Rather than end up posting a bunch of stuff that just makes people say things like, "I wish she's shut up about clay!!", I'm going to put it all here. In one blog post.
Clay is imperative - with regard to life. It is - well - it's medicine. For plants, for people, for animals, for insects, for microbes - for the whole planet. It attracts both noble forms of life and "ignoble" forms of life, if you think of the bacteria and fungi and such as being "bad", which they're not, and I'll explain that in a minute.
Clay attracts and TRAPS "ignoble" forms of microbial life as well as inorganic toxins. It attracts but does NOT trap "noble" life.
Now, philosophically speaking, if man didn't have "higher intelligence" and hadn't conceived of this wacky idea that he knows better than nature how to create, cultivate and sustain life, we would have never had this opportunity to be awed. Awe would not exist. The only reason we can be awed, to such a great extent, is because we get hold of and hang onto - with a DEATH grip - the wrong end of the stick. A LOT. Which is GOOD, because that means we have a LOT of opportunities to be awed. And who doesn't want and love to be awed?!?!
So - "clay". I'm not going to get technical. Instead, I'm going to analogize it so that everyone can picture it and, hopefully, apply and use it.
No analogy is perfect so please overlook what may appear to be contradictions and try to get an overall picture of the cycles I'm going to try to describe. By the time I'm done, you are going to LOVE mud. The slicker, the messier, the BETTER. Mud rocks! And her's why:
The structure of clay particles is such that it boasts an enormous amount of surface area. TINY surface area, granted, but it's the tiny elements of things that make them either "noble" or "ignoble" so that tininess is a GOOD thing.
I'm going to use mosquitoes and dragonflies as examples of "ignoble" and "noble". Mosquitoes get out of hand, NOT because of water but, because of not ENOUGH water. Not enough of the right KIND of water. Dragonflies are VORACIOUS skeeter eaters BUT, to populate, they need water. Fresh, permanent sources of water. They lay their eggs in it, their larvae mature in it - sometimes as measured in years - and they basically live as water creatures. Now, mosquitoes aren't the ONLY thing they eat, but where there's water, there are puddles of stagnant water which is where skeeters lay their eggs and their larvae mature. This is NOT a coincidence because skeeters are dragonfly food. BUT, if there aren't enough mosquitoes, dragonflies will eat other "noble" insects - bees, butterflies, moths etc.. In fact, they'll eat about anything that's their size or smaller but they just happen to prefer skeeters and other "nuisance" (from man's perspective) insects so, if there isn't enough food for them - as through man's intervention - things get out of balance because the "noble" work of the "noble" insects eaten by the dragonfly because there isn't enough "ignoble' food available, goes undone - i.e. dead pollinators don't pollinate.
Using this as an example, Clay is NOT the dragonfly nor is it the skeeter - it's the WATER. It's the source, the cultivator and the sustainer of life. Of the entire life cycle. It attracts, traps and "composts" the EXCESS bad guys within an environment. Once composted and broken down on an elemental level, it flows micronutrients out, with moisture. It does NOT trap the good stuff. It FLOWS it. It takes in bad stuff, takes it apart, flows the good elements out and hangs onto the bad elements which are EXTRA tiny, comparatively, which makes room for more work. Clay has been cleaning and curing this planet since the beginning of biological life.
You need clay in or around or otherwise "available" to the life forms in your landscape, both flora AND fauna. It's not a...an "accessory" or a...a..."supplement". It's a REQUIREMENT for healthy soil, plants, insects and just life in general. It is necessary to protect your garden AND to protect YOU. If you get into some poison ivy, slather clay on yourself. If you get stung by an insect or bitten by an animal, pack clay on it and go about your business. If you get into some animal feces or some kind of toxic spillage or anything unknown and icky, wash it off and then cover the area with clay. It will pull that crap right out through your skin which is a WHOLE lot better than forcing the kidneys to deal with it via your blood after it's dragged it through all the rest of your organs. Don't worry about what the bad stuff was or what bit you. It doesn't matter, pack clay on it. If it's toxic, the clay will take it from you. Even if it leaves a stinger along with its venom, the clay will pull that stinger out. Keep some pure bentonite clay to have on hand to put in a glass of water so you can drink it if you aren't aware of the exposure and it gets into your system and makes you sick.
More awesomeness -
If bees are going to be saved, it's going to be clay that does the saving. Life forms know what to do with it but they need for it to BE there. Stop trying to eliminate it. Stop paving over it. Stop planting in its absence. Stop letting toxins build in your plants because there's no clay available to pull them out. Put some in a shaker bottle and sprinkle it all over your plants, yourself, your pets - put a layer around the stems and trunks of your landscape plants and DEFINITELY keep your clay stock in and around your edible plants. Dig some 1 gallon holes and fill them with pure clay pond sealer. They will attract BOTH the over population of "ignoble" elements and the "noble" elements that were missing and allowed the overpopulation to happen in the first place. They will attract over great distances. They'll suck toxins right out of the ground - the acid out of acid rain - ignoble microbes out of the plants, insects and animals who know EXACTLY what to do with clay. They know when they need it and they KNOW what it's for. The "noble" life forms KNOW that clay will cure what ails them and they KNOW that their food source is going to be attracted to it TOO which will provide them with a huge smorgasbord of sustenance. It is no less vital than a "watering hole" in the desert. One gallon-size hole full of pure clay pond sealer can suck the toxic elements and microbes out of a whole small garden. If you don't believe it, then put two in there! It doesn't matter!
Bring clay back to your garden and landscape. If you already have clay soil, be patient with your plantings. Plant whatever you want and just be patient - it will find its own way and it will be several times more robust than vegetation grown in compost. No need to fertilize or supplement. Just be patient. If you want to fertilize, use pure CLAY. Dust with it or shake it up in water and spray or tip it on.
Other things to consider: Provide clay for your pets. Keep both wet and dry, food grade clay on hand for everyday use. Your dog will lick pure wet clay right off your fingers which will travel through his digestive tract, picking up toxins and dropping them - along with the clay necessary to keep them under lock and key - right in your yard. AND those droppings will be safe for your compost pile if you insist on keeping one. With the toxins locked up and the GOOD stuff free to flow through and out of it. It would actually be BENEFICIAL for your compost pile as that clay will continue to snatch and trap toxins, everywhere it goes, even AFTER it's traveled through your dog's digestive tract!
Let's be honest, it's mud. It's messy, I know. It's slick and sticky and squishy but it is NOT the filth you've been taught it is. It's medicine. It's anti-venom. It's disinfectant. It's food. It's awesome.
LOVE YOUR MUD!!
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