There are several popular growing mediums. These mediums include soil, coconut husk (coco), rock wool, and deep water culture. No one medium is better than another. Each has its positives and negatives.
Let us start with soil. Anyone who has ever seen a garden has seen soil. Soil is a peat based medium. One reason that peat is used is because if treated properly it can be reused season after season. Treating the soil properly means only using non harmful substances. Unlike chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This is because chemical fertilizers and pesticides will harm the micro life that helps the soil to function at its best. Soil if prepared properly can be used with mostly water and properly brewed teas. The best way to do this is to have a well put together soil mix. A popular soil mix is super soil. Super soil was pioneered by SubCool. If you want a more in depth look into how organics and the soil food web work. A great place to start is the book “Teaming with Microbes” by Jeff Lownefels and Wayne Lewis. This book will lay the foundation you need to grow great organic plants.
Coconut husk or coco is considered a “soilless” medium. Coco is also a inert medium. This means that there are no nutrients or micro life in the medium. Coco is great for beginners. The lack of nutrients in the medium allows the grower to feed the plant exactly what it needs when it needs it. Coco is also great because it is hard to over water your plants. This means that you can treat the coco medium like a hydroponic medium and water multiple times a day. When you water serval times a day with coco you add important oxygen to the root zone. This allows the roots to grow faster and in turn the plant grows faster. While coco is a organic medium the most effective nutrients to use are chemical fertilizers. Coco is the medium between soil and deep water culture.
Rock wool is a inert medium similar to coco. Rock wool dries out faster than coco or soil. Like coco, rock wool retains moisture and also allows for multiple feedings each day. Another upside to rock wool is the time it takes to transplant a plant. Most rock wool growers use 1 1/2 inch cubes to start a seed or cutting. These cubes fit into propagation trays very well. Then the plant is moved to a six inch rock wool cube. What makes this so easy is the six inch rock wool cube has a pre cut hole in the top where the 1 1/2 inch rock wool fits perfect. The most important thing to remember when using rock wool is to prep it. If you do not prepare your rock wool properly you will not have optimal results. Grodan is the worlds leading supplier in rock wool products. Therefore , we recommend following their prep process.
Deep water culture or DWC is true hydroponics. In DWC the plants roots are suspended in nutrient rich water. This allows for rapid uptake of nutrients. When a plant can take nutrients up faster it can grow roots, foliage or flowers faster. The most important piece of information about DWC is the temperature of the water. Optimal water temperatures will result is optimal oxygen absorption from the roots. If water temperature rise to much bacteria will begin to breed. This bacteria will cause root rot. Root rot will slow growth and eventually, if not treated, kill your plant.
This has been a brief overview of a few of the most popular mediums used today. Check back in with us for more in detailed posts about each individual medium.