Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

I'm a big fan of Hydroton, although I know it is crazy expensive...but you will have it forever.  Lightweight and easy on my hands.  Even looks nice.  Ok, I know I'm sounding like a girl here.

 

What do you use and why?  And if you use gravel, what size and tell us about your source.

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Yep, sorry....

I ran across some gravel yesterday and bought it before I reed about it, sounds like its not a good choice for media.I planned to do a twelve in deep bed with part gravel and part hydroton.

Gravel can be fine, as long as you make sure it isn't limestone or marble or something else that will affect pH, since they will affect pH too much.

timothy page said:

I ran across some gravel yesterday and bought it before I reed about it, sounds like its not a good choice for media.I planned to do a twelve in deep bed with part gravel and part hydroton.

Actually that's been my major hurdle.  For quite a few months I'd add pH down to bring it to near neutral every week, but have since given up and don't even test now.  It's been about half a year and the fish are still happy, plants too.  I SHOULD go do a test and see where things are at.  I have small indoor system growing lettuce with goldfish, so I have a very undemanding setup.

Root Doctor said:

How's your pH holding up with the biochar? 



Paul Letby said:

I should have been on here earlier, ha!  I'm experimenting with charcoal as a media as most of you know.  I'm finding that it wicks very well, meaning it's damp on the surface.  Something is precipitating out of the charcoal, near the edges.  Maybe it's minerals? Kinda whitish grey.  I will grow out this crop and then probably remove a few inches and put a bag of hydroton on top.  I need to keep this bed light so no gravel.  This way the surface will stay dry and my water usage will go down.

I use hydroton. I just prefer it. I don't know why :P

I have been quite pleased with the success of my grow bins. I am using plastic storage bins with a bulkhead fitting in the bottom that has a 4" riser inside with a basket strainer top. They are filled and drained through this single port. I have a separate container that is set up with two of these and flows continuously at a 4" level in straight perlite. All of my bins are filled with straight perlite. It is simple to work with, it wicks beautifully, and it isn't too costly. I have three deep ones and one larger but shallower one(see photo). I used the larger one as a propagation tank, and the deeper ones for root crops in my hydro system. Now, the shallow bin is the constant flow, and the others are on a timer to ebb and flow. These deeper bins, due to their plumbing, retain a constant level of nutrient. This wicks up through the perlite and keeps an even level of moisture throughout. When the roots get to be 7-10" long, they reach the "pond" in the bottom of the bin, and the plants grow like crazy. 

Sylvia, in your book there's the picture of the worms in the media.  I noticed that there are what look like pieces of red lava rock mixed in there.

To cut down on the cost of Hydroton would you suggest supplementing some of the media with lava rock?  I'm assuming the stuff at Lowes ($3.71 for .5 cubic feet) is safe?

Thoughts ?

Just last night I was reading in Sylvia's book about how root vegetables can be deformed looking trying to grow in standard AP media (Hydroton, lava rock, etc.).  I immediately thought "what about Perlite."  It's soft and I'd think that potatoes, carrots, etc. would be able to push it right out of the way.

Have you tried potatoes?  Can they handle that much moisture?
 
JRComito said:

I have been quite pleased with the success of my grow bins. I am using plastic storage bins with a bulkhead fitting in the bottom that has a 4" riser inside with a basket strainer top. They are filled and drained through this single port. I have a separate container that is set up with two of these and flows continuously at a 4" level in straight perlite. All of my bins are filled with straight perlite. It is simple to work with, it wicks beautifully, and it isn't too costly. I have three deep ones and one larger but shallower one(see photo). I used the larger one as a propagation tank, and the deeper ones for root crops in my hydro system. Now, the shallow bin is the constant flow, and the others are on a timer to ebb and flow. These deeper bins, due to their plumbing, retain a constant level of nutrient. This wicks up through the perlite and keeps an even level of moisture throughout. When the roots get to be 7-10" long, they reach the "pond" in the bottom of the bin, and the plants grow like crazy. 

I have 3 gbs of river rock at 40.00 per ton, and am now playing with a granite pebbles bed at 18.00 per ton and very close by which is great as I pick it up with my 2 ton trailer. Granite dust is considered a "fertilizer" but I washed it well so as not to overload the system. Been cycling that bed for a week and will start planting today. If that works out I am all set for the next 5 beds (as well as our 300 ft driveway). It looks great, easy to work and a tad cheaper than Hydroton:-) Anyone figured out the price of Hyd by the ton delivered. I shudder to think. More $ than I have invested in my 18 x 24 gh system of 10 ibc gbs and 5 ibc fts with out a doubt. I would love to use it for the top 4" or so eventually. It is the "cat's ass" of mediums I have no doubt. Unfortunately I can fill all 10 ibc grow beds with granite for less $ than 1 using Hydro.. One ton of gravel fills about 2 ibc gbs. so about 9.00 per gb.

My wife is all for rolling clay balls in the evening by hand as we live in clay country. Just need to build a kiln now

Ok My wife just bought 4000 marbles

To top the gravel beds so they will be pretty, you do not want to know the price.

I started with Hydrocorn and have now switched to Hydroton.  I found the Gold Medal Hydrocorn to be very dusty and inconsistent in size, and shape, although it had far more surface area for plants and bacteria to attach.  I took almost 4 days of soaking and washing to get Hydrocorn to clean and the water to run clear.  The Hydroton was washed and clean in a few hours.

I also noticed that while I had cuttings in the bed, when I need to fill to the cuttings to start rooting, the Hydrocorn would heave and start floating, forcing me to keep the water level at least 1" below the media surface.  The Hydroton won't start to float till the water goes above the media, but the heaving is minimal due to its consistent shape.

Cost - 45 lb bag of Hydrocorn $35 / 25 lb bag of Hydroton $24.

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