If you are new to shopping at places with hydroponic supplies and media, you might have stumbled on a bag or bale of what clearly appears to be soil… except, printed right on the bag, it’s clearly labeled - “SOILLESS!” It’s not a misprint, although perhaps a confusing choice of words. Simply put - Soilless media is soil that is void of nutrients. It’s the opposite of a “just add water” soil. So why would anyone want that?
Why it’s used:
The purpose of choosing a soilless media is that it allows growers total control of nutrients that are added. There are two primary trajectories of soilless media - hydroponic-style feeding and custom soil creation.
What we mean by “hydroponic feeding” is that all nutrients are provided in an aqueous solution (the nutrients are dissolved in water). This allows each water feeding to be precisely determined by the grower. It also allows for the media to be flushed of nutrients if there is an overaccumulation.
A lot of growers use soilless mixes as a base to create their own custom soils. They will add in a wide variety of organic nutrients such as earthworm castings, alfalfa meal, oyster shells, insect frass, and more. These mixes would result in a soil that might need little to no additional nutrients added in water provided to the plants for weeks or even months.
An additional benefit is that soilless mixes are less likely to harbor soil-borne pests that depend upon nutrient-rich organic material found in traditional soils.
Most soilless mixes are composed of primarily peat and/or coco with perlite, sand and vermiculite mixed in. They will often include additional ingredients in small amounts that may include mycorrhizal inoculants, kelp and even earthworm castings.
Check out Soilless Medias - Check out the selection here at Gardin or your favorite local garden & hydroponics store.