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Seed Starting Tip: Mulch with Vermiculite

By Joannabanana
November 7, 2012

Keep your soil-mix moisture level more consistent by mulching with an even, thin layer of pre-moistened vermiculite (just enough to cover soil). I like to grind it finer for small seeds that are recommended to be surface sowed. You will see quick germination and easier care for the seedlings

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Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
Seed Starter Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Onewish1
Nov 6, 2012 7:37 PM CST
would have never thought of that.. wonderful.. thank you!!!
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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Joannabanana
Nov 6, 2012 7:43 PM CST
Grind it DRY though. Found that out the hard way Whistling
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
Seed Starter Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Onewish1
Nov 6, 2012 7:45 PM CST
hhmm might be a good idea to wear a breather mask doing that
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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Joannabanana
Nov 6, 2012 8:41 PM CST
I use an old coffee grinder and there isn't a dust issue
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
Seed Starter Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Onewish1
Nov 7, 2012 4:51 AM CST
have to be sure it doesn't contain asbestos.. even if you can't see the dust it could be a problem
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
Seed Starter Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Onewish1
Nov 7, 2012 4:56 AM CST
they still do allow 1% of it.. the safety guy at my work said the bag will say asbestos free .. if it doesn't.. it most likely has it in there

http://www.ehow.com/facts_6031067_vermiculite-potting-soil-d...
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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Joannabanana
Nov 7, 2012 7:35 AM CST
Holy Smokers! I had no idea Blinking . Thanks Allison. I'm going to check out the bag that I have.
Name: Jean
Hot Springs Vlg, AR, DeLand, F
Region: Florida Daylilies Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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rocklady
Nov 7, 2012 9:13 AM CST
Great tip not only about the seedlings, but the asbestos in the vermiculite. Thumbs up
Any day you wake up on the sunny side of the grass is a good day.

"The moving hand writes and having writ moves on. Neither all thy piety nor all thy wit can lure it back to cancel half a line nor all thy tears wash out a word of it." The Rubiyat by Omar Khayyam
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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Joannabanana
Nov 7, 2012 9:13 AM CST
I did a little research and feel that it is safe to grind the vermiculite.

The % allowable is stated 0.1%, not 1% in the link below. Also, the contamination problem was over 20 years ago and the industry does have testing put in place.


http://www.vermiculite.net/
http://www.schundler.com/verm-asb.htm
From schundler link "Vermiculite itself does not contain asbestos; it was just the Libby, Montana mine which was contaminated because of the presence in the mountain of a secondary mineral called diopside. (To read more about diopside, go to sites like The Mineral Diopside.)"



I will continue to grind the little amount that I do.
[Last edited by Joannabanana - Nov 7, 2012 9:16 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #324969 (9)
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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Joannabanana
Nov 7, 2012 9:20 AM CST
Just got an email back from the Manufacturer of the vermiculite that I bought.
"It is asbestos free and safe to grind down."

I'm not worried.
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
Seed Starter Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Onewish1
Nov 7, 2012 12:23 PM CST
have to read the labels... I just talked about it with my safety guy a month ago.. he said it's still out there
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Nov 7, 2012 3:52 PM CST
I often sprinkle coarse vermiculite under and over seeds that I direct-sow outside. It keeps them moist and aerated and prevents crusting

I cut a narraw trench a little deeper than I wnat the seeds to be sown.
I fill a 2-liter soda bottle with coarse vermiculite.
Then I shake/pour it in a thin, shallow line on the bottom of the trench, then smooth-firm it level.
I drop the seeds on top of that layer of vermiculite at whatever spacing.
Then I shake/pour the right depth of vermiculite over the seeds, making the trench level or very slightly below grade.
Then I firm it again, and mist the bed or sprinkle gently with a fine rose head.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Nov 7, 2012 3:58 PM CST
I have two sizes of vermiculite. I use the bigger, more coarse size to mix into potting mix. The "horticultural fine" grade is very small, particles are about the size of sand. I use this one as the top layer when seed starting.

Karen
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Nov 7, 2012 4:54 PM CST
For indoors seed stating, "fine" is what I would use for very fine seeds needing to be sown on the surface. For anything else, I usually assume that coarse vermiculite chunks will provide enough humidity, and allow plenty of air to get in. I feared that fine verm iculite might encouage rot, but that may be a bogus fear.

I just know that I killed an entire tray of petunias - 128 cells and 200-300 petunia seeds - by trying to sown them "on top" of a bark mix that was too coarse. They fell into the cracks and were never seen again.Next year I'll be using a layer of fine vermiculite under (and maybe over) petunia, alyssum and lobellia seeds started indoors in propagation cells.
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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Nov 11, 2012 2:05 PM CST
Karen, where do you get that fine vermiculite? Do you buy it locally or order it?
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Nov 11, 2012 2:21 PM CST
Woofie, I buy it locally. The last time I found it @ Worm's Way, prior to that at another really nice garden center.

You can see here, there are different sizes.
http://homeharvest.com/soilamendmentsperlitevermiculite.htm

Karen
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Nov 13, 2012 10:20 AM CST
Thanks for the link! We don't have any decent garden centers nearby, and the stuff is light enough it might be feasible to have it shipped. But I'll check the farm supply where I get my potting soil first. Smiling
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
Image
kqcrna
Nov 13, 2012 10:39 AM CST
Thumbs up The one brand in that link is one I've used (the Mica-Grow). If you only use it to sprinkle of seed containers, 8 qts. goes pretty far.

I always use it on top of seed containers, both under lights and wintersown jugs.

Karen
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
Image
woofie
Nov 13, 2012 3:09 PM CST
Yes, that was what I was thinking of using it for. Sounds like it would be an improvement over what I've been doing.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.

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