EarthBox Forum

EarthBox Chat => Questions and Answers => Topic started by: Rod5591 on March 25, 2022, 06:32:01 pm

Title: Perlite shortage-what to do?
Post by: Rod5591 on March 25, 2022, 06:32:01 pm
Hi, 1st time poster here with a question.  For a growing medium, I have peat moss, and I have vermiculite, but I have no perlite.  At the agriculture store in my town, they say prices are going crazy and they may not be able to get any perlite.  If this is the case, can I just use peat moss and vermiculite?  Like, 85% peat moss and 15% vermiculite?  What do the experts say?  Is there something else I can substitute?
Title: Re: Perlite shortage-what to do?
Post by: CathyM on March 26, 2022, 03:22:22 pm
Hi, Rod, I'm new, too, to EarthBoxes and also the forum.  I had already mixed up my peat moss at about 80% and added both vermiculite and perlite at 10%, but I began questioning myself when I read some posts where people were having trouble with their homemade mixes, and the responses were to buy a suitable mix at the store.  So I emailed EarthBox customer service, and the response was to use the peat and perlite, not the vermiculite.  But since I didn't want to waste the mix I had already blended (and because it was a lot of trouble and pain for my old back), I went ahead and filled up my first box with what I had made.  I have 8 lettuces in it that I grew from seed, and they're doing great so far. 

I did order four more boxes which came this morning, and I'll probably go with perlite and not add the vermiculite to the mix this time.  Vermiculite holds water, but perlite makes the mix lighter so it keeps the medium from getting soggy and prevents smothering the roots.  I just checked Home Depot, and they have a 2 cu. ft. bag (Vigoro) for $17.97, or an 8-qt. bag (Miracle-Gro) for $5.37, plus others.  To answer your question, I think you would be better off using the perlite if you can find it or order it.  Without it, you may have an overwatering problem.

Good luck and happy gardening!
Title: Re: Perlite shortage-what to do?
Post by: gardendoc on March 28, 2022, 11:58:23 am
You'll be better off in the long run to use professional growing mixes instead of mixing your own. The commercial bagged mixes are engineered to have the correct physical properties rather than just guessing if you've mixed everything right. Just my two cents worth from 35+ years horticulture container growing experience
Title: Re: Perlite shortage-what to do?
Post by: Rod5591 on March 28, 2022, 04:15:42 pm
Thanks everyone, I was able to find a couple of bags of perlite from Tractor Supply!  But I am confused some about why some are saying I should not use vermiculite when it is clearly stated elsewhere in the forum that we should use it!  LOL
Title: Re: Perlite shortage-what to do?
Post by: CathyM on March 28, 2022, 10:48:28 pm
Rod5591, I hear ya.  I couldn't find any bagged mixes in my area that only contained peat and perlite or peat, perlite and vermiculite.  All the products I looked at had several additional ingredients such as forest products, sand, worm castings, coco coir, compost, etc.  I had read the instructions on this very site to use 75%-90% peat and the remaining 20% to be vermiculite and perlite.  So, I used 80% peat, 10% vermiculite and 10% perlite (maybe a tad heavier on the perlite).  And it's a done deal now, because I'm not going to empty it and start over.  If it were not working, I would, but it IS working, and besides all the labor involved, I would have to sacrifice 8 fairly large lettuce plants that I carefully raised from seed.  At this point, it's performing just fine, and my lettuces (from which I've eaten three salads in the past week) are thriving.  If it fails for some reason, I'll do something different next time and learn from the experience.  Good luck! 
Title: Re: Perlite shortage-what to do?
Post by: Rod5591 on March 29, 2022, 08:50:25 pm
So I was able to obtain some perlite - and I made my first batch of growing media--85% peat moss, 10% vermiculite and 5% Perlite.  Attached is a photo.  It sure looks like potting soil to me!
(http://)  correction- I tried to insert a photo but could not--I guess on this site I have to insert a photo already on the can tell I'm a newbie
Title: Re: Perlite shortage-what to do?
Post by: CathyM on March 29, 2022, 09:38:41 pm
Personally, I would add more perlite (better for aeration) than vermiculite, but that's just me.  As you can probably tell if you've read many posts here, there are many and varied opinions.  One thing about it, it's not life or death--if it doesn't work, you can always start over.

Not sure about posting pictures, but somewhere I read that you are required to have posted a certain number of posts before you can add a picture.  Maybe ten.  I could be mistaken.