What is Vermiculite? Vermiculite is a mineral (aluminum-iron, magnesium), which is mined and processed into granules that may be mixed into the soil to aid in aeration and drainage as well as adding often needed nutrients to the soil. There are several ways in which Vermiculite can enhance your gardening efforts.
Let’s Start From the Beginning
Vermiculite is processed using high heat to shape it into pellets (shaped like layered accordions). The basics of Vermiculite pellets are:
- They are non-toxic
- They will not mold
- They are sterile
- They are odorless
- They come in a variety of sizes based on need
- They will not rot or deteriorate
- It is a neutral pH of 7
- It is lightweight and mixes with a variety of soil types
I Would Like To Try Starting My Garden Seeds In Vermiculite. Can I Do That?
The answer is yes! Vermiculite is a great way to start seeds with or without mixing with potting soil. Vermiculite is particularly good for a faster germination when starting seeds. Whether used alone or mixed with potting soil, vermiculite aids in anchoring tender root systems as well as helping your young plants better absorb the following critical nutrients:
If you are opting to start your seeds in Vermiculite alone, you will want to feed your seedlings a mild fertilizer once you begin to notice the first sprouts or leaves.
What Are The Ways I Can Use Vermiculite Directly In My Garden, Whether In-Ground Or Raised Bed Containers?
Vermiculite is an excellent choice if you are looking for ways to enhance the soil and neutralize the pH in various areas of your garden. It can be used in raised beds, in-ground, and container gardening and will help with aeration and drainage. Vermiculite can be mixed with your garden, raised bed or container soil at a ratio of ⅓ to ½ . When adhering to this ratio, the benefits include:
- Eliminates packed down soil in containers/pots
- Provides moisture control
- Allows for proper root spread
- Helps drainage
I Know I Can Use Vermiculite Directly In My Garden And To Start Seeds, Are There Other Beneficial Uses?
Vermiculite is actually a versatile garden and landscaping staple to have on hand. While its most popular use is either to start seeds or add to our potting mix, the benefits of having it on hand for other lawn and garden uses may surprise you. If you find yourself wanting to experiment with other ways to use your Vermiculite, try:
- Mix Vermiculite with your lawn seed for newly seeded lawns to promote seed germination at a ratio of 3 cubic feet of Vermiculite to 100 square feet of lawn seed. Follow with an additional ¼ inch coverage of Vermiculite and water the area lightly.
- Overwinter your root crops and bulbs in Vermiculite. Place them in a container and pour Vermiculite over them, layering as needed. The Vermiculite will absorb excess moisture and prevent mold and mildew
- Use Vermiculite in flower arrangements by filling the vase/container with Vermiculite, pouring water over it and arrange the flowers. The Vermiculite will reduce the need to change the water in your arrangements.
- Add Vermiculite to your worm bin. If you use worms for composting, adding Vermiculite to their bin or your compost, will help provide the worms with much needed grit to digest their food.
The world of organic gardening is always evolving and the way in which we adapt our practices as we grow, can yield benefits we never imagined. If you haven’t tried Vermiculite in your organic garden, this is your year!