Growing Mediums - The Big Three!

November 14, 2018

Growing Mediums - The Big Three!

In today's Blog we are going to cover the different/main types of growing mediums! What is a growing medium you ask!?!

A growing medium is what you’re growing your plants/fruit/veggies roots in, whether that substance is soil, perlite, coco coir, rockwool, vermiculite, or water. Your plants will thrive as long as the roots have adequate room to grow and have consistent access to fresh water, oxygen, and the proper nutrients in proper levels.

*Plastic growing pot VS. Fabric Grow Bags

*Different sizes of Fabric Grow Bags, highly recommend for indoor and outdoor growing!

Every growing medium must help your plants roots get the three main things that they need: Water, Oxygen and Nutrients!

The three main types of growing mediums we are going to discuss today for plants/fruits/veggies are soil mixes, soilless mixes and hydroponics (water).


Hydroponics (Roots growing in water!)

Growing in a hydroponic system is the process of having your roots sit directly in water! The most popular styles of hydroponics for growing are  DWC aka Deep Water Culture, Ebb & Flow and top fed setups. DWC has a few variations such as aeroponics/bubbleponics/aquaponics. 

DWC is one of the few types of hydroponics that can really support huge plants where as an Ebb and flow system is better suited for a larger amount of plants tho they will all be smaller ( think veggies/herbs etc.) 

There are plenty of tutorials and guides online and on Youtube that cover  the methods listed above in depth as well as a lot of DYI kit builds!!


*DWC Setup

*Ebb and Flow Setup

*Top Fed Setup

Hydroponics can seem to be like a huge undertaking/scary at first, but so many first-time growers get great results using the hydroponics growing method. The most important thing to remember is to follow the instructions and do some research until you feel comfortable and always get a root supplement to keep your roots healthy and bad bacteria at bay. With hydroponics you get the fast growth and full control over nutrients just like a soilless medium!


Soilless Medium (coco coir, perlite, peat etc.)

Soilless mixes are composed of inert (non-soil) ingredients and materials such as: coco coir, perlite, peat moss, rockwool and vermiculite to name a few!

*A soilless mix is usually always light and fluffy to the touch, different mixes have different porosity density!

* An example of Coco-Coir

When growing in a soilless mix, you will tend to treat your plants almost the same as if growing in soil with a mix of hydroponics (you get the best of both worlds!). The main difference is you feed all their nutrients in your water and feed them like you would soil. As a result of your plants getting nutrients delivered directly to their root system, you will also often get quicker growth and higher yields than growing in soil (where the roots will have to seek out nutrition). Your plants will have an easier time growing depending on the porosity of the soilless mix so you always want to look for something with "high porosity" on the bag!

Another great advantage of using a soilless mix over soil/hydro is that you are less likely to run into problems with pests and the chances of overwatering are slim to none!

Although there are many different possible soilless ingredients, the most popular potting mixes for contain significant amounts of coco and perlite and peat. With the rise of coco’s growing popularity, other types of soilless mixes (especially the peat-based ones) have become far less common in grow rooms and greenhouses over the last few years.

For new growers a soilless mix is HIGHLY recommended as it is a straight forward medium to grow in, you have full control over your feedings/nutrients and are less likely to run into any problems from start to harvest! I personally use PRO-MIX HP in all my indoor gardens. 


Soil (Potting mixes, compost etc.)

Soil probably the most popular growing mediums for plants/fruits/veggies because it is usually natural, easy to use, and available everywhere you can think of!

Good growing soil naturally contains at least some amount of nutrients, which means it will provide the nutrients your plants need for at least the first few weeks of life/up to a month, try and stay away from the 3-month time release formulas unless you are strictly growing flowers.

*Great example of a proper growing soil mix

* A few examples of some flowers I grew over the summer in some $2 potting soil from the grocery store!!

If you grow your plants/fruits/veggies/microgreens with soil, pls use a sterilized, loose, non-peat based potting compost. Often these are listed as an “organic potting mix.” Try and find a soil mix with at least 20-30% Perlite included in the mix as this will help with drainage and allow oxygen to get to your root system more frequently which in return will help whatever your growing grow faster and healthier. If you can't find a mix with Perlite already mixed in you can buy it separately and mix it in your self, just stick to the same 20%-30% ratio! 

Plants always grow slower in soil but usually always end up higher/better quality. You will also get great results making your own super-soil where all you need to do is water! There are a lot of DYI guide for super-soil online!

One thing to always remember when growing in soil/soilless mediums is to always give your plant roots enough room to grow and to transplant as/if needed. If they run out of space, it will severely limit the size of your plant(s), their growth rates, and often causes nutrient deficiencies and other problems like persistent droopiness. 

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