Bamboo grow matting is a clean, non-messy, and easy-to-ship alternative to using a potting mix as a growing media for microgreens.
The problem has been a lack of performance, with bamboo grow matting and any matting no matter what it's made from.
In the first article in this microgreen grow mats series, we compared both bamboo and hemp grow matting to our favorite potting mix.
In the end, microgreens grown in the Home Microgreens Potting Mix outgrew both types of grow matting. Even with the addition of organic liquid fertilizer.
However, the testing revealed some variables that need to be addressed, which is the focus of this article.
We think we may be on to something here!
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The Microgreens Podcast Episode 017
Bamboo Grow Matting Take Two
As we mentioned in the first article of this series, we don't want to give up on the bamboo grow matting.
For us here at Home Microgreens, bamboo has a few advantages over hemp grow matting as an alternative to potting mix.
As a side note, we'll never stop growing microgreens on soil. That's how seeds are meant to grow, and nothing can beat a good potting mix.
However, we can see that there are situations where a grow matting is best for people.
Hemp Grow Matting
Although we have shown in a two-part article that growing a good tray of microgreens with TerraFibre™ hemp matting is possible, we don't like working with hemp.
Review of the First Test with Bamboo Grow Matting
In the first test, we noticed that the depth of the tray may be cause for slower or lack of growth in the microgreens (see below).
In the photo above, the microgreens grown in the tray on the right are on Home Microgreens Potting Mix, the left-most tray is TerraFibre™ hemp matting, and the middle two have bamboo grow matting.
Notice that the microgreens grown on soil are flared out. Those raised on hemp have started to flare out, but those on bamboo are pretty much vertical.
This is most likely because the depth of the tray has contained the growth.
We did raise the grow matting to the same height as the soil, so the light hitting them was the same intensity.
But the sides of the trays contain the growth and possibly the amount of ambient and reflected light they are receiving.
Changes to the Second Test with Bamboo Grow Matting
In the second grow matting test, we compared (we always compare a new method to the best way we know) growing Purple Vienna Kohlrabi seeds on a 1010 tray and on Home Microgreen Potting Mix in the Home Microgreens Trays.
To test our hypothesis that the sides of the tray are retarding growth, we choose the larger 1010 tray to provide a more open area for better light penetration.
Below is a photo at the start of the test after the blackout period.
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Parameters of the Bamboo Grow Matting Test
The trays are seeded with the same ratio of seed. The Home Microgreens tray with 3.0-grams of seed and the 1010 tray with 8-grams of seed.
The media is moistened, as are the seeds after sowing.
Both are put into the blackout in complete darkness with a lid and weight on top of the media. We used a solid 1010 tray to cover the larger tray adding a 5-pounds weight for the HM tray with the tray lid and a 2.5-pound weight.
The photo is when the trays came out of blackout 3-days after planting.
The seeds sown on soil are growing much larger plants at the start.
Watering During the Test
As with the hemp matting, organic liquid fertilizer is added to the water used on the bamboo grow matting. The microgreens on the soil are given plain tap water.
The fertilizer is Ocean Solutions at a rate of 1-oz per gallon of water.
Lights Used During the Test
We placed both trays on the same shelf, with the planting surface of the 1010 tray brought up to the same level as the soil.
The lights are two Barrina 24-watt LED grow lights. These are working well for us on our new small rack system (more on this in a future article).
Result of the Second Bamboo Grow Matting
The results of the test are promising!
The height on the microgreens grown on the bamboo grow matting are similar to those grown on the Home Microgreens Potting Mix.
We removed the bamboo grow matting from the tray to get both planting levels about the same height. The bamboo matting on the left might be a little higher.
A closer inspection shows that the leaf size on kohlrabi microgreens grown on the bamboo matting is smaller.
The Kohlrabi microgreens on the left are grown on bamboo grow mats, while those on the right are grown on soil.
The leaf size of those grown on soil is, on average larger than those produced on bamboo.
Summary of the Bamboo Grow Matting Test
The results of the test are promising.
It appears that the bamboo grow matting will grow microgreens reasonably close to those on the soil.
There are some differences, though, some described in the article, others visible in the images, and some we will need to convey to you.
Bamboo Grow Matting
The good and sort of bad
The bamboo grow matting is an excellent alternative to growing microgreens on soil.
For one reason, it's less messy than hemp. No fibers falling and sticking to everything.
It is easier to ship and store than soil.
Given space and light, microgreens will grow very similar to those grown on soil.
However, fertilizer will need to be purchased and used. Same for hemp matting.
It appears that roots don't penetrate the bamboo matting as well as they do on hemp or soil. This may slow growth down.
We are unsure grow matting can grow every variety of microgreens.
It's easy to overwater the bamboo grow mat. We made sure to come back after a few hours and dump extra water out of the tray. This probably could be lessened with practice and experience.
When we harvested the microgreens, we smelled both the mat and the tray of soil. The bamboo grow mat did have an odor to it. However, not enough that we didn't use the microgreens. The microgreens grown on soil had no smell.
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What's Next With Bamboo Grow Matting?
Stay tuned, more testing.
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Now that we know that the tall sides of Home Microgreens trays affect the growth of microgreens grown on mats, we will try smaller, low-sided trays using both bamboo and hemp grow mats.
Currently, we still recommend growing microgreens on a good potting mix.
Both TerraFibre™ hemp mats and bamboo fiber grow matting show promise as long as a few rules are followed.
If using a grow mat, use a low-sided tray. Also, a liquid fertilizer will need to be added to the water if you expect similar growth to microgreens grown on soil.
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