Originally Posted by bigbadbiddy
Regarding the Rice Hulls:
Be very careful with those. I haven't used rice hulls personally as I couldn't source them but I went with buckwheat hulls instead because I wanted an organic aeration amendment, not perlite.
Boy was that a bad move. Soil compaction is a real issue with these. And I imagine with rice hulls as well...
If you want an organic aeration amendment, then it seems like there is no way around pumice. Which is quite heavy.
Due to my own experiences, I would advice anyone against using ONLY rice hulls or buckwheat hulls as an aeration amendment.
I have ordered peat moss from several sources and it isn't the end of the world. Sucks but could be worse. It's still quite cheap and companies deliver worldwide nowadays so the delivery costs are the issue (aside from ecologic questions).
Last time I ordered peat moss from Ireland or Scotland or something because I heard that is the "best" and least treated you can get and I was very satisfied with it. Didn't cost me too much either.
I haven't noticed any soil compaction issues using rice hulls. They are biodegradable, but they break down slowly. As MM said, I don't suggest them if you're going no til. Yesterday I was actually cleaning up some old containers that had some mint and cilantro that died. They were probably grown in for around a year and was the same soil mix I posted above. I recycle my soil when I can, so I dumped them into a bin. Everything crumbled apart easily, and there is still plenty of rice hulls visible.
Pumice is a great suggestion, and should be fairly easy to obtain locally. I'll try to source some myself and start adding it to the mix.
I would like to encourage you to consider leaving the peat out of your mix. Similar to the issues with perlite... coco coir is part of a local waste stream and does not need to be mined. Although peat is technically "renewable" it is not sustainable. There is a finite number of pear bogs in the world, and they take very long periods of time to replenish. On the other hand, coconut palms produce fruit every month!
We all grow differently and all know what works best for us. I try to use things that are local, sustainable, and preferably free
. The only thing I pay for in my mix is the coco coir and rice hulls, and both of them are very cheap.