Skip the vermiculite and peat moss?

shpigford(7)April 9, 2013

Does anyone skip vermiculite & peat moss and ONLY use compost in their square foot garden?

I've got a LOT of good compost available that is pretty varied as far as materials go.

I'm in central Alabama and we get a decent amount of rain.

The cost of vermiculite and peat moss around here for the scale I need (~70 cubic feet of EACH) is just crazy expensive, while the compost is cheap/free.

Also, this is for raised beds (8" deep).

This post was edited by shpigford on Tue, Apr 9, 13 at 9:34

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John koler from growing your green uses only compost in some of his foot deep beds and seems to do well

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 2:10PM
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Ray_Scheel(z8b/SS31 E. TX)

What is your underlying soil? I am over at least a foot of sand, so I get away with almost pure compost, but if you are on a clay soil, i would try to work in some vermiculite, even if not the full amount

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 4:24PM
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@ray_scheel: It's clay and rocks.

Vermiculite is just painfully expensive (around $11 per cubic foot) and even if I went light with it, I'd end up spending over $500 for our size garden.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 8:38PM
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nugrdnnut(6a n-c WA)

My dad, in Montana, just uses compost... no vermiculite or peat and his garden does well. He waters about every 3rd day when it is hot/dry.

In my raised beds I have the first 6 inches of 1/2 compost, 1/2 peat and 1/2 vermiculite. I will fill the rest with compost as my compost piles produce it.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 12:30AM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

Vermiculite and peat add no nutrient value to the soil. fwiw - I never added any to my beds.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:08PM
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I grew zucchini, chives, bell peppers, basil fine last year with manure and soil.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 8:59AM
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I originally did the recommended mix and regret the $$ I spent. I now go with compost added every year along with some garden soil, and wish I'd gone with a compost/soil mix from the get-go.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 7:32PM
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I think the vermiculite is really to help retain moisture, especially in raised beds ( more exposure to wind drying ) which are on hard bases ( no water available to draw up ).

I'd try it out for a season and see how you go - if you're heaping beds on top of existing soil I reckon the above advise will see you right. I've never had a problem with just compost.

Best of luck.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 2:25AM
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