Given the choice of cultivars available today, most growers appreciate the nuances between varieties that can optimize harvest quality and consistency. The same is true for the growing medium that nurtures these plants and supports optimal air, water, and nutrient delivery.
Advances in material science mean growers today have more choices in their growing media. Careful selection of growing media can contribute to more replicable, consistent harvests. Below, we debunk three common myths about growing media and consider why 2022 may be the year to re-think your choice of growing media.
Myth #1: All growing media work the same.
Truth: Different growing media offer distinct advantages. Some growing media offer lots of room for root cultivation and nutrient uptake. Others offer a range of options for plant steerability or are prized for their sustainable profile. On the flip side, some materials are harder to work with and require more specialized procedures and labor.
When choosing a growing medium, it’s important to consider all the pros and cons. Mineral wool is one material that is gaining popularity with cultivators because it checks so many boxes. Mineral wool can be engineered to take on specific performance properties and is optimized for factors like water retention and nutrient dispersion. A mineral wool growing medium doesn’t require mixing of components or labor-intensive preparation. Simply condition it with a good nutrient solution and you’re ready to grow. Like other media, such as coco coir, mineral wool allows plenty of room for root growth and nutrient uptake. Mineral wool is also inert, so it’s naturally resistant to pests and diseases. It’s also made from recycled content, making it a sustainable choice even in comparison to naturally derived growing media options.
But even among mineral wool growing media, not all options are the same. For example, VidaWool™ mineral wool growing media was engineered and developed to include some intelligent features that can directly benefit growers’ businesses. VidaWool™ uses Hydro-Xtend™ water dispersion technology, which ensures predictable water retention and supports even nutrient distribution. It also comes in a tight-fitting film to keep water and nutrients where the roots need them, as opposed to pooling in the bottom of the packaging. And blocks equipped with a UV-protection-lined film help defend against algae and harmful microbes.
Myth #2: A one-size-fits-all approach is most efficient.
Truth: Growing media needs can vary depending on how your operation is set up, your labor needs, and your goals for growing your business. No two operations are exactly the same, which is why it’s so important to have choices in growing media. If your operation is looking to improve productivity, reduce labor-intensive processes and make it easier to replicate your cultivation procedures, mineral wool is a good choice. Because mineral wool is sturdy, it’s easier to handle and simplifies graduation of plants among stages.
VidaWool™ mineral wool works as a modular system of plugs, blocks, and slabs and uses pre-drilled holes and placement guides to reduce guesswork in plant spacing. This kind of intuitive design can make it easier to train new staff and expand your operations. Selecting the right mineral wool can also help reduce human error and natural variability that can happen with other growing media.
When using mineral wool, there are no components to mix together in just-right ratios or worries about plugs falling apart and compromising roots during graduation. With its water dispersion technology and UV-protective lining, this novel material also helps reduce common worries about issues like ideal moisture content or too much light reaching and damaging roots.
Because it is an inert material, mineral wool is ideal for cultivators who value customizing their approach to optimize plant steerability. It also makes it easier to replicate planting processes for predictable results.
Myth #3: Logistics is the distributor’s problem (not the cultivator’s).
Truth: Supply chain and support issues can quickly become a major headache for cultivators. Supply chain issues are everywhere and can impact multiple areas of your business. Unreliable access to your growing media can hinder your ability to keep up with demand and even cause second thoughts about expansion. Did you know that most growing media are imported from overseas? Delays, price increases in shipping, and lack of raw materials can all put your supply at risk, so it’s important to know where your growing medium is coming from.
Choosing mineral wool that is engineered, manufactured, and supported entirely in North America can help reduce uncertainty of supply. If you’re new to using mineral wool as a growing medium, reliable service is important to help you make the transition to a mineral wool system.
Cultivation is a nuanced business. As you work to fine-tune your inputs, take a fresh look at your growing media options. New choices in mineral wool growing media can make a difference in plant health, as well as operational productivity and supply.