When it comes to growing crops, there are several popular (and some not so popular) grow mediums that can replace soil like Vermiculite, Perlite, Rockwool, Coco peat, Hydroton, Growstone, Floral foams, Sponges, Gravel etc.
Each one of these has its own pros and cons and no particular medium may be overall best, but depending on specific set-up one medium may be superior to others. In this article, we will explain why we recommend using Coco Peat and Hydrotons for CG Kitchen Gardens.
To understand which medium is best for promoting crop growth, it is imperative to understand what role does grow medium play in crop life cycle. Grow medium is the zone that houses plant’s roots and any medium that can provide ideal conditions for root growth would be a good grow medium to replace soil. For ideal growth, plants need their roots to be in a zone which maintains slightly acidic pH (between 5.5 to 6.5), provides sufficient amount of oxygen, does not result in inundation of roots and neither allow them to completely dry out either. Further, in case of CG Kitchen Garden, which runs on electricity, an ideal grow medium would be one that can retain high amount of water and nutrients thereby increasing the time interval required between two recirculation cycles, leading to reduced electricity consumption. Also, because of the pump operation involved, the grow medium should be either too large to not be able to enter submersible pump or too fine so as not to get stuck or obstruct recirculation flow if it enters the pump.
If you consider Coco Peat and Hydrotons, they appear good on most of these counts.
Coco Peat is made out of dried coconut husk. It is pH neutral which is ideal for plant growth and does not need pre-treatment before sowing unlike various other grow mediums (including soil in some cases). It has high water absorption capacity and also promotes root aeration as it retains a good amount of air even when wet. Further, Coco peat also has limited antifungal properties which help in keeping pests away.
Expanded Clay pellets (popularly known as ‘Hydrotons’, the brand under which they were first manufactured and sold by a German company named Okotau) are formed by expanding clay at very high temperature to form large porous balls that boast of high water retention and drainage properties along with inherent features that allow for continuous oxygen exchange in the grow medium. Further, they are also pH neutral and can be sterilized and reused multiple times.
Though both are good mediums and are generally used individually, while using with CG Kitchen Garden, we recommend using a mix of coco peat and hydrotons in a specific manner that allows crops to enjoy best of both worlds and avoids the need of germinating in one medium and transplanting into another as is the widespread practice. For a step by step pictorial guide on how to germinate and grow crops using CG Kitchen Garden, click here.
Gaurav is an entrepreneur whose first Start-up was focused on providing services to patients suffering from Chronic Diseases. While researching about the causes of lifestyle diseases and the ways to reduce their incidence, he chanced upon the idea of growing healthy and nutritious food using advanced farming techniques.
He founded CityGreens with a mission to enable City Dwellers to access Safe, Healthy and Fresh food.