Do I need a substrate?
Growing outdoors for beginners. The answer depends on your choice of growing in pots or in open ground. In the last case, you already have the soil and you don’t need a substrate as such. You can however improve the soil with certain products. If you want to grow in pots, however, you’re going to need a substrate. But which one do you use?
Choosing a substrate
The choice of a substrate is an important decision for a grower. You need to take into account the goal of your cultivation, your own experience and your budget. Every substrate has specific properties and affects your plants in different ways. For the beginning grower, a peat based substrate with rich microbiological life and several weeks prefertilisation is recommended. Ideally the substrate is designed to work with organic fertilisation. A more experienced grower could use shorter prefertilisation and mineral nutrients. This combination is geared towards larger and quicker harvests, but it’s harder to use because the grower will have to check and control the pH values closely. Plagron has two grow styles with peat based substrates:
100% NATURAL. With one exception all substrates in this grow style are prefertilised for six weeks. You get the best results in combination with the algae based, organic nutrition Bio Bizz Grow and Bio Bizz Bloom. This grow style is focused on the best quality of your end product and it’s very suitable for first time growers. These substrates contain a lot of peat, which gives them a high water retention capacity. This means you’ll have to water your plants less frequently, like once every three to five days. Be careful not to over water your plant, since this will leave the substrate too moist.
100% TERRA. These substrates are prefertilised for much shorter periods and they are designed to work with the mineral nutritions Terra Grow and Terra Bloom. This combination is focused on a large harvest in a shorter time, but it also has a drawback: it’s a little harder to use. You need to keep track of the pH value. Every mineral has an ideal pH range for optimal uptake by the plant. If the pH value falls out of this range the roots can’t take up the specific mineral. This means the plant won’t get the necessary nutrients and it might develop deficiency symptoms. Always check the pH value of your nutrient solution and bring it to pH 6. Ideal pH for your substrate is between 6.0 and 7.0.
Apart from soil based substrates, there are alternatives made of coconut fiber or clay pellets. These are more suitable for advanced growers, because they work best with two component mineral nutrients and a hydrological watering system.