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Perlite, Vermiculite, Both, Or Other


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Soil compaction is trying to throw off the game. I'm looking at placing an order today or tomorrow. Perlite is obviously the standard choice. What does everyone else aerate with?

 

Choices:

Perlite

Vermiculite

Rice hulls

Lava rocks

Rock rocks

Fake glass rocks (I forgot what they are called. Some glass powder cooked to make fake rocks)

 

My only problem with rice hulls is the 50lb bag. Perlite and vermiculite offer the advantage of size choice. What ya'll think? Any advantages of one or a combo?

 

Wet

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I used perlite when i grew in soil, its light and airey.. works well with water retention so less watering.. but it can be abused to the point the soil is soaked for two long of a time.. still i prefer it over vermiculite. kinda a 50/50 choice to me.. either or.. the lave rocks and such are more for hydro same as hydrocorton. JMHO 

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Nice. I figure the vermiculite might add a little too much water retention. Perlite is the cheap one too :) Did you ever run into issues with continued additions? I started with it in the mix but most particles are smashed to dust by now.

 

Oh, those glass stones are called grow stones. They seem more geared towards hydro, but they come in many sizes and could be adapted for soil. I'm not sure what to make of them tho. Awfully science-y if you ask me, but maybe they are superior?

 

Wet

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I do not grow cannabis well but I do grow other plants with some semblance of success.

Since learning to grow cannabis (in soil/ soiless)  I've tried lava rocks (too heavy!), grow

stones (expanded glass) which are very nice, light weight and easily sifted from the soil

+ I didn't notice it breaking down.  They are expensive imo and why I sift them out of spent soil.

I still use a layer of the grow stones in the bottom of my containers.

Regular perlite seems to compact more than I like.  I went to the chunky/ coarse perlite #4

and while it still breaks down a bit, it does not compact as much as the finer stuff does.

I even used hydroton... major fail in soil (at least for me).  Keeps the soil too moist.

 

I remember when vermiculite was a standard ingredient in any pre mixed potting soil available.

In the 80's I went to a nursery and bought black dirt/ worm castings/ sphagnum/ sand/ vermiculite

and perlite then mixed my soil according to each plants needs.  Of course then, I used Miracle Grow

for food.  Not much has changed except I don't use MG and I don't drive 20+ miles to the nursery.

 

If I remember correctly, vermiculite has better water retention properties than perlite.

I've seen people start seeds and cuttings in pure vermiculite w/ great success.

 

Maybe a little of both could be the ticket?

Vermiculite also comes in course/ chunky size.

 

Let us know what you decide please.

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What is your starting mix? I have always had great results using just straight sunshine mix #4 and not doing anything to it. More recently, ive been using the peat/shag/coir mix of "black magic" from home depot(i know), and in ten gallon fabric pots, i can water them everyday and HAVE to water every two days, compared to 2-3 days with sunshine.

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The original was just two bales of hp promix with probably 50 lbs of nutrients and minerals. It's been like three years and probably 4 to 5 nutrient additions. At some point I added rice hulls, but they got ate up pretty quick.

 

I can be otd with a 4cf of perlite for $15. I'm thinking that might be the way to go. Really can't add any weight at this point. Maybe it's time to start fresh?

 

Wet

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The original was just two bales of hp promix with probably 50 lbs of nutrients and minerals. It's been like three years and probably 4 to 5 nutrient additions. At some point I added rice hulls, but they got ate up pretty quick.

I can be otd with a 4cf of perlite for $15. I'm thinking that might be the way to go. Really can't add any weight at this point. Maybe it's time to start fresh?

Wet

you have been running and rerunning the same mix for 3 plus years? Perlite/vermiculite was what i used to add to promix/sunshine mix.
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you have been running and rerunning the same mix for 3 plus years? Perlite/vermiculite was what i used to add to promix/sunshine mix.

three years more or less. Two different mixers. The spent stuff gets cleaned up a bit and then stashed. Nutrients get mixed as more becomes available. When 6-7cf is ready, it gets a nice molasses bath and a final mix/cooking time. That stuff gets used over the next few mnths while the other mixer builds up the spent stuff. Kind of a pain to keep so much soil life going in one tiny place, but the challange has been educational to say the least.

 

Wet

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I use both perlite and vermiculite. Just make sure you put on a respirator, surgical mask, or bandanna when mixing. They both create a lot of unhealthy dust. I want the water retention of vermiculite simply because it means I have to water less often. The primary benefit of perlite is that it let's air into the root zone. 

 

My greenhouse mix for the summer was first a layer of compost from my compost pile. Then I added two bales of peat along with several cups of dolemite lime. Epsom salts also work. This is a necessity when using peat. Then two big bags of perlite and vermiculite. As soon as I pour it out I vacate the greenhouse to let the dust settle. Then I added twenty bags of topsoil (sand & peat). This was for three 8 foot long raised beds. Finally for nutrients I use vegan sources: kelp meal, alfalfa meal, and a Down to Earth vegan plant food (soybean meal, rock phosphate, alfalfa meal, langbeinite, humic shale ore, azomite, Acadian kelp meal and greensand). I used about half the boxes of these (so around 3 lbs each or 1 lb per bed). The compost is really the primary food for the plants. 

 

gallery_15206_691_85561.jpg
Soil mix before blending it together.

 

For my indoor mixes I use coco instead of peat but still add perlite and vermiculite. Then I add some of the plant food but usually skip the compost as I don't want bugs indoors. I rarely grow in soil anyways, just for mother plants and seedlings. 

Edited by Nix
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Wet... Check ur ph on the grow rocks (glass) before u do anything w it. Seriously and truly. Buy a small bag and c if u can control the ph before u actually grow in it. For the size and consistency, lava rocks r better. For the convenience and price, perlite.

thano you, indigro. I did see some discussion about this very issue with regards to grow stones. I really like the idea of recycling glass in this way, but it's obviously for naught if it can't be controlled. It seems that calcium residue or release is the issue with the stones. I went perlite, but I'll heed your warning if I do ever try them. Thanks again from bringing that up.

 

Wet

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I use both perlite and vermiculite. Just make sure you put on a respirator, surgical mask, or bandanna when mixing. They both create a lot of unhealthy dust. I want the water retention of vermiculite simply because it means I have to water less often. The primary benefit of perlite is that it let's air into the root zone. 

 

My greenhouse mix for the summer was first a layer of compost from my compost pile. Then I added two bales of peat along with several cups of dolemite lime. Epsom salts also work. This is a necessity when using peat. Then two big bags of perlite and vermiculite. As soon as I pour it out I vacate the greenhouse to let the dust settle. Then I added twenty bags of topsoil (sand & peat). This was for three 8 foot long raised beds. Finally for nutrients I use vegan sources: kelp meal, alfalfa meal, and a Down to Earth vegan plant food (soybean meal, rock phosphate, alfalfa meal, langbeinite, humic shale ore, azomite, Acadian kelp meal and greensand). I used about half the boxes of these (so around 3 lbs each or 1 lb per bed). The compost is really the primary food for the plants. 

 

gallery_15206_691_85561.jpgSoil mix before blending it together.

 

For my indoor mixes I use coco instead of peat but still add perlite and vermiculite. Then I add some of the plant food but usually skip the compost as I don't want bugs indoors. I rarely grow in soil anyways, just for mother plants and seedlings.

 

thank you. I was just at lowes looking at real deal respirators. I'm generally pretty careful about nutrient and other dusts, but sometimes get caught with a nasty plume or other mishap.

 

How are you liking down to earth? I get neem from them sometimes and considered their kelp and alfalfa. Sourcing some stuff can get weird and I know that down to earth will always be somewhere!

 

Wet

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thano you, indigro. I did see some discussion about this very issue with regards to grow stones. I really like the idea of recycling glass in this way, but it's obviously for naught if it can't be controlled. It seems that calcium residue or release is the issue with the stones. I went perlite, but I'll heed your warning if I do ever try them. Thanks again from bringing that up.

 

Wet

No prob wet, saw the thread and figd id mention it.

 

It did also occur that if u r using peat as a base, or mixing ur own, it may work as a good balance against the acidty of the soil. Only problem is u would b conducting a little science experiment and would have to dial in the amount to add to get the desired ph. Would b a trial and error thing. But i would wager it will continually raise the ph over time (slowly that is), and might b a winner, once dialed in. Of course, batches of peat are variable, so...? Personally think it is more work than ideal, but it could end up being perfect too. Just thinking out loud

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How are you liking down to earth? I get neem from them sometimes and considered their kelp and alfalfa. Sourcing some stuff can get weird and I know that down to earth will always be somewhere!

 

I love the Down to Earth products. They're fairly inexpensive, vegan, and as you said, aren't hard to find. I also make a foliar tea out of their alfalfa meal that the plants love. It really helped the greenhouse plants deal with transplant shock. I should mention that I also always add compost tea to my soils as well. Those beneficial bacteria will increase your yields and prevent root rot.

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  • 4 months later...

I used to use 100% ProMix.

 

Currently using 75% Perlite/25% ProMix.

 

Goal, when my ProMix is gone: 75% Perlite/25% Vermiculate

 

Any issues with just Perlite/Vermiculate??

 

My reason for switching:  ProMixHP would compact.  Easy to get water logged.  Too long to dry back out.

 

With this new system, I have to water daily.  However, you can't over water, as the extra will just flow out the bottom.  You can't really under water, if you water daily.  For me, it is more Dummy Proof.  LOL.

 

So, where is the cheapest places to buy the larger, 4 cu. ft., bags of Perlite and Vermiculate, say from Saginaw and north, or Mt. Pleasant and north??

 

Thanks in advance !!  Ps: Finally, they are truly growing like weeds.

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i've been growing in hempy buckets for years,,,just 3 parts perlite 1 part vermiculite in a hempy bucket ,nothing else...then if you're looking for a easy, sure fire, pretty much fail proof grow,,,use fox farm nurts.,hydro schedule...ph +/- 6.. rain water and cal-mag plus... it will grow some fine meds...the only thing it doesn't carry well is the nose as the smell is good but more subtle...that can be tweaked in the last couple weeks if you want a heavier smelling plant but i like the fact it doesn't stink the place up so bad...anyway that's my two cents on the subject..lol..happy growing to all...bp 

Edited by budpuffer
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