean.  Salmon make their way all the way up into Black Lake’s tributary creeks from the ocean.  Black Lake also has a man-made outlet ditch at the north end, dug to Percival Creek, that empties into Capital “Lake” (actually an impoundment of the lower Deschutes River) and on out into Puget Sound.

Great Salt Lake:  It’s the Minerals!

 by Gary Kline

The oceans, we know, are full of salty water.  You can’t drink the water, at least not very much of it.  But you can swim in it, and you can drown in it.  The saltiness is due to minerals, largely washed in over the eons from the land, but also from undersea vents and volcanic eruptions.  The salt content is about 3.5%, and likely will always be at that concentration; in a state of equilibrium.

Great Salt Lake, a very big lake in Utah, is much like the ocean, only saltier; and if you go for a swim in it, you will not sink.  You would have to work at it in order to drown.  That’s because there is a much higher concentration of minerals in Great Salt Lake which causes a human to float, like it or not.  This is a lake unlike more than 99% of all the lakes on the planet.  Why is that?  First, I want to examine a typical fresh water lake.

Black Lake is like nearly all other lakes.  Four and a half miles long and 40 feet deep, Black Lake is not salty.  It has a natural outlet at the south end, which is the Black River, and that river flows into the Chehalis River before entering Grays Harbor and emptying on out into the Pacific Ocean.  Salmon make their way all the way up into Black Lake’s tributary creeks from the ocean.  Black Lake also has a man-made outlet ditch at the north end, dug to Percival Creek, that empties into Capital “Lake” (actually an impoundment of the lower Deschutes River) and on out into Puget Sound.

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