Finding the appropriate growing medium for your plant is probably the most important decision you can make as an organic gardener. It is advisable to think of your plant’s growing medium similar to your own home, the place you work, or wherever you spend the majority of your time. I’m sure you appreciate comfortable surroundings, healthy air, clean water, and plenty of nutritious food – and I am sure if any of these elements are in short supply or unavailable, you notice their absence and it begins to affect your health. Our plants behave the same way, for they are also living organisms. They require a growing medium that is capable of sustaining the nutrients they require, appropriate moisture levels (but also not too wet or too dry, depending upon your plants’ needs), and which allows other beneficial life forms to thrive, as well.
Recently, many various growing mediums have come to the market, each with its own claim to promote or prevent some positive or less-desirable aspect of plant life.
One of the most popular of these “alternative” or soilless growing methods is water – known as hydroponic growing, or simply “hydroponics” – which requires the grower to add various materials in order to add stability for the actual growth of the plant’s roots. Coco coir, which is made from the husk of coconuts, has become a popular hydroponic medium for indoor growers, along with rock wool or stone wool blocks, perlite and vermiculite, sphagnum peat moss, clay pellets, lava rock, pumice, composted bark, fiberglass insulation, or even sawdust. Essentially any material which can hold water and provide a surface for the plant’s structure is possible as a hydroponic medium.
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
To begin, hydroponic growing can be very productive for some indoor growers for a few reasons. Primarily, hydroponic growing means that the plant’s life cycle can be manipulated to produce year-round. All nutrients come from artificial sources, everything the plant “eats” must be purchased and added to this alternative medium. Because of this, the grower is in control of every aspect of that plant’s growth cycle.
However, as we have discussed, hydroponic or alternative growing methods are a fairly new phenomenon. While they may offer the grower the sense of complete control and hence simplicity, the opposite is often found to be the case. Hydroponic growing is unnatural, this is absolutely not the way the majority of our plants thrive in their true habitats, and therefore in order to make them successful, these alternative growing methods require a tremendous amount of human intervention. Hydroponic growing is wholly incapable of providing the benefits and protection naturally present in the soil – including the presence of indigenous microorganisms, but also the slow feeding maintained by the way in which soil physically interacts with your plants’ root system.
The Medium Your Plants Will Love
Remember, our plants hate being force-fed. They also do not like over-wet or “slimy” conditions, which is a common problem encountered by many who choose hydroponic or alternative growing media. Your plants need a growing medium which will allow them the balance of dryness and moisture – but most importantly, the ability to adjust pH when necessary. This becomes quite difficult with a water-based system, requiring additional additives, levels of scientific research, and costly equipment, beyond what many growers initially bargain for or desire. We never recommend planting in hydroponic media, or any substance other than living soil, due to these reasons.
We are here to answer your organic growing questions, whether they are regarding alternative indoor planting mediums or anything else! Please continue to our page on living soil to discover all of its wonderful benefits, and why it is the ONLY medium we use on the farm, whether for our cannabis plants or for our herbs, fruits, and veggies too!
In our opinion, the range of nutrients and crop protection naturally provided through living soil makes it the ONLY growing medium choice for smart organic gardeners, everywhere.