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Horticulture 1000
HT1031 - Soils 1 - Alternative growing media
Activity 5 - Alternative growing media
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Alternative growing media

Growing media is what a plant is growing in. A good growing media provides:

Seeds grown outside are usually sown in the soil, which is a natural growing media. When seedlings are grown in containers usually an artificial growing media is used.

Artificial growing media, for example potting mixes and seed raising mixes, are made up of a mixture of inorganic and organic materials. The table below shows the types and properties of different materials used in artificial media.

Remember:

Artificial growing media:

Material Type Properties
Peat
Peat
Organic Holds water and minerals. Has good drainage and aeration.
Reasonably free of pests and diseases.
Expensive.
Lightweight.
Needs to be wet before use.
Keeps good structure.
Shredded bark
Shredded bark
Organic Holds water well.
Good drainage and aeration.
Reasonably free of pests and diseases.
Cheap and readily available.
Heavy to carry.
Needs to be wet before use.
Sand:
river, builder’s or washed beach sand
Sand
Inorganic Good drainage and aeration.
Free from pests and diseases.
Cheap.
Heavy to carry.
Medium grade pumice
Pumice
Inorganic Good drainage and aeration.
Reasonably free of pests and diseases.
Readily available in the North Island where it is cheap.
More expensive in the South Island.
Perlite heated lava flakes
Perlite
Vermiculite heated rock flake
Vermiculite
Inorganic Holds water well.
Good drainage and aeration.
Reasonably free of pests and diseases.
Very expensive.
Lightweight.
Fast- and slow-release fertilisers
Fast- and slow-release fertilisers
Inorganic Fast-release fertilisers add nutrients to the mix quickly.
Slow-release fertilisers stay in the media and release their nutrients slowly over several months.
Fertilisers can be added later during crop growth in the form of liquid fertilisers if needed.

There are different artificial media or mixes for different purposes. For example:

In this course use a general purpose potting media/mix for all your container needs.

Key points   Key points

  • Growing media is what plants grow in.
  • A good growing media provides water, air, nutrients and support for plants.
  • Generally, an artificial media is used for container growing.
  • Seedlings in containers can be kept in a protected environment.

What's next?

  1. Complete the self-assessment in the back of your workbook HT1031. Return your workbook to your teacher.
  2. Continue with HT1032 Soils 2.
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