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Re: Micronized Iron

Sungmin Hong was wondering what micronized iron was. I assume that he was
reading Steve Pushak's material, because Steve is the first person that I am
aware of who started to use this stuff.

Micronized Iron is an iron supplement meant for correcting iron defficiency
symptoms in ornamental evergreens, shrubs and lawns (i.e. terresterial use).
It is derived from Iron Oxide (the same chemical formula as rust) and
contains 25% Fe. It is NOT chleated, nor is it in the proper ionic state to
be useful to plants (ferrous) as it comes out of the container. However, it
does seem to be useful, when it is used as Steve recommends in his article
"How to Build a Soil Substrate".

The term "micronized" means that a particular material is finely ground, and
micronized iron is certainly that. Not as finely ground as graphite powder,
but it certainly has a huge surface area, exposing a lot of Iron to the
environment. In a substrate, and in Steve's substrate recipe, the presence
of a small percentage of peat moss will produce locally acidic conditions
and this can change the ionic state of the micronized iron to one that the
roots of the plants can absorb.

(In case you missed it, that was another of my plugs for following a recipe
exactly unless you have the experience and know how to make proper
substitutions. In Steve's soil recipe, micronized iron and peat work
_together_ to provide useable iron for the plants. Leaving either one out or
making improper substitutions won't necessarily work.)

I have a small, 20 gallon tank set up using Steve's methods and it has been
running for almost a year. It seems the longer I leave it, the better this
tank gets at growing plants (it had some minor problems initially, due to
the "early effects" of a submerged soil). I have never been able to measure
any Iron in the water column of this tank using a Lamotte iron test kit,
however it does have Micronized Iron in the substrate (mixed with peat) and
I have never noticed any symptoms of Iron deficiency in any of the multitude
of plants which I have been able to grow in the tank. So I _assume_ that the
plants are getting what they need out of the substrate (and the micronized

In another 20 gallon tank which I use as a "grow out" tank, with plants in
individual clay pots, a few scraggly Crypt.wendtii were placed in a shallow
clay saucer with a few tablespoonfuls of soil with a sprinkling of peat and
micronized iron, then covered with plain gravel. Within three months the
plants had become thick, full and lush and now (eight months later) it looks
like it's time to divide the group and replant them as they have run out of
room to grow.

As for sources, Sungmin stated that he can't find it in the shops in South
Korea. On his web page, Steve gives links for both the manufacturer and for
several mail order sources. In this age of globalization, it should prefent
no problem for a container of micronized iron to be sent from British
Columbia to South Korea. It costs all of $9.99 Cdn. (plus shipping of
course), and there is enough in the container to last a lifetime.

James Purchase