Alternative growing media allow you to raise plants with little or no soil. The appropriate physical and chemical properties of a plants growing area is determined by the growing material being used. Adding growing media can raise nutrient levels, protect moisture near the plants roots and provide a soilless growing area for the plant.
Peat is made from plant materials which decompose in wet, marshy areas. Peat substitutes are available which mimic the quality of standard peat. Sustainable peat materials can reduce the environmental impact of commercial peat sales.
Wood residue is used as a growing medium to both increase soil drainage and retain moisture. A bi-product of the lumber industry, wood residue is inexpensive. Sawdust and bark are the most common varieties of wood residue.
Perlite and Vermiculite
Minerals such as perlite and vermiculite are used for water retention in porous soil. Both are good for potted plants and hydroponic gardens.