Hydroponics Growing Medium
Hydroponics Growing Medium act as an anchor to the plant so it does not fall over as it grows, provide good drainage of nutrient solution and allow the flow of oxygen to the plant roots.
Almost anything can be used as a growing medium if it meets these basic requirements:At this point you may be asking, "Why go the hydroponics route at all if I need to use a growing medium?
Why not stick with the simpler and less complex, 'tried and true' dirt gardening where soil is my growing medium?"
You could...there is certainly nothing wrong with dirt gardening except that soil always becomes packed down and too dense to be of good use.
The sad truth is that most of the fertilizer you spread around your plants is either leached or washed away.
To fertilize your dirt garden plants to the level hydroponics achieves you would have to apply a toxic amount, burning the upper roots just to feed the lower ones.
Back to growing mediums. My current favorites are Leca clay pellets and pea stone. The clay pellets are commercially made small, marble-sized balls of kiln-fired clay. They are light in weight and density, clean and very easy to work with. Because they are not very dense I use them in systems containing small containers, one per plant, where the container itself helps stop a growing plant from toppling. For this they are ideal.
Pea stone is great for larger containers each containing several plants. It is cheap, dense and readily available. On the negative side it is extremely heavy, very dirty and could change your nutrient soultion's PH fairly quickly. Before use I rinse the pea stone by shoveling it into a wheelbarrow and hosing it down until the water runs clear (it is an exhausting job). It comes in small 40 lb. bags.
There are many excellent commercially made mediums especially designed for hydroponics all of which I would recommend.
(Pictured left is Rockwool). You can make your own growing medium using combinations of rocks, sand, perlite, vermiculite, peat moss, sawdust, styrofoam, paper, cardboard or anything you could possibly think of.
The key word here is to 'experiment'...
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