Problems with salt buildup.

Wildflower525300(zone5 UT)August 15, 2004

Hello,

I guess I am new and not new to this.lol. I have a large collection of Streptocarpus and African Violets that I have been wick watering for the last year(just found out this is passive hydroponics method?). Anyway I have been using a mix of 75% perlite to 25% peat and have been having fertilizer salt buildup especially at the top of the mix due to excess evaporation (I live in high desert Utah). Even with constant leaching monthly I am having terrible trouble trying to get it to leach from the perlite. This is leading to problems with plant growth i.e.. nutrient intake problems....and also I hate the peat breakdown and acidity problems dealing with that. I just started looking into different mediums to use and discovered that I was using a form of hydroponics....WOW. I didn't even know! What I would like to know is there a way or chemical or something that can help the process of leaching these salts from my medium? Is there a medium you would recommend using that would work better? Both plants I am growing have to have plenty of air to their roots. I was looking at buying some Hydroton Pebbles to try (I was also told you can find the "same" material cheaper as some sort of baseball field additive?). Any ideas greatly appreciated and I can't afford any other methods than wicking.

Thanks!

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GirlieGreen(Z9 CA)

Hey Wilflower. There are several products on the market that do exactly what you are describing - they remove the salt buildup. I would suggest using Clearex

Here is a link that might be useful: Clearex

    Bookmark   August 16, 2004 at 4:29AM
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markapp

Just a thought but are you leeching with pure water? Many municipal and well waters have a good deal of minerals in them and could even cause buildups. DI or deionized water is extremely hungry if it is available to you and should leech best. If not try catching rain water to leech with as the cheapest source of the purest water available to you.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2004 at 10:02AM
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baci(z10Ca)

The pebbles might retain less moisture but you need to consider your area and the increased chance of roots drying. You could also experiment with systems without media  aeroponics, DFT, or NFT. There is a commercial low desert grower near me who uses only NFT. Low desert hydro is supposed to be more difficult, but they are successful with this system.

Maybe this will help with media:
http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/hydro/2004060437029193.html

    Bookmark   August 16, 2004 at 10:17AM
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chefmichel(Belgium/Europe)

Hello Wilflower,
Do not use hytdroton from the baseball field, as it has a PH problem. The hydroton for hydroponics has a neutral PH.
Of course they'll sell it for a higher price....
I use it with my hydroponic tomatoes.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2004 at 3:36AM
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mkirkwag(Puget Sound)

I know everyone says this is really expensive, but I'm pretty cheap and I use it...'course, I have a teeny system. I bought a big for under $20 (substantially under, I think, but I don't remember) that filled my 10 pots and had at least half left over, and it's reusable. I guess it depends on the size of your system. You did say *large,* didn't you. :-)

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 3:32PM
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