Should I Buy or Make My Own Hydroponic Nutrients?
Many of you have delved into the world of hydroponics and love the way that your plants proliferate, which is great. However, something may keep nagging at you, and that something involves the nutrient mix that feeds your crops. You may be thinking can you make it more natural? Can you make it better than what you find in gardening stores or online?
Those of you who have already raised several seasons of crops through a hydroponic gardening system will know that regularly fertilizing your hydroponic garden with nutrients is essential to its success along with sufficient water and light. When one of those elements is missing or insufficient, plants will not thrive and can, in fact, quickly die.
Creating DIY hydroponic nutrients is especially useful if you have decided that you want to grow a crop that has special nutrient needs. Instead of buying store-bought nutrients for that portion of your system, you could make an entirely custom mix of nutrients that could give you better yields. So your choice is basically should you buy a ready-made nutrient or make it yourself. If you are true “Do it Yourselfer”, you will be willing to do the research and create your own nutrients.
More than Just a Nutrient Soup
First off, you should begin with an analysis of your water, which will tell you a lot about the nutrients inherent in your supply. Cornell University notes that you should pay particular attention to your water’s alkalinity, electrical conductivity and its concentration-specific elements. If any of these elements are too high or too low, these factors can affect how well the nutrients you add to the water will be delivered to your crops. Adding nutrients into your hydroponic system is vital because you have no soil. Just as important is the accuracy of the nutrients delivered because every stage of growth has specific nutrient needs that you need to deliver. Every plant needs nutrients in a different amount, which is a great reason to create your custom solution.
How Difficult is Making My Own Hydroponic Nutrient Solution?
Let’s get beyond the fact that you can make your solution as you’ll want to know how difficult it is to make your mix. Once you know your water characteristics, it’s simply a matter of assembling the required materials and mixing them. You’ll typically need the following materials:
- Bucket or another large container
- Large measuring cup
- pH test and adjustment kit
- Water-soluble fertilizer with appropriate micro- and macro-nutrients
- Epsom salts
- Large stick or spoon for mixing
Tell Me Which Hydroponic Nutrients Mix is Best
Which hydroponic fertilizer mix is best for our operation depends on what type of plants you grow. But no matter what type of crop you grow, your plants will need to have certain essential nutrients. Many local water supplies contain significant amounts of calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, which will affect your custom mix. According to Full Bloom Hydroponics, calculating the correct mix is essential to pH levels.
The exact mix you create will depend on what type of plants you want to grow. Jean Smith at Hydroponics Equipment Co. indicates that leafy trees thrive on minerals while flowering plants like roses and likes grow best with a nutrient mediums rich in potash. However, all mixes will include some levels of the following:
- Micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese
Should I Use PVC Pipes?
PVC pipes are better than metal pipes, which eventually rust and leech metal into your crops. If you have a PVC setup, Epic Gardening recommends that you try to use pipe that doesn’t incorporate phthalates as a plasticizer in its construction to make the plastic more durable and flexible. Phthalates will also be present in your hydroponic fertilizer, which will eventually make its way into your body.
How to Mix the Hydroponic Nutrients Brew
Like anything else, you may want to keep your first few mixtures of DIY hydroponic nutrients relatively simple. Get the hang of it first before branching out into custom mixes. Purdue University recommends one-part, all purposes mixes where growers can determine the concentration they want. Once you’re comfortable, you can proceed to two-, three- and many-part mixes to customize the brew.
Mixing is actually relatively simple as it’s measuring that’s the crucial step. This video from Bright Agrotech explains more about the nutrient process and how to go about mixing meals for your plants.
Time to Make Your Hydroponics Even Better
Why not get additional satisfaction out of your hobby? You’ve learned that mixing your plants’ nutrients is easier than you think. Fertilizing your hydroponic garden with a custom nutrient solution is an excellent way to get the most out of your setup. If you thought that your crops grew fantastically well before, just wait until you see what you can accomplish with DIY hydroponics nutrients. In the words of a famous fast food outlet, supersize it!. Unlike fast-food, though, you’ll have fresh food that will be much more nutritious and healthier for your diet. What could be better than fresh fruits and vegetables?