It was a long Christmas holiday and finally we can visit my wife's parents in Kuala Lumpur. It has been 4 month since we last visited them. Of course I've been waiting for this moment to get the thing that I've longing for all this while, the Hydroton@LECA! I went to Selangor Green Lane to get it. It is actually just 20 minutes away from my in law's house. If you want to go there, find Jalan Sungai Buloh on the map or on satnav (GPS nav) if you have one. It will be on your right (u turn is required) if you are coming from Damansara towards Bandar Sungai Buloh. I went straight to Lot 19 (Wellgrow Horticultural) as a friend told me he got it there for RM70 per 50L bag. More about the Green Lane here: mygardendirectory.blogspot.com
I was in a hurry so I didn't spend much time there. I got the LECA for RM65 without haggling (I'm not that good at haggling anyway) so I bought 2 bags. Each bag weight about 20kg and for 50L, it is A LOT! and really cheap too as compared to the pebbles I used in the grow bed.
It was imported from Holland so I think for RM65 per bag is really a bargain. DO NOT USE PEBBLES people as this this stuff from Holland is cheaper and waaaaayyyyy better!
Fresh from the bag, the LECA are covered in orange dust so it need to be wash until the water runs clear. It won't take very long, trust me. Much easier than washing the pebbles. They are very light and easy to manage.
I removed about 3/4 of the pebbles and let about 1-2 inches of pebbles at the bottom, about the same level of the water left when the syphon cut off. I left the some of the pebbles because I don't want to destroy the bacteria colony already in there, to give head start for the LECA. This 'upgrade' will set my system back a bit and I can't wait to see how long will it take for the system to mature - again.
One bag filled almost 3/4 of the grow bed. If you read my first post, the equivalent pebbles would already cost me more than RM130!
1/3 of the second bag filled the grow bed easily. So I still left with plenty of LECA for my next project.
Some of the pebbles are used to make a stand in the fish tank for Tom (the turtle) to rest. He has been floating in the tank for more than 3 month, so now he is happy to lay his feet on a hard surface again.
Why LECA you may ask. Here is what I see/ learnt from this experience:
1) can be cheaper than pebbles
2) lighter (duh!)
3) easier to manage
4) retain moisture longer - those pebbles dried out almost immediately after removed from the bed
5) porous - more surface for bacteria to grow. Pebbles are just 'rock solid' internally.
1) It can float away, so beware.
2) heavy plant may be uprooted in strong wind/ stormy weather as the light aggregate can't give enough support - note: need to support plant in the future
What else I did....oh yes I added new member into the fish tank, two Kelah (Mahseer). Kelah is a really famous river fish in Malaysia and could fetch hundreds of ringgit per kg. It is a fighter and when grew in an aquarium/ tank is known to swim majestically, proud fish this. Got it for RM6.50 per fish at an aquarium shop near my in law's house. About two-finger size. Finally, I harvest the last of my pak choi. I'm gonna try something else next, given two weeks for my system to get back on track.