Frequently Asked Questions
How does Soil Solver® turn sand into soil?
The most fertile soils contain a mix of textures - plenty of minerals, clays and silts with sand, organic matter and humus. This provides a moist and friendly environment for soil organisms to live in along with the nutrients they need to grow and multiply. All we have in our Perth gardens, and many areas around Australia, is silica sand. By buying in 'soil mixes' you are getting more sand mixed with a bit of compost, fertiliser, and will still not have any clay or silts.
Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals provides the missing clays and silts to your existing sand, and used in conjunction with Soil Solver® Purely Organic Matured Compost provides the macro nutrients (NPK) and a high humus content. These join together to create moist peds of soil, slowing down the flow of water and keeping it damp longer. This encourages microorganisms, beneficial bacteria and fungi to flourish - and plants can grow many times larger as a result of the extended moisture time and the increased fertility of the soil.
Whilst there are other opinions accompanying other products, there is no independent scientific evidence that you can use less, or any other type of clay, to get the same results as Soil Solver®. The turf trials at University of Western Australia (UWA) have not shown that any other clay is as good or better than kaolin clay as a soil amendment; or that lower amounts than we recommend are a permanent cure for water repellence. The quality of the kaolin clay is also important. There are many products spruiking inclusion of 'kaolin clay' but you can do a simple test to be sure you are getting kaolin clay to Australian Standards that will accomplish your desired outcomes.
Wet the 'clay' and rub it between your thumb and forefinger. If you feel a totally smooth, almost Playdough consistency, you have real kaolin clay. If you feel grit or you can't roll the wet clay into a sausage, it is not clay to Australian Standards. If the clay isn't to Australian Standards, then the quantities required in your soil are excessive and not as effective
Is there an independent fact sheet?
Yes, you can read the West Australian Dept of Agriculture advice for home gardeners on their web site. Click here
Is Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals contained in any other product?
The only non-Soil Solver® garden product that uses Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals is Bailey’s Fertilisers Soil Matters Clay and Compost.
Why can't I just keep using manure and compost?
If you were getting the permanent results you need from manure and compost, I guess you wouldn't be reading this page. By adding carbon as compost to the soil the compost breaks down to an alkaline wax which coats the sand particles and causes water repellent soil. This is known as hydrophobic sand resulting in even less water-holding capacity. So, whilst carbon, as compost, input can have an immediate take up of plant available nutrients it is transitory and can be detrimental to the soil and environment.
Using a complex, balanced mineral blend with the moisture and nutrient-holding kaolin clay will deliver a more productive and healthier
soil for plants - and humans.
In short, the role of compost is to release the minerals for plant uptake. Without the minerals, compost cannot do the job that nature intends. So, it isn't about carbon vs minerals; it is about the impact of a balanced practice using the entire suite of nature's complimentary building blocks for both sandy and clay soils.
How do I use Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals?
We recommend 10kg to 15kgs per sqm for garden beds and lawns.
For existing beds, spread 5 kgs per sqm over the surface of the bed, water, and mix with a hand held hoe to 10cm depth. Alternate between watering and mixing. Add another 5kgs and repeat the mixing. There is no independent scientific evidence that you can use less of any other type of clay to get the same results. The turf trials at UWA have not shown that any other clay is better than kaolin clay as a soil amendment, or that lower amounts are a permanent cure for water repellence.
For new gardens, just mix 10-15kgs per sqm over the existing sand, water well and mix through to 10cm depth.
We recommend that you also mix 5 ltrs of Soil Solver® Purely Organic Matured Compost in with your Clay Plus MInerals application. If you make your own compost you can use that, just make sure it is well matured.
4 bags clay and 3 bags of compost - treats up to 8 sqm
8 bags clay and 6 bags of compost - treats up to 16 sqm
12 bags clay and 9 bags of compost - treats up to 25 sqm
17 bags clay and 12 bags of compost - treats up to 35 sqm
500kgs of bulk clay plus 18 bags of compost - treats up to 50 sqm
750kgs of bulk clay plus 27 bags of compost - treats up to 75 sqm
1000kgs of bulk clay plus 36 bags of compost - treats up to 100 sqm
1250kgs of bulk clay plus 45 bags of compost - treats up to 125 sqm
1500kgs of bulk clay plus 54 bags of compost - treats up to 150 sqm
Do I need to use anything else with Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals?
You can get terrific results by just mixing Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals into your garden beds. We recommend that you also add Soil Solver® Purely Organic Matured Compost for beneficial microbes and fungi, as well as a source of macro nutrients such as nitrogen. Organic matter feeds microorganisms, earthworms and fungi which are important for healthy soil and plants. Finish with a thick mulch of your choice.
For demanding plants, especially vegetable gardens, roses and citrus we recommend Soil Solver® Compost Plus Minerals. See below.
What is the difference between Soil Solver® Purely Organic Matured Compost and Soil Solver® Compost Plus Minerals?
The name says it all. Compost Plus Minerals is also a Certified Organic Allowed Input, fully matured compost but it has been blended with the complete suite of rock and ore minerals to form that perfect partnership of minerals and carbon. Compost Plus Minerals used in the initial amendment of your sandy soil will give you the extra boost for demanding plants and weather conditions.
Compost Plus Minerals is especially good for lawn top-dressing, refreshing your spent potting mixes
(great to put 10% of Compost Plus Minerals in with your potting mix when potting your plants).
Potting mixes are depleted of their fertilising agents within 3-4 months. By rejuvenating your pots with
Compost Plus Minerals every 2-3 months your plants will continue to thrive. And, it also contains a small
amount of clay and silt to hold moisture and nutrients for longer.
Can I use Soil Solver® Compost Plus Minerals on clay soils?
Real-life trials in Adelaide, South Australia, have shown that by using Soil Solver® Compost Plus Minerals on heavy clay soils also gives the required boost to plants. We recommend spreading .5 kg per sqm of lime across your clay soil and then 5 litres of Compost Plus Minerals. This will start to break up your clay soil with the benefit of compost and minerals feeding the soil and the plant. Continue to use Compost Plus Minerals every 3 months.
How do Soil Solver® products make plants healthy?
All the natural minerals in our products feed the microorganisms and the plants to make them pest and disease resistant.
Insects don't eat healthy plants. A few insects may sit on your plants but they are unable to digest healthy plants so they do not attack the plants. Same with viruses that plants can get. Your roses may still get a little Chilly Thrift but they will not suffer the same damage as less healthy plants - and the aphids will go elsewhere to feed.
Listen to renowned entomologist Dr Thomas Dykstra on why insects can't eat healthy plants.
Can't I just keep feeding my plants by spraying fertiliser on the plants?
Optimum feeding for plants is through the roots. Foliar feeding, which is sprays on the leaves, gives little nutrient and is transitory. The feed drips off leaves far too quickly to do much good and that one of the reasons it appears to work is that it drips onto the soil and feeds the plant in the normal way.
Importantly, it should be remembered that foliar feeding is never an alternative to building up a good, healthy soil. Your vegetables could never get enough of the major nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium if you purely fed them through their leaves. (source GrowVeg, Helen Gazeley 2012)
Can I plant in Soil Solver® straight away?
Yes, you can! Every area is different, and you may need to provide some short term food for the plants while the soil organisms establish themselves in a newly converted area, particularly if it was an area that was low in organic matter or was barren dry ground. Liquid fish nutrients work well as a boost at the start. If leafy vegetables are going to be grown, then add 10 litres or more of Soil Solver® Compost Plus Minerals for every 10 kgs of clay product.
Can I use montmorillonite (Bentonite) clay instead?
You do not get the same great result. Bentonite is a commercial term for montmorillonite clay. It is an extra 'sticky' type of clay that creates water barriers by sticking to itself, and not to sand particles. Montmorillonite clay is only a temporary relief for water repellence and because of montmorillonite clay's negative properties can be difficult to work with in the soil and causes a lumpy sticky sand. It does not contain all the minerals and trace elements that Soil Solver® products contain, and that plants need. Montmorillonite clay does not disperse in the soil as kaolin clay does. After a few months it will clump up and return your sandy soil back to its original state.
Farmer's use montmorillonite clay (Bentonite) to seal their dams.
Soil Solver®'s kaolin clay is effective at permanently overcoming water repellence and creates a more stable soil, particularly as it is combined with silts. Only kaolin clay will stick to sand and humus to form peds of soil. Only Soil Solver®'s Clay Plus Minerals will moderate the pH to neutral enabling all our plants to grow without further modifications to the soil.
Do you recommend adding Zeolite to your garden?
No, you get a better result without it. Turf trials at UWA are not showing any real advantage of adding Zeolite to soil, and it seems to be the least effective of the amendments being trialled for increasing water volume or plant available water. Zeolite is commonly used to filter and remove chemicals because it absorbs them and may not readily release them, which is not useful for soil as you want the nutrients to be released to plants. Not all Zeolites are the same. The local WA Zeolite does not add any small particled texture to the soil, and it can interfere with the capillary action of the water flow that fine clays and silts create. Cations and water held by Zeolite and montmorillonite are not readily released to plants, and it can take a lot of continuous fertilising to 'charge' them.
What about using Biogenic Amorphic Silica?
There is sparse literature suggesting that biogenic amorphic silica addition to soils could potentially increase the water holding capacity of soils.
However, a comprehensive picture of the effect of bASi content on water holding capacity of soils is still missing. (Schaller, J., Cramer, A., Carminati, A.et al.) Studies have concentrated on agricultural soils. Some studies show that the silica can hold water to 60% of its own weight but will only make 20-40% of that amount plant available. Biogenic Amorphic Silica is commonly used as a filtration and absorption method for hydrocarbons and heavy metals and is used heavily in hydroponics - and some kitty litters.
The Jury is still very much out. But be aware of using a product that does not disperse in the soil or requires soaking in a liquid wetting agent before spreading.
Do I need to add Soil Solver® products every year?
For clay amending soil the answer is No, you don't! Unlike other clay products that contain montmorillonite, Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals is a permanent cure for water repellence. Once you have added the minimum recommended amounts of Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals you have changed the sand into rich loam soil permanently. You can add the optimum amount before planting, or gradually mix it into an existing lawn or garden. Your garden and lawn will be transformed into a fertile and easy care environment, and many people have had success with growing vegetables for the first time ever!
Have a look at the Customer Results page to see the great results people are getting in their gardens. Water repellence should not return, but if you overwhelm the soil with a lot of organic matter and the symptoms return, add some more Clay Plus Minerals to rebalance the soil. The more compost you use the more clay you need. Our experience has been, high levels of clay and minerals outperform high organic use.
Soil Solver® Compost Plus Minerals is recommend to be spread across your veggie garden at the planting of every new growing season. Potted plants just thrive and amaze with 10% of pot size amount every 3 months. Citrus trees, in ground and pots, will benefit from application at the beginning and end of each season.
Can I use Soil Solver® products on my lawn?
Yes, it is a very important area to slow down the rate that water moves through the soil profile and will make the difference between a lawn that thrives and one that barely survives. Now that we can only use sprinklers twice a week, and our climate is getting hotter and drier, we really have to rethink our soil preparation for lawns to keep them healthy. Healthy lawns also need just as many trace elements and minerals as the rest of the garden. By adding Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals as well as Compost Plus Minerals you will have a lawn that will establish easily, and be a richer and deeper colour as a result of the increased fertility of the soil. It will only need small amounts of Compost Plus Minerals in the future as food for the soil microbes and lawn. You, and the environment, will enjoy long-term rewards with an organic and healthy lawn that uses less water and does not leach nutrients and gives a cooing effect around your home or work environment.
Top Tip: Property managers are loving Soil Solver® products as they assist gardens and lawns to be ‘tenant proof’.
How should I prepare soil for a new lawn?
Lawns need more consideration when you prepare the soil because you only have one opportunity to prepare it properly!
For sandy soils: Add 10kg to 15kg Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals per sqm, and 5 litres of Soil Solver® Purely Organic Matured Compost (or Compost Plus Minerals) per sqm to the existing or new sand (prefer builder's sand). Water it and mix in very well to 10-15cms using a rotary hoe. Alternate between the watering and mixing several times before levelling and laying your lawn. Add another 5 litres per sqm of Compost Plus Minerals to the surface of the lawn. The clays and silts will maximise the time your lawn retains water and nutrients, creating a fertile and stable environment for the roots.
Top Tip: When levelling for a new lawn, make sure you allow for the soil’s development and ‘puffing up’ when all the microbs build up. Recommended to add 20mm to the turf manufacturer’s levelling recommendations so your lawn will be level with driveways and paving. So, if you leave 30mm for the turf thickness, actually leave at total of 50mm for the soil development.
Lawns are one of the biggest contributors to fertiliser run-off and pollution in our waterways. Nitrogen and Phostrogen easily run off or leach away from a sandy soil. Kaolin clay and silts cure water repellence and holds onto water and nutrients. The health of the root zone is a primary determinant of the quality and vigour of the grass that grows on the surface.
For clay soils: mix 15ltrs per sqm of Soil Solver® Compost Plus Minerals into your soil bed for added minerals and nutrients.
Can I use Soil Solver® products to renovate my lawn?
Yes, adding Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals and Compost Plus Minerals achieves great results.
Top dressing lawns with 5 litres per sqm of Compost Plus Minerals adds nutrients, trace elements and boosts the numbers and diversity of beneficial microbes.
To renovate a lawn:
Make plenty of aerated holes, and de-thatch if necessary. Spread Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals at a low rate of 5kg per sqm and water in well, repeat this until the soil shows it is holding water, aiming to add about 8 to 10kgs per sqm eventually. Spread Soil Solver® Compost Plus Minerals at about 5 litres per sqm as plant food for the lawn. Water thoroughly. Repeat the addition of Compost Plus Minerals two or three times a year.
Make a mix of 20% Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals, 20% Compost Plus Minerals with 60% fine builder's sand and spread over your lawn 1 to 2cm deep, and level. The lawn will grow through and be reinvigorated.
I have already added lots of compost, do I really need Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals as well?
Yes, trials have shown that soil holds much more water and is more fertile with kaolin clay and silts as well as compost. They are both essential elements for a good soil, saves water, saves fertiliser and saves our rivers. The best results come from Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals and Compost Plus Minerals mixed with the sand in your garden. See above answer to Why can’t I just keep using manure and compost? for more detail.
I have spent a fortune on improving my sandy grounds and none of it worked, why is
Soil Solver® any better?
Soil Solver® makes gardening easier and turns anyone into a good gardener, because it balances the soil for you making a perfect easy care garden. When used as directed, Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals provides the missing links to your sand. Sandy gardens can be very frustrating. They do not hold onto the expensive composts and nutrients that we add and unless you change the composition of the soil then it will only be a temporary solution. Adding Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals at 10 to 15kgs per sqm will very quickly turn a sand bowl into a fertile garden, which just needs mulch and water. Your plants will thrive, and it will quickly turn your garden into the envy of the neighbourhood. The more you add, the closer it comes to the best loam soil and if you get worried about adding too much just remember that a true loam soil is 1/3rd clay, 1/3rd silt and 1/3 sand!
How does Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals stop water repellence?
The breakdown of organic matter produces waxy substances that coat sand particles, making sand water repellent. The tiny kaolin clay and silt particles in Soil Solver® coat the grains of sand and cover up the wax, and holds onto water. The extended time that the soil stays damp helps the microorganisms multiply and they gradually break down the built up waxes. Read more....
Can I use kitty litter instead?
Most kitty litter is sodium (salt) montmorillonite (Bentonite) clay which has a natural tendency to puff and swell when wet, and shrink again when dry. It is commonly called a 'cracking clay' because the surface becomes covered with large cracks as the clays shrinks when it dries. It also creates a mineral imbalance in your garden because of the sodium.
What is the recommended rate of Soil Solver®?
Soil Scientists recommend between 5% to 15% clays and silts, and the higher rates bring the greatest fertility in the garden. This is roughly 10 to 20 kgs per sqm. The smaller the individual grains of sand you have, the more clays and silts it will take to overcome water repellence. Just spread Soil Solver® Clay Plus Minerals on the surface of an established garden and mix it in to 10cm depth. You can do this a few times, starting with 5kgs per sqm and then again with more later. It is very important to mix it thoroughly into the soil, (as nature has done over the last few hundred million years!) and if it is not absorbing water then it is an indication that you need to do more mixing. The soil will go on improving for years to come as the clay and silts hold onto increasing amounts of humus which are capable of holding onto even more water and nutrients in the soil. You will be amazed at the difference it makes.
Top Tip: Remember, roots travel. You need to amend the whole garden bed so when the roots travel they will continually have the moisture and nutrients they need.
When is the best time to add Soil Solver® products?
The best time to add Soil Solver® to your garden is today!
By adding Soil Solver®, you will achieve a nutrient rich loamy soil that will grow healthy plants, be worm friendly and will soon be the envy of your neighbours.
Just remember, the best time to make your garden Water Wise is RIGHT NOW. Saves water, helps save the environment.