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.