Aquaponic Gardening

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Re Hydroton Mfg. out of business.

A replacement might be Pumice Stones.

Just West of Superior on the South side of the highway is a posted site for Apache Tears. I'm not sure if the site is still available to the public, but it used to be a "Pay to Find Apache Tears" site.

I think this is what we need. The site is gravely and might lend itself to on site grading with a pair of grading screens.

If anyone has a contact for the owner of the site, I would appreciate a contact. I have the time any equipment to check it out.

602 799-7208 Mobil, Robert Rowe aka Bob 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumice

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Replies to This Discussion

So the place that sells apache tears http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apache_tears also sells pumice?

@Jeremy - I don't know if they sell it, but I am quite sure, what they have is what we need. It"s about 120 miles round trip for me, but I'm going to try to follow up, a contact would help.

interesting,      keep us in the loop please!

Check out Eco Gro LLC in Tucson, www.ecogrohydro.com , they have USA made clay balls - rougher texture but I like them more.  Eco Gro has a few different media to choose from.  They now also sell IBCs (whole and cut), lactic acid beneficial bacteria, Maxicrop with iron, pumps etc, lots of good stuff for aquapons.

@Robert C. Rowe (Bob)

"A replacement might be Pumice Stones"

Robert, that's like a great idea! 

I just checked a local landscape supply here in Chico, and found this.  The handful below may need a little screening, but the price is right and the description says it's pH neutral! 

Pumice(3/8 x 1/16) Pumice is an excellent soil conditioner, as it is highly porous giving it excellent water and air holding properties.

Advantages of Using Pumice:

  • Excellent conditioner for soils that need increased aeration and drainage.
  • Loosens the density of heavy soils, letting in the air and water plants need.
  • Increases water retention in light and sandy soils.
  • Reduces crusting, cracking, flooding and shrinking & swelling of clay soils.
  • Holds moisture in the soil, reducing watering requirements by as much as 35%, but pumice will not compact or become soggy.
  • Is inorganic, so it will not decompose or compact over time, meaning it functions continuously and can be recycled and reused.
  • Does not attract or host fungi, nematodes, or insects.
  • PH neutral
  • These advantages can be realized with as little as 10% addition of pumice to the soil or growing medium.

$28.50 ½ yd. - $55.00 per yd.



Bob Campbell said:

@Robert C. Rowe (Bob)

"A replacement might be Pumice Stones"

Robert, that's like a great idea! 

I just checked a local landscape supply here in Chico, and found this.  The handful below may need a little screening, but the price is right and the description says it's pH neutral! 

Pumice(3/8 x 1/16) Pumice is an excellent soil conditioner, as it is highly porous giving it excellent water and air holding properties.

Advantages of Using Pumice:

  • Excellent conditioner for soils that need increased aeration and drainage.
  • Loosens the density of heavy soils, letting in the air and water plants need.
  • Increases water retention in light and sandy soils.
  • Reduces crusting, cracking, flooding and shrinking & swelling of clay soils.
  • Holds moisture in the soil, reducing watering requirements by as much as 35%, but pumice will not compact or become soggy.
  • Is inorganic, so it will not decompose or compact over time, meaning it functions continuously and can be recycled and reused.
  • Does not attract or host fungi, nematodes, or insects.
  • PH neutral
  • These advantages can be realized with as little as 10% addition of pumice to the soil or growing medium.

$28.50 ½ yd. - $55.00 per yd.

@Bob Campbell - Thanks for the response. The owner of Hydro Discount Arizona, a Gardner from Hawaii claims it is better than Hydroton.

I like your price. I hope I can get a positive response from the site owner in Superior, AZ

Here's a follow up to the idea of using pumice as a grow media.

 

The pumice I bought looks exactly as in the picture.

The size ranges from about  3-8 mm.

The pieces are very hard and do not easily crush.

It's extremely easy on the hands.  It's soft on the skin and nails; not at all like feather rocks or lava rock.  There are no shape shards, and if it broken I doubt that it would become sharp. When it was dry it felt like placing my hands in puffed rice.

The best description I can think of is 'like heavy Perlite'


After soaking for approximately 20 hours about 2/3 sank and the other 1/3 remained floating.  It was easy to separate the sinkers from the floaters.

I would suggest rinsing well as the water was a bit cloudy.


It changed my water's pH from 8 to 6.6

The cost was $28 per 1/2 yard.

I would assume that it is available at many garden nursery suppliers so availability is less of a problem than expanded shale, and yet the price is well below clay medias. 

Overall I think it would be a very good media for ebb and flow if the sinkers were separated from the floaters and some protection were put in place to screen the very small particles.

The material could be separated according to size with a screen, but as is, the particles are probably too small for most net pots. 

For me a lower pH is a plus.  I don't know how that would settle if your pH is already ideal.

I will have to experiment with this, but I think it would be very good if mixed with red lava rock because it would tend to lighten the media so as your hands move though it would yield easily.  But the extra weight of the red lava would help stabilize the plants.

Bob where did you pic up your pumic?

Hi Bob,

How did the plants and stuff turn out?

Has anyone found bulk pumice in the valley?

I've been looking around with no success 

@Jim Troyer

I like the way it compacts in the net pots, and yet remains lite in a grow bed when the water is high. The compaction will hold a plant very well.  

Seriously, I can't see myself using anything else from now on.   The price is right and I definitely like it better than clay balls.

I hope you can find it.    I wonder if it might be available at Bakers Nursery near Indian School on 40th in Phoenix.

http://www.bakernurseryaz.com/

Otherwise look for places that mix garden soils for landscapers.  Yeah I know gardens and green landscapes are not popular in Arizona like California,  but I have hope for you finding it.  I'm sure they use it to build golf courses and you guys have a ton of those.. 

Jim

 - Thanks again for your help. The plants are doing fine but getting to much sun and burning a few leaves. I haven't had time to go to Superior and not to much inclination as I stocked up on Lava stone and Hydroton for the next 6 months at least. I am still perfecting my external Bell Siphon, building a filter using the material you use but encapsulated in (you guessed it) 6 inch PVC pipe. My media filter/digestor is 50% complete and my water quality results are moving to normal. If you get out this way(Sunnyslope) stop by and chat, call first 602-799-7208. I need to take on the title  "re-engineer" as to the design changes daily and future plans.

Jim Troyer said:

Hi Bob,

How did the plants and stuff turn out?

Has anyone found bulk pumice in the valley?

I've been looking around with no success 

found this Bob --

Pumice and pumicite was mined in Arizona, Oregon, Idaho, California,

New Mexico, Nevada, and Kansas, in descending order of significance.

About 66% of production came from Arizona, Oregon, and Idaho.

I guess it is available if we look for it...

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