Now that you’ve decided to use the famed rockwool as your growing medium of choice, you need to learn how to prepare it before putting it to the test. While rockwool is easy to use once you’ve gotten the hang of it, its preparations may seem a bit daunting at first. Starting up your rockwool is like a little trial that will prepare you for the full experience of your hydroponic garden. Ready your hydroponic garden for greatness with our tips for preparing rockwool growing medium.
Soaking the Rockwool
New, unused rockwool directly from the manufacturer may look ready to use, but the reality is that its pH is naturally high and will throw off the pH balance of your solution. For many plants, a high pH could mean death. The pH that your plants love will vary based on which kind of plant you’re growing, but for starting seeds, it’s important to aim as close to a neutral 7.0 pH as possible. Fill a bucket of water with pure, distilled water, add your desired growing nutrients, and add pH adjusting chemicals until you’ve reached your target pH. Making the water slightly acidic will dissolve the basic lime buildup on the rockwool and lower its base pH.
Once you’ve reached a sustainable pH level on your pH tester, add the rockwool cubes to the water. These cubes should soak between several hours to an entire day to ensure that their pH properly adjusts. After they’ve soaked, place them in your hydroponic garden without seeds or cuttings and run it to ensure that the pH stabilizes.
Remember to always use protective gear when handling rockwool. Never touch your eyes or mouth when handling rockwool, either, as the small fibers can cause irritation on your skin and in your eyes. Don’t squeeze the rockwool, or you could damage the structure that balances the water and oxygen intake so well. Instead, shake the rockwool cubes gently to remove water.
Preparing Used Rockwool
One of the many benefits of rockwool is its capacity for a gardener to reuse it multiple times. Before you do, however, you must sanitize it thoroughly to avoid algae or fungus that may be hiding within the fibrous material. If you use sanitizing chemicals for this step, take extra care to rinse all chemicals out of the rockwool cubes before you grow with them again. A safer, natural way to sanitize your rockwool is with a simple steam or boiling water rinse. Heat treating your rockwool will kill all bacteria and fungus within the cube and allows you to start fresh with a new batch of crops.
If it’s time to dispose of your rockwool, don’t throw it in the trash. As an alternative, chop it up and bury it in your outdoor garden or soil containers for extra aeration and water retention.
With these tips for preparing rockwool growing medium, you’re fully prepared for your bountiful growing season. Stock up on easy to use and reusable rockwool grow cubes for your hydroponic garden today at FloraFlex.