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Post  bassa on 11/20/2010, 2:55 pm

Hi from Sri Lanka!

Really interested in the SFG method, cos it makes sense.
However I'm in bit of a pickle with Mel's mix. Compost I have. Vermiculite & Peat Moss- No.

Things I do have access to are coco coir, sandy soil (a bit high in salt content, as I'm close to the sea), clay sand, sea sand.

Can someone suggest substitues for Vermiculite and Peat moss. Thanks, and any help appreciated. Very Happy
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Post  camprn on 11/20/2010, 3:24 pm

Greetings! and glad you\'re here to the SFG forum!! Coir would be a satisfactory substitute for peat moss read about it here. If you cannot get the vermiculite you can probably find perlite. I looked around on the internet and I know it is available in India, so I would hope you could get it too. Sand is not a good substitute as one of the reasons for adding vermiculite (perlite) is soil expansion and also for moisture retention. I am sure someone else will chime in here and offer some more detailed advice.
Again, WELCOME!
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Mel's Mix Ingredients alternatives Empty Thanks for the quick reply

Post  bassa on 11/20/2010, 3:42 pm

We have been using Coconut coir for ages and its known for water retention. Your link proved that point.

By the way is Vermiculite used in aquariums as bedding?... Might be having it in my house.. not knowing it was called vermiculite. The stuff is expensive. Looks very similar to the pics of vermiculite on the net. Comes in white, brown / pink, green.

Thanks for the quick reply.
Very Happy
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Post  Megan on 11/20/2010, 3:58 pm

Welcome to the forum! glad you\'re here

I second camprn on the coconut coir, I haven't used it but have heard it is good stuff. Rice hulls, too, have been recommended here.

I don't know about vermiculite use in aquaria rocks. I would avoid using anything in odd colors as it probably has dyes involved, and I would not want dyes anywhere near plants I was eating. Also, vermiculite comes in several grades... not just "size" grades but also food safe and not food safe. The vermiculite I buy is marked as safe for horticultural use. This is very important to know, as some vermiculite is contaminated with asbestos.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermiculite

I would avoid using anything that is salty, due to the chemistry involved. Going out on a limb here... if you have access to any crushed pumice type material, that might work??

I think the most important thing is that if you want to try gardening, do the best you can with what you've got and give it a try!

Happy gardening! flower
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Post  boffer on 11/20/2010, 4:41 pm

@megan wrote:This is very important to know, as some vermiculite is contaminated with asbestos.

Other than the mines in Libby, Montona, which were shut down decades ago, is there a source of asbestos contaminated vermiculite we should be aware of?
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Post  camprn on 11/20/2010, 4:51 pm

I have not heard of any recent incidents of asbestos contaminated vermiculite being on the market. Vermiculite is tested for contamination before sale.
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Post  Megan on 11/20/2010, 5:55 pm

I apologize; I was looking at old information.
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Mel's Mix Ingredients alternatives Empty Peat Substitute

Post  Veggiequeen on 11/21/2010, 1:47 pm

Here in England, peat will not be sold for much longer, we are running out of the stuff, and it is politically totally incorrect to use it. I did an experiment this summer with coir. I made a batch of Mel's mix the usual way, with peat, and another with coir, to which I added the recommended dose of fertilizer the company provides. I planted tomatoes, squash and cabbage in both. There was no difference at all in their growth. So I have used it successfully in some of my beds.
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Mel's Mix Ingredients alternatives Empty Going to go with Coco Coir and Compost

Post  bassa on 11/21/2010, 2:20 pm

Hello all, Thanks for the great advice!

I asked around and found a friend of a friend of a friend, who had an agri degree. They don't use vermiculite in this part of the world for the simple reason that it isn't affordable.

She advised me to go with 50/50 mix of Coco coir and Compost. We get fresh made loose coir here and not the pelleted stuff, so it seems the coir should be "washed" in running water first to remove chemicals that may inhibit growth of germinating seedlings. Also, she said to use Albert's solution as a nutrient when germinating seeds. Its used widely in hydroponics it seems.

So will test it all out and get back with results.
Again, thanks all for all the help.
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Post  LaFee on 11/21/2010, 3:49 pm

Veggiequeen, I'm in France, and all of the "peat moss" I saw last spring was ground sphagnum, which is renewable.

There were discussions that uncovered that sphagnum is pretty widely available in the UK, as well.
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Post  WardinWake on 11/23/2010, 7:41 pm

@bassa wrote:Hello all, Thanks for the great advice!

She advised me to go with 50/50 mix of Coco coir and Compost. We get fresh made loose coir here and not the pelleted stuff, so it seems the coir should be "washed" in running water first to remove chemicals that may inhibit growth of germinating seedlings. Also, she said to use Albert's solution as a nutrient when germinating seeds. Its used widely in hydroponics it seems.

Howdy:

In those parts of the world that do not have ready access to vermiculite and peat moss Mel says that using 100 percent compost is fine. I think your friend is on track with using the 50/50 mix of coir and compost. You might want to try different mixes of the coir and see what works the best. Perhaps one bed could be 25 percent coir and 75 percent compost along with the 50/50 mix and see what produces the best for you.

God Bless, Ward and Mary
Wake, Virginia, USA.
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Post  ander217 on 11/24/2010, 7:03 am

Welcome to the forum, Bassa. Please keep us posted on how your mixes perform. It would be helpful to others with the same problem.

What do you intend to grow?

glad you\'re here
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