Hydroponic How-To: Peat & Perlite
This most basic of hydroponic growing methods uses a common planting container filled with peat moss and fortified with perlite. It has the advantages of being the ultimate no-brainer, requiring little or no maintenance for the entire life cycle of your plants – you simply feed it some nutrient solution once or twice a day and watch it explode into lovely green foliage.
The perlite is required to increase the moisture holding capacity of your growing medium. Perlite is cheap, commonly available, and wonderfully inert, so it won’t interact with your nutrient solution.
A rockwool cube with your rooted clone or seedling is buried in the pre-moistened peat and perlite. Be sure to not bury the top of the cube, just the sides and bottom. Peat is very porous, so the roots have an oxygen-rich environment to grow and thrive in. This moist, air-filled environment is exactly what your roots need to gain a solid footing in the growing medium. Rapid and prolific rooting is the key to future foliage growth.
While this method is great, it has the drawback of having the growing medium retain harmful salts left over by the nutrient solution. You can combat this by replacing the nutrient solution with plain, pH balanced water every four or five days. While this leaches out a large portion of the salts in the area of the roots, it doesn’t get rid of them entirely, they simply migrate down to the bottom of the growing medium.
Another drawback to this method pertains to pests – an infestation of critters is extremely difficult to get rid of with the peat and perlite growing medium. This is because the uneven surface of the growing medium is rife with tiny crevasses and holes, perfect for any critters to hide and reproduce in. If you have an infestation, you’ll actually have to replace the top inch or two of the peat and perlite to get rid of the hidden pests that took refuge from the insecticide. These moist hiding places are also perfect breeding grounds for pests to leave their eggs and therefore future generations.
Watering your plants is as easy as watering any other plant you may have in the house. You can do it when you come home from work, or before bed. It’s entirely up to you, just be sure to keep it moist but not extremely wet.