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For a good growing media, it is necessary that the plant gets a healthy balance of water and air. Soil sometimes has harmful bacteria and fungi, and prone to be infected by pests, weeds and soil-borne diseases. The soil-less media are generally considered cleaner and sterile. These media, as the name suggests, doesn’t include soil; plants are grown in different organic or inorganic materials. Soil-less media are getting more and more popular particularly among container gardeners these days.
Best Soil-less media:
Some of the most commonly used alternative media are:
Peat Moss or sphagnum peat mosses are the ancient, partially decomposed remains of plants. They can hold quite a large volume of moisture. They promote good aeration and contains no weed seeds or disease organisms.
Peat Mosses are light weight and sterile and ideal for germination of seeds. Peat moss is most commonly used with other media like coarse sand to make a light, friable potting mixture. One of the most common places you will see this is in use is in growing orchids.
To be honest, Perlite
is a manufactured ingredient. Perlite
is basically expanded volcanic rocks. First, these rocks are crushed and then heated till they explode. After exploding these rocks become like popcorn.Now they can be used in growing plants.
Perlite is white in color and light as air. They can hold quite a bit of air. Unlike peat moss, it doesn’t hold water so need to be mixed with other media for best use. The best part of using perlite in gardening is that they are free from any type of weed or diseases.
Vermiculite can be used as a substitute of perlite. Like perlite, it also doesn’t hold water. It can keep nutrients and help a mix resist changes in pH (a measure of the alkalinity or acidity of a medium). Vermiculite is also less aerating than perlite, but there is a risk of it being infested with asbestos (visit MesotheliomaHelp.org, for asbestos exposure help
). So if you are planting water-loving plants, it might be a better choice than perlite.
The coarse sand that is used in gardening is also called builders sand. The grains are coarse in nature and provides good drainage. Don’t use play sand. It has very fine grains and will cause troubles. There are also sand-loving trees and grasses to consider If you are thinking of growing plants in sand, succulents like cacti can be a very good choice.
If your plan is to grow plants that need more soil moisture, try adding organic matters. soilless media like Peat, coco coir can be good additions, as well as compost.
Nowadays, this medium is getting more and more popular. Coco coir is the extracts from the coconut husk. It has the same properties as peat moss but with much less mess.
Coco Peat was earlier disposed as a waste products. But recently, it has gained high demand. It is now considered as a user-friendly growing medium.
The two major benefits of using coco coir as a growing media is:
- It has an amazing ability to absorb and retain moisture.
- Coir is very light in weight and also ensures good aeration for the soil.
Earlier, mostly Coco peat was used as a growing medium. , but by now different mixtures are being made with the addition of Coco chips, Coco Crushed & Coir fiber to improve the medium.
Advantages and disadvantages of growing media:
Here are some of the most common advantages of using growing media:
- You can achieve high yields in a limited area by applying a quality growing media.
- They always give you better control over Irrigation and fertilization.
- Compared to soil, these are easier to disinfect.
- You can opt to recycle drainage water.
- Growing media can be used as an alternative to an inadequate soil (due to drainage problems, salinity etc.)
But Of course, there are disadvantages:
- Firstly, Growing media always have lower nutrient holding capacity.
- They also lack good buffer capacity. Therefore changes can be rapid.
Make Your Own Mix Using Various Soilless Media:
Depending upon your choice of crops you can prepare your own mix. Standard practice is mixing Coconut coir (or peat moss), perlite (or vermiculite), a small amount of fertilizer (Soil-less mix doesn’t have much fertility by itself. So you need to provide fertilizer from outside) and ground limestone (so that soil-less mix will contain the nutrients also). There are several other soil-less mix recipes available online which you can easily find. Also, there are several ready mixes available for you to buy.
Things You Need To Remember Before Making A Soil Less Mix:
Here are some of the important points you should consider before making a potting soil.
- Lightly moisten the mix before filling the container.
- Don’t pack the mix too tightly when planting.
- Water thoroughly after planting.
- In absence of fertilizer in the mix, start fertilizing two or three weeks after plantation.
Read More About Soil-less Media:
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