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Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Posted by fuzzymoto (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 14, 10 at 10:13

I'm taking my first run at some DWC tomotoes this upcoming season. It's completely an experiment for now, but I'm trying to figure out what sort of nutrient solution I can use that will be safe for our cats.

We currently use a combination of fish emulsion, kelp & worm casting tea on our other plants but I'm not sure if these will be sufficient in a DWC system or not.

Any other sugestions on nutrient solution options that are pet-safe and any suggestions for a mix (5-gal DWC w/roma tomatoes)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Why does it need to be pet safe? you nutrient solution should be completely enclosed to limit its exposure to light so there is no way for pets to get at it.
If you're growing tomatoes in DWC in 5 gallon buckets, you only need a two inch net pot in the lid of the buckets with a minimal amount of medium. all the roots will grow down into the bucket and tomatoes are big enough you'll need additional support anyway.


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Thanks Grizz. I'm still mapping out the support, but based on our grow bag experience, they'll need suport in a big way...probably suspended from the ceiling.

Our cats have full-access to our greenhouse, and although the DWC will be sealed, it does have a depth gauge/overflow and a drain...so I'd never risk the kitties drinking a nutrient solution that overflowed or drained on the floor. Everything we use in the greenhouse is pet safe so the nutrient solution we use has to be pet safe.


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

I'm pretty sure most nutrients are not considered toxic in small doses. so unless they're going to be left with only that to drink for an extended period, it shouldn't be a problem.
In my experience the only time I ever had an "accident" was with an experimental setup and a VERY leggy pepperplant that tumbled one day.
Here is a link to the bucket system I used for several seasons and never had a problems with dripping or spills.
Also, in my experience with cats, if you only feed them wet cat food, they don't drink any water. We quit putting it down for them because they didn't drink it. (plus it helps prevent obesity and diabetes)
I hope you find what you're looking for.


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Thanks Grizz....I'll check it out. I have much to learn. I still do want to find a pet-safe nutrient solution. I'm not willing to risk the kitties on a "shouldn't be a problem" They tend to get into anything you don't want them to.


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Yeah, each cat is his own entity. Mine never show any interest in my systems. even the raft I'm running now doesn't peak their curiosity. I'm sure yours are hoodlums.
Let us know what you find out about it.


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Cats and kittens know good from bad! Trust me - I have four cats in my house, five that have a found hole, probably made by a groundhog, under the foundation and have made their way into my bedroom and another couple that live outside. They smell everything and unless it meets their demanding standards (and cats have very high standards!) they will turn their nose up and walk away. I am always more concerned about them eating my plants than drinking any nuits. Yes, they seem to love toms, peppers and spider plants. Plus a tangerine tree!

Mike


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Well, Mike, you have the oddest cats in the world then. Cats are stupid and people confuse this with curiosity. With curiosity you are looking for knowledge and generally apply it. Cats do the same stupid stuff over and over, though no matter what they should have learned the first time. I have 2 of them myself, but I'm basing this more on how many cats end up in the vet over eating stuff they aren't supposed to (FYI, it can cost $1500 to have a scrunchy removed from a cat's intestines). One sure way to kill a cat: Put out antifreeze in a bowl. They are attracted to it. I'm not suggesting it and I find it deplorable, but it is evidence that cats will consume stuff they shouldn't.

Fuzzymoto: First thing I suggest is that if you are concerned about your cats lapping nutes, then stop using all the stuff you are using. You are making a breeding ground for lots of bacteria as the stuff decomposes and if you don't properly oxygenate the water you will get some really nasty stuff growing. Sounds like a great way to have cats exploding from the rear all over. Go the chem route for a safer solution and do what you can to limit exposure. Like Grizz pointed out, as long as you don't let them drink it regularly and in large amounts they will likely be just fine.


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Actually from a hydroponics standpoint we're not using anything yet. We've had mixed results with fish emulsion and just started the worm casting tea testing.

I don't plan to use any chemical route unless someone can point out a pet-safe chemical. Limiting is the same as cat-herding and I know that doesn't work. I can line up 10-plants...exactly duplicate in every way except I care about one of them. Guess which one the kitty eats?

There's only so much I'd be able to do to limit kitty exposure to the solution and NOTHING I can do to limit them from eating the leaves of the plant in the solution.

I won't risk it.

Is anyone out there using anything pet safe?


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

We've had very good experience with the Dr Earth dry fertilizers and all are listed as people and pet safe. I'm checking on their liquid fertilizer.

http://www.drearth.com/products/liquid/


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Compost teas won't get you the growth you're after. I assume a worm casting tea will have the same effect.
I don't herd my cats and, as I said, they show no interest in the nutrient water. but again there's the issue of wet vs dry food. I assume you're feeding dry since they drink water. (shame on you!!, but thats for another time)Unless you leave them with no other choice but to drink nutrient water, they won't be adversely affected by drinking it for a day. If they're exposed to it longer than that, it becomes a responsibility issue. (I realize spills happen, but you clean it up)
The reason they would eat the one plant you like best is because you've left more of your scent on it. It's how cats work.
The issue with them eating the leaves is obtuse as that's exactly what you'll be doing when the plant is grown to fruition. we don't vacuum out the nutrients prior to eating what we grow.
If you find a brand that claims to be pet-safe, please compare it to others that don't make that claim. I am sure if you request the MSDS sheets from the manufacturer, you'll find they are all considered safe for humans. pets are smaller so they can only handle smaller doses.
Ask the manufacturer at what point their nutrient solution (when properly diluted) fails an LD50 test. LD50 is a measure of how much of a compound has to be consumed before that is 50% mortality of the lab rats they're tested at. If the failure amount in anything in the range of 1/2 gallon or greater, well your cats will not drink that much in even two days, so they'll never reach that point.
Good luck in your search. Maybe drearth will be the end of it.


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Hello Everyone,
Years back I had two indoor/outdoor cats die of antifreeze poisoning from a puddle in my neighbor's driveway. They had been on dry food and it was freezing out so there was no water in liquid form to be found. I didn't know they were attracted to it. They normally wouldn't drink fresh tap water unless it had rested a few hours for the chlorine to cook off. So I understand exactly what your saying. Dry food combined with puddles of possibly toxic liquids could present a problem particularly when non toxic water is not available. However, I would think It would take a fairly high concentration to be detrimental. But I don't think it would be wise to assume that a nutrient labeled as natural or organic is safe to feed your pet. I'm sure that bat guano, poultry manure, etc. is capable of culturing bacteria capable of killing something under the right conditions, be it a pet cat, dog, tarantula, hamster or whatever. But I just don't understand how the critter would get into the reservoir or how the nutrient solution would get out in the first place. It seems to me that most systems could be pet proofed with simple solutions such as bricks on top of lids and buckets bungee corded together etc. Keeping wild animals from devouring my outdoor soil garden seems to be a far more challenging task.
Ken


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Couple of points: Organic is not a synonym for safe. Neither is natural. Just wallow in poison ivy for evidence or dance with a rattler. So, don't assume that "chemical" is bad or unsafe. ALL of them are chemical, but I was specifically referring to the refined ones which are more likely to be safe than something you have no idea of what is growing in it. Use what you want, of course. When you make solutions with pure chemicals you know exactly what is in it. When you use materials that quickly break down (all of your list fall in that category) and encourage growth of some bad stuff you are taking a much greater risk of problems with plants and potentially breeding something harmful to your animals . . . and you. One thing organic farmers know better than anyone is that organic farming carries a lot more immediate risk than chemical. I'm not saying organics is bad. I practice organics in the ground. I'm just not going to ignore simple science and assume that chemical is somehow less safe. You won't get farmer's lung from chemical fertilizer. But you can get it from composting if you don't use proper precautions. I wear a mask since my uncle died of it. Got a double lung transplant, but the fungus was in his blood and he had a recurrence that killed him. So, it seems you have the misconception that chemicals are somehow less safe despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. They also aren't any harder on the environment than the natural ones when you are doing hydro.

Another point: You mention the cats eating the leaves. Understandable, but I don't know why this is an issue unless you are referring to foliar feeding. If that is the case and you have used any of the stuff you listed, then you put your cats at a lot more risk than using most chemicals. Most chemicals aren't going to encourage the growth of bacteria and fungus. One reason that vermi tea is claimed to work as an antifungal/antibacterial (despite studies proving otherwise) is BECAUSE it encourages growth of competing biota. It's not just the biota that thrive that cause the problem for humans and other animals. For example, you could spray tea on your leaves and inadvertently be spraying a naturally occurring bacteria that excretes toxins that linger longer than the bacteria. Surely you have heard of staph infections. Do you realize that staph thrives in dirt? If you use dirt in your tea (some people do because one of the more prominent books out there recommends it for the local biota) then you are surely getting staph in there. Staph excretes toxins that cause food poisoning in humans and other animals. It doesn't require animal product at all. If you use animal product in your organics, like ruminant manure, you are really increasing your risk. Again, just because it's natural/organic doesn't mean it's automatically safe.

Yet another point: If something is listed as safe in the bottle, that is the extent of it. Once applied (and only if applied according to their recommendations), the manufacturer makes no claim whatsoever of the safety. My vermi tea that is made in a controlled environment and tested can be perfectly safe, but once opened to the air it can easily become contaminated with something that can start growing right away. Don't assume that because it is safe in the bottle it remains that way. It isn't the nutrient that will make you sick. It's the stuff you grew with it in a perfect environment, which makes the safety claim still valid. . . even if it kills you.

I'm very concerned about environmentalism and animal safety. My family is vegetarian because of our love of animals, we practice vermicomposting and trad composting, we use organic methods in the ground, etc. We don't feed out kids much processed stuff at all. So, I am only saying this stuff to you because I understand your concerns, considered them myself, and researched them heavily.

One last thing in this super novel. I'm not trying to discourage your use of what you are using. In fact, I encourage it. I'd like to use more natural substances, too. As I said, I already do in the ground. I just recognize it comes with greater risk which requires greater precaution and hope you will, too.


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Very well said Joe,
I just came from the Dr.earth site. That boxed stuff looks very much like the OMRI stuff my mom used around her flower beds. Pennington brand maybe? My neighbor's dog kept cultivating her Irises untill I got rid of the bone meal.
No "Pet Safe" hydroponic solutions there. Just an OMRI listed 3-3-3 foliar spray.
Don't be Sham-Wowed!
Ken


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Thanks everyone. Interesting info to ponder for sure. I'm not sure when this became the kitty-forum but just for the record our kitties have several fountains to drink fresh water from, they do get wet & dry food every day, we do grow oat and wheat grass just for them and based on our experience taking care of 40+ kitties at the farm, we're very careful how we treat them. With that said we also know they love the greenhouse so we'd never lock them out. They are supervised in the GH, but even that's not 100%. As far as how they would get into the solution or if they can have a problem from eating the leaves, let's just say I'm an absolute-type of personality Whether by overflow, spill or any other method. I absolutely don't want to risk something going wrong that would affect them.

Hopefully now we can concentrate more on the solution and less on the kitties and how they may or may not access it.

I think it's important to distinguish our goal here or at least clarify it. Anything can make anything or anyone sick....I realize this I'm not necessarily worried about an occasional exposure that may cause temporary-tummy-trouble. I AM however worried about the various chemical-based fertilizers that are known to cause immediate and permanent kidney damage in animals.

With that in mind, and knowing that the definition of "chemical" can be very subjective, what I am doing is trying to identify a solution chemical OR organic (for lack of a better definition) that will be safe to use AND will provide what a tomatoe plant would need.

I can tell you I've sprayed fish emulsion & kelp for multiple seasons in the greenhouse with mixed results on plants and NO adverse affects on the kitties. I've also used the Dr. Earth dry (vegetables & fruit) with good results so far...but again this is all experimental. The worm casting tea is a recent addition, so the jury is still out on that...AND I did hear back from Dr. Earth on their liquid and the answer was essentially that while anything can make an animal sick, their liquid fertilizer will not do anything beyond that...and yes I've reviewed the MSDS from their site.

With all of this said I'd love to hear what chemical OR organic solution components you're using. Joe I'd really love to hear the refined checmical solution mix you're using. I'm not ruling anything out so I'd love to see and compare some solutions for vegetables that are in use out there. Anyone??


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

I use Tomato-tone. OMRI certified, everything a tomato plant needs. I did write to the company and they told me it would not be great for a hydro grow because part of the Nitrate is not water soluble. Good news - tomatoes don't need much nitrate.

Allow me to add this - taking precautions is great; being obsessive is a problem. If you have good lids on your buckets or tubs, they are not going to leak, at least not enough to make a drink for the kitties. Plus, and while I don't have as many kittens as you do, I still average 5-6 almost the year round (they eventually grow into cats!) I have never had one die from eating leaves. Yes, I came close to killing Sabrina because of her munching, but I love her because she jumps on my desk and uses her paw to grab my shoulder so I can say hi to her.

Seriously, worry more about what you and your family will eat and less about the felines!

Mike


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Fuzzymoto,
There are many quality commercial hydroponic nutrients available both in dry water soluble and liquid concentrate form, and in organic or non-organic composition.
Dry solubles are more economical than liquid concentrates but require a bit more precision to prepare properly.
Organic nutrients are considered fertile and produce bacteria/fungi-both beneficial and otherwise which can be an on going battle to keep Ph in proper range and control algae.
Non-organic nutrients are considered sterile and are generally much more Ph stable when properly maintained.
I mostly use General Hydroponics and Plant Marvel Laboratories soluble products and Technaflora liquid supplements. But there are many others.
Good Luck,
Ken


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Thanks Mike & Ken. I'll check them out. This is an experiment for sure.


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Wow. I'm dizzy from reading all of the different choices in solutions out there. I can see why people just stick to dirt. I think I may try Tomato-tone or PLant-tone...at least as a starting point. Very confusing for sure.


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

a lot of people who grow in dirt use fertilizers. there's just a very limited availablity at the local hardware store. go to a southern states and you'll find just as many choices is soil fertilizer as you do in hydro.
dirt farming has just been more prevelant a lot longer so people don't tend to think too much on it. plus, with dirt, it's a lot more forgiving to the plant. (maybe less so to the environment)


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

I'm committed to my hydro experiment...but I don't want it to become a nightmare of mixing and ph testing. Hopefully I can find a good (i.e. easy) solution to maintain.


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Oh come on now,
It's like Learning how to make lemonade, Serious Soil Growers test there soil for Ph, Nitrogen, Phosphorus & potassium annually. They sometimes even take the time to figure out how many Lbs. Per acre they need to raise a specific Nutrient Level and how often they need to do it to raise it a specific amount. Then they rotate their crops and start all over again.
My dad always said "It may not be easy, but it will be worth it." & "It's always too soon to quit." Besides, after You have graduated lemonade, the fun Begins - baking a cake.
~Ken~


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

Thanks Ken. We MOSTLY do bonsai and we're just graduating to a greenhouse and vegetables for fun. I'll figure it out...just very daunting right out of the gate.


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RE: Pet-Safe Nutrient Solution

For now I have decided to start with Tomato-tone.

Mike any suggestions on how much Tomato-tone to mix per gallon of water??


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