Truly soilless medium?

50 / 50 vermiculite / perlite mix, no soil, no peat, no compost. Excellent water handling characteristics, pH would remain dead stable. No pests, no disease. Feed with organic tea to replace the missing OM portion. Would this work as well as a good standard potting mix such as Pro Mix?
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Frank wrote:

IMO that is not a good mix. I have tried mixes with 33 percent perlite and even with a lot of compose tea they did not work well. Also, too much perlite (over 25 percent IMO) tends to become "messy".
There are many good commercial mixes (without soil) that work much better. Also, it might help if you tell us what you want to grow. Some mixes work better than others depending on the plant.
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What type tea? I have an endless supply of activated worm tea, enough that most of it goes down the drain because of 3 day shelf life. Can't think of anything richer, pure organic rocket fuel, puts even Miracle Gro to shame.

Drainage agent, first one that comes to mind. There are others that could be used, maybe coarse sand. I know perlite can float and separate if flooded.

Tomatoes, peppers, zinnias, lettuce, everything.

Straight perlite and vermiculite is as dead and neutral as it gets. Should work with anything that likes well- drained soil, depending on the nutrients and pH of the tea.
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On Tue, 15 Apr 2008 14:51:19 -0700 (PDT), Father Haskell

So if you are happy with your results, why are you asking for an alternative? I'm just curious.
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Want to try this as an experiment, no sense if it's already been done to death.
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wrote:

The problem with this mixture is that there is too much air space and plants will not develop roots the way they ought to. Generally, that air space is filled with peat or coir and the moisture in that portion of the mix is what supplies feeder roots or root hairs with capillary water.
Why do you want to use this mixture?
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Coarse sand? Shredded newspaper?

Trying to do without peat for various reasons. Paghat has a good article on her page that explains why. pH maintenance is an escalating battle once the stuff starts breaking down, which kills off everything for mysterious reasons. Coir would be a great substitute, but it's too hard to find in the Baltimore area.
Meanwhile, the tea I've been brewing works beautifully. I'm wondering if I can't use it in full place of the solid OM portion, eliminating a source of many headaches.
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On Tue, 15 Apr 2008 14:50:45 -0700 (PDT), Father Haskell

When I was a professional greenhouse grower we used peat pro mix on very expensive and rare asexual plants which were being raised for market. It sometimes took ten years for plants to become stable enough to name them and market out.
Never in the years I did this did we ever come across an escalating battle once the stuff started breaking down. We did have to maintain close records of our soils for operation permits and such, but I'm not sure I ever heard of the claim that peat is killing everything for mysterious reasons. Do your research. Because it is on the Internet doesn't mean its accurate, my own post included.
I don't like the use of peat because it is depleting the peat bogs at rapid rates and these bogs do not recover easily.
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How much lime did you add?

pH drops, so does uptake of nutrients such as Mg. Plant "mysteriously" turns yellow with brown spots. "Mystery" is solved when indicators (Rapitest pH test, Bromthymol blue) and meter all show 5.0 pH. Plants recover quickly and start to thrive with one application of hydrated lime (1 tsp / gallon). Nice if I didn't have to keep doing that.

My research. My claim, not Paghat's.

Bingo. My biggest complaint, too.
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On Tue, 15 Apr 2008 17:51:33 -0700 (PDT), Father Haskell

Oh geeze, this was done on such a huge scale I couldn't tell you. I've been retired for over 15 years. I know we used Cornell's recipe for soiless greenhouse production. http://www.backyardgardener.com/soil/soil10.html
I do not use this method now for my own plants as I have been strictly organic for over a decade, maybe longer. I don't have a problem with the use of Osmocote in containers, but not for food. Your tea should be adequate.
For the things you are wanting to grow I am not sure why you are going through so much trouble, but if you're just fussing around it's an interesting study. If you find something let me know.
Some people say the coir has too much sodium, but again I never had a problem with it for growing houseplants. I have a small hobby/business and I sell Brugmansia spp. to local nurseries. I have other varieties, but this one seems to fair the best, even if it is contaminated with tobacco mosaic...etc...I'm rambling.
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wrote:

Good link. Thanks.
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Figuring ways to be less reliant on Big Agribusiness is good. Reduced transportation costs are attractive.

First smoker to touch your plants will give them TMV anyway. I wouldn't worry.
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On Tue, 15 Apr 2008 22:07:15 -0700 (PDT), Father Haskell

Not necessarily. Smoking is frowned upon in, or around the big houses which produce millions of flats of plants because they can lose a whole house, but tobacco mosaic virus isn't always a death sentence to certain nightshades if everything else is provided properly, water and fertilization. Brugs are heavy feeders.
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