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Looking For a Layman's Nutrient Recipe

Posted by boingo (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 17, 06 at 14:22

This is my first post. Please be kind.

I have been curious about hydroponics since I first heard about it as a kid back in the late '70s. Over the last few days, I have been seriously considering giving it a try. All the different methods I have read about seem easy enough. I am more than confident that I can make a simple window box sized experiment without much effort. The only problem I have is with finding a nutrient solution recipe I can use.

Apparently, some time in the distant past, a god like entity known as Hoagland created a nutrient recipe of sorts. That's all fine and good, but the "recipe" consists of a list of pure chemicals with the amounts listed in parts per million.

Unfortunately, most stores do not sell packages of pure chemicals, and, sadly, the local Joe's Discount Bulk Chemicals store here in town recently closed. As a result, Hoagland's recipe is pretty much useless to me.

What I need, therefore, is a simple recipe using components I can get off the shelf at any local store (Wallmart, Home Depot, Canadian Tire, etc.,) that is in a format I can use, like the psuedo recipe below.

i.e. (Not a real recipe)
2 tbsp Brand X 15-30-10 grannular fertilizer
2 tsp bloodmeal
1 tsp borax
1 egg
Salt and Pepper to taste
et cetera

Does anyone know of such a recipe?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Looking For a Layman's Nutrient Recipe

Hello boingo.

If this is your first attempt at Hydroponics why not just keep it simple.

I have been using NSR Greenleaves 1 part for growth and 1 part for blooming. The reason I decided to use this product is because I had to many problems keeping up with adjusting the pH on a daily basis. This product is pH adjusted to 6.-6.5 depending on you particular water. I always pH adjust my water before adding this to the reservoir. After weeks of pH testing I found that adjusting on a daily basis was not needed. In fact I did not have to adjust the pH at all for the 2 weeks between complete reservoir changes.

If you want to keep it simple for starters this is what I would suggest.

Then when you have your feet wet and a little more confidence find a nutrient recipe you can work with. Most 3 part nutrient mixes come with directions and suggestions.

Just a suggestion I hope this helps.


Here is a link that might be useful: NSR Greenleaves

RE: Looking For a Layman's Nutrient Recipe

To just get started and keep it cheap, you can try 1 tsp Miracle gro for tomatos, 1/2 tsp calcium nitrate and 1/4 tsp magnesium sulfate (epsom salts) for each gallon of nutrient solution. It works ok but lacks the proper nitrogen. Calcium nitrate is cheap, I gave $11 for a fifty pound bag. Just call around and find who sells it like that. Epson salts just get at dollar store or x-mart. Hydro Ron at sells a good fertilizer but you still need to add the calcium to it. You can get by without the calcium for the intitial growth stage but I wouldn't wait to long to start using it. good luck, Randy

RE: Looking For a Layman's Nutrient Recipe

By chance, I happened to get lucky.

I came upon a pack of Vigoro fertilizer at Home Depot. The fertilizer was not for hydroponics, but it was a Canadian company from here in Ontario, and it had a web address printed on the label, so I figured I would check it out. From the site, I was able to send an email asking if they had anything for hydroponics.

It turned out that I was in luck. A Vigoro rep contacted my the very next day and informed me that they do indeed make a water soluable fertilizer for hydroponics, and that they had sent a shipment of it to a local RONA building centre "in the last six months". Six months is a long time, but I was relieved to discover that RONA still had some in stock.

So now the great experiment begins. I just stuck some spinach seeds into some soggy ground up newspaper, and am waiting for them to germinate, probably in about a week. I've decided to start as simply as I can, so I will be using a 10" x 15" Rubermaid container with 5 litres of nutrient water in the bottom (about 2" deep). I will place rigid styrofoam on top with holes cut in it about 3" apart on centre. The seedlings will be placed in plastic cups with some fish gravel for support, and an aquarium air pump with two air stones attached will provide aeration for the water. Since I do not have any testing equipment, and can't do anything to adjust the chemistry of the water anyway, I have decided simply to throw out the nutrient water and replace it with fresh water about once every 10 days.

I am hoping this little experiment works out. If it does, I may try a larger version of the same set up.

Spinach in winter. :-) I'll keep my fingers crossed.

RE: Looking For a Layman's Nutrient Recipe

Any suggestions on bigger name stores where I can pick up some Calcium nitrate?

RE: Looking For a Layman's Nutrient Recipe


Hydro-Gardens has calcium nitrate. I have also gotten it in one-pound quantities from Everybody's Garden Center.


RE: Looking For a Layman's Nutrient Recipe

If you're just fooling around with this, buy some granular plant food at the nursery and have a blast.

If you're a serious grower, you'll first have to research whatever you're growing. Plants sometimes change the pH (acidity / alkalinity) of the water they're in and the pH must be maintained within a specific range to grow successfully.

I grow tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions and lettuce. I have developed my own "proprietary" nutrient solution which self-buffers. That means, the pH doesn't stray very far from where I want it, which is 6.2 or 6.3.

Figuring out how to build your own can be a pretty daunting task, so I'll cut to the chase: try using compost tea.

Mess around with it and sooner or later you'll figure out what works best for what you grow. The self-buffering trick depends more on technique than chemistry, by the way!

God bless.


RE: Looking For a Layman's Nutrient Recipe

I'd have to agree with freemangreens here. If you're just playing around with hydroponics it's probably worth it to shell out for some pre-made stuff. I've been using Advanced Nutrients 3-part nutrients (called Grow, Micro, and Bloom) and it works great. It's pricier than the cheap water-soluable stuff you get at the garden store but its designed for hydroponics and it couldn't be easier to grow with. I haven't opened a bottle of pH up or down in weeks.

If you're taking things seriously, like large scale, then you need to establish business accounts with the companies that supply these salts to the places the rest of us can buy them from.

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