What You Should Know Before You Go Hydro


What You Should Know Before You Go Hydro

What’s in your water?

Where are you sourcing your water from? The answer to this matters more when you’re growing hydroponically. If you’re using city water, chances are there are added chemicals (especially fluoride and chlorine) that, if not considered and dealt with, will alter your nutrient solution and your plants. On the other hand, well water can have high levels of nitrogen, iron, sulfur, lead, calcium, and/or magnesium that will result in higher PPM readings and possibly nutrient “lock-out” of important element. In either case, you could have a problem with toxins from industrial runoff or other types of pollution. Using a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system is often a hydroponic grower’s best bet for optimal PPM.

What’s the temperature of your water?

Too cold, seeds won’t germinate, cutting won’t root, and plants grow slowly (or stop growing and die). Too warm, seeds won’t germinate, cuttings won’t root, and plants die from lack of oxygen or temperature stress. Most plants like their roots to be in the 65 to 80 degrees Ferenheight range (cooler for winter crops, warmer for tropical plants). When you add new water, you should give it time to get to the same temperature as the reservoir. Rapid temperature changes are bad!

What’s the pH of your water?

The pH of your water will determine if the nutrients you’re putting into the water are available to your plants. For example, if you are using city water that has added calcium carbonate (often used to raise the pH of water to prevent pipes from corroding), the iron in your solution can unavailable, leading to a deficiency that shows as yellow, weak leaves. While plants prefer a pH range of 5.8 to 6.2, a pH range of 5.5 to 7.0 is safe for hydro growing. Remember, too much adjusting can cause a lot of damage. Drifts beyond this range should be adjusted. If you’re getting sudden and drastic shifts, be sure to check for a malfunctioning pH meter.

What’s the pH of your media?

Unstable pH could also be caused by low-quality growing media. To test your media, simply put a sample into distilled or de-ionized water in a clean cup. Let it sit for a bit, then test the pH of the water. Take note of the pH, let it sit for a while longer, test again, and so on. Keep doing this for up to a week or until the pH has stabilized. If you’re pH is rising into the 8.0, 9.0, or 10.0 range, don’t use that media. Your plants will probably die.

When should you change out your nutrient solution?

This depends on a lot of factors. What kind of plants? How many and what size are the plants? How big is the reservoir? How good is your water? What kind of nutrients and how good are they? What’s the temperature and humidity in your growing environment? What type of hydro system are you using? This is why hydro growers tend to take a lot of measurements and notes. When you start with a fresh reservoir of nutrients, write down the date, pH, and PPM of the solution. When the system’s been running and the reservoir level drops, note the PPM, then add fresh water. Note the PPM again. If the nutrient strength has dropped a lot, add some nutrients to bring the PPM back to where it should be. Record how much water you added, and keep recording the amount every time you top-up. When the total amount of water added equals the size of the reservoir, drain and replace the nutrient solution.

Diseases still happen!

Keep your growing area clean. Don’t allow soil into your nutrient solution. Wipe your feet (or take off your shoes) and make sure your clothes don’t have plant material from outside plants on them. Disease can spread rapidly, so avoid it by working clean and monitoring closely. As soon as you see evidence of a diseased plant, remove and destroy it immediately. Then closely watch for any other infected plants. If it becomes a problem, drain and renew your nutrients after removing any sick plants. If possible, flush with fresh water for a day before draining again and refilling with fresh nutrient solution.

Don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated

These are still just plants, and they can take quite a bit of stress and still produce well. However, a little bit of preparation and knowledge can help avoid problems down the road.

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  • Rogue Staff
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