Interested in Hydroponics? If you said yes then this blog is for you. Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start): in any gardening application water is one of the most important things to consider. When talking about Hydroponics it’s even more important! Being educated and getting your water dialed in right will only improve your success rate, so let’s dive into this and see what are the most important things to cover when looking at water in hydroponic applications.
Now you might be thinking, water is just water. Well, it is, and it isn’t. To try to fill in any gaps in knowledge folks may have, we are going to be as broad about this topic as possible to cover as many methods of watering as we can. First off we have five main water types: Rain, Tap, Well, Reverse Osmosis, and Distilled. For all the types of water we have several different ways to filter and then store water for later use.
Rain water is free and abundant and fantastic for plants — as long as you have a way to collect and store it. The easiest way to do this is with a rain barrel. It is a fairly simple procedure to connect a diverter to a downspout on your house and start harvesting rainwater from your roof each time it rains. Our rain barrels come with screens in the top to filter out debris and a spigot at the bottom that you can attach a hose to for watering your plants. They are made in the USA from recycled plastic to boot!
Tap water seems like one of the easiest and most readily-available ways to get the water we need. Easy to get yes. Easy to use, not so much. Same goes for well water. Both tap and well water already have minerals and sometimes chemicals in them. So even if you take the EC, PPM, or TDS reading, it doesn’t do all that much for you. Yes it is good to know that number, but you have no idea what that number is representing because you did not put in the minerals or chemicals that gave you that reading. Unlike if we had clean filtered water with nothing in it then added nutrients, we would know the nutrients used and then take a reading of those nutrients we added in water. You do not have the same knowledge of knowing what was used when it comes from a tap or well.
So here are some things we can do to make the water from those sources good for hydroponic use. We offer Inline Garden Hose Filters you can attach to the tap or bib and use one of our many garden hoses we offer to fill a bucket, barrel, or reservoir to store your newly filtered water. Now once it’s in the storage vessel after running through the filter let it sit there without a lid (or open the lid) so as to let the water offgas for at least 24 hours any chemicals that could be trapped in the liquid. Yes, well water has gases in it that need to be offgased before use. Once you have done all this you can use that water for Hydroponics.
Now for the best water types. Distilled is the best. This is water that has been steam heated and returned into condensate (liquid water). This is more or less the same way we get rain water but in a manmade way. The distilling process really cleans the water the best but is not an affordable or practical at home method. So then we go to the next best which is Reverse Osmosis or RO. We offer several different RO systems both instore and online. Most people will only require a smaller RO unit, but depending on your needs we can also get any size RO unit required. We also offer Carbon, Chlorine, and UV filter stages as well, depending on how robust you would like your filtration system to be. I would recommend a sediment filter to a dechlorinator filter that leads into a RO filter followed by a UV sterilization filter. We generally stock most of those filters, but some, like the UV, we would have to special order through our supplier.
In any water application you need to store the water. We have a wide range of buckets, barrels, and reservoirs available, depending on your particular needs. While storing the water, it is good to have the water agitated, either by a submersible pump or air pump with stone, so it does not stagnate. This will also push out or help offgas any trace chemicals.
Another way to keep your water clean is to add a drop or two of H2O2 each day to help kill bacteria or algae from growing in the water vessel.
One last consideration, and one of the most important, is water temperature. Your water should be stored at 65-73 degrees fahrenheit. Keeping it in a cool dry place will help keep it in this range, but we have water chillers that will really help out in keeping your temperature in check. Having cooler water helps simulate the groundwater that plants will access during the course of their lives, which is cooler since it’s coming from deeper, cooler ground. We have other fittings, hoses, temperature monitoring, and float valves to help set up all your storage needs.
I hope this little primer on water helps and improves your Hydroponic journey! All products discussed can be found at Fifth Season stores or online. If you have any questions about setting any of these systems or pieces of equipment up, we have many well-trained staff members at all of our locations who are happy to work with you. And if we don’t know the answer, we have a lot of resources that we can consult to get you the answer you desire and help maximize your grow. Hope you all learned something useful! Until next time; Plan before you plant!