Hydro FAQ 10. Nutrients.

baci(z10Ca)December 25, 2003

Hydro FAQ 10 involves a discussion of nutrients. Included in this discussion are answers to the following questions.

What are hydroponic nutrients?

Does one need special hydroponic nutrients?

How often do I need to circulate the nutrient solution?

Why is the nutrient reservoir usually below the grow tray?

Any suggestions?

Thanks Baci

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mkirkwag(Puget Sound)

Yes. I just asked this in a message:

When I bought my first nutrients, they laid out an amount per gallon for a new fill, and a lesser amount for top-offs. Each successive top-off got less nutrient per gallon, and of course, when the water is changed out, you start over again with the full strength.

I haven't seen this instruction on any other nutrient solution, and the guy at the hydro store hadn't heard of it.

Since I don't, and won't be, using an ec meter, this is an important point. It would be great if you would address it.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2004 at 12:11PM
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I will address it in the FAQ and would appreciate your feedback when I post the draft. I am trying to put some graphics associated with the nutrient FAQ in a web storage site but am having technical difficulties with the service. I will post it when they get it fixed.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2004 at 11:17PM
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mkirkwag, would you mind e-mailing me the company or product that has that information? I can not include company names in the FAQ but maybe I can glean information from their material. Also, I am looking for information regarding nutrient value and produce taste. Not sales or promotional material but information on specific nutrients associated with taste (i.e., Sulfur & some crops).

    Bookmark   February 11, 2004 at 8:33AM
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The nutrient FAQ is posted at:


Please give feedback for corrections or revisions. I will not post it here as my corrections would make the thread very long. If it seems like a sentence gets lost please point that out - sometimes I have lost paragraphs due to errors in html coding.

Because nutrients are so complicated I thought it might be 2 parts. Part 1 could be general description of nutrients, and part 2 could be problems in management, taken from the past feedback of members posted on forum.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 5:24PM
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The only thing i can see that would be of much benefit is sources of low cost nutrients available to people all over. the nutrients issue is already done ad nauseum on every hydro site on the net, with the exception of reasonably priced readily available nutrients. Why repost another copy of the same old stuff. just reading the posts on this site the faqs page is of little to no use to most of the posters here, most of them know what hydroponics is.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2004 at 12:24PM
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The material is geared towards a new grower; thus it explains many of the basics. The FAQ answered basic questions based on the recommendations of other forum users. The questions at the top of the post were the recommendations.

I do agree issues surrounding low cost nutrients are a frequent issue. Sources that sell low cost nutrients are not an option since businesses can not be named in the FAQ Â per GW instructions. We need to keep members on Garden Web.

Another option would be substitution of materials that are not ideal, but can in some instances be used. Such a topic would probably involve looking at some of the interactions involved. This would involve splitting the nutrients into two sections or simply create a "money saving" FAQ.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2004 at 7:11PM
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Just seems most posts represent a lot more than beginer knowledge. I am sure you are right that the forum can't allow much as to sources since they do sell advertising. I do like the idea of pursuing low cost options. The hobbyists have done a lot for the hardware but the nutrients are still quite a stumbling block for lots of us. Plans are reasonably plentiful for reasonably priced hardware from readily available hardware. As long as these methods have been known and used it would seem we could buy nutrients at any hardware or home or garden center for a dollar a pound or less but no such luck. I do think cost and availability of the mineral salts needed is one of the biggest deterants to more intrest in this form of gardening.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2004 at 2:47AM
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mkirkwag(Puget Sound)

markapp, the first place I come for information on *any* gardening issue is GardenWeb. If I'm a novice in the subject, I go to the FAQs. I don't want to search all over the web on lesser sites. I don't want to wade through thousands of posts on how to get the biggest buds when all I want is a good nutrient mix for veggies.

I'm always frustrated when I want to know something basic and there's no FAQ. Knowing what hydroponics "is" and knowing how to do it are two different things. A seasoned grower wouldn't go to the FAQs in the first place, or would skip over the most basic questions.

This forum in particular has been frustrating in that, until the last year, it was *very* quiet, and responses came too slowly to be of any use. A FAQ would have been lovely. And don't forget: posts expire.

I remain a tyro and a lightweight hobbiest after 4 years, and until I found the post with this link today
on this forum, I hadn't gotten a recipe for nutrients. In fact, I've only just developed an interest in doing it myself.

There's no real information out there on the question I referred to above re premixed nutrients or otherwise (believe me, I've *looked*). So, as far as I'm concerned, GO, BACI !

    Bookmark   October 4, 2004 at 12:02PM
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Gotta ditto mkirkwag's comments. This forum is a group effort and needs more participation. Also, must commend BACI for his contribution. I've read all his FAQs and have learned much.

"There are no dumb questions.....Just degrees of relevancy".......Anon

    Bookmark   October 5, 2004 at 12:57AM
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The website [http://edurink10.bravehost.com/hydronutri] has moved to [http://edurink10.tripod.com/hydroideashobbyist/]

Here is a link that might be useful: Hydro Ideas

    Bookmark   October 5, 2004 at 9:05PM
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Will you please tell me about nutrient solution to grow capsicum.can I grow it outdoor hydroponically.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2004 at 2:15AM
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For: chiguluri

Here is the formula for CAPSICUM:

Calcium Nitrate = 93.98 gms.
Potassium Nitrate (A) = 33.46 gms.
Iron EDTA = 4.08

Patassium Nitrate (B) = 33.46 gms.
MonoPotassium Phosphate = 25.84 gms.
Magnesium Sulfate = 42.60 gms.
Manganese Sulfate = .40 gm.
Zinc Sulfate = .26 gm.
Copper Sulfate = 4.44 gm.
Boric Acid = .33 gm.
Ammonium Molybdate = .20 gm.

Dissolve Part (A) in 1 liter of water, and Part (B) in another liter. Follow the sequence in the list. Make sure any one salt is dissolved thoroughly before adding the next. To use, dilute at the rate of 1:100. Concentrate Part (A) and Part(B) may also be stored up in separate air tight bottles in a cool dark place for use on an installment basis. In only a small volume is needed calculate at the rate of 1:100.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2004 at 6:39AM
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Thanks mkirkwag & hank_mili for your comments. The forum has been quiet over this last year & it has been an observation of mine that some good posters disappeared after some sharp comments were made on their posts. I noticed them later on other forums.

But back to the FAQ. markapp has a good suggestion on the need for low cost options.

I have only started with one  calcium.


I doubt as if it will be new information, because information that is new & likely to change can not be included in the FAQ. Poster responses or testimonies on their use of alternate calcium can be used, however. Other options to low cost calcium might be to perform experiments in increasing its solubility. For example, it is interesting to note that adding sugar to a lime solution increases its solubility. Sugar also promotes bacterial growth, & would probably not be considered hydroponic. Some commercial preparations have different forms of sugar in them, however. An experiment I have tried is growing sugar cane in peat with lime applied to the peat. Sugar cane has a high shoot sugar content & does very well with this method. I have had similar success with apple trees, & I suspect the sugars (glycosides) in apple roots helped.

Other possibilities might be experimentation with fulvic & humic acid. Humic acids can chelate calcium & prevent precipitation. Humic acid can be extracted from peat although I am unsure of the process. These substances can also promote bacterial & fungal growth, however.

I will look for more information on nutrient recipes. Many nutrient solutions are based on Hoagland & CooperÂs solution, which are available online. Edurink , can I post your formula for capsicum before it falls off the forum?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2004 at 10:09AM
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For: Baci,
Thanks for the comment.
The recipe I submitted is computer generated I got from a friend, who is willing to share. For fruiting plants, this may vary depending on the age of the plant and the environment. The one I submitted above is for average conditions and for all stages. It will give good results. However for a better crop, the calcium nitrate has to be reduced somewhat and the potassium increased correspondingly, that is towards fruiting stage proper. I noticed in computer generation that when you decrease the ppm of one element, others will increase automatically much like a "see saw" effect. The computer shows this trend. It shows which one increases when the other is reduced. It will also show the limit to which you may modify within the ppm requirements of the plant.

Having two or three formulations for one crop poses constraints to some. But there is no harm in having one general purpose recipe what gives fairly good results. Hoagland's, Cooper's, Resh's etc. formulations work in that direction. For the big timers, which ever they choose is their prerogative.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2004 at 7:52PM
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Sorry, I don't think I answered you request. Sure you may post the recipe I gave.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2004 at 1:42AM
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sunfrog(z8 Az)

Hi, I'm a hydro newbie!
Here are some questions for you.

1. Drip system: Flow rates of 1 drip/second. How much is that? Is that 1 gph? Or more?

2. The pump should remain on for about 15 - 30 minutes, which is called a flood cycle. This should be done 4-8 times daily depending on the plant size. -More for bigger plants or more for smaller plants with smaller roots?

3. This sounds complicated. I'm not a chemist. Isn't there some pre-mixed stuff I can use? If so what's it called?

4. What is an open system? I told you I'm a newbie. :')

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 10:02PM
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The 1cc/second rate is a guide. I donÂt know how many gallons per hour equates to drips/second, because it depends on the size of the drop, the tubing, etc. The media should be kept moist but not overly wet. The media may also affect the drop rate. For example, Perlite & Vermiculite retain water, whereas a gravel media may not.

An open system is where the nutrient is not recirculated. A closed system is a system in which the nutrient is recirculated.

Larger plants, such as some tomatoes may need more frequent irrigation, compared to smaller plants such as lettuce.

There are pre-mixed formulations available at hydro stores. In the beginning, it is easier to purchase the pre-mixed nutrient & pH supplies. Substitutions can cause problems in that they can result in nutrient deficiencies, excess, alter the pH, or result in unknown interactions in the nutrient &/or the plant. If you have a hydro outlet near you, check out their prices so you avoid paying online shipping.

It will help to start learning some of the chemistry since hydroponics involves chemistry. It will help you develop your skills in growing plants as well as make you a more knowledgeable consumer.

The Calcium FAQ was deleted due to no feedback & it involved too many insoluble substitutions. Greenhouse grade of calcium nitrate is available online, & is not that expensive.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 12:16AM
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Assuming 1 drop is about 0.1 ml (it varies with temperature, liquid density, and diameter of the orifice the liquid is moving through). 1 drop/sec is therefore 0.095 gal/hr. A bit low for a drip rate. 1 cc/sec BACI mentioned as a guide is 0.95 gal/hr and is a more practical rate of flow for drip systems.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 2:38AM
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Thanks, Hank, for your correction. I was looking at drop sizes last night, & the 1cc/mn was more of a typo than a statement. If it is OK, I will add your contribution to the FAQ, as I think it is clearer than mine.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 9:31AM
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sunfrog(z8 Az)

I found a hydro place here in Tucson and I'm going there when they open in an hour and a half. I browsed their website and I think I'll go with a three part blend of FloraGro,FloraBloom,FloraMicro. What do you guys think? It can't be too hard; there's only three things to mix.

Here's more questions. How important is EC? All the electric current meters they have are expensive.

So are the PH testers but I found a $5 manual PH test kit. Are they any good or just a waste of money?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 11:35AM
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I've been growing chiles in hydro for a long time and I use commercial 3-part mixes because I don't want to spend hours mixing chemicals that mix poorly.

General Hydro nutrients are all I use after much experimenting with other mixes. BC hydro also makes a good product.

Get an EC and Ph meter now and keep a daily log of garden parameters as you will be able to spot garden problems quickly from your own data. If you don't measure EC and Ph, you will have no idea how to optimize nutrients.

There are many who have given up hydro because their plants have problems and they can't figure out why....they didn't measure and control EC and Ph.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 11:52AM
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You can also ask the opinions of home hydro growers  people who are not associated with sales - which meters they found useful.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 8:16AM
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