Glass foam granulate as growing medium for tomato and cucumber
Blok, C.; Winkel, A. van; Chizhmak, S.
Glass foam granulate was evaluated for use as a horticultural rooting medium with laboratory tests and cultivation experiments. The laboratory tests included moisture characteristics, rehydration rate and pH buffering analyses. Cucumbers and later on tomatoes were propagated in rockwool propagation cubes and planted on slabs of Growstones™ glass foam granulate. They were compared with cucumber respectively tomatoes grown on rockwool slabs. Lab results show that the coarse nature of the glass foam granulate (0.5-5 cm) limits the maximum moisture content to 50%. The rehydration rate is very high, reaching more than 80% of container capacity in 5 min. The tested material initially reacts with water, raising the pH to over 10 pH units. Based on lab results a recipe for rinsing the material prior to cultivation was calculated. Cucumber cultivation results show an equal production to plants grown on rockwool. The first yield on glass foam granulate is 1-2 days earlier. The susceptibility to Pythium is significantly lower than on rockwool. The wax layer on cucumbers grown on glass foam granulate is perceptibly thicker as consequence of an elevated silicon level of 0.25 to 1.6 mmol L-1 in the slab solution. Tomatoes on glass foam granulate show smaller stem diameters and recovered faster from blossom end rot. Yield levels on glass foam granulate and rockwool are equal. In conclusion growing on glass foam granulate is equally productive as rockwool growing. The material is drier and thus less susceptible to Pythium and more generative in nature. Glass foam granulate can be irrigated with small and frequent irrigation cycles and the material must be rinsed with an acid solution before planting. Small amounts of silicon are released into the nutrient solution.