When we say growing medium, we refer to the substance in which plants can develop roots and grow to maturity. To obtain the maximum yield from any plant, a grower needs to consider these three main things:
- The amount of drainage required to avoid waterlogging or water loss
- How forgiving the growing media is – how tolerant it is of conditions and how good it is at providing aeration
- The all-important nutritional content
In past years, all growers had no choice but to cope as best they could with whatever type of soil was native to their area. However, there are now numerous alternatives and additions the latest and most exciting of which is Gelponics, a cost-saving sustainable growth substrate for thriving plant growth, 100% natural and biodegradable.
Traditional Growing Media
For centuries commercial and amateur growers have relied on traditional methods of plant raising using garden soil and/or compost or the newer Coco Coir or peat moss. Garden soil and soil on farmers’ fields commonly contain additives such as compost, fertilizer and other materials typically used for improving the nutrients required by whatever is planted. Water and aeration levels will always depend on the soil type.
Sand, Silt and Clay
These are the main types of soil which are found in different areas around the country, and their composition dictates what can and cannot be grown:
- Sandy soils are easy to work with as they are light, but they tend to have difficulty retaining water, so moisture must be regularly replenished. Sandy soils are well aerated but poor at keeping nutrients.
- Silt contains medium-sized particles with a silt content greater than 80%. It is water-retentive. Silt soils are moderately aerated. Silt provides little nutrients but is more useful as an additive for other soil types.
- Clay soil tends to be very heavy and difficult to work with, and plants can become waterlogged and die because it retains more water than different soils. Clay soil is poorly aerated and tends towards compaction, especially when walked on. Clay is better at holding on to essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium and magnesium.
- Garden soil has to work hard to grow various plants and is generally augmented with compost, fertilizer and other organic material.
Drainage and Watering Issues
One of the most challenging aspects of plant growth is drainage and watering. Over and under watering can cause plants to damp off early or die at later stages in development.
A few forms of media growers can add in the early growth stages to improve drainage and prevent damping off Perlite, Vermiculite and, more rarely, Zeolite.
- Perlite is porous and slightly water-retentive and is used to help loosen soil structure to improve aeration, which assists in healthy root formation.
- Vermiculite aids aeration but becomes sticky and hinders aeration if it gets too wet. However, it does add magnesium and potassium to the soil.
- Zeolite can improve water retention and release, and because it is said to be able to absorb 60% of its weight in water can help keep plants watered. It is porous.
Gelponics for Maximum Efficiency
This hydrogel-based growth substrate is eco-friendly in its capacity to hold 600 times more water than the previously mentioned alternatives. The porous gel provides the optimum ventilation for air and water to reach roots and ensure maximum plant productivity. This growing medium conserves nutrients to aid successful germination and leaves no wastewater. Its water-saving properties make it the ideal increasing medium for today’s eco-minded plant grower, taking away the many complexities and uncertainties in getting the growing medium just right.