perlite in compost bin?

shnibbsNovember 18, 2013

hi is there any reason i shouldn't put perlite into my small compost bucket? there is perlite mixed into the soil i use, and i'd like to add this soil to the compost. i also have a bag of "organic tomato and vegetable" food which i don't plan on using in my garden. could i add a cup full of this to my compost for a little extra nutrients, or am i way off? the compost is going to be mixed with fresh soil when the time comes. thanks!!

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Perlite is a mineral so adding that to compost will do little of any benefit or be of much detriment. It will just be there like sand or clay soil particles.
Adding that "organic tomato and vegetable" food may be of some help depending on the total amount of Nitrogen in the mix. Keep in mind that too much N can be as much trouble as too little.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 6:54AM
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Agreed, the perlite will not hurt anything and will end up in your soil looking exactly the same.

Fertilizers can be very powerful, and if your 'small compost bucket' is really that small, a cupful of fertilizer may be too much. You'll want to add some browns to offset the N content. Using fertilizer is actually a way to get browns to compost faster if one is short on greens, although it's an expensive method if you're buying fertilizer for that purpose. If you're just getting rid of leftover fertilizer, just use some browns and watch for odors and other signs of high N.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 11:09AM
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Additions of perlite to compost piles speeds decomposition of leaves, grass clippings, and other yard waste. In addition, the use of perlite reduces the amount of labour required to periodically turn piles to insure proper aeration. When composting is completed and the compost is put to use, the perlite will continue to perform for many years as it lightens and aerates the soil while increasing its water holding ability.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2015 at 1:29PM
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The above post is apparently in violation of the site's rules, clearly a sales pitch from someone selling perlite.

It has no significant benefits to the compost pile that justify the cost as far as I'm concerned. I'd put that perlite - and the fertilizer - into your soil, but there's no real harm in adding it to the compost. I put used potting soil into the compost if I have a small amount, like a potted plant that died. No harm in it.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2015 at 4:19PM
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Not only is the Schundler link in violation of rules, it's not even correct.

"Without turning, however, compost piles of leaves and grass clippings begin to smell, and the final product becomes almost useless."

This is laughable.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2015 at 4:23PM
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Perlite is inert. Perlite does not do anything to speed up the digestion of the material in a compost pile and will not be changed by the process. The primary purpose of using perlite in potting soils is to improve drainage and aeration of that potting soil.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2015 at 6:56AM
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I think they are trying to sell it as an aeration tool, you put an inch of it every foot of compostables and you don't have to turn the compost. I've had plenty of compost piles that were never turned that made compost, probably most of us have. Since I decommissioned my triple pallet bin and went to a plastic bin with lower throughput, when it gets full and I open it up, the bottom third, at least, is ready to use compost that was never turned. I do get a good mix by layering browns with green additions, and sometimes I mix up a large batch (if I have leaves and grass clippings in spring, for example), but most of it is layered additions. The idea that this will smell and won't make good compost is ridiculous.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2015 at 1:33PM
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Tox, I would not even try to imagine why someone posts such misinformation.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2015 at 6:41AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

There is so much focus on how to have great compost without turning it. I like turning it and it makes better faster compost. It is sort of a work out thing, but it's the most fun part. If you really love composting, you will enjoy turning it. Mopping the floors is also a work out, but I hate doing that. If you don't turn you miss out on watching the stages of decay. If you like gardening you like playing in the dirt. If you don't you won't be much of a gardener.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2015 at 8:36AM
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tropical, I also love turning my piles with my fork. It's a nice workout. Also, I do add sticks and stuff to help with aeration. And all old perlite goes into my compost. I wouldn't go out of my way to buy expensive perlite to jump dump into compost, that's just not cost effective. Anyway, too much brain power does into these compost posts, methinks.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 12:18AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I like perlite. I use it mostly in pots when I repot the potting material goes in the bin. It does not help with the composting, but is great for my raised planter boxes. It does help in a way to allow better water distribution, but it does not last forever. In a few years in seems to break down to nothing. It is fun to buy a big bag if I can get one cheaply, but its not a must do thing like coffee grounds are in the bin. If you buy holiday plants for the house, they have perlite in them, that goes in the compost bin after the holidays.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 11:26AM
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Its just sad when someone takes a product that is actually useful for certain things and tries to make it into something it's not, or to solve some problem that does not really exist. We all like perlite for its intended use. I love perlite. Perlite is one of my best friends. I swear I'm not a perlite hater! LOL

Reminds me of the ad I saw in a magazine for a product to clean the outer tub of your washing machine (the part you can't see) because it collects gunk and "makes the water exceed EPA standards" ! Which do not exist except for drinking water, and who drinks water out of their washing machine?

I wish people would turn their intelligence and creativity toward something good for mankind and the planet. Imagine if all the snake-oil salesmen used their powers for good!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2015 at 12:50PM
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