Surely you have read or seen mentions of vermiculite on numerous occasions when gardening enthusiasts or professionals talk about some substrates or soils for plants. Although its name may seem otherwise, it is a very common and easy to find material, with multiple benefits to offer to plants.
If you are interested in gardening and you also want to learn more about substrates and you are interested in this one in particular, then join us in this EcologíaVerde article what is vermiculite, its uses and how to make it.
what is vermiculite
vermiculite It is nothing more than a mineral from the group of micas that is made up of silicates of iron or magnesium. It’s about a material with a high water retention capacitywhich also tends to contain potassium, magnesium, calcium and ammonium, all of which are necessary elements for plants.
In the hand, it is a material that is very light and, in addition, has good properties as a thermal insulator. It is also well known for its expansion capacity, since when it reaches certain temperatures, it multiplies its volume between 8 and 20 times, a rare phenomenon to see in minerals.
This material is commonly used as acoustic and thermal insulation, as well as in a large number of functions as diverse as being a filter element or protecting fragile elements.
However, we are going to focus on uses of vermiculite in gardening.
- When mixed with other substances such as coconut fiber or peat, vermiculite gives rise to very good plant substratesespecially if ingredients such as earthworm humus or perlite are added.
- As it is a light, cheap and beneficial material, it is very practical when preparing mixtures for substrates for especially delicate plants, as is the case with seedbeds, although it can also be used in larger quantities in pots. Its water retention capacity helps absorb excess moisture from the soil and gradually release it later, when the substrate dries out, making it an excellent humidity regulator, which also helps keep the substrate aerated . In addition, its mineral content is also very beneficial for plants, which absorb the components they need from it.
- Since it is a chemically and biologically inert substance, you can add vermiculite to any substrate without fear of causing contamination of any kind and, furthermore, its pH is around 7.
- It also stands out for its use in hydroponics, which are those that are carried out without soil, in plants that are simply kept in water. The vermiculite, which floats, helps to provide them with a point to hold on to, as well as nourishing them with its mineral components. Here you can learn how to make a homemade hydroponic culture.
- Finally, another of its common uses is to be added to plants that are going to have to be transported in bags or closed containers, since its ability to maintain humidity helps the plant suffer less.
How to make the substrate mixture with vermiculite – step by step
One of the most used mixtures for large pots in urban or outdoor gardens is the one that is made up mainly of coconut fiber and earthworm humus, to which vermiculite is then added. The good thing about using coconut fiber and worm humus is that both are very ecological and natural materials, and humus is also one of the best fertilizers.
follow these indications to make substrate with vermiculite correctly:
The proportions of these components must be 55% coconut fiber, 35% earthworm humus and 10% vermiculite.
Steps to make substrate with vermiculite
- If you buy coconut fiber in sheets, which is its most common form of marketing, you should keep in mind that it comes very compacted. As soon as you start adding water to it and separating it with the help of a rake or other tool, you will see that it multiplies several times its size, so start by adding little.
- Then, add the earthworm humus, mixing it well with the coconut fiber and making sure to even out and aerate the substrate.
- Once the two components have been completely mixed, you can add the vermiculite, and also perlite if you have it. Spread them on the top layer of the substrate and mix them with your hands for the first few centimeters of it.
If you follow all these steps, you will have a universal substrate suitable for the vast majority of plants, which will ensure ideal conditions for them.
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