Everyone loves plants. The Covid pandemic has given us a chance to rethink learning a new talent. Shall I tell you what is best for a plant? It’s nothing but hydroponics. If you are thinking that hydroponics is not your cup of tea and you are not equipped to provide the best for your plants; I must say that you are missing the idea of LECA balls. So today I ‘am going to introduce you to a future friend of yours as well as of your plants called LECA balls aka hydrotons.
Leca is an acronym and it stands for: Lightweight expanded clay aggregate, that are made by firing natural clay at a temperature exceeding 1200o C. When clay is heated at such a high temperature it expands and develops a natural honeycomb structure, with plenty of air holes in it. These particles are round in shape and are available in different sizes like small, medium and large. It sounds very complicated, but it's quite easy to explain. Essentially, Leca is a growing medium, like soil, in which you can grow your plants. Leca is a collection of baked clay balls that expand when you soak them in water.
Soil comes with a set of risks for farmers, ranging from soil-borne diseases to invading weeds. Using growing mediums instead of soil mitigates these risks. LECA balls/ clay balls/ hydrotons are getting popular nowadays in India. Recently India has started producing them. As LECA balls save plant roots from sitting in water. Using these clay balls you can place your root system fit in the pot. Unlike rock wool or cocopeat, LECA balls have a lesser water holding capacity. This prevents plants from overwatering and provides a medium humid atmosphere to the root system.
Points to be taken care of when you are using LECA balls are,
1. You should rinse the balls before use- to remove the dirt on them. Try to continue rinsing until the water becomes clear.
2. Soak the balls for at least 6 hours before use.
LECA balls are reusable. The pH is neutral and rather inhospitable to bugs. You can crush them to increase water retention for use in the germination stage of growing. One drawback you can see in LECA balls is that they are used as a substitute for soil which is the cheapest and easily available growth media. LECA balls have a cost of Rs. 30 per litre. Also, you should be vigilant while using them since here, all the things that are needed for the growth of a living system are being provided externally. Unlike soil, LECA balls alone can’t meet any needs for a plant.
According to Buckminster Fuller, “you never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete". Changes are necessary to make a revolution. If it’s in agriculture it will reflect in your body as well as in your pocket. Hydroponics is not a big deal to follow. Just go and pot your plants in LECA balls, feed your plants with an accurate concentration of the nutrient solution. And that’s it; welcome to the world of hydroponics!