pumice and styrofoam, etc.

ConroeJoe@aol.com ConroeJoe@aol.com
Mon, 07 Feb 2005 15:47:38 PST
Hi Gang,

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 for 
bulbs.  I'm encouraged because of the good results that have been obtained with 
coir and other not-so-typical soil additives for agaves and cacti.  

I grow most of my plants in containers--it just works out for me because my 
yard is so low.  I have water in the back portion for most of the winter and 
grow  fantastic water irises, cattails, and Hymenocallis.  The rest of the yard 
is 12 to 20 inches higher and containers provide the extra height I need.   
Though, clearly, raised beds might be a wonderful alternative.   I use 5-, 10-, 
20-, or even 30-gallon containers.  

One email commentator noted that using styrofoam peanuts in soil mixes "out 
to be against the law."  I'm inclined to agree, at least from an aesthetic 
point of view.  If agaves accept the peanuts I'll try large bulbs next (Crinum), 
and see what results I get.  

It is my hope that styrofoam peanuts provide the air pockets that I want in 
the soil, and do no harm.  I don't think they will break down over the 3 to 10 
year period I leave some agaves in pots.  But, they may compact, or have other 
odd and unintended consequences.  Time and experience will be my guide.  

In terms of cost, I'm happy with styrofoam peanuts.  My company routinely 
saves about 30-50 gallons of the styrofoam peanuts per week, and then tosses 
them.  So, they are free to me--this makes them very competitive from a cost point 
of view.  It can be expensive filling up 20-gallon containers with special 
soil mixes--plant addict that I am.  

Who needs pumice anyway?  


Conroe Joe
(the styrofoam guy)

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