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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Riviera, TX

    Re: Make clay grow media myself?

    I have been thinking of the time/money factor vs. the ease of buying as well, Bsfman. And I definitely agree that it might just be worth it to buy instead. The biggest problem I think would be the kiln building, not the actually preparation of the clay.....I have no pottery experience, so it would all be experimental for me If nothing else, I will keep contemplating and experimenting with the goal of making my own grow media in the future!

    Gravel may indeed have to do. I found a place in Dallas that sells expanded shale. Dallas is a good half of a day trip, but might be worth the drive. I will have to check into TXI, though. Another idea is to go to the plot of land that my family owns on the Blanco River and harvest some river stones (composition check is a must, but I have HCL!!). The river stones might be good middle ground between buying and making??

    Other than the fact that I am trying to do my first system on a restricted budget, I am also concerned with environmental detriment in the way that some of the stone and clay is mined.

  2. #12
    Members bcotton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    dallas, tx

    Re: Make clay grow media myself?

    Fair warning. While expanded shale is advertised as inert, i have not found inert expanded shale in texas.. i dont know if it's just hauled in the same trucks as limestone or what, but 3 loads now and it buffers to about 7.6-7.8. Maybe its just not really inert?

    7.6 a little high for plants but i havent seen any issues that i would contribute to nute locking/high ph, if anything it's made it easier becuse i check ph a lot less frequently and i dont have to add anything to bring PH up after nitrification.

    expanded shale cost compared to the hydroponic supplies is unbeatable.

    In all likelihood, river rock around here have the same PH related issues only heavier and less porous.

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  3. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Just in case anyone stumbles across this old thread...

    I was wandering around the internet as I tend to do, and found myself mentioned in this thread. <wave emoticon>

    The goat dung scoria was only a small sample (half a cup) made in my household wood burning heater (turns out that's not recommended if you are married). The goat dung was there to provide organic material that would be burnt out in the firing process leaving a stack of holes and an increase in surface area. A better alternative if you live in the modern world would be sawdust as someone mentioned. Also as mentioned, this would not be an inexpensive way to make media unless you lived in an area with a lot of clay and a lot of firewood. Goat dung is full of un-digested organic matter like grass, twigs, rose thorns, hand rails... whatever

    I've been a potter for a few zillion years, and noticed something that might be of interest in my early days as the mixer of clays.

    When you mix clay in a mechanical mixer, and dont add quite enough water, you tend to get little balls forming.

    A cement mixer would probably work.

    The size of the balls seemed to correlate with the amount of water (or lack there of)

    If you dug clay out of the ground that was pretty dry, put it into a cement mixer with some sawdust (I'm guessing 1 part sawdust to 3 parts clay by volume - but who knows) and gradually add water until it formed the correct size balls, it might... might ... be an inexpensive way to make a media if you couldn't source it from anywhere else.

    Pile it all up mixed in with an absurd amount of wood and make a huge bonfire, and you will easily reach the temperatures required to fire it and burn out all the organic material.

    The reason the original goat dung scoria was made was actually just a test of a thing I call "the invention engine" which is a process I've been developing to solve problems. Someone on a forum said they had zero access to media as they were in a[n] African village miles away from a store (or something), so I dragged out the invention engine to see what I could come up with using only locally sourced materials.

    It was never intended to be used where suitable media could be bought, and even then was borderline useful at best. More of a thought exercise really.

    Having said that, I'd love to know if anyone ever made any media themselves using any technique.

    Last edited by 120ThingsIn20Years; 10-07-2018 at 12:03 AM. Reason: vowels forcing me to use "an" rather than "a"
    I'm in year two of attempting to learn, and blog about, 120 things in 20 years, aquaponics was my first "thing".

    My skills include being able to move slowly forward in time, and if I really concentrate, I can sometimes tell what I'm thinking.

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