In hydroponic growing, plant nutrients are provided in two ways. Nutrients are available as premixed products, or you can make your own. Plants will get everything they need from a premixed nutrient package, but your water may need slightly different nutrient levels. Hydroponic growers mix fluids from bottles together for each plant, depending on its growth phase. When you mix your nutrients, it is more cost-effective and allows for more flexibility.
Before you go mixing your special nutrient solution for your hydroponic garden, here are some things you need to keep in mind:
Make sure you know what’s in your water.
Test your water if you can. By adding nutrients for plant growth, when you have good, soft water, your plants will be able to grow at their best. If you have hard water, you need to use reverse osmosis methods to remove unwanted heavy metals. To check your water’s quality regularly, you can also use a dissolved solids meter. It is also known as electrical conductivity (EC) meter or a parts per million (PPM) meter.
In both tap water and well water, calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate are quite common. Plant growth requires each nutrient but in limited quantities. You can calculate how much you need to add to your water by determining how much of these elements are present.
Learn about essential macro nutrients.
Calcium nitrate, potassium sulfate, potassium nitrate, monopotassium phosphate, and magnesium sulfate are essential nutrients. These types of nutrients provide different benefits depending on the element they contain.
- Hydrogen forms water with oxygen.
- To produce a supply of amino acids, nitrogen and sulfur are crucial elements.
- During photosynthesis and general growth, phosphorus is utilized.
- A catalyst stimulates the formation of starch and sugar when potassium and magnesium are present.
- Nitrogen and magnesium also contribute to chlorophyll production and are utilized in massive amounts in fast-growing plants. Symptoms of nitrogen deficiency include yellow leaves.
- In addition to being an important component of cell walls, calcium is also required to promote the healthy growth of cells.
Micro – nutrients: choose the right ones.
Trace elements, also known as micronutrients, are essential, but relatively small quantities are needed. Vegetative growth, reproduction, and the effect of other nutrients on plants are influenced by these elements. Among the micronutrients used are boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, sodium, zinc, molybdenum, nickel, cobalt, and silicon. Your nutrient mix should contain at least ten trace elements. They work well for hydroponic gardens that require organic nutrients.
Check the water temperature.
Various types of plants prefer a tepid temperature: neither too hot nor too cold to the touch. Having a cold solution will cause stunted growth. They may mold or rot. A hot solution can stress your plants and cause them to lose oxygen, resulting in death. The ideal range of temperature for water is between 65 degrees (18 C) and 80 degrees (27 C).
Cooler water is perfect for plants growing in colder climates, while warm climate plants prefer warmer water. As you add fresh water to your reservoir, make sure the temperature is approximately the same as the existing reservoir water.
Maintain a balanced pH level.
Check your pH balance using a pH meter. You should aim for a pH balance between 5.5 and 7.0. The pH of your water ultimately influences the plants’ ability to absorb a concentration of nutrients. There is nothing abnormal about pH balances swinging up and down. Natural changes in the balance will occur as the plants absorb elements. Due to varying pH balance, avoid having too many chemicals added. You may have a pH balance that’s unstable if your growing medium is not of good quality.
Calcium carbonate is the most common chemical used in municipal water systems to raise the pH level. In cities, it is not uncommon for the pH balance to exceed 8.0. When you measure pH in different temperatures, the readings will be different. Be sure to check your plain water’s temperature before adding any chemicals to it.
Mixing Your Nutrient Solution
Prepare your containers by filling them with clean water.
Two to three reservoirs are required for most hydroponic recipes. It’s recommended to use food-grade containers. You can use an empty 1 gallon (4 liters) milk jug for a smaller nutrient reservoir. To prepare a larger quantity, use a 5-gallon container of water.
Use reverse osmosis water or distilled water if you can. A hydroponics system may be adversely affected by ions and other elements in tap water. When you cannot find either distilled water or bottled water, let the water sit open 24 hours to let any chlorine dissipate. To find out what’s in your tap water, have it tested.
Measure correct quantities of nutrients.
Having a 2-container reservoir system requires you to apply potash nitrate or micronutrient chelates in one of the containers. You can also use a premixed fertilizer or another general nutrient blend for the other container. Hold dry chemicals with a plastic chemical scoop and a sterilized filter paper. Use a graduated cylinder or beaker to measure liquid base nutrients.
Place a funnel at the mouth of the reservoir.
Although you can mix hydroponics nutrients even without a funnel, spills might upset the hydroponic solution’s nutritional balance. Pouring chemicals into the container is easier if you use a small plastic funnel. Skin irritation and other adverse reactions may occur due to liquid nutrients and other additives. It is recommended that you use a funnel to prevent spills.
Once your hydroponics system is nutrient-rich, test the pH. Hydroponic nutrients will typically lower the pH balance of neutral water, requiring you to add a pH additive.
Incorporate the nutrients into the water.
Add the crop-specific nutrients one at a time, going slowly to avoid overflow, spills, or similar losses of nutrients. Even a slight loss of nutrients won’t have a major impact on your plants, but the sooner they learn to adjust to a nutrient supply, the better. Your hydroponics unit will need different amounts of concentrated nutrient solution depending on the reservoir it’s using. Getting the amount right may require some experimentation. When you turn on the reservoir pump, you should use enough solution to not pull in air from the surrounding environment.
Shake the container after securing it.
Securely screw or snap the cap into place. Combining amounts of nutrients takes 30 to 60 seconds of shaking with both hands. It is possible to hold down the cap with one or two fingers while shaking if the cap cannot be fitted tight.
The mixture can also be stirred using a long stick or other objects if the container is too large or heavy for shaking. Stirring, especially for a long period, is another way to combine ingredients smoothly. Shaking is often the most effective method.
Extra tip: Proper storage will maximize their shelf life and save you money by allowing you to finish each bottle you buy rather than going back to the store because your nutrients are spoiled.