I was recently introduced to the dynamic brother/sister team, Lexi and Austin Petelski, who own General Pumice Products. These young and dynamic gardeners have recently acquired ownership of two California pumice mines and are here to help explain the differences between pumice and perlite.
Those of us who garden in El Nino’s predicted path will find this information particularly useful, as pumice not only helps absorb and slowly release water, but it helps aerate the soil at the same time. Pumice is a fantastic way to help prevent your succulent containers and water-sensitive plants (ie: leucadendrons, euphorbias, proteas, grevilleas) from sitting and drowning in pooled water. In fact, I recently added a hefty dose of their pumice to my own garden’s soil, hoping my newly planted leucadendrons will have a fighting chance in surviving this year’s predicted rainfall.
And, since it’s the holiday season, we thought it would be fun to offer everyone an opportunity to win your own 15-pound bag of pumice. All you need to do is leave a comment below for a chance to win.
1. You’re both so young! When did you realize you wanted to own and operate a pumice mine?
Truthfully, we never in our wildest dreams would have guessed this was going to be our future. My brother and I were never involved in the horticulture world before acquiring the pumice mines. What essentially started our debut in the gardening world or “attracted” us to the pumice business in general was actually the mining portion of pumice.
Our family has been involved in heavy machinery and construction for the last 40 years and one day, seemingly out of nowhere, we heard about 2 pumice mines in California that needed to be reclaimed. Our dad, being the entrepreneurial wizard he is, saw them as a great asset so we purchased them, reclaimed, and extensively renovated both mines.
After purchasing the mines we started researching the markets and uses for pumice, other than the common “thing you scrub your feet with”, and were overwhelmed with the massive opportunities that pumice offers. We discovered that pumice, amazingly, is used in over 30 markets, from gardening to lightweight concrete, makeup and cosmetic scrubs, and even pencil erasers!
Originally we started pursuing lightweight concrete and stone companies (because pumice is used as an aggregate), oil absorbent markets, kitty litter companies, because these were the most common and popular markets for it. After quite a bit of researching however, we found article after article on how pumice seems to be the healthiest and supreme soil amendment/conditioner on the market for serious gardeners. We saw an extreme demand for pumice in horticulture, yet no supply for horticulture customers locally because the conditions of the mines before we purchased them.
At that point we then started pursuing nurseries and the gardening market full time, and absolutely fell in love with the industry. We started selling to wholesale growers, soil companies, farms etc. and the business just started exploding.
Out of all the industries we’ve pursued since owning the mines the horticulture industry has by far been the most fun – the people are wonderful, warm and kind and genuinely love our product. We love that we can provide an amazing product for people who had a great need for it and many even a strong passion for it, yet weren’t able to get access to it for a long time.
I’d have to say, the best part of working in the gardening realm is that we now have an abundant love for succulents and have gotten to see some of the coolest most beautiful nurseries in the world! Our newest goal is working on our own green thumbs, though we are new to the actual growing portion of the industry, we have had a ridiculously fun time learning!”
2. So, what’s the difference between pumice and perlite (and other similar products on the market)?
Oh boy, where to even begin! Pumice is an all-natural,100% ORGANIC growing media that provides an ideal balance of moisture retention, gas exchange, and draining capabilities. Perlite, Peat Moss, Coco Coir, and Vermiculite are what most growers default to using in their soils and all those products, and though may have some benefits, in comparison, they’re nothing like our pumice. Pumice is its own category, honestly, and I’m not just saying that because I sell it! None of the similar products are 100% ORGANIC, nor do they offer all the health benefits and water conservation aspects our pumice has scientifically proven to possess.
Our pumice has been scientifically tested and proven to have over 70 different trace vitamins and minerals, that help detoxify and vitalize your plants. Succulents, produce and flowers require daily nutrients, just like our bodies. Our pumice is packed full of these minerals, such as Zeolite, Fulvic Acid, Iron, Sodium, Humic Acid, Calcium, Nitrogen, Potassium and many more. Your plants need these nutrients to be healthy and thrive, because just like ‘you are what you eat’, your plants can only be as healthy as what they eat, or what you feed them. Just like people, plants need a balanced diet with beneficial microbes, minerals, and nutrition, and none of our competitive products can offer such things.
Another major difference and benefit of amending your soil with our pumice is its water-conserving capabilities. Each individual pumice stone has countless microscopic pores that each act as little sponges, storing the nutrient-rich water, later releasing it when the soil needs hydrating. Using pumice in your soil brings oxygen to the root zone, allows carbon dioxide to escape, enables air circulation, and makes food and water consistently available for root uptake. No other soil amendment or conditioner can do this.
Pumice is heavier than its leading competitor Perlite, which forces it to stay mixed into your soil so it won’t float to the top of your containers and blow away.
Lastly, pumice will never decompose, so it never needs replacing (unlike Coco Coir and Peat Moss that tends to rot and must be removed.)
3. With El Nino lurking around the corner, what’s the best way for home gardeners to use pumice in their garden or containers?
Great question! Well, When it comes to growing vibrant plants, it’s all about the quality of the soil. The roots must have a continual supply of oxygen, the root-level carbon dioxide must be able to easily leave the root zone, the soil must also be able to retain water and hold nutrients while not drowning your succulents and plants.
Pumice is supreme for water-sensitive plants, because the microscopic pores of the pumice act as tiny sponges. So in the event of over-watering (or the lurking rainfall of El Nino), the pumice will soak up any access water and will lock it within its pores until the soil needs re-hydrating.
The simplest and most effective soil blend we’ve received from our larger clients and in-in home growers is a mixture of half soil and half pumice. Debra Lee Baldwin, succulent author and expert with whom we work closely, with has numerous articles and YouTube videos on how to mix the perfect soil blends for specific breeds of succulents and plants. For a large garden mix Debra recommends mixing equal parts garden soil, pumice, gritty sand (like decomposed granite) and compost.
4. Would you consider pumice and pumice mining, an environmentally friendly alternative to other similar garden products?
Absolutely, 100% YES – Pumice is the most environmentally friendly gardening product you can use! Not only does it come directly from the earth, it stays in its raw form. All we do is screen it to make it the desired sizes, bag it, and ship it out. There is no chemicals added to our pumice, no heating process, our product comes straight out of the earth and into your garden! There are no harmful chemical or hazardous fumes or dust that comes from our product, unlike the similar products. What could be better than that?
5. Where can gardeners find your product?
Gardeners can buy our product online General Pumice Products, available in 15lb. bags, which will be delivered to their front door (free shipping, too!)
Or, if they need a larger quantity or would like to buy it bulk/wholesale they can send an email to [email protected] for more information on our wholesale specials (pallets of 25lb. or 50lb. bags).
*And, for those of you who will be attending the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show this year (March 16-20, 2016) they’ll not only have a booth but will also be speaking! Stay tuned for more info.
………………………………………………………….Giveaway (sorry, this giveaway is over) ……………………………………………………………..
UPDATE: Congratulations Colleen – you won! (I’ve already sent you an email asking for your home address so we can ship the pumice). Thanks everyone for participating, and may you all have a beautiful holiday season!
Lexi and Austin have generously agreed to give one lucky reader a chance to win a 15-pound bag of pumice to add to your garden! In addition, for everyone else who doesn’t win, they’re also offering a holiday promotion through the month of December: buy 6 bags of pumice and you get a 7th bag free! How to enter: For a chance to win, leave a comment below about how you’d like to use pumice in your garden and then head over to their Facebook page here, and ‘like’ them. How easy is that? A few more details: A random winner will be chosen by midnight Dec. 24th and contacted within 24 hours. If the proposed winner forfeits or does not claim the prize by Jan. 31st, the prize will be re-awarded based on the sponsor’s sole discretion. All prizes will be awarded. Please provide your first and last name to enter this contest so I can immediately contact you if you win. The winner agrees to allow his/her first name to be mentioned in conjunction with this giveaway. This giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only, who are over the age of 18 years old. No purchase necessary to win. This sweepstakes is also void where prohibited by law (wherever that is, I’d sure hate to live there!) By entering this giveaway, you agree to these conditions.