One of the benefits of hydroponic growing is that roots have access to air – oxygen to be precise – and lots of it!
Have you ever bought seed compost that has turned into blocks of mud when watered? … I know I have!
The seedlings struggle and their growth is very slow. It’s because the soil has become compacted and so their roots have no air.
Without access to oxygen, roots become weak, plant growth slows and the harvest is disappointing – and that’s if the plant has made it to the end of the season without being bumped-off by a disease or two!
The simple fact is … roots need air and lots of it!
Here are some ways to improve air/water ratio.
- Water seedlings from below which helps avoid soil compaction.
- Add vermiculite to seed compost and perlite to potting and multi-purpose compost. Wilkinsons (a discount store) sells both vermiculite and perlite and at the cheapest price I’ve seen.
- Avoid over-watering and allow soil to dry-out slightly to let air back in, before watering again. If plants start to wilt, mist them, then give them a good watering.
Watering heavily around the base of the stem will wash away or dilute nutrients in the soil as well as removing air, so it’s best to water a few inches distance away. This also encourages roots to grow outwards to where the source of the water is.
I think that hydroponics will continue to grow in popularity and it’s great to be able to borrow a few tips to improve the way we grow our tomatoes in soil.