“ … more food in less space in less water and in less time. “ --- Dan Lubkeman, President of Hydroponic Society of America, on the meaning of hydroponics.
Alternative growing mediums are key to success in hydroponics. They allow for continuous recycling of water and for maximum nutrient absorption in a minimal amount of space. Similar to soil, products such as rockwool, coco coir and clay pellets support plant roots while allowing for greater exposure to air and moisture without the considerably larger spatial requirements of traditional growing.
Man Made Organics
When magma expelled from a lava chute comes into contact with oxygen and cools quickly -- it forms basalt. The process of crushing this rock, mixing it with chalk and melting it back into a liquid state is how rockwool is made. The newly rendered lava, heated to 1600 degrees Celsius, is channelled into a rotating machine that whips it into thin wool-like strands in a technique similar to spinning cotton candy. Upon inspecting this material in postmanufactured form, you may wonder -- what is Rockwool? It is an inert, porous, growing medium with a non-absorbing molecular structure that allows 100% of nutrients delivered by water to be absorbed by plant roots as necessary.
Coconut husks are peeled from their shells through a process known as defibering and processed into an alternative growing medium called coco coir. This organic material is processed into pith, fiber or chips -- each offering different advantages to growing depending on what you plan to harvest. Pith is extremely dense and easily retains water, while fibers are less dense allowing for maximum oxygenation to plant roots. Meanwhile, chips feature the best of both -- offering a combination of moisture retention and abundant air pockets. Specially manufactured coco coir intended for hydroponic use provides the best attributes of this medium by taking the guesswork out of absorption versus oxygenation and delivering a growing medium that is pre-engineered for success.
New Ways with Clay
Although liquid clay is not an ideal growing medium due to scarcity of oxygen, processed clay pellets can help you harvest abundant hydroponic yields. These are made of naturally occurring clay that is mined, rolled into beads and kiln dried at extremely high temperatures to produce tough, lightweight pebbles. The firing process creates a sterile substrate with a neutral pH that is ideal for growing because it provides excellent drainage, air pockets for oxidation and long-term value as the pellets can be used again and again. Expanded clay pellets also retain moisture while providing ample support for plant structures.
Learn and Choose
Exploring the world of hydroponics presents many new elements unknown to traditional gardening. As you delve into questions like “what is rockwool” and discover amazing uses for naturally occurring resources like coconut husks and kiln-heated clay, you can eventually decide which growing medium is right for you.
X Hydro Supply is a premier destination for alternative growing mediums and products for every facet of indoor hydroponic gardening. Our extensive selection of products are shipped expediently with superior customer service.
By Luke Schmaltz