Learn the basics of substrates!

To understand the core business of our branch we have to start off with the basics of cultivation.

Each plant starts to grow in a certain kind of cultivation medium or ‘substrate’. In other words a substrate is the base material of organic or non-organic origin which a cultivator uses to cultivate his plants on. Whether enriched with fertilizers or not. There are several substrates which you can use to cultivate. With just a little care and attention, you can basically use almost any kind. Though the most common ones are (fertilized) Soil, Coco or Hydro. Atami has all of them in its assortment. The choice of which substrate depends on the personal preference of each cultivator. There is no right or wrong. Each substrate has its own structure and characteristics with additional pros and cons. Some of them are more suitable for indoor growing and others are more suitable for outdoor. Besides the different types of substrates there are different types of growing systems, for instance with water circulation etc. These will be discussed later on in this guide.

Values of substrates

Before we really kick off it’s important to know that most substrates contain an Electrical Conductivity value (EC). This quantifies how strongly the substrate opposes against the ow of electric current and gives you information about the nutritional value. Besides the fact that substrates contain an EC value, water and most of the available nutrition’s increase the EC value. A high EC value (2,4) will harm your plants. So always be aware of this. Measuring is knowing! Other essential values in this branch are N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus), K (potassium) and the pH level. This will be explained in more detail later on.

The RHP trademark

Most of our substrates are RHP certified. The RHP trademark has been the European knowledge centre for potting soil and substrates (growing media) for the consumer and the professional since 1963.

The RHP Trademark guarantees the quality of the product in the chain from extraction till processing at the buyer. The quality mark ensures that our substrates meets quality requirements:

• Control of (disease)

• Assurance of properties, such as has been agreed in advance.


Soil substrates

We’ll start with Soil. Growing on this type of substrate is perhaps the most well-known method of cultivation. The elementary components of our soil substrates are white and black peat. The quantity and composition of the peat and other organic fertilizers determine the quality of the soil. Peat has the characteristic to bind trace elements. Despite some disadvantages, the use of soil has a lot of benefits. Atami has three kinds of soil in its assortment: ‘Bi Grow mix’, ‘Janeco-Light-Mix’ and ‘Kilomix’.

So what are the overall benefits and disadvantages of soil substrate?

+ relatively low investment

+ fertilized (start nutrition for the  rst period)

+ very good buffer function

+ maintenance-friendly

- the risk of mould and insects

- not that airy in comparison with Hydro substrates

- the discharge


Coco substrates

Apart from soil another popular substrate is Coco. Especially in the United Kingdom it’s a very popular method of cultivation. Before the Coconut bres can be used as a substrate they have been properly washed, steamed and buffered to get rid of needless ballast like for example sea salt.

So what are the overall benefits and disadvantages of Coco substrate?

+ Light and airy structured

+ Excellent water retention

+ Fertilized (start nutrition for approximately the first week)

+ Easy to manage

- Less suitable for outside growing

- Extremely susceptible for insects like ‘rouwvaren’ mosquitoes


Hydro substrates

According to a lot of growers the use of a Hydro substrate is the most professional method of cultivation. Generally this type of substrate is used in combination with recirculation water systems (also called Hydroponic systems).

So what are the overall benefits and disadvantages of Hydro substrate?

+ Very airy which provides excellent opportunities to develop a strong root system

+ Excellent drainage

+ The risk of plant diseases and insects is minimal

+ Very low concentration of elements so you can determine the amount of water and nutrient value personally

- In particular suitable for recirculation systems

- Not that forgiving