Mothering Forum banner

SFG, has anyone NOT used the vermiculite?

922 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Chanley
I'm making a square foot vegetable garden and am worried about asbestos, and really don't want to use vermiculite, but I'm also a complete novice gardener, so don't feel all that comfortable making my own decisions about soil yet. Any advice?
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Gardening-wise perlite is an acceptable substitute. It has not been associated with any asbestos risks and is comparably priced to vermiculite.

I'll let one of the experts step in to give ideas for gardening without either. As you know, the function is to keep the soil aerated and also to hold in moisture, so you might be able to just plan on stirring the soil up more each time you replant a square.
Mel covers this in his book. It was one mine that was closed down, not vermiculite in general, and even with that one mine, there's some question as to whether the asbestos contamination actually occured inside the mine.

From page 99:

It was a serious situation, but as a result, the good news is that all the vermiculite mines around the world and products sold are now meticulously inspected by everyone; the bags we buy now even come with a "Certified Asbestos Free" sticker.
Yeah, I read that. I've also read conflicting stuff, that there are actually many states with mines that are of concern. In fact, I even read there is a loophole for that "asbestos free" certification, and it may not be trustworthy. It's very, very hard to know what to trust - I have no idea what information is actually correct or which of these sources is the most reliable. A friend of mine does research on Capital Hill for just such issues. He's going to check on it for me.

But for now, I want to get my plants in the ground!
I use pearlite. I would probably make sure to have something in there to fulfill this function (as described by sapphire_chan). Just make sure you don't actually use 1/3 pearlite in volume or you'll have way too much (probably vermiculite, too, but I'm not familiar with what it looks like and all). Good luck getting your plants in!
See less See more
Thank you! I think I will try the perlite!
I think i will be using perlite instead of the vermiculite the only 2 places that sell it in my town dont have the sticker on it.
BTW, Mel also says that in other countries where peat moss & vermiculite aren't available, he recommends straight compost.
WE dont use either in our garden. We just use lots of composted manure on straw. This provides enough fluffiness to our dirt.

The ducks make this easy work.
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.