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Problems using mulch as media

Posted by bruce432 (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 23, 08 at 23:01

I am using hardwood mulch as media in my bato buckets. My vegetables and tomatoes are growing very well but my pump clogs with algae after about a week and I have to clean my reservoirs and lines with bleach. I've also tried adding hydrogen peroxide daily to my reservoirs. I also covered my reservoirs with black plastic to keep out the light. In addition I covered the pump with fine mesh. These things seem to help somewhat but I still have to constantly clean my system on a weekly basis. Do you have any suggestions? Would I be better off with wood chips rather than the mulch? Has anyone used small oval stones that they call anti skid material as media?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Problems using mulch as media

I've got that problem myself, but I bought a pump with a build-in sponge filter, which I clean every week.
Algae shouldn't grow in the dark. You sure it's all nicely covered?
Another thing is the pH. Algae don't like pH < 7. They will still grow, but with less "enthusiasm".

I think chips are better than mulch. There's less compaction.
The stones would work too, but you should mix it with equal parts of perlite/wood chips to retain water. I use a stone grit the size of kitty litter mixed with wood chips with great succes.

RE: Problems using mulch as media

The whole point with hydroponics is to use a sterile medium. Are you using sterilized mulch or just ordinary mulch?

It's too easy to run into problems with algae and microbes without adding starter colonies in your media.

If you don't have some kind of filter (like a sock filter) for your pump inlet you'll want to get one asap, but unless you start with a perfectly clean system, and keep any kind of contaminate out, you're going to have a certain amount of microbial growth.

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