Gravel Culture

Definition - What does Gravel Culture mean?

Gravel culture refers to a branch of hydroponics whereby pea-sized gravel is used to support the plants while helping distribute nutrients across their root systems.

In gravel culture hydroponics, nutrient solutions drip through the coarse gravel and filters down the plant stems before being absorbed by the roots. The nutrients can be recirculated through the system, which means that gardeners only need to replenish the solution around once a week, depending on their system.

MaximumYield explains Gravel Culture

The gravel culture hydroponic method maximizes root aeration as well as nutrient delivery. The gravel can also be re-used over and over. Gravel also has the advantage of being quite inexpensive and carries no risk of becoming waterlogged. Additionally, it is also one of the easiest medium to keep clean. However, one of its drawbacks is that it is extremely heavy to work with, making it less suitable for commercial production facilities.

Before using gravel as a growth medium, it is important to properly wash it first and consequently remove any pieces of debris and dust to prevent the electric powerhead pump from clogging.

In addition to gravel culture, which is one of the earlier types of soilless growing methods, there are many other grow mediums that growers can choose from, including rockwool, clay pebbles, and coco coir. In some cases, sand can be used as a growing medium instead of coarse gravel. This is known as sand culture. Vermiculite-based mediums are also popular, and this is traditionally called vermiculaponics.

When shopping for a soil-free growth medium, be it gravel or any of the other alternatives out there, experts recommend that you look for a medium that allows for solid drainage and has a good water-holding capacity. This combination will allow your plants to properly receive oxygen and energy before exhausting CO2.

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