Remember growing one of these as a child? Although you didn't know it at the time... this was your first attempt at hydroponics!
What exactly is hydroponics? By definition:
"The cultivation of plants by placing the roots in liquid nutrient solutions rather than in soil".
Now, I know that you've arrived at our website wanting to grow more than just a potato vine on your windowsill... and we'll get you where you want to go... simply and easily. But with a solid knowledge base to guide you.
Learn now about the hydroponic growing medium required for your new garden...
You would think Lava rock would make a good Hydro medium. Not! Lava rock changes the pH of the nutrient solution and releases a harmful sediment.
The hallmark of hydroponic gardening is a soil-less growing medium... No soil! But plants need to be supported or held up somehow, right? We do this with soil-less media... inert, non-organic materials.
They do not add to or change the chemical
makeup of the nutrient solution in any way. These substances are porous, light,
and coarse, which allows oxygen and nutrients easy access to the plants roots.
If you open up any hydroponics catalogue, you'll quickly become confused by the array of hydroponic growing medium choices available today.
Yikes! Which one will be best for my garden?
Glad you asked that... we're going to make this simple and painless...
There are only 3 basic growing media that we recommend for your first gardens:
That's it. Forget about gravel or HigroMite or
vermiculite or rockwool. Later, if you want to branch out and learn about other
growing media, visit our "Advanced Hydro" section (coming soon).
There are also two advanced hydroponic techniques that don't use any hydroponic growing medium whatsoever... aeroponics and NFT (nutrient film technique). Later...
For now, all you need to know about are the "Big 3": Coco, LECA, and perlite. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and so are better suited to specific growing systems.
Coco Coir and perlite are denser, and hold
water better, but LECA has superior drainage and aeration. Experienced
hydroponics nuts usually have their own favorite formulas using these 3 media.
K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Simon)
We recommend only three media for
your first gardens: Coco coir, perlite, and LECA balls. In our
plans of the 4 simple hydroponic systems, we will include the recipes that work best for each, using only these
Could this get any simpler?
Alright, alright, here's a sneak preview:
*Ebb & Flow: 2" of LECA at the bottom; top up with 50/50 Coco & Perlite
*The Raft: the nutrient solution IS the growing medium!
*Dutch Buckets: Fill with 50/50 mix of Coco & perlite; add 1-2" of LECA balls on top to cut down on algae growth.
*Auto pots: 50/50 Coco coir & perlite. No clay balls.
TIP: Put the LECA balls where the solution enters the system. This helps keep the lighter media (perlite & coco) from washing away.
Good news! You can sterilize and reuse all three of these growing
media by treating with a 10% bleach/water solution, then rinsing well.
*A really easy labor-saving method for sterilizing:
Leave the medium in the pots. Take them outside, drench with the bleach solution. Flush gently but thoroughly with clean water. Leave them outside to drain and dry out. We've even left them out in the rain for a good shower. Those pre-packed pots will be ready for the next crop!
Whew! Lotta great tips in this box!
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