wsommariva
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White styerfoam balls in potting soil

Hi everyone. We bought 4 ferns in the Spring in pots with that darn styrofoam ball stuff in the soil. Don't know if I want to put it into my compost bins. Will the white ball eventually turn dirt brown?

DoubleDogFarm
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Could it be perlite?

Eric

wsommariva
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It probably is. So, not as bad as styrofoam, but will it turn brown? I don't think I want white pellets in my gardens.

DoubleDogFarm
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I think it will blend in fairly quick.
I use perlite and coir for seed starting. It pretty much disappears when mixed into the garden.

Eric

wsommariva
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Ok thanks, into the compost bin it goes...............

Bobberman
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They did use styrofoam beads in alot of the mixes and still do. If it is styrofoam it will be more of a bb of about the same size. Perlite will crush but styrofoam won't. They both blow away in the wind! Years ago I used to but the styrofaom beads and mix it with my seedstarting mix and it did work good to airate the soil. I don't use it any more.
Last edited by Bobberman on Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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wsommariva
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Thanks I'll do a crush test. Will Styrofoam turn dirt brown?

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rainbowgardener
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In my seed starting mix, the perlite gets algae on it and turns green, but if it is outdoors in the garden, it wouldn't be so consistently moist, so probably would not do that.
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wsommariva
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Thanks. I think I'll keep the perlite/styerfoam out of the compost.

Thanks everyone.

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gixxerific
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I beleive you may have taken the advie wrong. There is nothing wrong with putting perlite in the compost.

I throw all of my used up potting soil in the garden or compost. It will add tilth if nothing else.

Bobberman
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Ya perlite is a good mix for any garden since it acts a little like sand. Styrofoam has gotten a bad rap and is bad because it blows in the wind and floats int he water and never seems to decay. Styrofoam is bad for the inviroment that is why I do not use the beads any more!
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toxcrusadr
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I wouldn't want styrofoam in my garden, but perlite is just a natural rock product and seems like an OK thing to me, philosphically speaking. If you don't like the white bits that's up to you!
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wsommariva
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Yes it's the white specks I want to avoid.

Bobberman
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Actual;ly the white specks in the soil are good for all plants because it reflects light back up to the bottom of the lower leaves. I would use some perlite or shredded white papper in the garden as a mulch in july to cool the soil , keep in the moiture and reflect light especially for peppers! I also plan on putting some perlite in my seed boxes on the surface to give mor liht to the new seedlings! little things add up and will make a big difference in plant growth!
+++
The mulch also insulates the soil at night and holds the heat for the roots to absorbe! Peppers grow so slow because the nights seem to be below 60 especially here in Pa. this past summer! I am starting to think gardening is like a math problem or maybe a equasion with many more parameters!
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gixxerific
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wsommariva wrote:Yes it's the white specks I want to avoid.
You won't even notice it.

And please all this talk of putting styrofoam in your garden is just wrong. I would never put that in any garden too many reasons. They do have an organic packing peanut around now though that would be okay. https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-1564/Peanuts/Biodegradable-Cornstarch-Peanuts-12-Cubic-Ft-Bag?model=S-1564

wsommariva
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Ok you convinced me. I'll throw it in the bin tomorrow.

Thanks for all the input.

john gault
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I've seen perlite in potted plants I've bought and never thought there was a possibility of it being styrofoam; I'll have to do the "crush" test next time I see them.

Perlite is also in potting soils and other bagged soil amendments, correct? If it is substituted with styrofoam will that be listed on the label?

I just can't see why anyone would think to put styrofoam in soil :?

Bobberman
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The reason styrofoam was and still is used in potting soils is because the beads make all the products. The product starts out with bb's as small as a real bb. I have a plant near me and I can buy a huge 4 or 6 cubic foot bag of beads that has a very light weight and it is cheap. The advantage is it will not crush like perlite or get mushy like vermiculite.
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It did work great when I used it years ago. I use to put a 1/3 styrofoam to any potting mix and it really grew some of my better plants. I sill have a picture of one of the containers where you can see the soil mix used and the nice greens it produced! The problem was it float and is very bad for the inviroment just like cigerett buts are. I do use styrofoam containers but not the beads! I really like sand in my mixes and most of the time I put my potting mix over top a several inch layer of my strained garden soil.
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I will be using prlite this year maybe as a top layer over each container for its reflective light to the under leaves! Once the plants break the surface I will sprinkle perlite like salt around the plants!. Another nice feature of perlite is it does deter snails or slugs because of its sharpness and how it sticks to their boddies cutting their skin! I am sold on perlite how about you?
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One last thing I forgot to mention. The difference how perlite and styrofoam hold water in the soil. Perlite collects the water like a sponge as does vermicullite. Perlite reminds me of how rain formes by a piece of dust that the water drop forms around. Styrofoam does not absorbe water buy helps keep the water from evaporating and holds the heat in the soil but once the soil is cold it takes longer to warm up! vermiculite does not airate the soil like perlite and should not be used excessively since its like mush when it gets to wet and will restrict air to the roots!
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john gault
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Speaking of vermiculite...
"Is there asbestos in the vermiculite sold for gardening uses?"

https://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/hazardous/sites/hennepin/western/garden.html

https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/vermiculite.pdf

Bobberman
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Did not know that ! Thanks I will look into it futher!
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