Hello again everyone, and welcome back to another Fifth Season Blog on hydroponics. Last hydro blog, we kicked off with an introduction to growing hydroponically and talked about water quality and pH manipulation. Today we are going to talk about feeding, pH meters and calibration, and nutrient amalgamation. So again, let’s keep an open mind, maybe take some notes, and hopefully this will be a good tool to reference.
As we said in the previous blog, to start, we need clean water. Using off-gassed tap water, reverse osmosis water, or distilled water works fine, and now we can move forward with mixing our nutrients. We shouldn’t just go and throw everything into our reservoir all in at once one right after the other. Nor should we directly mix nutrient solutions in a single vessel then once all mixed throw it into water. There is a specific order in which nutrients should be mixed together for the best effect. This is called Nutrient Amalgamation.
Let’s go with a basic three part formula and use Fox Farm’s Cultivation Nation: Micro, Grow, and Bloom. Then we will use Botanicare Cal-Mag Plus, Dyna-Gro Pro-TeKt silicon solution, BIOAG Ful-Power humic acid, Technaflora Sugar Daddy, and Mammoth P microbes. So here is the pro tip trick to mixing this all up: it’s in the order you add nutrients one at a time, and also that you fully mix/dilute each solution before you add the next.
First off is our silica; shake well and add desired amount to the water and look to make sure it isn’t cloudy in the water. If it is, that’s silica crystallizing. That means shake it better next time. Problem is if it is in your water already it won’t break up so easily. Don’t worry. What we will do from here is just add a couple drops of PH DOWN to dissolve it and mix thoroughly.
Once your silica is completely mixed, measure out your Cal-Mag, add, and then mix thoroughly. Measure out your Micro, add, and mix thoroughly. Measure out the Grow, add, then mix thoroughly. Measure the Bloom, add, and mix thoroughly. Measure Humic Acid, add, and mix thoroughly. Measure out Sugar Daddy, add, and mix thoroughly. Now stop and pH your water. After you PH to desired level then add Microbes and mix thoroughly. DO NOT pH after adding microbes! Only before. The acids will kill off the microbes and you will have wasted that dose. Now go add this mixture into your Hydroponic application.
Right before our last step in mixing up nutrients I had said to pH the solution before the microbes. Now pH varies from Veg(18/6) to Bloom(12/12). In Veg(18/6) you want to Maintain a PH of 5.8 and you can let that climb to 6.0 the week before you flip photoperiods. Once you switch to Bloom(12/12) you can start at 6.0 PH and work your way up to 6.2 PH over the next 2-3 weeks. Or you can just keep 5.8 PH and switch right to 6.2 PH once you switch photoperiods, though I do not recommend that. Gradual change is much less stress on the plants in your system.
The key linchpin in this whole process now is maintaining the pH when you mix up your nutrients. But how do we check and make sure our measuring tools are correct? The best way it was ever put to me is that your pH probe is a piece of laboratory-grade equipment so treat it like one. Let’s say we are using a Bluelab pH Pen to take our pH readings. To properly maintain and calibrate our pen we will need three things; pH 7.0 Calibration solution, pH 4.0 Calibration Solution, and KCI Probe Storage solution. Every pH meter comes with instructions on how to control their products’ settings, but almost all meters will have you use a 4.0 solution to calibrate your minimum average value. Then use the 7.0 to calibrate the maximum average value.
After testing your settings, store the settings, and you are ready to rock and roll. Always remember to wash off the probe before and after any and all readings, calibration, or storage. Last but not least, never let your probe dry out EVER! That is what the storage solution is for. So do yourself a favor and don’t forget to put a couple drops in the storage cap before inserting the probe.
Well I hope you found this blog informative and useful. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to call or come by the shop. We offer all the growing needs discussed in this blog. I am James at our Raleigh store, and it’s been a pleasure talking Hydroponics with you. Good luck and plan before you plant, cheers!