About The Shower Method
I only recommend this method if you really do not have a bathtub because it is more time consuming than the bathtub method and hard on your back.
Why Use Hydroton
I use hydroton as the medium for my system, instead of soil. This supports the Rockwool cubes and the plant’s roots when they eventually grow out of the cubes. It also slows down the water draining from the plants in my ebb & flow system which pulls fresh oxygen through and into the roots during every watering. Advantages:
- Retains water/stays moist – because it is porous
- Promotes oxygen circulation/great aeration
- Slows drainage
- Inert/PH neutral (odorless too)
- Preventative – for rotting, excess acidity, and pests since it does not hold onto these things
- Affordable – $50 for a 50L bag
For this grow I am still going to use trays one last time before switching to a bucket system. This requires a lot of Hydroton and it should be cleaned before you use it.
Why You Should Clean Your Hydroton
When you pour Hydroton out of the bag you may notice that it is covered in red dust and other ‘crud’. This crud will clog up your system and eventually cause problems. This is why you should clean it first.
I also think it is a good idea to disinfect the pellets since you never know how long the bag was kept on the shelf and under what conditions. It is just an extra precaution and I have heard a lot of people skip it completely. I don’t just to be safe, plus it doesn’t take too much extra effort.
What You Will Need
- Three 5-10 gallon plastic buckets (make sure one has a lid)
- Drill with a 3/8 inch drill bit
- 1.42 gallon container of bleach
- Grow room measuring cups
- Stick or dowel a little taller than your bucket
- Two small pieces of 2 x 4, a little longer than the buckets width
- Hydroton storage unit or grow tray
- Rubber gloves if you want
Step 1 – Make a Filter System
You will use the plastic buckets to flush the Hydroton in the shower. I would recommend at least 5 gallon buckets, but probably 10 gallons if you can afford it. You will need two of them and one smaller one if you want to reuse your bleach water.
Use the drill and bit to punch holes in the bottom of the bucket. Clear out any plastic that gets left in the holes.
Filter system complete!
Step 2 – Prepare Bleach Solution
Fill the extra bucket with 3-6 gallons of water depending on your bucket size and add enough bleach to make a sanitizing solution:
- 5 gallon bucket will hold 3 gallons of water with Hydroton so:
- 3 gallons water + 1 cup bleach = sanitizing solution
- 10 gallon bucket will hold 6 gallons of water with Hydroton so:
- 6 gallons water + 2 cups bleach = sanitizing solution
Step 3 – Bleach the Hydroton
Fill the filter bucket 2/3 of the way up with Hydroton and place it on the 2 x 4’s under your shower head. This is how you will rinse and drain the Hydroton easily.
Use the stick to stir and rinse the main dust and gunk off of the Hydroton. Transfer to the bucket without holes and add the bleach solution. Soak for 20-30 minutes, stirring a few times throughout the soak.
Step 4 – Rinse the Hydroton
Use the bucket lid to drain the sanitizing solution back into the extra bucket. Pour half of the hydroton into your filter bucket set up under the shower head and rinse while stirring for 1-3 minutes or until completely rinsed and the Hydroton is free of the smell of bleach.
You may want to leave the pellets out in the air for 24-72 hours to let any left over bleach dissipate before using it to be extra safe, but I have never done this purposefully.
Place the Hydroton in the storage unit or your grow tray and it is ready to use!
Notes and Tips
- Make sure everything you use is cleaned and sterilized first
- This can also be done outdoors using a hose. Make sure you don’t bleach your plants or grass!
- If you use a bathtub make sure to put a sink filter into the drain first to catch balls that will fall
- Large buckets are available at Wal-Mart and home improvement stores
- Use plain bleach, not any kind with scents or any other additives
- I decided on this percentage bleach to water after reading a lot of different forums, spending way too much time. There were too many conflicting opinions so I went between “sanitizing” and “disinfecting” strength listed on the bottle! Seemed safe and was middle of the ground on most people’s opinions
- Have a measuring cup just for the grow room so you dont have to contaminate your kitchen ones with chemicals. I use one of the 2 cup glass ones so it can be easily sterilized