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Padawan has questions

Perlite and vermiculite. What's the diff?
Has anyone come across/used clay breaker? Worth the bother or should I just mulch like a mulching fool over winter?
Composting - can everything from the garden go in (presumable not seed heads?)
It's knowing what to do with things that counts - Robert Frost


  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,814
    This article explains the difference

    A lot of stuff from the garden can be composted but not perennial weed roots like bindweed and dandelions. Woody stuff is best shredded. Too many lawn mowings at once don't work well, they either go slimy if too wet or powdery and mouldy if too dry.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 11,288
    edited July 2021
    Perlite is expanded volcanic material and vermiculite is an expanded mineral.
    They're largely interchangeable - both are light and both hold and release moisture.
    Vermiculite breaks down in a few months
    Perlite breaks down in a year or so.
    For something that lasts longer, you'd use horticultural grit which lasts forever

    I've used composted bark to break up clay.
    It worked surprisingly fast - and it smells nice

    I just put prunings from plants, grass clippings, shredded branches and as much cardboard as I can. And LOTS of tea leaves :)
    I don't compost weeds anymore - I learned the hard way and am still paying the consequences!

    Hope you're recovery continues well
    Best of luck!

    Billericay - Essex

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,009
    edited July 2021
    Perlite is a natural volcanic substance that helps improve drainage and aeration in potting composts so is good for taking cuttings.  Vermiculite is good for retaining moisture, especially as a mulch on top of seed pots.

    The best way to improve clay is to pile on the mulch every autumn once perennials have died back and annuals have been lifted and then leave it for the worms and other soil organisms to play with and work in over winter.

    Composting - no seed heads, no pernicious weeds such as bindweed or nettles that  can regrow from teeny bits.  OK if you leave them on the side too dry out completely first.   No cooked food or fats as they will attract rats but raw kitchen waste from prepping fruit and veg is fine.  Crushed egg shells are fine.   Some people say no citrus peels or rhubarb leaves but they've never been a problem for us.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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