Monday, January 12, 2015

Friday, April 11, 2014

Heat! (I'm Too Hot to Keep My Leaves)

An increase in heat to high levels or a sudden "shock" of a severely hot day can trigger leaf yellowing and drop.  Many times the leaves will drop very quickly with only slight yellowing.

This "yellowing of leaves" is a simple survival reaction by the plant that allows it to conserve moisture.  Wilting and scorching can also present itself as further effects of intense heat.

For indoor grows, this is commonly from placement or growth too near the lights.  This is especially true of High Intensity Discharge (HID) lighti9ng systems which generate significant heat.  A few days of strong growth and the upper leaves may be well into the 130 degree plus range of these bulbs.

For outdoor plants, consider the location in relation to reflective items or areas that store and contain heat such as sunken beds, areas around sheds and buildings, or near reflective surfaces and asphalt.

Solutions for both of these factors usually involves moving the plant or providing shade.  I'll cover some shade recipes and ideas in the future.

Some simple steps for avoiding heat injuries to your plants......

Move the plants away from the culprit (duh!).

Add additional soil to lower the overall plant temperature.

Add shading.

Keep plants at least 8-12 inches below HID bulbs and at least 2-3  inches from LED, and T5 and T8 bulbs.

Move the pants to full or partial shade if the type requires that environment.  No sense in killing a plant that has no business in the sun!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cold Shock (Yellow Leaves)

Were the plants, especially potted plants subjected to a sudden drop of temperature such as being near a window on a cold night or a power outage?  The plant may yellow some lower leaves and drop them to conserve energy for what appears to be a "crisis.

First things first....get the plant to a stable environment with a room temperature within the recommended range of the plant.  Second, re-plant to a larger pot if additional temperature drops are expected in the future.  The additional capacity of soil will help insulate the plant and reduce the amount of shock during the cool-down periods.

Plants generally recover quite easily from unexpected cold shocks. Give it a couple weeks to sprout additional leaves or to halt any yellowing that may remain present.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Plant Age (Yellow Leaves)

Yellowing of older or "bottom" leaves may simply be a sign of age and the natural growth during the plant life cycle.

Check the new growth or "upper" leaves for signs of yellowing along the veins.  If there is no yellowing and the new growth appears healthy, it is very likely you have natural dying of older growth leaves and have nothing to fear. This process is essential for the plant to maintain it's strength as it shifts nutrient uptake to the new growth.

Relax!  But keep an eye on new growth leaves for any signs of discoloration.  Let those bottom leaves drop off and pop them into the compost pile! 

More to come.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Why are my leaves yellow?

Why are my leaves turning yellow?

Some common reasons for leaf yellowing:

1)  Plant age
2)  Cold
3)  Heat
4)  Depleted nutrients
5)  Sudden shock or change of conditions
6)  Injury to plant
7) Lack of oxygen
8) Disease.

I'll take a detailed look at each of these conditions over the coming weeks and add some timely "tips" and "remedies" to keep your babies healthy. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Deep Water Culture and Ebb and Flow

Here is a Deep Water Culture and Ebb and Flow System side by side comparison video.  Both are excellent systems and provide very efficient results.

Which one works best?  See the past blog entries on each systems attributes and weaknesses.

Don't forget to "Like" us on Facebook. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

#4 Why a Deep Water Culture System?

Why Deep Water Culture System? 

Number 4) Easy to clean!!! Cleaning the system is always required after each grow to prevent any type of alage or fungus from taking advantage of your "perfect" environment. The Deep Water Culture System is probably the easiest to clean. 

Simply add a couple gallons of warm-hot water to the empty reservoir, add dish soap, the net pots (empty), and the airline tubing, and clean with a medium brush or dish rag. Once fully rinsed, add another 2 gallons of hot water with a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of bleach and sanitize everything to include the air stone. Rinse thoroughly and let dry. 

Too easy!!!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

# 3 Why A Deep Water Culture System?

Why DWC? Number 3). 


Grow faster, stronger, and healthier plants without soil. My recorded results have shown increased harvest season and faster maturity over even the best prepared soils. These results are documented in the videos and the blog and amaze me to this day. 

 Nutrients and oxygen are delivered at just the right amount to insure the most explosive growth possible. Consider these factors and it is no wonder that a Deep Water Culture System is a model of efficiency in growing plants.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Why Deep Water Culture #2

Why DWC? Number 2). 

 Portable! The system is easy to move as one complete unit allowing maximum use of shade and sun. "Bubbling Bucket" DWC's can be moved easily by one person as long as the plant is supported!

Consider the weight of the nutrient solution if you are designing a "mobile" Deep Water Culture System.

"Bubbler Buckets" weigh in at around 40 pounds for the nutrient solution alone.  At 8 pounds per gallon, consider the need for draining or a two-person lift before finalizing your plans.

Also consider whether the reservoir has the strength to be moved while full or partially full.  No one wants a sloshing reservoir buckling and collapsing during a simple move from room to room or under lights to outdoors.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Deep Water Culture Versus Ebb and Flow

Continuing the "Deep Water Culture vs. Ebb and Flow" topic.....

Why DWC? Number 1). So cheap and easy to build with easily accessible parts!!! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Number 9) Why use an Ebb and FLow System?

Here's the 2nd Ebb and Flow Video showing use, lighting changes and details, and some additional "cycling" and nutrient tips. 

Considering the previous eight "why Ebb and Flow", it is a tough system to beat both economically and for efficiency.  It was by far the most fun to build!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Number 8) Why use an Ebb and Flow System?

BIG plants do not need to be staked and supported when checking and changing nutrients as with a Deep Water Culture system.

Change the nutrients while your babies remain undisturbed!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Number 7) Why use an Ebb and Flow System?

One large reservoir can feed multiple flood tables allowing many expansion opportunities! 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Number 6) Why Use an Ebb and Flow System?

Number 6) The Ebb and Flow System is just plain cool to a gizmo nut! Controlled flooding and draining provides an exceptional growth environment while allowing the plants a versatile and stable growth platform.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

45,000 Page Views!!!!!

Wow!  45,000 page views!

Thank you everyone for your interest in hydroponic growing.  I suspect we now have many, many more "hydro" gardeners growing their own and enjoying a very productive hobby. I am glad to have contributed to this in even the smallest of ways!!

I'll keep the blog up and running as well as the facebook page.  Don't forget to "subscribe" to the Youtube page as well.



Thanks again for the great comments and input.  It is greatly appreciated!


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Number 4 Why Use an Ebb and Flow System?

Number 4) 

Flow cycles can be adjusted to maximize nutrient uptake. Use a journal to quickly determine the most efficient ebb and flow cycle to save even more electricity.

Be as specific as possible when recording your results as this data becomes very valuable in making accurate decisions.  Experiment with feeding cycles in conjunction with light cycles.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Number 3 Why Use an Ebb and Flow System?

The Ebb and Flow system allows changing of nutrients and pH testing without disturbing the plants. A valve on the reservoir tanks makes it even easier!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Number 2 Why Use an Ebb and Flow System?

Number 2)   

The Ebb and Flow system provides a "blast" of oxygenated nutrients to the roots for short periods allowing the media to hold and maintain moisture during the ebb cycles. This gives the roots a larger quantity of fresh air expose and stimulates the plants natural reaction of expanding the root base.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why Use an Ebb and Flow System?

Number 1)  

The Ebb and Flow system allows flexibility in nutrient temperature because of the separate reservoir. By having the ability to shade, mechanically cool (chiller), or even partially bury a nutrient reservoir, efficient temperatures can be maintained in the heat of the summer or the dead of winter. This keeps the roots from excesses and stress.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Deep Water Culture Hydroponics Video

Still the easiest and cheapest way to get growing with hydroponics.  The Deep Water Culture is simple yet effective, and is perfect for beginners and those with little room.

I have had several discussions on DIY kits lately, so here is the "how to" of the Deep Water Culture System.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Why do I use Silica Stone?

Why do I use Silica Stone? 1) Silica stone is completely reusable after a thorough cleansing and it will not clog over time.......

Why do I use Silica Stone? 2)The internal porosity allows the granules to absorb moisture and to slowly release it back to the plant as required. As a result of the uniquely shaped granules, the media achieves an excellent air to water ratio in the pot. This is particularly important to discouraging root rot while encouraging oxygen flow and healthy root formation.

 Why do I use Silica Stone? 3) It does not break down like other media, and can used to successfully cultivate plants from seedling to specimen. Silica stone's composition is predominantly silicon dioxide, which results in the media slowly releasing silica to the plant, which is particularly important to cell growth.

 Why do I use Silica Stone? 4) When lining the bottom of a pot with silica stone, the silica stone acts as a reserve reservoir so plants can get the extra moisture they need in the later stages of growth. They then slowly add micro-nutrients into the root zone for further growth and disease resistance.

 And finally....Why do I use Silica Stone? 5) They do not roll around and under things when accidentally (and inevitably) dropped as does hydroton. Marbles everywhere!!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Additional "Tips" Part 2 (Support)

With the inherent ability of hydroponics to grow large plants in a relatively small container, care must be taken in providing support for the plant as it grows. 

Lettuce and most greens are easy since they tend to grow "bushy" and fill "out" over the container. Tomatoes and other fruiting plants tend to expand vertically in a bigger proportion than horizontally and considerable force is then exerted on the small container base.  Since the roots are "free floating" and provide no real support, the risk of a plant toppling is real and can cause many problems not only to the plant, but to the system itself and other plants in the area.

An easy technique is to find the appropriate size tomato "hoop" as can be found in any box store or garden center.  These work well "upside down" because they provide a solid base on the floor.  Measure first to insure the bottom hoops will fit over the reservoir and onto a solid, flat surface.  Be very careful of the exposed ends since they will now be on top and at eye level.  Bending them inwards and curving downward should alleviate this hazard.  Square hoops work as well, but again, insure the hoop will fit before purchasing.

But since this is about "frugality", a stick trellis is probably the best method for not only cost, but flexibility in size and strength.  Gather three to four 6'-8' sticks or branches of about 1" - 2" diameter.  Lay them out in the sun for a few days to dry and expose any bugs that have hitch-hiked to birds or to the sunlight. This is especially true if you will be using them indoors.  Trim any remaining branches and bark to aid in tying the plants to the supports.


Once dried and ready, simply build a "teepee" around the base of the reservoir or container and fasten the meeting point with twine or wire. Some bracing may be needed around the base to prevent the legs from sliding, but once there is weight from the plant they tend to stay in place quite well.

As the plant grows, use discarded nylons torn into strips as a means to secure the plant to the legs.  Another option is cheap yarn, but the key is to find a material that is flexible and will not cause abrasions to the plant such as would wire, zip-ties, or zero-stretch string.

Use your imagination in suport techniques and allow the plant all the room it needs to grow while preventing the dreaded "tip-over"!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Some helpful hydroponics tips

I thought I would share some things learned over time.  Some the hard way.

*  When adding nutrients after a complete or partial cleaning, use a milk jug to mix the entire batch of nutrients in one gallon of water.  This allows the ability to shake and mix very well without having to stir the entire reservoir which can be quite messy!  Add a couple gallons of fresh water and turn the aerator back on.  Slowly add the one gallon mix to the reservoir.  Fill the remainder of the reservoir with water and slowly stir if needed.  This tip can greatly speed up the process as well as insure the nutrients are much more thoroughly mixed.

*  If using tap water from a treated source, let it stand for 24 hours with the container lid removed.  This will allow chlorine or other sanitizing chemicals to dissipate preventing any reactions with the plants or nutrients.

*  Reuse your media by soaking soak in a bath of 1/4 cup bleach to five gallons of water.  Rinse well with cool water and let dry before bagging.

*  Check your pH at a minimum every other day.  Daily after 1/2 the expected use time.

*  Record each of your actions in a journal for easy reference.  You will be amazed at how often you need to recall a nutrient change, harvest, light change, germination length, or transplanting method. I set up my journal specific to each batch from seed germination through final tear down and cleaning.

More tips to follow.......

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Keeping Out the Light (And Algae)

How do you keep the light of your nutrient solution?

Nutrient solution is ready and willing to grow some incredible algae (and the ugly side effects) with just a little artificial or actual sunlight.  Since algae spores are everywhere, a nice bath of highly oxygenated and nutrient rich liquid is a perfect "swamp" to set up a nice colony.  Once algae gets established, the fight is on and this is a fight that is easily avoided.

Since the solution is below the medium level, it is easy to assume that no light can penetrate, but in reality, it can and will easily penetrate coir, hydroton, silica stone, or any other medium.  All it needs is a few hours to establish, so prevention is the key.  And it is relatively easy.

Simple light-proof coverings are all that is needed.  The nice little black, neoprene covers are great and can be found in any hydro shop or catalog.  They are made to fit any net pot size and have a convenient slot of which the stem is tightly surrounded.   Since it is neoprene and can "stretch", it can grow with your plant.  It is also durable and washable as needed.

Another item is Mylar.  This is the stuff those crazy balloons and emergency blankets are made of and with a little research, can be found cheaply.  Since it can also be used as a more efficient solution to aluminum foil in reflecting lights towards the plants, hydro shops and catalogs sell rolls of it.  It is easy to work with and keeps every one of those valuable photons working to help your plant grow.

I happened to find some closeout emergency blankets or "space blankets" as they are commonly called and ended up with the equivalent of several sheets for just a couple bucks.  It cuts easily and can be easily taped or glued to the surface of a DWC or Ebb and Flow Table.  Just cut some slots for the plant's stem to slide through and you are set.  Not only have you protected your solution from algae's much needed light waves, but you have added additional reflective properties to your grow area.  Use some of the extra Mylar to drape along the sides of the grow area as well.  Every photon counts!

Do a little research and internet searches for these blankets before committing to a roll of the full retail stuff.  It's always nice to save a few extra bucks since this is "Frugal Hydroponics"!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Videos on Youtube

Thanks to everyone for the great responses and questions on Youtube.  The videos were fun to make and by the responses, informative as well.  Frugal Hydroponics "How To" videos.

Some of the requests are in regards to nutrients, pH balancing, root care, and cleaning.  I am intending on producing a couple videos with these topics in the near future, so check back.  I will also post the update on this blog as well.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It has been a while....

It has been a while since I posted as these past couple months have been exhausting on all fronts!  I hope everyone's harvest was a full bounty.

I am now faced with much tighter constraints on space.  Where to set up an indoor grow in a much smaller home?  This will take a bit of thought alongside all the unpacking and reorganizing of an entire household from a 1000 mile move!!

I can see a hoop house in the future.  More to follow......

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Summer close

It has been a very productive summer in the traditional raised beds and containers. With all the changes in our lives and the time those changes demanded, I did not attempt an outdoor hydro system.  I also powered down the indoor lettuce grow as part of the change involved a complete relocation.  So glad to have those changes mostly complete.

I will begin posting very soon with some pieces on preparation, lighting, medium, and some ideas I am pursuing for additional small-space indoor systems.


Monday, July 4, 2011

New batch of Bon Vivant!

Well, it's been a busy spring and now summer is in full gear.  The outside garden is coming along nicely and since the indoor hydro systems are so low-maintenance, it's needless to say the outdoors is getting all the attention.

I did end the Simpson batch as of this morning which gave us a lettuce life of 99 days.  Over 50 of those days were the harvest window with at least 30 - 35 harvests.  I made no system changes and it was on autopilot the last few weeks only getting a cap full of H2O2 every 7-10 days.  The previous nutrient change lasted through the end.

Here is the newest batch of mesclun mix or "Bon Vivant Mix".  This is the same we had last time around and we loved it. I have managed at least 5 separate varieties with 2 being of the red variety.  Nice to add some color.  These are a couple weeks in the system and approaching 30 days since germination.  They are currently on half nutrients with a light cycle of 14 on, 10 off.

I do regret to post that contrary to my earlier plans, I will not be running an outdoor hydro system over the next few months.  With so much going on, I really don't think I could have given it an adequate run with appropriate journaling and maintenance. 

We do have some big changes in the future though...and are excited about the potential for expanded capabilities!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fruits of labor

Great meal.  Simpson Elite salad, t-bone, pickled serrano peppers from last year's garden, baby potatoes and onions, and a cold ale.  Mmmmm mmmmmm mmmmm.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

pH Test and Update Video 29 May 2011

Here is my latest video.  I conduct a simple pH test and talk through the procedures for raising or lowering pH.  I will post a series on pH to the blog over the next couple of weeks and felt that this would be a good intro into how the process works.

I also include "100 days" since that is how old the Mesclun Mix is as of today.  I have another batch in the germination process and if my timing is correct, it will be nearing harvest as I tear down the current mix.

All the videos can be found on Youtube Channel:  Misterhalfwaythere1 at

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Nitrogen and Your Plants...

Here is another highly informative article on plant nutrition from  I am not affiliated with that site, but I find the forums to be very educational and another great platform for sharing information and shortening the learning curve.

Nitrogen and your plants.

Nitrogen isn't really used by a plant in it's raw form that you see when you hold some nitrogen sulfate in your hand. Nitrogen is absorbed by a plant and then used in many ways by the plant.

When adequate nitrogen is present, a plant grows fast and has lots of green foliage. It allows plants to grow to maturity instead of stunting the plant due to deprivation of nitrogen which causes plants to remain small and develop slowly as a result of the lack of nitrogen required for structural and genetic materials and processes.

When nitrogen is in amounts insufficient for the plant's total health, often the older leaves will be seen to become necrotic and die. This is because the plant is moving the nitrogen from the older, less important tissues into the younger, more important parts of the plant.

With nitrogen deprivation, a distinctive purple coloration of the undersides of leaves can been seen also. Root growth is restricted and flower and fruit development is delayed.

Many of the processes that a plant uses to survive and grow are accomplished by the use of chemical compounds. Each of those compounds are made up of various chemicals.

The compound that plants use to convert sunlight to produce plant sugars from water and carbon dioxide, "photosynthesis" is just one of the compounds that require nitrogen to function.

Many of the proteins used within plants are made up of amino acids that rely on nitrogen. The proteins that make up the structural components of a plant use nitrogen. Nitrogen is also a component in plant enzymes that are necessary to create the biochemical reactions on which life itself is based.

Many energy-transfer compounds like adenosine triphosphate, (ATP), allow cells to conserve and use the energy produced during metabolism.

Nucleic acids also rely on nitrogen. DNA, the genetic material that make it possible for plants to grow and reproduce, uses nitrogen in it's processes.

Bluntly put, without nitrogen, life as we know it would cease to exist.

In the soil itself, nitrogen is available in three different forms:

1. Organic Nitrogen Compounds

2. Ammonium ions

3. Nitrate ions

Of all the nitrogen in the soil that has the potential of being used by plants, 95 to 99 percent of that nitrogen is in organic forms of plant or animal residues, organic matter or in living organisms like microbes such as bacteria. Nitrogen in it's organic forms is not directly available to the plants to use.

Almost all of the nitrogen that is available for a plant to use is in the form of Ammonium ions (NH4) and as Nitrate ions (NO3). These two forms of nitrogen are usually referred to as "mineral nitrogen", and are what is used in hydroponic plant growth via a water/nutrient solution.
Direct link to this article is at  Thank you hydroponicunlimited for allowing me the use of content for my blog and as always, thanks for providing quality information.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nutrients Tips

  • Tap water: Tap water can contain chemicals such as chlorine which can adversely affect your plants. If unsure it is best to let your tap water stand for 24 hours prior to adding to your reservoir or use chlorine remover for aquariums. By letting your water stand, you equalize the temperature of the water to that of the room, thereby making the water less likely to shock the plants' root system.
          Note: Chlorine will not kill your plants. Small amounts can actually help them resist mold and mildew  build up at the stock base. However most city's water that contain chlorine also contain bromine that will kill your plants, the best way to get rid of this bromine is to fill a barrel (not your reservoir) with cold water. The next day you will notice that the walls of the barrel will be covered in little bubbles. Tap your barrels sides a few times until all of these bubbles float up to the top. This trick is called perking and is a very effective way to expel bromine.  It is also much cheaper than using aquarium tablets.

  • Keep your nutrient solution temperature between 68 - 78°F.

  • It is a good idea to run 0 strength or 1/4 strength nutrient through the system for a day in between changes, to leach out any fertilizer buildup while you have the opportunity.

  • Make sure the fertilizer you use in a hydroponics system is complete. Match the solution strength to your plants' needs.

  • Use a pH meter or at minimum, a pH Test Kit to measure the pH.  Use pH Up or pH Down type products to insure you maintain optimum levels for nutrition uptake.

  • Always use an aquarium air pump and stone rated for the size of your nutrient reservoir. Oxygenation of the nutrient solution is paramount for nutrient uptake.  The smaller and higher volume bubbles the better.  Avoid large and sporadic bubble flow and discard stones that have become clogged and constricted.  Stones are cheap!
  • Sanitize your reservoir prior to use by pouring boiling water over all areas to be exposed to nutrient solution. This will prevent and pathogens from gaining a foothold and will kill most fungal spores.

  • Add a capful (5ml) hydrogen peroxide to the reservoir once every 7 days as a preventative and to add additional oxygen to the solution.

  • Plants will die from over nutrition or over fertilization very quickly; an undernourished plant will last longer than an over nourished plant.  Let the condition of the plant be your guide and be prepared to flush nutrients if you suspect a harsh over-feeding.  Several websites and forums have sections on identifying both over-nutrition and nutrient deficiency conditions.  Post a picture and you will likely get timely expert advice.

  • By carefully measuring the fertilizer when you mix up the nutrient solution, you can get away without the initial cost of an expensive TDS meter or EC meter as well. The best advice here would be to always top off your nutrient reservoir with 1/2 strength solution whenever it is a little low. Every two weeks, start over with fresh water and nutrients to avoid a nutrient imbalance in your solution.  Again, the use of a journal and paying attention to your plant's condition will allow you effective results in no time.

  • Keep it simple.  Follow the manufacturers instructions.  Check your system often while learning and observing plant behavior.  Ask the experts.  Learn from others.

Portions of above content have been pulled from wiki.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Video on Nutrient Change of DWC

I decided to record the simplicity of a Deep Water Culture Hydroponic system nutrient change.  From up-potting into the DWC, this batch of Simpson Elite has been on half nutrients.  I have found that the 40 day mark is ideal for increasing the nutrients to full strength. 

My results have shown this timeline to allow harvests to continue for another 50-60 days without bolting and without the need for additional nutrients. Since the lettuce is designed for full harvest in soil at 42-46 days, we are getting both earlier harvesting (10 days) and extended harvesting (50 days) with the hydroponic efficiency.  The harvests are "partial" in taking maximum 40% of each plant every 2-3 days.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Plant Nutrition 2

Retail Hydroponic Nutrient Solutions

Hydroponic nutrient solutions are sold in concentrated form and are added to your indoor garden's water supply at a certain ratio. The number of vendors and varieties can be very intimidating to the novice and expert alike. Keep in mind what plants you are growing (greens / flowers / flowering vegetables), the money you wish to spend (including shipping as necessary), and the lifecycle of your plants (growth / flowering etc.),

How Much Nutrient Solution For My Plants?

Plants require different proportions of nutrients during vegetation and flowering cycles. Modern nutrient products are far more advanced than their earlier counterparts and now allow precise adjustments based on growth stage. Most hydroponic nutrient solutions are sold in a "growth" or "grow" formula for the vegetative growth phase and a "bloom" or "flower" formula for the flowering or phase of the growth cycle. If you are growing plants that will produce flowers or "flower and then produce fruit, you should at least plan to incorporate a "bloom" formula because your yield will increase exponentially if you can max out your plant's capacity during the flowering stage.

For my lettuce varieties, cilantro, and basil plants, I only need the "grow" nutrients as these plants do not require flowering or fruiting phases for production. The "grow" nutrient application rates are increased as the plants mature.

A weak hydroponic nutrient solution should be used for newly rooted cuttings and plants in the process of being transplanted or in transition between growing cycles. I use 1/2 strength nutrients for lettuce until the 3rd or 4th week as using at full strength is generally overkill at the initial stages of growth. It is also ideal for plants in poor growing conditions, such as low light, overheated gardens, and root-bound or crowded plants.

Regular strength liquid hydroponic nutrients are fine for normal, healthy plants in ideal growing conditions. In rare conditions, you may be able to increase the fertilizer strength to capitalize on the efficiency of your garden. This only works if you have high quality lighting, ventilation, and CO2 production that will allow your plants to grow fast enough to handle the extra feedings. Always make sure to increase the fertilizer strength gradually to avoid burning the plant.

In addition to the basic types of hydroponic nutrient solution, there are also various additives you can purchase to boost your plant's growth. Keep good records in your growlog of what additives are used, when they were applied, and the results (good or bad). This will give you a good reference guide on what worked and what didn't work for your future grows. I personally do not use additional additives with one exception; Hydrogen Peroxide.  This was a tip from another grower and is used as a preventative to maintain sanitary conditions.  If I were growing blooming/fruiting plants, I would likely use additives for flushing between cycles and to capitalize on flower/fruit development.

Most nutrient solution labels are pretty straight forward and allow a measure of error for the novice grower.  Flush your hydroponic system immediately if you see any signs of an adverse reaction and don't be afraid to experiment.  I will re-emphasize the use of a journal or grow log to evaluate the effects of solution rates and number of days between changing or adding solution.

It is a very simple process once the basics are understood. 


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Plant Nutrition Series...

Here is the first of a series of posts on plant nutrition. The following is published with permission of Hydroponic Unlimited    This website and the website owner have been very forethcoming with hydroponic system design and advice, nutrients, maintenance, and all-around hydroponic information. 

Plant Nutrients and how they are used

For testing purposes, plants are generally dried before testing. 80 to 90 percent of almost all plants is water.

About 90 percent of the resulting dry matter is made up of only three elements; Carbon, oxygen and hydrogen.

In regards to just these three elements, when you water a plant, it provides the hydrogen and oxygen and more oxygen and carbon come from the carbon dioxide from the planets atmosphere.

What these percentages tell us is that if you break down the wet weight of almost all of the plants on our planet, only 1.5 percent of that plant is made up of the remaining elements that make up a plant.

That 1.5 percent of total plant weight is made up of the 60 elements found in living plants. Of the 60 elements only some are used in each plant or plant type and they are used in varying amounts, depending on the plant type and conditions.

The elements that make up this 1.5 percent of plants have a major impact on the health and harvest of the plants. If only one of all the elements used in a plant is missing, it can quite literally kill the plant. On the other end of the spectrum, if too much of some single elements are used, it can also kill the plant.

This is why feeding a plant in a way that is balanced for that particular plant is so necessary.

Of the 60 elements found in almost all plants on our planet, only 16 of the elements are considered to be essential for growth.

In order of the percentage of each element in the dry weight of most plant matter:

45% = Carbon

45% = Oxygen

6% = Hydrogen

Macro Nutrients

1.5% = Nitrogen

1.0% = Potassium

0.5% = Calcium

0.2% = Magnesium

0.2% = Phosphorus

0.1% = Sulfur


0.01% = Chlorine

0.01% = Iron

0.005% = Manganese

0.002% = Boron

0.002% = Zinc

0.0006% = Copper

0.00001% = Molybdenum
This article was originally published in forum thread:]  by Hydro-1
Thanks Hydro-1.  As always, you have been very helpful!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lettuce and Spring Starts Update, 18 April 2018

As mentioned earlier, we were very pleased at how well everything grew while we were away. Above are both systems under the lights with the Mesclun Mix on the left and the baby Simpson plants on the right. Two large salads are on the menu tonight!

The above are the Simpson as of 18 April 2011. The lettuce is 20 days from germination and 15 days in the DWC system. I posted in the grow journal, “the Simpson is very small at this stage and a bit “leggy” because of the haste required to get them into the system prior to our trip”. Normally these would have established 2 sets of healthy leaves (8-10 days) before up-potting into the hydro. I believe they will recover nicely by the color and size of the roots.

This photo shows the extensive and dense growth of the Mesclun Mix which will get a solid trimming tonight.  These are on full nutrients and are 58 days from germination and 49 days in the system.  Looks like the “reds” are getting a bit crowded.  This mix will be grown outdoors as well.

And finally, above are the spring starts of tomatoes, peppers, wildflowers, and assorted spices.  They were a bit thirsty when we returned, but are very healthy and strong.  Keeping a light breeze on them from an oscillating fan develops strong stems and curbs most risk of damping-off.  Can’t wait to get them in the beds, containers, and outdoor ebb and flow system.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Back from a short vacation

We took some risk and went on a short vacation right about the time the Simpson seedlings were to go into the DWC.  I placed the rockwool into the net pots and surrounded with silica stones.  I was concerned with light allowing algae growth as the added silica stone did not fully cover the rockwool to a depth enough to block all light.  I decided to use the 6 inch black neoprene covers I had purchased a while back and they worked nicely. 

Upon our return, we were pleasantly surprised that the leaf growth was enough to block the light so the covers were removed.  The water level had barely changed and the PH remained at around 6.2.  No change in over a week!  Each plant has solid growth and at least 5 leaves.  The stems are a bit longer than normal, but I did not have time bury deeper into the rockwool before our trip.

We left with the lights at about 2 inches above the tallest leaves in order to allow growth without fear of any type of leaf burn.  The estimate was good as the leaves were not touching, but within a half inch of the bulbs.  This shows that they had strong enough light for the week while we were out.

The Mesclun Blend is doing very well and grew over an inch vertically and at least two inches outwards while we were gone.  We titled the light angle to accommodate both the established and new plants.  This is the second get-away that the DWC proved to be maintenance free and the peace of mind is a real relief!

Pics to follow.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Update 31 March, 2011

This is the Mesclun Bon Vivant Mix growing in DWC 2.  This has been a fantastic grow and we are loving this mix.  Besides the flavor(s), it looks great and grows replacement leaves VERY quickly.  This batch has been harvested several times now and continues to grow back stronger and thicker.  We have to keep the red varieties uncovered so they can get some light as their neighbors are trying to crowd them out.

Lesson Learned: I will keep these at 1 plant per pot on the next hydro grow as the leaves are larger than the Simpson Elite and they get crowded very quickly.

I will also add this mix to the outdoor containers this year for additional production. 

And here are the new Simpson Elite sprouts ready to backfill the lettuce in DWC 1.  These were placed about three days ago and have all germinated in the last 48 hours.  Air temp is around 60 degrees and they are kept in the dark during this process.  They are germinated in rockwool plugs. 

As I discussed in an earlier post, rockwool has quickly become a favorite to germinate and then place into the hydro systems.  It wicks well and maintains good aeration.  It is very easy to work with and cheap!

These plants will be thinned down to the one strongest plant and will go under the lights in the next few days.  They will be placed into a DWC system in the next few weeks.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Starts!

Here are a couple trays of the early germinating spring "starts" for the raised beds and containers.  A couple of these may find their way into an outdoors hydro system as it is developed.

All were germinated on a heating pad under a humidity dome in either rockwool or peat pellets.  Those germinated in rockwool are candidates for the hydro system as peat would NOT be a good idea.  Once germinated, these were up-potted into coco coir.  This is by far the best "starts" media I have used.  I will dedicate a later post to coco coir.

In these trays are veggies requiring 8-10 weeks of growth prior to planting outside.  Our last frost date in this zone is around May 15th, so we are rolling along well.  As a general rule, I germinate the peppers about 10-12 weeks, tomatoes at 8-10 weeks, and cucumbers at about 4 weeks.  Beans will go at 2-4 weeks.

I have noticed the hotter the pepper, the longer the lead time required.  The Tepins and Caribbean Reds were germinated at nearly 13 weeks to give them a strong jump on the season.  It will be a race to fully produce prior to first frost in October.  An early frost has destroyed many hot peppers in this zone!

In the photo; Tepin Pepper, Caribbean Red Pepper, Salsa Hybrid Pepper, Early Jalapeno Pepper, Giant Jalapeno Pepper, and Orange Habenero.  There are also a few determinate tomatoes needing a little longer head start; Golden Girl Heirloom Better Bush Heirloom.

Since the coco coir is a neutral PH product with no form of nutrition, I will be using a diluted solution of  hydroponic nutrients.  This mix will be at around 1/4 strength for the first 4 weeks, and then 1/2 strength until planting out.  I am curious to see the effects versus last year's starts which were potted in Miracle Grow Potting Mix. I imagine it will be "no contest" and I will be ratcheting up the lights daily. :)

Bring on Springtime!