Sowing seeds and growing plants is an age old tradition but with time and research a whole host of new techniques and products are being made available to gardeners and nurseries to create the most ideal growing conditions for plants. One such product is Vermiculite and while this has been around for years, its use in gardening is only now starting to become popular
The traditional way of sowing seeds is still most popular and is also very effective, but there are now more and more reasons to move away from growing in peat compost and to using lighter and more environmentally friendly growing mediums. Some of the advantages of vermiculite include:
- Vermiculite is lighter than soil mediums. This is particularly important when growing indoors and when growing at height such as roof gardens, tiered greenhouse house & grow rooms. A lighter medium also has the advantage of being easier to carry, store and manage in general
- Vermiculite offer a sustainable solution to growing plants. While peat has been used in the past, peat is no longer a viable way of growing plants due to the damaging effects of peat harvesting from our bogs. Bogs offer a unique and natural habitat in which a whole host of wild birds, insects and animals live. Continuous depletion of peat from bogs is putting all these animals in danger.
- Vermiculite is really beneficial to plants and their roots. By adding vermiculite to the soil you can improve the soils ability to hold and release water back to the plants. Vermiculite is also porous and so will hold high levels of air in soils which is essential for both root respiration and for the existence of soil micro organisms.
- Vermiculite can be used in hydroponics and soilless growing systems. These are benefical in that little or no water or nutrients are wasted or washed away. Hydroponic growing systems work in a number of ways. Essentially they involve a system of sitting plant’s roots in a pot which is flooded with water and then allow to drain free. The benefits here include the reuse of water and nutrients as well as full control over watering & nutrient levels that the plants receive
- The endless other uses of vermiculite mean that every gardener should have a bag at their disposal at any time. Vermiculite can be used in storing bulbs and vegetables- keeping them dry and cool. It can also be used when planting spring and summer bulbs to provide additional drainage to the planting hole
- Promotes CEC in soil. What is CEC is hear you ask? This is the Cation Exchange Capacity of soil particles. Cation are plant nutrients, example would be NH4+, K+, Ca2+, Fe2+ (in order thats: Ammonia, Potassium, Calcium, Iron). These are essential for plant growth and would exist in all soils. Vermiculite can hold these cations and release them into the soil as plants require them. This is the cation exchange capacity and this is an important process in soils
- On a more basic note vermiculite can be used as a mulch or dressing for plant pots to retain moisture and maintain tempertaure of soil