by Jenny Sethman
3:03 pm in Getting Started, Materials and Resources, Seeking Advice, Uncategorized by Jenny Sethman
We are trying to avoid extra expenses and were wondering if anyone has substituted the clay pellets for styrofoam peanuts or anything else?
Tags: growing material, horticulture, sciences, substrate 10 Comments »
Styrofoam would NOT work.
You need something that can hold moisture.
Clay pellets, volcanic rock or something similar.
(Ordinary rocks doesn’t hold water, either)
Do NOT fall for the urge to buy clay pellets in a shop selling building materials. (The pellets they sell may look the same, but as they’re not been manufactured for farming, they may contain ‘less desireable’ minerals.)
The same goes for RockWool used for insulation instead of Grodan or other brands of ‘soilless growth media’ as the building supply version may contain fungicides…
If you have someone in the neighourhood who’s planning a green roof:
The crushed clay pellets used for those are even better than the whole ones, and you’ll only need a few handfuls.
If there are no green roofs around, the stuff shouldn’t be too expensive in the first place.
yea it is around $6 for a bag that could take care of multiple windowfarms. The one thing you really shouldn’t cut corners on is the hydroponic stuff, unless you have a lot of experience with it all and know what you are doing.
With that said, I have read about using sand in some situations, I have yet had a chance to try it. It would need to be sterilized (baked or boiled). And obviously you would need to encase it in something that would hold the sand and still drain. Though, I am uncertain how well, or even if it would work in a drip system like these, because sand is often times a very small grain size, which could suffocate the roots if the nutrient solution isn’t sufficiently oxygenated on entry to the sand. Also, if you are just buying sand bags it won’t be much cheaper, and if you are finding sand there is no telling what may be in it that could throw off your chemistry.
Amen, James. Great analysis. The community has experimented with most varieties of the traditional stuff at this point: rockwool, cococoir, perlite, pebbles, etc. Unfortunately, we still cannot just do a search with this @#$%@ Buddypress site to show you all the work people have done on media. But the short of it is that you need to strike the right mix of aeration, hydration, and nutrients for the plants’ roots. The clay pellets have a pretty good range for these drip systems, especially when combined with some kind of germinating plug. There’s no need to go for the name brand Hydroton stuff. In fact, I have been so jealous when I’ve visited our windowfarmers in Japan and Helsinki and found that they have a lot more options for media like the clay pellets than we do here. Hydroton (aka EasyGreen in other countries) seems to have cornered the market here and they’re shipped all the way from Germany, where this particular clay that works so well occurs naturally.-Britta
the clay pellets? what would be the difference between any raw clay, rolled up and dried out? are they nutrient infused? or sterilized? what makes them special?
I’m made a post about this. This is definitely a frequently asked question and should not be lost in a comment thread. Needs pictures! Here: http://our.windowfarms.org/2010/11/05/clay-pellets-and-root-growth/.
Deidre; dried clay would quickly disintegrate and be washed down into the reservoir where it’ll clog up the needle.
Trygve, if they are lightly fired? enough to maintain structural integrity when washed with water, not fired hard enough to close porosity?
I am a potter as well as a gardener, I am curious.
If you can get the right type of clay, go ahead…
(I have no idea which type of clay is preferred for this)
Here’s a link to the source of the clay pellets, Okotau GMBH in Germany, with a little description of how they are made. They are “expanded.” An older version of their website used to have these cool pictures of the production methods and the machine that spins them as they are fired.
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