I'm feeling like I don't treat my seeds very well, 'cause I just start them in the compost-rich dirt from my garden. If I let something go to seed in the section I'm digging soil from, I microwave it to kill the seeds, but other than that, it's just free dirt for me.
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Decades ago ONE part of ONE mine in Montana where they were also mining mica (vermiculite is ground & heated mica) had asbestos in it, but NOT in the section where the mica was being mined.
This comes up in the media and gardening sites periodically and a applaud you for being cautious. The "good" thing about this scare, ALL vermiculite in the US is tested to make sure it is asbestos free.
When I make my growing medium I DO wear a dust mask because I don't want small particles of ANYTHING getting into my lungs. We always mist the vermiculite & peat to knock as much dust down as possible as both of these produce very fine particles.
I have seen women looking at jewelry ads with a misty eye and one hand resting on the heart, and I only know what they're feeling because that's how I read the seed catalogs in January.
I don't use vermiculite at all. It is very bad for people to handle unless it's already in a mix-very bad for the lungs to breath the dust, so I just stay away from it as a raw product. For starting seeds, I just use a cheap potting soil mixed with sand. My seedlings are only going to be in the starter mix for a short time before getting potted up or into the ground, so I buy the cheapest potting soil I can get and mix it with regular sand (which I rinse really well to get salt out if it's ocean sand.
MICHTOTMAN Compost tea is an excellent way to feed seedlings! You can transplant them to larger containers after they get their first true leaves. The little seed leaves that most seedlings start off with do not count.
Ksroman, even SFG talks about starting exclusively in vermiculite some things; it was nearly a disaster for me after I moved the little guys. I see you skip that step and go straight in the mix. I should probably do that. It's a fluffy mix; anything grows in that stuff :) Thanks for the reminder.
I'll be interested to read the responses. I use vermiculite IN my potting mix, but have never used it exclusively.
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Hi all! I have been starting my own seedlings for years... sometimes in vermiculite, sometimes in organic starting soil. I know that vermiculite is the preferred method BUT I have had hit or miss success with this. One of my sources recommended that the seedlings be moved from the vermiculite into potting soil when 4 leaves form. Two years ago I did this but it seemed as though the leaves would never form. Their growth became stunted and I finally succumbed and moved them to the soil without the 4 leaves. At this point they perked up but their growth was slowed enough that those plants never really produced for me.
I have decided this year to give vermiculite one more shot (potting soil dries out so quickly that it's a gamble too...) but I don't want to repeat my problems from 2 years ago.
For those of your that use this method, how long do you leave your seedlings in vermiculite before moving them to soil?
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