We recommend using either coco coir, LECA or perlite if you are just starting out with hydroponics.
- Coco coir is produced from the brown husk around a coconut shell and is great for hydroponics because it is extremely absorbent. It can absorb up to 8 times its weight! However, because it is so absorbent, it doesn’t drain very well, so we recommend mixing coco coir 50/50 with perlite. Image from: http://www.cocoponics.co/tag/coco-coir
- Perlite is made by heating silica (flakes of glass) until they expand. It’s great for hydroponics because it holds water, but is also an excellent drainage medium and allows for plenty of air to reach the roots of your plants. Again, mixing it 50/50 with coco coir makes for a great overall hydroponic medium. Image from: http://www.geminatrade.com/products/perlite-turkey/
- LECA is made by heating clay at very high temperatures until it expands. It is very lightweight and can be sterilized and reused many times. Check out this link to read all about the benefits of LECA (the writer is using the brand name Hydroton, but they are still LECA). Mix LECA with coco coir for a well draining, but absorbent medium! Image from: https://www.breedlifefarms.com/?product=leca-solar