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Growing local

My Palagonite experiment


You may remember that I planted out two identical "Rouge De Marmande" seedlings, each in a wheelie bin with identical growing mixes, except that in 1of the bins I mixed in an amount of Palagonite mineral powder as well.


Initial growth was similar and now that they are reasonably large plants I cannot see any significant difference in them. they are both very healthy looking, and the only difference worth noting so far is that the non Palagonite enriched plant is flowering already and has formed small fruit while the other is a week or two behind in this.


So growth is no different, flower and fruit formation is a little different but probably not of consequence as all plants may exhibit slight differences this way. Will the fruit taste any different? Will one crop significantly more? Will one be more pest affected?

Will the one that has delayed fruiting end up being a better all round performer?

 Watch this space!!


The two bins are at the rear, the ones in front have spuds in. The Palagonite bin is on the right and the other next to it on its left. Both are the same height.

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Comment by Roger Clark on October 7, 2017 at 7:00

Dianne, We are eating them fresh at the moment. I have lots of tomatoes growing of various types that are about half grown at the moment. I will be able to give you some in a little while, it will be interesting to hear your thoughts about the best tasting varieties. I have got a range of types through seed companies, and also my local fruit shop has had some heirloom varieties for sale which I have saved seed from and are using to try out. I would really like to do a "blind taste test" at one of our garden visits. Everyone could bring along their favourite tomato and a panel could do a blind test and vote / rate each type eaten. As one of my favourites to date is the Green Zebra it would need to be a bind test to stop people like me from "picking" my own entries.

On the Palagonite experiment. I probably should have controlled things a lot better, like keeping the two test plants separated. The main claim that I remember from the BOGI talk I attended was that the Palagonite enhanced the compost making process, making it quicker to produce commercial compost. The speaker also related that they had exported it to a middle east country where they found it made the growing of grass more lush and green.

Comment by Roger Clark on October 7, 2017 at 6:35

Lissa, I got them by emailing JJ Richards and by claiming (confirming) that I am a poor old pensioner  who gardens in pots and raised garden beds. That some old disused wheelie bins would be invaluable to me so that I could move them around if needed. I stressed that the older and tattier the better as I would need to drill drainage holes in them anyway. They gave me about four full sized bins and then my next door neighbour who has horses had a few that he used for feed bins/ storage that he didn't need anymore. I didn't ask him how he acquired those, but now are growing tomatoes in 3, spuds in 2 more, avocado seedling trees in about three more. The ones with tomatoes in will be used to grow other fruit trees in eventually. I am growing other crops in them initially to attempt to get over / past the initial problem with soil "slump" that occurs when you use a soil mix that has a lot of organic content. The soil slumps so much that you need to top it up considerably and this can induce collar rot if you do this to a seedling or even a grafted tree. So when I am satisfied that most of the "slump" has finished, I will then plant fruit trees in them so that when we move to a smaller block we can take the trees with us. 

Comment by Dianne Caswell on October 6, 2017 at 7:58

I am also using the Palagonite in new gardens, started same time as Roger and Darren, I have found the the water retention has improved and that is a big bonus for me. I have been also putting it at the bottom of the holes when planting out. I had already been using it as part of my regular gardening calendar but had known it as Rock Dust in the past until Darren got me some from BOGI and he bought it around and said "What did you want more for, you already have it", I felt such a dill.

Comment by Christa on October 6, 2017 at 7:41

Great harvest Roger, although you may not see a difference at this stage, I am sure if you used this soil to grow further on, the one with palagonite would last better in the long run.  You can be proud of those lovely tomatoes. 

You wouldn't have a toad problem with those bins. 

Comment by Lissa on October 6, 2017 at 5:01

Good experiment and great crop.

Roger - no doubt this has been asked of you before....but where do you get hold of so many wheelie bins?

Comment by Dianne Caswell on October 5, 2017 at 16:22

Very impressive harvest. Are you or Brenda going to make anything with the Rouge De Marmande, or do you mainly use them as a salad fruit. I made a lovely Chutney today with Cherry Tomatoes and a Blood Orange and Chilli Chutney using tomatoes as well. I'm always willing to swap Chutney or Relish for your some of your Tomatoes. 

Comment by Roger Clark on October 5, 2017 at 16:11

Well the experiment has come to an end with no real differences detected. As the two Rouge De Marmande plants are next to one another they are intertwined somewhat.  No obvious differences have been found, but the crops have been very good!

The above shows what we have harvested over a few days. Not all are large but all are very tasty!

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on July 21, 2017 at 10:11

I'm interested to know too. My one time of weighing the crop resulted in 800g to 1kg from each plant. Nice but not worth the time and garden space. Scarlett (site originator) reckons you get buckets of spuds in Victoria vs handfuls in Qld.

Comment by Dianne Caswell on July 21, 2017 at 10:05

The outcome should be interesting to see. Just as well you are tall to get up there and pick the fruit etc. Can you please tell me, how much potatoes do you get out of planting in the wheelie bins?

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on July 17, 2017 at 9:53

Good points for the trial, Roger. I prune mine by removing the laterals until they are at a height I can comfortably pick the crop then I allow a new stem to arise from the base. I figure that the fruit is bigger (especially as I mostly grow small-fruited varieties) and there's less greenery to encourage diseases.

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