There are many inherent properties of soil that make it difficult to alter/monitor/control the kind of soil and the way it influences and facilitates the growth of a plant. However soilless growing ensures and takes care of many such parameters which makes this an ideal choice and alternative for growing crops.
To succeed in soilless growing, one needs to be aware of finer differences between growing with soil and going soil-less. Following are a few tips to help you through the journey.
No. 1 – Choose a good medium
Whether liquid medium or soilless medium such as cocopeat – The medium should facilitate growth by having certain characteristics such as:-
- Good balance between water retention and drainage
- Inert nature (free of chemicals and agents that can react)
- Clean and sterile
- Balanced pH (should be in the zone that allows for nutrient absorption)
No. 2 – Ensure proper aeration to Roots
Roots need a passage of air to enable the roots to breathe and grow. Hence it is vital to ensure that the media you choose allows for roots to be aerated properly.
In the case of a water-based system like DWC, it can be achieved by using the usual aquarium pumps. While using Cocopeat, aeration can be improved by mixing it with other media like gravel, hydrotons/clay pebbles, coco chips, wood shavings etc.
No. 3 – Provide external nutrition to the plant
Since the inert soilless medium will have no inherent nutrition, it is vital to ensure that nutrition is provided to the plant externally. In absence of additional nutrition, plants will starve and die a slow death.
No. 4 – No exposure of the root system to sunlight
The natural habitat of roots is under the ground in zero light conditions. If the root system is exposed to sunlight, it may result in algae and fungi growth. The roots will turn brown and plant may not grow to its optimum potential.