Chemically speaking, vermiculite is hydrated magnesium-aluminum-iron silicate. It expands quite a bit when heated, and once expanded, it is extremely lightweight. It is insoluble in water, inert and can absorb huge amounts of water, which is why it is often a key ingredient in soilless mixes. Furthermore, its high cation exchange capacity makes it very good for buffering and use with heavy nutrient programs.
Correct medium choices help genetics reach their potential as seen with this pink Jah Goo.
The Answer: The Most Popular Grow Mediums For Indoor Growing
Long-time reader, first-time grower here! As my wife and I begin our journey in growing, I wanted to get your take on the abundance of indoor grow mediums currently available on the market. As first time growers, we are leaning towards using soil and hand-watering the plants, as I have seen you recommend this approach for beginners several times over the years. However, we are open to doing a hydro system if the medium and system are easy enough to handle. Any advice is much appreciated!
As is the case with the volcanic rock options, you can heat and expand clay. When you expose the substance to heat, however, it becomes extremely hard. Nonetheless, it is porous enough to ensure it offers a reasonable degree of water retention. Even so, gardening experts don’t recommend HEC if you like to water your plants once a day.
When growing cannabis with soil, use loose, non-peat based potting compost. Ideally, it will also include up to 30% of perlite, or another soil ‘conditioner.’ This should ensure adequate drainage to ensure there are higher amounts of air/oxygen in the soil. As a result, your plants should grow even faster. However, they tend to grow slower than if you use a hydroponics system or coco coir as your growing medium. On the plus side, soil-grown weed tends to have a stronger taste and a more pungent smell.
However, it is inert, which means you must add nutrients, so the initial cost is relatively high. As its rate of water retention is significant, you must ensure it has adequate drainage. Rockwool also has a high pH, so you need to check the root zone regularly.
As nature’s growing medium, one would expect to pay the least for soil. If you can grow outdoors in fertile soil, you already solve a significant problem. However, most people cultivate cannabis indoors and must buy the soil. As for price, the truth is, you will likely see enormous differences depending on the brand.
You can eliminate the need for a growing medium by choosing a hydroponics setup. After you have purchased the start-up equipment, you may only require nutrients and water. If you only want a small cannabis garden, it is possible to buy an entire system for under $150.
While ‘clean’ Coco tends to keep pests at bay, the challenge is finding it. Most Coco Coir comes from Sri Lanka, India, Brazil, Thailand, and Mexico. Make sure you only purchase it if there are lab tests to prove its quality. The best brands triple test theirs: At the source, as it enters the United States, and before it gets packaged.
Cheap potting soil requires nutrients, but you could save cash if you plan on overseeing several harvests. You can use the leftover nutrients for your next grow, for example. Also, even low-cost soil should have enough nutrients to last for a few weeks.
Inert growing mediums such as coco coir, Rockwool, vermiculite, and perlite, also require nutrients. However, you can reuse them several times. If you get a great deal on the nutrients you purchase, you could save a significant amount of money.
Perlite is also made from expanded volcanic rock. However, it is light, airy, and allows for excellent drainage. As a result, people often add perlite to their container grows. In general, growers tend to use a combination of the two, rather than relying on one or the other. A lot of individuals also like to use perlite and coco coir together.