Several readers e-mailed me regarding safety concerns of the vermiculite used in Mel’s Magic Mix, the soil-less potting mix used in raised bed gardens featured in the “All New Square Foot Gardening” book.
Author Mel Bartholomew addresses this issue on his Web site, www.squarefootgardening.com. Click on frequently asked questions (FAQ) and type “safety of vermiculite” in the search box. I also did a Google search and am satisfied it’s safe to use, but aspirating the dust can cause lung irritation and should be avoided.
Breathing in dust of any kind, whether it comes from vermiculite, peat moss, fertilizers or just topsoil is bad for your lungs. This is especially true if you’re asthmatic or have any kind of immune deficiency or lung issues.
So when pouring bagged materials, wear a paper facemask. They’re available at drugstores and are very inexpensive. A light spray of water over the material will cut the dust. Also, always work upwind of the product
Safety precautions should also be taken when working with liquids of any kind. Paper facemasks are not effective for use when spraying liquids. Fine vapors sift right through the material.
A professional-grade face respirator with replaceable filters is the only safe way to go any time you spray liquids, including fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides or pesticides. They are available in the paint departments of big-box stores. Remember, if you can smell the product you’re breathing it into your lungs.
Dust particulates and liquid vapors also cling to clothing, so the pros recommend wearing a protective covering. Those inexpensive white Tyvek coveralls are great for this purpose and can be reused many times. Priced under $10, they range in sizes from XS to XXL. Be sure to take them off and hang them up in the garage or potting shed before going into the house.
For hand protection, wear nitrile disposable gloves, very inexpensive and available at drugstores.
When messing with chemicals, wear waterproof boots and wash them with soap and water when finished. Also, take them off when entering the house so you don’t spread contaminants to carpets and upholstery.
The Rosemania catalog at www.rosemania.com, (888) 600-9665, carries a complete line of safety equipment at reasonable prices, and shipping is free for orders totaling more than $15.
Blog Alert! Be sure to check us out on Saturday for the first of the weekly “Nancy’s Tomato Chronicles”. Timely tips and advice for having terrific tomatoes this year.