Have you ever noticed how some potting mixes shimmer under the sun? That’s because they contain vermiculite, a soil improvement that helps with water withholding capacity, aeration, and nutrient retention. Vermiculite weed growing medium is a phyllosilicate mineral that is mined from rocks formed 1.5 to 3 billion years ago. Rough, untreated vermiculite is used in a variety of industrial materials.
The garden variety of vermiculite is called exfoliated vermiculite, which has been treated with extreme heat and pressure to force it to increase in size. This process creates a porous exterior that is great for holding moisture and nutrients. In the past, some vermiculites contained asbestos.
However, those contaminated mines were shut down, and modern vermiculite is strictly tested to make sure it is free of this carcinogen.
If you’re acquainted with hydroponics, then you may have an idea of what a growing medium is. There are a lot of options in the market, such as Rockwool, perlite, coconut fiber or chips, small clay rocks (sometimes called hydro corn), and vermiculite.
In this article, we will be discussing how effective vermiculite is as a growing medium. We will be looking at the advantages of using vermiculite and the step-by-step process on how to grow your weeds in it. What is vermiculite, and how is using vermiculite as a growing medium beneficial to the soil?
What is a Vermiculite Weed Growing Medium?
Vermiculite is a non-toxic mineral that will not weaken in your soil, so its effects last for a long time. Since it does not break down, it is not beneficial as a source of nutrients. Instead, it is a structural helper for your soil. Its one-of-a-kind shape traps water and nutrients, which can be pulled out by the root of your marijuana as needed. This means you need to water less often than you would with soil that does not contain vermiculite.
Vermiculite is the name of a group of hydrated laminar minerals (aluminum-iron magnesium silicates) that look like mica. Vermiculite weed growing medium is processed with immense heat that expands it into accordion shaped pellets made up of multiple layers of thin plates. It will not decompose, depreciate, or mold and is durable, odorless, non-toxic, and sterile. Vermiculite is usually a neutral 7.0 but is dependent upon the source from around the world, and its reaction is alkaline. It is very lightweight and mixes easily with other mediums.
What are the Uses of Vermiculite?
Vermiculite added to the soil increases water and nutrient retention and aerates the soil, resulting in better, healthier weeds. Perlite may also be found in potting soils, but vermiculite is far superior for water retention. Vermiculite, although less aerating than perlite, is the better choice for water-loving plants. Here are other uses for vermiculite:
Add vermiculite to the soil for acclimatizing and reducing either alone or in combination with compost. This will accelerate the development and encourage anchorage for tender young root systems.
Using vermiculite weed growing medium will also enable the weed to more effortlessly absorb the ammonium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium necessary for vigorous growth.
Medium grade vermiculite can be used straight for root cuttings. Just water thoroughly and insert the cutting up to the node.
Use vermiculite either alone or mixed with soil or compost for seed germination. This will allow seeds to germinate more quickly. If vermiculite is used without soil, feed the seedlings a weak fertilizer solution (1 tablespoon of soluble fertilizer per 1 gallon of water) once the first leaves appear. Damping-off is a letdown for your weeds since vermiculite is sterile, and the seedlings are detached easily without damaging the roots.
Vermiculite mixed half with soil, peat, or compost removes packed down soil in planting pots and houseplant containers while allowing excellent exposure to oxygen, decreasing the watering frequency, and letting root spread.
To transplant using vermiculite, dig a hole 6 inches bigger than the weeds’ roots. Fill in with a mix of vermiculite and the removed topsoil. This allows for root spread, provides moisture control, and protects the roots from drying out due to sun or wind.
Place bulbs or root crops in a container and pour the vermiculite around them. The sponge-like quality of the vermiculite will absorb any excess moisture and prevent rot or mildew while defending them from temperature fluxes.
Newly seeded lawns can benefit from the use of vermiculite. Mix 3 cubic feet of vermiculite per 100 square feet, seed, and then cover the entire area with ¼ inch of vermiculite. Water in with a fine spray. The vermiculite will speed up germination and increase the number of seeds that germinate while keeping moisture and protecting from drying and heat.
Lastly, vermiculite can be used when arranging flowers. Fill the container with vermiculite, carefully saturate with water, pour off the excess, and arrange the flowers. This eliminates the need to change the water, eliminates spills, and keeps blooms fresh for the day. Just be sure to use horticultural vermiculite and not that sold for house insulation since the latter is treated to repel water.
Benefits of Using Vermiculite Weed Growing Medium
Improves water holding capacity of the soil.
Aids with exposure to oxygen, although if this is your primary goal in using a soil additive, you should choose perlite instead.
Because it is a sterile medium, it is great for starting seeds and for propagating cuttings. Using plenty of vermiculite can avoid bacterial and fungal problems such as damping off and root rot.
Improves drainage and lightens the soil in the garden, in raised beds, or in pots.
Controversy Surrounding Vermiculite
Vermiculite for your weeds sounds harmless, simple, and effective, and it is but with a catch. Some vermiculite may contain trace amounts of asbestos. Before you throw away your bags of vermiculite, you should know a few things about this condition.
Most tainted vermiculite came from a mine near Libby, Montana, that supplied about 70% of all the vermiculite retailed in the United States for most of the 20th century. In the late 1990s, the mine was shut down when it was revealed that the rocks from which the vermiculite was mined also contained asbestos, and the asbestos fibers were tainting the vermiculite. Asbestos creates tiny fibers that float in the air and, when breath in, can harm the lungs.
After the Libby Mine shut down, vermiculite was hard to obtain because so much of the supply was cut off abruptly. Vermiculite for gardening became more difficult to find, and perlite took its place in many potting mixes.
Today, mines in South Africa, China, and other parts of the world manufactures safe vermiculite for home use. It’s still challenging to find in the big box stores, but local garden centers normally have small bags.
How to Use Vermiculate as a Growing Method?
Pour vermiculite from the bag into the soil. Using 20-25% vermiculite will have a great effect on a soil plot’s ability to hold water and encourage plant growth. Open up your vermiculite bag and drain the contents into the soil you have set for the container. When this is complete, you can add the soil mix to the container.
It helps to measure out the soil into your container ahead of time. That way, you can add vermiculite until it reaches a 20% to 25% goal.
You can add vermiculite with soil or peat moss, which is another well-known soil amendment.
Spread the vermiculite consistently. Because a container is quite small, you’ll want to make the most of the full soil area. You can do this by scattering the vermiculite throughout the pot with a spade. You may add vermiculite to the soil before adding it to the container. This way, you can mix it together without worrying about harming your weeds.
If you’ve correctly measured out how much soil needs to go into the container, having that amount in a bag and adding the vermiculite to the bag will allow you to shake it up, thereby distributing it without having to proportion it out yourself.
Seed, or transfer weeds into your container. After you have mixed the soil, add your seeds or weeds to the container. If you’re transferring a plant, lift it out gently from its original pot and place it in the desired spot in the container. If you’re seeding the container from scratch, add seeds to the recommended depth on the seed packet.
Be careful not to damage the roots of your plant if you transfer them into the container. Dig a small hole for it beforehand, and gently place it in. It may be helpful to place some fresh vermiculite around the plant to account for the dry soil the new plant brought in with it.
Cover small seeds. Covering smaller seeds with an added bit of vermiculite will help offer them some much-needed humidity during the early growing stages. In addition, vermiculite helps fend against weeds, although you shouldn’t have a problem with them in a closed container environment.
Water your container. Watering weeds is a vital part of gardening. This is especially true if you’re gardening with a container, as you’ll need to take that much more control of the growth process. Due to the high level of water retention in vermiculite, you should take care not to overwater your weeds.
Give your container a shower dispersed evenly throughout the area, but don’t allow pools of water to form on the soil’s surface.
Pour out excess water. Because vermiculite retains water so well, you don’t have to have too much water in your container. Turn the container slightly on its side and let out the excess water.
Alternatively, you can allow the water to drain out naturally.
Improve existing compost. In addition to a container garden, you can add vermiculite to existing compost in order to further aerate it. Add 20% to 25% of the compost’s volume worth of vermiculite and mix them together thoroughly.
Ready To Use Vermiculite?
Vermiculite is used in the same way as perlite, pumice, biochar, and rice hulls. Each has its own pros and cons, and they can be used in the blend to get the most benefits. Compared to these other soil amendments, vermiculite is best for areas and weeds that require plenty of moisture, as it has the best water retention. It is not as good at aerating as perlite, so for heavy soils, you should use perlite instead or in combination. Since it doesn’t break down like rice hulls, it is good if you want the benefits to last multiple seasons with a single application.