In order to maximize a garden’s yield and his or her return on investment, a gardener must develop an effective feeding regiment. In addition to providing the essential elements needed to sustain plant growth, horticulturists are looking for other important plant additives which can enhance a garden’s overall performance. One of those important additives is silicon. Silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust so it goes to figure that silicon plays an important role in plants, and that’s why it is quickly becoming one of the most popular fertilizer additives and soil amendments. Silicon’s popularity isn’t just marketing hype; horticulturists are flocking to silicon because the potential benefits are impressive.
Silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. The element can be found in many different forms. For example, silica [SiO2] is the form of silicon found in quartz and glass. This form of silicon is tightly structured and very hard to break down into smaller subunits. In other words, it is not really available for plant absorption. Natural amorphous silica [also SiO2] is less organized silica structures coming from either low-energy sedimentary deposits or high-energy volcanic deposits. Amorphous silica breaks down more easily into smaller units. The most usable form of silicon for plants is silicic acid [Si(OH)4 or H4SiO4]. This form of natural plant available silicon is rarely found in nature, frequently limited in soils, and is often missing completely from growing mediums.
Unfortunately, the amount of silicon within our cultivated soil is being depleted. Silicon has its own cycle and can take hundreds of millions of years to naturally break down into a form that is usable by plants. The silicon life-cycle starts with active volcanoes which eject silicon rich particles into the Earth’s atmosphere. The ash from the volcanoes attaches to water droplets in the air and is distributed onto the surface of the Earth through rain or snow. The freshly distributed silicic acid is then cycled into plants. Over many years, the silicon is washed to the bottom of the ocean into subduction faults. From there, the silicon is eventually distributed once again into the Earth’s atmosphere via a volcanic eruption. The cycle is then complete.
There are many different types of silicon products available to horticulturists. Unfortunately, there is very little continuity between these products. In fact, there can be huge differences between the various silicon formulas designed for plants. So how should a gardener determine which silica formula to use in his or her garden? A good place to begin is examining the source and/or extraction method used to create the product. Most garden silicon products are derived with harsh chemicals or do not even contain a form of silicon that is usable by plants.
MontanaGrow is not like other silicon products on the market. MontanaGrow is the only silicon amendment derived entirely from amorphous volcanic tuff formed by a geological event that happened approximately 30 million years ago. The amorphous silicon found in MontanaGrow is an excellent source of silicic acid. Rarely found in nature, this type of silicon requires no harsh extraction or refining methods which are commonly used in the extraction of other silicon products. In fact, MontanaGrow uses absolutely no chemical extraction. MontanaGrow is mined, crushed, and screened which means the silicon is kept in its pure amorphous form. The resulting product is 100% natural produced to National Organic Program standards, and is safe for the environment.
MontanaGrow contains potassium and silicon dioxide which help build strong root systems, stems and foliage. The biggest benefits of using MontanaGrow in a garden are an increased resistance to various stresses and better water retention in the soil. Abiotic stresses, including drought, intense heat, frost and UV light, can all cause damage to plants and hinder growth. Providing improved structural integrity from roots to shoots and increased photosynthetic activity are just two ways MontanaGrow helps plants resist or quickly heal from abiotic stresses.
The amorphous silicon contained in MontanaGrow will also help balance a soil’s nutrient availability. This equates to additional protection from stresses and the ability to quickly recover from major events. MontanaGrow also helps alleviate biotic stresses, including diseases and pest insects. It has been proven to strengthen a plant’s cell walls, which, in turn, will increase resistance to or slow the spread of various biotic stresses. MontanaGrow stimulates natural plant defense responses, which improves the plant’s resistance to insects and diseases. In addition to increasing resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses, MontanaGrow offers another incredible benefit: water conservation. We all know as population increases water is becoming a precious limited resource. For many horticulturists a reduction in water usage could mean huge savings in labor or other associated costs. MontanaGrow is highly absorbent, much like a sponge, and has the ability to hold moisture and slowly release as the soil dries and plants begin to need more water. For just about every gardener on the planet, a reduction in water usage equals a higher return on investment.
Aside from the increase in yield and overall quality, amending a garden with silicon can extend the shelf life of the harvest. The use of silicon will help strengthen the cell walls which keep the nutrients in the harvest longer. Silicon adsorbs volatile organic compounds, particularly ethylene – the VOC responsible for decay – so the higher the levels of silicon in plant tissue the better it can adsorb ethylene which dramatically reduces the rate of decay. In other words, plants grown with MontanaGrow will retain nutrients for a longer period of time and have a longer shelf life.
MontanaGrow can be used in conjunction with most fertilizers and is applied in a fashion similar to other soil amendments. When planting, mix 1/2 cup to 1 cup of MontanaGrow per 7.5 gallons of growing medium or 4-8 ounces per cubic foot of growing medium. For field farmers, 100-200 pounds of MontanaGrow should be applied per acre. For additional feedings, plants can be top dressed with 1-2 tbsp every 7-14 days. MontanaGrow is not toxic at any level of application, but gardeners should note that the pH comes in at 6.7 – 7.0 neutral, which is compatible with most insecticides, fungicides and herbicides.
MontanaGrow is an effective amendment in the garden and you can also feel good about using it because it is safe for the environment. It is completely natural and contains no chemical additives or residuals from extraction. When buying MontanaGrow gardeners know exactly what they are getting: pure, unaltered amorphous silicon.
The more we understand about plant physiology, the more we understand what role particular beneficial elements, like silicon, play in a healthy, vibrant garden. Plants are not able to produce silicic acid on their own so they must rely on the soil or medium. Unfortunately, in today’s world, silicic acid is often missing from the soil. Adding silicon to a soil or medium is necessary if a gardener wants his or her plants to reach their full potential. MontanaGrow is the purest, safest form of silicon and is capable of delivering the silicic acid plants need for stress resistance and bountiful yields.