pumice and styrofoam, etc.

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@starpower.net
Mon, 07 Feb 2005 16:26:37 PST
At 06:47 PM 2/7/2005 EST, Conroe Joe wrote:

>I'm going to try styrofoam peanuts as a replacement for scorica (or pumice) 
>in my agave soil mixes.  If the styrofoam works for agaves I might try it

Joe, I have lots of big tubs up on a deck; I've been using styrofoam
peanuts for years to reduce the weight of the soil in those tubs. Petunias,
impatiens, coleus, lilies, Gloriosa, Cuphea and others grow well in these

In some of the tubs the styrofoam is loose and mostly at the bottom of the
tub (this was done to prevent it from popping up when the tubs were
watered). In a few of tubs the styrofoam is contained in net bags - a
couple of cubic feet of the stuff fills the bottom of those tubs. 

Here's the voice of (bitter) experience speaking: contain the styrofoam.
That stuff has a real life of its own once it gets loose in the garden. The
slightest breeze blows it around, it floats on a tiny film of water, and
it's a real bother to get it out of soil once it's mixed in. Actually, it's
easy to get out of soil - simply flood it out. But then you'll also have a
big pile of mud. 

The natural soil in this part of the world does not have little blobs of
white stuff (such as perlite produces) or big blobs of white stuff (such as
styrofoam produces), so once either of these gets into your soil you have a
real eyesore. Ugly as they are when new, they're both much worse when they
are dirty and support colonies of algae. 

Contain the stuff!

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where I'm still finding
pieces of styrofoam from an accidental spill years ago. I opened the cold
frames today for the first time in weeks and had a good time planting lots
of seed in the frames. 

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