Making the transition from purchasing a pre-made nutrient solution for your hydroponic garden to mixing the nutrients yourself can be a scary decision.
Even the most dedicated hydroponic gardeners sometimes cringe at testing a homemade nutrient solution. But for many do-it-yourself-ers, mixing your nutrients is the next logical step for taking their hobby to a more severe level.
Hydroponic systems utilize a nutrient solution dissolved in a water reservoir to grow and feed plants rather than relying on fertile soil to sustain the garden. Because of this, hydroponic gardens will grow almost any type of plant, indoors or outdoors.
Hydroponic gardeners can grow anywhere from closets under fluorescent lighting to sunny kitchen windowsills from herbs and houseplants to decorative flowers and food crops.
Mixing your nutrient solutions requires an understanding of which nutrients and levels are needed for optimal plant growth and is not advisable for the amateur gardener. It is not an easy task. However, for those with a few successful crop yields already, homemade solutions may be a viable alternative to purchasing expensive pre-made nutrient solutions.
By experimenting with different mixes, experienced gardeners may even be able to improve the health and production of their gardens.
Homemade hydroponic nutrient solutions must contain three primary nutrients necessary for plant growth even to be effective. Potassium is essential for plants to use the energy produced from photosynthesis. Phosphorus helps plants have flowers and fruit. Nitrogen helps plants grow and make leaves.
Ten specific trace elements are also needed for the growth of a hydroponic garden, the amounts of which will depend on the type of plant being grown.
The nutrients optimal to grow parsley, for example, are radically different from the nutrients necessary for a tomato plant. Experimenting with what nutrients and levels are ideal for the types of plants in your garden will only add to the stimulation and fun of hydroponics.
The ten trace elements that must be incorporated into the homemade nutrient solution are boron, iron, chlorine, manganese, manganese, sulfur, copper, zinc, calcium, and molybdenum.
What You Need To Know About Water
Water helps to distribute nutrients and aids in photosynthesis. Before pouring your tap into the hydroponic garden’s water reservoir, however, be sure to test the pH levels of the water.
Chemically softened water is much too alkaline and will kill the plants. However, most water sources are acceptable, and many already contain many of the trace minerals necessary to the plants’ health and growth.