I’m looking for an easy to use soilless mix that is best for someone who uses the hand watering method with organic tea fertilizer solutions. What would you recommend? Also, what size containers would conserve space, but allow clones to grow to 14-16 inches before flowering is initiated.
New Orleans, Louisiana
There are many prepared soilless planting mixes that you can use with an organic nutrient water solution.
Retail nurseries sell several grades of potting mixes including ones with added organic fertilizers. Some also include water-holding crystals. Most of these mixes are made from either peat moss or forest products, meaning compost, bark and other forest products. The mixes are also likely to include sand, perlite, organic fertilizers and compost.
Some of the enriched mixes contain enough nutrient to support the plants in six or eight-inch diameter containers for three to five weeks, through second stage vegetative growth, when the plants have developed an extensive root system and are bulking up in vegetative growth before being forced to flower. Inexpensive mixes are usually just a mixture of peat moss, bark and textural amendments, which contain no nutrients. Nutrients are then supplied only through the water-nutrient mixture.
All mixes composed of organic ingredients decompose in the presence of nutrients, as micro-organisms feast on the combination of food and carbon. At the same time the medium acts as a buffer, first absorbing, then releasing nutrients. This makes planting mixes more forgiving than straight hydroponic mediums such as rockwool or clay pellets.
After a period of time the plant will use up most of the nutrients in the mix. Then they should be added to the water.
There are many water-soluble organic fertilizers to choose from. The fertilizers should be supplied each time the plants are watered.
You did not mention how wide the plants get or how tall they get by ripening. However, for the strongest, most productive soil-grown plants, for every foot of height the plants are to grow they should have between one half and one gallon of soil. The broader the plant, with more branching, the more soil needed.
Readers with grow questions (or answers) should send them to Ed at: Ask Ed, PMB 147, 530 Divisadero St., San Francisco, California 94117, USA. You can also email Ed at [email protected], and send queries via his websites at www.ask-ed.net. All featured questions will be rewarded with a copy of Ed’s book, The Big Book of Buds. Sorry, Ed cannot send personal replies to your questions.