There are so many people in this world who decided to grow weeds (cannabis) or whatever you wanted to call it for medicinal purposes or any other reasons. Commonly, weeds are planted traditionally as it is directly in the soil. But did you know that you can grow weeds even without soil?
What? Growing without soil? How and where?
Well, there are some soilless options we can do. This is a product of technological advancements in agriculture. As of now, our agriculture has the capabilities to achieve the efficiency which we never think that would be possible.
When using a soilless medium, you can also keep in mind that it’s just almost the same as growing in soil. The only difference is that the nutrients given to them are directly placed in water (hydroponically). In doing so, you can expect a better result. Here are some of those results:
- There will be a faster and higher chance of getting higher yields of planted weeds.
- Your crops can still grow even if there is no suitable soil and if the soil is contaminated with disease.
- Traditional practices like watering, fumigating, and cultivating are eliminated.
- We can conserve water and nutrients when using the soilless medium. In this case, land pollution will be lessened.
- The growers will have better control of the planting environment.
Mixtures like coco coir, expanded clay pellets, potting soil (perlite/vermiculite mixes), Rockwool, and grow stones are the commonly used soilless growing mediums. They can be great choices for growing weeds. Some of them are reusable and some are not. (1)
Reusable Soilless Growing Mediums
We already stated that there are ways on how we can grow weeds without soil and most common on those mediums are coco coir, expanded clay pellets, potting soil (perlite/vermiculite mixes), Rockwool, and grow stones. But we have to consider that when using these mediums, we need to find which among them are reusable and which are not. Practically, after the first use, growers can still use some of these mediums in growing their crops and of course, will lessen the amount needed by the growers. Meaning, more income will be generated.
Among the given mediums, three of these are reusable and they are the Rockwool, potting mix(perlite/vermiculite mix), and the expanded clay pellets. So, what are their characteristics and what makes them special as a soilless growing medium? Let us define them one by one.
Rockwool is a fibreglass-like fibrous material made from a melted rock with sand. Its name came from the materials in which it is made. It’s also a very popular medium used from growing weeds and just like coco coir, it has great air and water retention. Yes, this kind of medium can be practical to use but it has to be treated by soaking in a liquid that has proper ph balance so that it will have a right ph balance. Rockwool is best used to germinate seeds, cloning or even the entire growing process. There will be endless possibilities in using this medium if you know how to use it properly.(2)
Even if you’re using Rockwool as a growing medium, you still need to make sure that your crops are getting enough sunlight, temperature and the like. Since you have treated it beforehand, it can hold enough amount of water and nutrients already. Another advantage of using it is that you won’t be bothered by bugs since bugs usually attack plants that are planted in soil.
On the other hand, one of the disadvantages of using it is that you can’t easily dispose of this kind of medium since it is non- biodegradable and is hazardous to our health. You should know how to handle this kind of medium to avoid unnecessary health problems. Just think of any other ways on how to reuse it or else, better find the best place to store it.
Expanded Clay Pellets
Expanded clay, is a lightweight, hardened solid ball with high protein content. Its popularity is unquestionable. But it has to be heated at a very high temperature before it can be used. Its sizes can vary from each other. The smallest one can be 5 mm and the largest can be 15 mm. The bigger the clay pellets, the easier and the longer time it will retain moisture than those smaller ones. Before using this kind of medium, it has to be cleaned properly because of the residues it contains. If not removed, this residue will affect the ph balance.
Clay pellets can easily be cleaned and drained which causes it to be reusable.
Potting Soil (Perlite/Vermiculite mixes)
Many growers who prefer to use a mixture of perlite mixed with other things such as coco coir or vermiculite. Vermiculite is heated until puffed and perlite are air puffed so that they will be excellent for oxygen retention. Perlite is useful in growing weeds; even if not a requirement for its growth. But growers prefer adding even a small amount of perlite in their potting mixes. It looks like a popcorn since it is lightweight and a little bit airy. It improves the drainage ability of potting mix and helps in preventing the nutrients buildup especially when the growers are giving water and nutrient supplements directly in the water. Since perlite does not retain water, it increases the available oxygen for the plants. You can add as much as 10%-50% of perlite in a potting mix depending on what do you what this medium does to your plant. If you want to have better water retention and you will not be adding extra nutrients, then just mix at least 10%-20% of perlite in the mixture. On the other hand, mix about 30%-50% of perlite in a mixture if you will be adding more nutrients in your crops.(3)
Non-Reusable Soil Less Growing Mediums
We cannot reuse every medium. Why? Because there are special materials used in manufacturing these mediums that will affect the growth of the next crops if reused. They might be difficult to clean that will still hold the diseases of the last crops planted and will be infectious to the next crop.
Examples of these are the coco coir and grow stone. Stated below are their characteristics why they can be used in growing weeds and of course the reasons why can’t they be reused.
Coco is the easiest to prepare growing mediums for weeds since you can get it from the coconut industry. It can also be added to perlite in a potting mix. They are the most common mixes as a soilless growing medium. Its coconut husks will help coconut seeds germinate while keeping them protected from sun and saltwater. Coco coir can retain a great amount of water for the plants. It just likes planting in a soil; you water them and treated just like how you treat your plants planted in soil. It is great in holding water and nutrients but can also keep enough oxygen due to its light texture. Just like other mediums, it does not attract bugs that destroy crops and since the roots directly get the nutrients without going through the soil, the crops grow faster and healthier.
But when asked if coco air is reusable, the first thing to consider is the cleanliness of the planting area and if the coco coir can still maintain its natural capability which can still hold as much water as you want to give it. The only questionable art of reusing this is when your plants have a disease. You can’t be sure that you have killed all the pathogens even if you washed it thoroughly.(4)
The cost of coco coir is just a small amount in comparison with the cost of the crops, so why settle using the same coco coir if you can buy a new one?
Growstones are recycled glass which was combined with calcium carbonate. They are lightweight and free of dust. Growstones are water and air sustainable. It can improve root health because of its porous surface. Its dryness makes it possible to water your plants frequently so that it can absorb the nutrients you have given. You won’t be afraid that you will overwater it that will cause its root to rot. Fungal diseases can also be prevented since it is dry.
But it is impossible to clean and reuse this because the porous nature of this medium leads the roots to grow within the rocks that can affect the next crop. If there is a disease that causes your plants to die, then better to replace the medium to avoid the transfer of infection to other plants. However, reusing grow media can be an effective way to reduce your inputs and make your hydro system more efficient.
Best Soilless Options Growing Medium
There are no growing media that is better than the other one. Especially each one has its unique characteristics. However many growers eventually choose one type over another.
There are a lot of mediums to choose from. Different websites and different articles have different chosen best medium. Going back to the characteristics and best assets of every medium, they can all be the best in their ways. But for the majority, the most popular soilless medium for growing weeds is a mixture containing significant amounts of coco and perlite.(5) This combination was proven by many growers as an effective mixture as a soilless medium.
Even if the stated most popular soilless medium in growing weeds is the combination of coco and perlite, you can still choose from any of the coco coir, rock wool, expanded clay pellets, and grow stones. There are so many things to consider when choosing what kind of growing media to be used. Will it be
Whether it’s reusable or not, the decision is up to you and of course, it depends on the availability of materials to be used. Make sure that you have all the necessary materials before deciding which among of these mediums you’re going to use.
The success in planting crops does not necessarily depend on the growing medium that you will use. Still, you need to consider the most important factors needed in planting. Those are the sunlight, water, nutrients, good seeds and of course, the power of the hand of the farmer. Everything would not be possible if the grower can’t care enough for his crops. It is not just planting it and waiting for it grow without doing anything. Whatever your reasons for planting, just love what you are doing and add some good decision making. No one else has the say in whatever you are doing. You should know the best for your crops.
In some countries, planting cannabis is not yet legal. For some countries that planting is legal and you are planting it for good reasons, then you are lucky enough that there is this kind of growing mediums. You can now start planting your crops indoors. Since, this kind of plant is costly, planting this for own use is a bit far practical. Once you have the best experience in growing weeds, you can start making it as a business.
What you only need is the expertise and the eagerness to succeed in this kind of thing.