Hydroton AKA expanded clay pebbles, arelittle brown balls that can be used ashydroponic growing media– that is areplacement for soil, or as a potting mixamendment to increase overall drainage. They’re made from naturally sourced claypellets– the purer, the better, and heated in a kiln to well over 2,000degrees Fahrenheit. Each one wit aerated,porous cores. Hydrogen is pH neutral,reusable, and most importantly, it’s supereasy to use once you understand itsbasic properties, which I’ll get onto injust a second. First things first: alwaysrinse your balls thoroughly before youput them to work, even if themanufacturer claims that they’re alreadywashed, or even double washed, they willinevitably rub together during transport,and all that friction between the balls–ouch– creates dust in the sack, and risksclogging your pumps, my friends. Mytechnique is to sit the bag in the sink,or the bathtub, stab the bottom abunch of times with a screwdriver!Once all of your stress has dissipated,open up the top of the bag, and run tapwater through until the runoff is clear. Be sure that the balls get wet. A hose, ora pipe, or a jug can help, too. After rinsing,some folks soak their clay balls in pH5. 5 water. Personally, I don’t see theneed: they’re pH neutral, and absorb verylittle water anyway, so you’re not goingto change that. Being clay, hydroton has ahigh cat-ion exchange capacity, whichmeans it clings on to positively chargedions, but I just see this as a reason toirrigate frequently, rather than topre-soak. However, if you do want to giveyour balls of soap before use, then no harmdone, amigos. To understand how toirrigate hydroton properly, the simpleexperiment is quite informative. Take5 grams of dry clay balls. . . or 4. 998 grams. . or yes, close enough. Next, putthem in some water. As you can see, somefloat, some don’t. Don’t worry about it!It’s all good! Now, weigh the wet balls at5. 38 grams; an increaseof around 7 1/2%. Interestingly, letting the balls soakfor 8 hours increase their way toaround 5. 7 grams. Anincrease of around 15% fromdry. So yes, a long soak does increasewater content, but if you want to go thatroute, I think it would make more senseto soak in a mild vegetative nutrient solution ataround pH 6, rather than plain water atpH 5. 5. Anyway, soak, or no soak, compare hydrotonwith this Grodan A-OK stonewoolcube. It weighs just 3. 1 grams. Ah, but submerge this puppy in water, giveit a shake, and re-weigh it, and it’stoo heavy for my jeweler’s scales! I haveto weigh it in parts. Altogether itweighs around 40 grams,an increase of over 1100%,people! Unsurprisingly then, hydroton needs to beirrigated in a very different waycompared to stonewool, coco coir, peat-based potting mixes, or soil for thatmatter. And this is precisely what I loveabout hydroton– you really can’toverwater it. Growers tend to irrigate intwo ways: top dripper feed usually via adripper ring, or in an ebb and flow table. In either case, you’re going to need touse hydroponic mineral nutrients. Here’san example of top feeding with a dripperring: a Waterfarm by General Hydroponics. A classic self-contained hydroponicsystem. Fill it with clay balls, insertyour plants, switch on the pump, and letit drip– constantly, 24/7. No need to dialin any irrigation cycles whatsoever. Thelittle air gaps between the sphericalballs, as well as the pore’s cores, ensurethat the roots are never starved ofoxygen. It is genius, my friends, genius. Ebb and flow: basically, you can fill potswith hydroton, and then sit them in it, oryou can fill the whole tray withhydroton. Here, as you can see, I’ve done thelatter. The grow tray in this system byGeneral Hydroponics Europe canaccommodate up to a 6 inch depth ofhydroton. Although, I’ve got about 4inches here. I started out with just 2inches of hydroton for my Thai basilseedlings, but you can see that’s justnot sufficient. The roots have barelyexplored more than a few inches awayfrom the plant when. I bury my GoProcamera with its lens facing upwards inthe clay balls, you can see the lightgets in, and that will discourage theroots from spreading out. 4 inches isyour minimum depth of hydroton iffilling the hole grow tray. Better to gofor 5 or more if growing for biggerplants. Hydroton anchors them really well,and some folks cover the tray with thesheet of black out plastic, and cutlittle holes for the plants to growthrough in an effort to black out thelight, and encourage the roots to explorethe upper layer of the clay balls. You’llnotice some surface imperfections on theclay balls; this isn’t a bad thing as itlets more water into the porous core. Asfor irrigating, go regular! Timing exactlyhow long it takes to flood the tray. Itshouldn’t take more than a minute perinch of depth. My tray floods in 3minutes. I use a digital timer like anApollo 11 to flood every hour for 3minutes, each time during the light cycle. That’s 18 on/off schedules per day; itcan handle up to 20, and I promise youthis is not too much. Big, thirsty,flowering plants can take floods everyhalf an hour, or more, in straighthydroton. Like I said, this is not stonewool,or cocoa coir, or soil. You have totreat it differently. Now, some growersmix in 10 to 20% Grodan mini cubes toprovide for more of a moisture bufferjust in case a pump or timer should fail. It also affords less regular irrigation. Other growers mix in Diahydro, rocks ofdiatomaceous earth, at similar ratios toprovide a source of silicon, and a littlemore absorbency. You can use hydroton asa propagation media, but I prefer tostart with stonewool. If you’re using anaerocloner, I recommend inserting yourrooted cuttings into a net pot, backfilling with hydroton, and then insertingthe pot into your hydroton bed. Forleafy crops like my Thai basil, you canpull out the plants when you’re done, andsimply replant with new ones. Use anenzyme product to help digest anyremaining roots. You can reuse hydrotonif you pull out any old roots, andsterilize it in hydrogen peroxidesolution. I’ll go through that in aseparate video, if you’re interested. Okay,thanks for watching, questions andcomments below, as always. See you again soon!Bye-bye– oh, don’t squeeze too tight!