Vermiculite and perlite are great for helping build soil texture. Its soil texture and a diverse micro herd IMO that makes a good growing medium.
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t add vermiculite or perlite when pepping my garden soil, but I do add it to potting soil.
Im with AS,
I prefer to add sand,humus or composted organic matter, to build garden soil texture.
But I also understand stellaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lust for experimenting to better ourselves as gardeners.
To me Good soil is good soil, weather it be potting soil or garden soil. The best soil for most of my crops, would be classified as a loam texture.
Loam texture soils contain a balance of differently sized particles (sand, clay, silt, pebbles) and organic matter. Clay and silt are tiny particle in size, sand is larger, and pebbles larger.
I classify vermiculite and perlite as pebbles, or sand.
Its important to observe your perlite vermiculite, ive seen tiny perlite/ vermiculite that looks like dust/sand(mostly at the bottom of the bag) and larger perlite/ vermiculite that resemble larger pebbles in size.
A good loam soil contains a balance from each category, in roughly equal measure. So when im building any soil, I try to aim for a nice balance among the textural elements.
- Sand or tiny perlite/ vermiculite particles 1 percent
- pebble sized Perlite/ vermiculite 2 percent
- Peat/organic matter 6 percent
- Grit or medium to coarse texture matter, 1 percent
Each component (sand, grit, organic mater, even pebbles of the mix can also be used to enrich the soil as well as build texture)
For instance, instead of just adding sand or tiny perlite/ vermiculite we could add greensand, gypsum, and ground lime witch also provide K, S, Mg, Ca, trace minerals; pH buffering and each represent a different texture/particle size.
Instead of straight peat moss we could add mushroom compost, worm casting, composted manure, garden compost, guano etc for inoculating with microorganism as well as balanced slow release nutrients.
Instead of granite/grit we could add kelp meal, rock dust, and alfalfa meal for N,P,K, trace min, growth hormones, enzymes, etc.
I was hoping someone could advise me on their successful use of vermiculite
Its all about balance and finding that balance. Gardeners that donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have this balance may have difficulties with some ingredients.
For example AS doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t recommend vermiculite and I believe I read that cynthia_h has had some negative experiences with peat moss.
But to me if you buy quality products and use a balance strategy when mixing soil, I find both products to be very successful.
Has anyone used vermiculite? If so, what can you tell me about it? How much did you add?
Most of my experience in gardening has been obtained with growing in containers and most of my soil experimenting days were done will soilless potting mixes. With soilless potting mixes I have found a great recipe that I follow, witch works for many of my plants that I grow in containers.
5 parts peat/coco
3 parts perlite/ vermiculite
2 parts composted manure or EWC or fresh homemade compost etc (organic matter)
to every gallon I add
1-2TBS pulverized (powdered) dolomite lime.
And 1 TBSP of kelp meal
this is the base of my soil and what gives me the texture I like. Some of the ingredients vary in texture and quality so a texture test is applied to sure of its quality.
To test for good soil texture, you want to moisten the soil being tested (donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t soak moisten). Take a good handful of the soil and squeeze as hard as you can. Only a few drops to zero drops of water should come out, but it should form a clump shaped by the ridges of your fingers. (this is what you want)
Now you should be able to loosen the clump lightly with your thumb or finger and it should fall apart easily.
If the soil resists clumping it is too loose and needs more organic matter to bind it together. If the soil resists breaking apart once clumped it is too dense and needs more perlite to prevent compaction.
Remember roots want both air and water, thats why I believe this balance is so important. Also some plants prefer different texture and drainage, so be creative and experiment.
After im happy with the texture i then mix and add certain macronutrient amendments according to my knowledge of what the certain plants require.
Nitrogen is added by either or High N guano @ 1 TBSP, Blood Meal @ 1 TBSP, Alfalfa Meal @ 2 TBSP, or Fish Meal @ 1-2 TBSP to the gallon of the above mix.
Phosphorus is added by either or Bone meal @ 2TBSP, Soft rock phosphate @ 2TBSP, Fish bone meal @ 2TBSP or Phosphorus rich guano @ 1TBSP a gallon.
Potassium is added by either or Kelp meal @ 2TBSP, Alfalfa @ 2TBSP, Greensand @ 2TBSP, Guano any @ 1 TBSP a gallon.
The great thing about most organic amendments is that they also supply many trace minerals, micro nutrients, hormone and vitamins as well. These are also important when trying to build a healthy soil. Theres almost endless organic alternatives when building soil, weather it be in the form of texture, supplying nutrients, or micro organisms.
I only outlined amendments that I have had experience with but im sure ther are lots more.
But out of all of these compost and organic matter are to me the most important. Garden soil can get all its essential nutrients threw compost and organic matter when adding as a top dress. I tend to avoid disrupting my soil and add ingredients to first 2 inches of the surface of my garden soil. This is why I tend to not add perlite/ vermiculite to my garden soil, I like to let the microbes be.
Vermiculite does help aerate the soil, just like perlite. But vermiculite IMO retains moister a lot better, but again balance is key. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t use perlite any more, simply because the dust that most of you guys mentioned.
A good idea would be to soak the perlite with water before handling.
The dust is really bad stuff to be breathing; I find that the vermiculite I use doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have this dust.
What I like about both products thought is that they both seem to accumulate microbes. Ive noticed that my perlite and vermiculite, when mixed with soil, gets stained with a dark brown humus. I also noticed that it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wash out and instead stays stained. I have come to believe that in the pores are microbes and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what is causing them to appear stained. So what I like to do, is soak either or perlite/vermiculite in my compost tea.
This gives them a nice stained look and if my hypothesis is correct, then my perlite vermiculite are now also considered inoculantsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦just a thought, I hope this helped