all my plants grow out in the yard, i have found that i my not be compleatly happy with hydroton but then again it wont be the first time nor the last so lets get down to brass tacks. i had to re plant my first plants (brocolie) because the wind was knocking them over, so i grab the stem, tip the pot over and pour out most of the little balls, set the plant deeper and refill. the wind (not a lot, just gusts) still sems to wigle the plant around till the poor buger dont know what end is up. step 2. start the pots with less than optimal amount of media, let the sprouts develop leaves and slowly add media over time hoping that this will result in a lower root ball and better ancoring but if the little round balls keep moving out of the way the plans will still fall seems to do with resistance and weight ( yes the stuff is fun to stick your hands in but tell that to your tomato plant while its on its ass ). OK i know that if i fill giant containers full of the stuff the roots will go down a mile or if i realy had nothing to do with my time a big ball of string might help. but where im at chatahochee (river rock) is only $65 a TON and hydroton is $40 for 40 pounds. somthing tells me that pot growers have more cash than me.
Gotta tell ya, I've got grow beds that hold more than half a ton of rocks. A ton of Expanded clay would definitely fill more grow beds than a ton of rocks does and washing it would be a bit easier for the person doing all the lifting. But guess what, provided the cheap river rocks pass a vinegar fizz test, I go with the cheap rocks and count the heavy labor or rinsing them as good excersize.
Well if you throw a party (maybe call it an aquaponics workshop) you can get a lot of gravel washed very quickly. Just have to have enough washing bins and baskets set up for several people to be washing at the same time while others shovel and other dump.
LOL. How is code enforcement in your area?
Keep in mind that the lower levels of a 12 foot tall garden are going to have trouble getting enough light.
@ TLC, depends on what you grow in those three layers. I for one have a thing for verticle growing. My concern is with stability.
That is a considerable structure with lots of weight in it but if anchored and on a soild foundation>...I say Yahoo! Lets go for it!
One thing I'm thinking about doing is digging up some local clay, mixing it 50/50 with sawdust, making a jig to create the balls and pit firing it. There resulting product should behave like hydroton, holding water and being about the same weight.