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Hydroponic Gardening - Nutrient Solutions
There are fertilizers and there are Hydroponic nutrients and as such these are totally different products. Fertilizers were made to be used in the ground soil where the natural physiology of plants is to send out many roots searching for all the nutrients and macro nutrients that they need to survive, grow, flower and fruit. There are much less mineral ingredients in fertilizer and the plants in the ground soil are left to search out what is missing from the fertilizer, which, in a good garden soil, they will eventually and hopefully find at least part of these things. At least this is what every soil gardener is wishing will happen.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many plants grown in soil never reach their maximum growth or production capabilities because of what they are lacking in certain nutrients because of poor soil conditions. This combined with a shortage of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the soil just adds to the detrimental effect on the plants. This is not the case in Hydroponic gardening.
Read on to see why Hydroponic gardening and Hydroponic nutrient ingredients make them so different from fertilizers.
Hydroponic nutrients are the life blood of any Hydroponic system. If you look at the product label for any regular fertilizer you will see a list of ingredients by the percentage of each ingredient in each container. The N-P-K is always listed first. This is the Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potassium in the fertilizers which are the Macro elements. Read a little further and you will see the Minor elements, which if you are lucky are only about six. Some have even less. Let's use a box of Miracle-Gro 24-8-16 as an example. This is a very popular fertilizer and is sold in most garden centres almost everywhere. The Analysis says it has 24% nitrogen, 8% phosphate and 16% soluble potash as the Macro elements of this fertilizer. The Minor elements are listed as 0.02% boron, 0.07% copper, 0.15% iron, 0.05% manganese, 0.0005% molybdenum and 0.06% zinc.
This gives a total of only 6 Minor elements in this fertilizer and the plants must search out and find everything else that is missing here that they need to grow, flower and fruit. Almost every fertilizer on the market is blended this way with variations on the amounts of the different elements but almost always with the missing elements that plants really need. They are just not complete. Look at the analysis label below on a bottle of this Dyna-Gro liquid plant nutrients and compare it with regular fertilizer and you will see there is a big difference.
These particular Dyna-Gro Hydroponic nutrients shown here were developed for growing ornamental plants and bonsai.
Hydroponic Nutrients VS Fertilizers
Hydroponic nutrients are quite different from regular fertilizers and here is why. There are sixteen to twenty elements that are generally considered to be essential for good plant growth. The Macro elements required in higher concentrations are Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. Carbon is supplied in the form of Carbon Dioxide. The Micro elements are also very essential for growth, but are required in smaller concentrations. They are Iron, Chlorine, Manganese, Boron, Zinc, Copper, and Molybdenum. Certain plant species may need other elements for good growth such as Silica, Aluminum, Cobalt, Vanadium, and Selenium. Having said that, it is important that all plants, not just in Hydroponic gardening, receive all the elements needed for optimum and proper growth functions including leaf, flower and fruit production.
Most of the nutrients and fertilizers available on the market today are lacking much of the elements that plants need to optimally thrive. Most products have the basic Macro elements of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium but are sorely lacking the Micros. Some may have as many as eight or so total elements- which is only about half way there. A good Hydroponic nutrient solution with secondary elements like calcium and magnesium and the proper amounts of trace elements like cobalt, chlorine, molybdenum, zinc, iron, and manganese will get you through all stages of growth. In Hydroponic gardening, during the different stages of plant life, you are able to adjust the different nutrient levels needed at different times to optimize your growth, flowering and fruiting stages.
Some organic Hydroponic gardeners can even use organic Hydroponic nutrient solutions such as this Earth Juice from OGM in California. This is one of the organic nutrient solutions specifically designed to use in Hydroponic gardening. This is the Bloom formula. They also have a great Grow formula available for the vegetative growth stage of the plants. During the vegetative growth stage most plants need higher amounts of Nitrogen.
There are also many very good Hydroponic dry nutrients on the market designed for many different types of Hydroponic crops. If you will be using Hydroponic dry nutrients go to our Hydroponic PLANT GROWING DATA section to learn more about specific dry Hydroponic nutrient formulas. Other helpful information about specific Hydroponic plant Ph, Hydroponic nutrient strengths and more can be found there also.
There are so many different Hydroponic nutrient solutions out there on the market that it is mind boggling. It seems there is one product for this and another product for that and it can be very confusing.
The main thing to keep in mind when choosing any Hydroponic nutrient product is to read the label and know what it was designed for.
Is it high in phosphorous for blooming? Is it high in nitrogen or low in nitrogen? How about the potassium level in the product? Most importantly does it have all the minor elements in it and at the right levels? Some cheaper formulas may not be so cheap in the long run if they deprive the plants of the needed micro-nutrients. Read the labels and ask questions. A good hydroponic sales person will know if it is the right product for what you are growing. They get lots of feedback from their regular customers on the products also.
Grow the PERFECT Lettuce...
A very good 5 gallon Hydroponic nutrient formula for lettuce is 2 teaspoons of 8-15-36 Hydroponic nutrients with 2 teaspoons of Calcium nitrate and 1 teaspoon of Magnesium sulfate.
.Mix the 8-15-36 in 5 gallons of water. Then mix the Calcium nitrate in a small cup of warm water until dissolved and add this to the 5 gallons of water and stir. Then mix the Magnesium sulfate in the small cup of warm water in the same way until dissolved and add to the 5 gallons of water and stir.
Adjust the Ph to 6.4 for seedling plants and 6.0 for mature plants. Lettuce grows very well in this Hydroponic nutrient formula.
The more you know the better you can grow...