Keeping Clones in Clay Pellets

by Bob
(Fish and Jacks, Canada)

I was wondering, what is the best way of keeping clones under fluros. I have built a hydro set up like the one in "My Most Successful Homemade Hydroponics System". I will be transferring the the clones into the hydro tubes in about 4 weeks due to the fact that I have some plants on 12/12 light schedule at the moment.

I was going to use the 16 ounce cups and clay balls for the clones, just not sure what is the best way to grow the clones until they find their home in the hydro tubes. Much appreciated, Bob




Answer: Bob- before you put your clones in clay pellets, be sure they have roots. If they do not have roots, I suggest leaving them in your cloner for the moment....I have never had any success getting fresh clones to root in expanded clay pellets/balls. If your clones have some roots already, I have a few suggestions for you.

First, your fluorescent lights should be placed just a few inches above your clones....the strength of the light decreases very rapidly with distance from the bulb (and fluorescent light isn't that strong to begin with). Fluorescent lights will only support good growth within 12 to 15 inches from the light. If you are starting with 6 inch clones, you should be fine. Also, it is better to use two fluorescent lights than to try crowding all of the plants under one light.

When clay pellets are used in a hydroponic system, they need to be soaked for about 20 minutes each cycle to really absorb the correct amount of moisture. You may have noticed, most of the systems you see them in are flood and drain (ebb n flow) or deep water culture (DWC) systems.

The system you have built is a cross between a nutrient film technique (NFT) and a DWC. Because the cups full of clay pellets will be sitting in a certain amount of water constantly, the whole "water absorption" thing is not really an issue. However, when trying to come up with a temporary home for the clones, it may be.

Your best solution to this problem would be to duplicate the environment the plant will end up in as best as possible. I suggest getting a plastic container about 5 inches high and big enough to hold all of your clones/cups. Fill the container with 2 1/2 to 3 inches of nutrient solution.

The fluorescent lights aren't that bright, so the nutrient solution doesn't need to be that strong (50% strength should work well, or 700 ppm if you have a TDS meter). Be sure to use an air pump/air stone in the reservoir to add plenty of oxygen to the nutrient solution....nutrient absorption only occurs in the presence of oxygen, and you don't want your little guys starving!

On the page My Most Successful Homemade Hydroponic System, follow the directions I give for transplanting your clones into the cups....especially the part about using PRE-SOAKED clay pellets (you will have a much better success rate). You don't want to plant the clone too deep or too high up in the cup. Just follow the directions in the page above and you should be fine.

Finally, it is a very good idea to place an oscillating fan on the clones a few feet away. The plants don't have lungs, so when they exhale oxygen from their leaves, it tends to hang in the air around the leaf and choke out the plant a little bit. The oscillating fan not only helps the plants exchange oxygen for CO2 from the air, but also forces the little clones to grow thicker stems. This will help the clones support themselves, and will help them support any produce they grow later on. Happy Growing!

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Misc Hydroponic Gardening Q&A.

Check out all of Jason's recommended items.
Find out the cheapest and easiest ways to garden productively in this article.

Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 22 years ago, my first garden used rockwool cubes and B.C. Nutrients....and I remember thinking to myself yeah, sure, there may be a lot of advantages to gardening with hydroponics, for example there are very few pest problems, therefore very little pest control, no weeding, no plowing or tilling the soil, no soil testing or having to add things into the garden soil, no watering the garden....but for someone who just wants to grow their own vegetables and have more control over their food supply and the quality of the food that they eat, the cost of constantly having to buy grow media and hydroponic nutrients makes this an expensive hobby for most people.

I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn't have a whole lot of money to work with and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as possible....and in the last 20 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!

As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol).

And, regarding the cost of the nutrients....I experimented for about 3 years with making different compost teas and nutrient teas, but there is still a lot of expense $$$ associated with making high quality nutrient teas....like kelp meal, liquid seaweed, rock dust, bat guano, un-sulfured molasses, worm castings. You can eliminate a lot of this expense by becoming an expert at making high-quality colloidal humus compost, and use your properly made compost as the basis of your hydroponic nutrient solution.



Make a year's worth of compost in one week!
What is colloidal humus?

Make the world's best compost


Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 20 years and I have only just recently mastered this difficult skill....and even then, only because I happened to find a very easy to follow, high quality technique and decided to follow the instructions to the letter. I produced more high quality compost in just one week than I was able to use in a whole year! I highly recommend it. It is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase the productivity of your food production efforts, while at the same time decreasing the amount of effort required to grow all of your own food, and decreasing the total cost of operating your food production system.

And when I say decrease operating costs, I mean decrease them to almost ZERO, especially if you are producing your own nutrients.


High Efficiency
Hydroponics

One final solution to eliminate the cost of your hydroponic nutrients: Imagine a hydroponic system that does not require you to buy any nutrients, does not require you to make your own compost, and does not require you to brew your own nutrient tea. Seriously! No cost and no effort as far as providing nutrients to your plants is concerned. Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle, you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the system!


Aquaponics

Click Here to learn more!

This solution is aquaponics. If you are serious about producing all of your own food and being self-sufficient, this is the ultimate solution for reducing expenses (as much as possible), reducing the total amount of work required, and maximizing the productivity of your gardening efforts. I have been gardening for over 20 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.


Produce garnden vegetables AND fish together. Eliminate fertilizer costs!

Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!


High Efficiency
Soil Gardening

This is where my advice ends for people growing in water. But some of you out there are in love with soil gardening and organic gardening, and rightly so! It's a pro-human activity. It is pro-conservation. It is pro-life. It nurtures and promotes life at all levels, from the micro-organisms to beneficial insects, to healthy humans. It's natural. it's spiritual. Gardening is written deeply into our DNA, like how you feel watching a bonfire or sitting by the ocean or next to a river.

My friend John at Food4Wealth has more than 20 years experience organic gardening, so he reminds me a lot of myself. He knows organic gardening like I know hydroponic gardening, and over the years he has learned just about every trick there is to organic gardening. He knows what makes the plants grow, and he knows how to do it with as little effort as humanly possible. His garden never needs digging, naturally repels pests, has no weeds, always produces more than his family is able to eat, produces vegetables everyday all year round, and....only requires 8 HOURS of light, easy effort PER YEAR!


Low effort organic gardening!

Years and years of experience and results can't be argued with....the Food4Wealth gardening strategy is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work....specifically for organic gardeners who love soil gardening. THIS is the most efficient and productive way to do organic gardening, period! And combined with the ability to make a years' worth of colloidal humus compost in just one week (see World's Best Compost), this overall organic soil gardening strategy is just unstoppable- foolproof, low cost, and low effort!

Learn about high yield organic gardening






If you've found this site helpful at all, I would really appreciate it