Hydroponics and Aquaponics

Basics of hydroponic fertilizer

There are endless possibilities when it comes to hydroponic fertilizers. Whether you purchase nutrients from a hydroponics store, use a traditional soil fertilizer or make your own there are some universal things to know. Here are the basics of hydroponic fertilizer.

Basic of hydroponic fertilizer

Hydroponic drip fertilizer

There are two kinds of nutrients that your plants need:

macro and micronutrients.

Macro nutrients are those that plants need in large amounts, including carbon, phosphorous, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

Micronutrients are needed in tiny amounts but are essential. These include zinc, nickel, boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, boron, and chlorine.

windowsill garden

For a much more in-depth look at macro and micro nutrients for hydroponic growing visit Ohio State University and read their study.

Hydroponicspecificfertilizer

There are some great hydroponic specific grow solutions on the market.  General Hydroponics has a line of products that are well labeled and easy to use.  The Maxigro is great for general use.  They also have a line of liquid plant specific products.

These are a good way to start. They are very easy and designed for specific types of plants. However they can be more expensive than other methods.


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Non Hydroponic specific fertilizer can also be a great choice.

Things to keep in mind when using soil fertilizer are;

You normally need a much smaller amount of traditional fertilizer because it will be in direct contact with the plant roots. Always start with a small amount of fertilizer and work up to more if your plants seem to be struggling. Plants roots can get burnt from too strong of a mixture.

Traditional fertilizers assume that your plants will have access to other nutrients normally found in soil, so make sure that you add a good full spectrum of nutrients.

Check to make sure the fertilizer is water soluble and will stay suspended.  The fertilizer staying mixed, not settled on the bottom, is of special importance if you use a non circulating hydroponic system like a Kratky system.


Many companies of traditional fertilizer are now including hydroponic instructions on their packaging.

Homemade hydroponic fertilizer

This is a great, inexpensive and organic way to feed your plants. Compost teas are what I use to grow everything. It is simple to make and cheap.

Compost tea recipe:

In a 5 gallon bucket put water, organic worm casting and molasses. One cup of casings and one table spoon of molasses for every gallon of water. Place an aeration stone like you would use in a fish tank into the bucket. If you don’t have an aeration stone you can manually give the mixture a good steering a few times a day.

In a couple of days drain the water into another container thru cheese cloth.

You will have the perfect fertilizer for most any vegetables.

Aquaponics

A great way to provide a good nutrient base for your plants is to use a fish tank. Whether in a small home aquarium or a commercial fish aquarium, fish “poop” out the nutrients the plants need. The water temp and PH level requirements for most fish are the same as most plants.

It does take a bit of special effort and knowledge to keep the system running properly. Please read my blog “Aquaponics: fun with fish!”

Basic of hydroponic fertilizer Aquaponics

Whether you purchase nutrients from a hydroponic store, use a traditional soil fertilizer or make your own there are some universal things to know:

The PH

The PH level of your growing solution is critical.  If the PH is to high or to low, you plants can develop Nutrient Lockout.  Nutrient lockout is when the roots are simple not able to release the nutrients they need from the water.

If your plants look weak or pale, before you add more nutrients, check your PH. Most plants like a PH around 6.5 but check your specific plants preferences.

It is cheap and easy to check PH levels of your fish tank or nutrient solution. This is one of the most important things you should do.

Water temperature

Water temperature is very important.  Just as traditional plants like to grow it certain temperatures so do hydroponic plants.   Most plants will do well with the water temps in the mid 70 degrees.

Hothead easiest way to keep any nutrient solution at a good temperature range is to use a submersible water heater like a fish tank heat to keep the temperature in range.

Not too hot!

If you grow outside or in warm places you need to cool the water down.  Keep the nutrient solution in a light colored reservoir out of direct sun. This should help.

Basic of hydroponic fertilizer

The basics of hydroponic fertilizer are pretty simple:

Full spectrum fertilizer

Check the PH often

Keep the water temperature in the 70s

Air purifier with planter

Like all gardening, start with the basics then play around and experiment to find what you and your plants like best.

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