Can I re-use hydroton clay balls each year?

by Brian
(Auckland, New Zealand)

two seedlings in a 10litre bucket, nutrient is poured in each day to 3

two seedlings in a 10litre bucket, nutrient is poured in each day to 3

two seedlings in a 10litre bucket, nutrient is poured in each day to 3
without any pinching of apicals or laterals

I grow a couple of cherry tomatoes in a passive hanging basket system, and use coconut coir and hydroton kiln dried clay balls as my medium. It works well, but can I reuse the balls? Do I have to put them in a tray in my domestic oven to sterilise them?




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Can I re-use hydroton clay balls each year?

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Sep 23, 2012
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Reusing Hydroton Clay Balls
by: Larry

Reusing Hydroton Clay balls is part of the reason I like them so much. And, yes, you do need to sterilize before reusing.

The microwave is out due to metallic particles in the clay so that leaves the oven or rinsing in bleach or Hydrogen Peroxide. You could also boil in water on the stove.

The oven is the best method because no chemical agents need to be used which could leave residue that eventually gets into your tomatoes.

So set the oven at 250 degrees F (121 C) and bake for 45 minutes or so.

If you use H2O2 or bleach, soak for a while and rinse really, really well. The standard practice for bleach is to rinse 5 times to reduce residue to a few parts per million.

For H2O2 some like adding it to their hydroponic systems (not me) but I would rinse that very well also after soaking.

Boiling them in water would work but may not get rid of most bacteria which is killed at temps of 250 F (121 C) and above.

My recommendation is to bake in the oven.

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