What is perlite?

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I got my children a book at the library about planting seeds. The instructions for pomegranate say to use perlite. What is it? And, is it possible to sterilize your own soil?

-- Cathy N. (keeper8@attcanada.ca), October 21, 2001


perlite is really really white round bits of volcanic ash-Its used in plants a lot, mixed with soil sometimes to promote good drainage in soil, or sometimes used as a growing medium by itself. Its pretty inexpensive and you can sometimes find it at a Wal-mart or Lowes any garden supply place should have it but I've noticed its becoming harder to find.

-I "bake" small amounts in a low say 250-300 degree oven for about half hour-or if I'm baking something at that temp, when Im through I'll put my soil in for about ten minents then turn the oven off and let it sit until cool. I don't do this much anymore-I like the idea of "Living Soil" but I don't buy much commercial stuff anymore-I like to use soil from my garden or compost.

Also, rinsing old planters or pots in a mild bleach solution will disinfect them.

-- Kelly in Ky (ksaderholm@yahoo.com), October 21, 2001.

I have sterilised my soil in the microwave in an open plastic freezer bag. 5 minutes is usually enough to kill off any lurking critters etc. Perlite is a form of rock that was superheated (volcano or done by man) until it explodes and becomes very light and porous. Vermiculite is a similar substance though looks very different from the styrofoam appearance of perlite.

-- Alison in N.S. (aproteau@istar.ca), October 22, 2001.

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