Peat's Guide to Hydroponics in the AeroGarden!

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Peat
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Peat's Guide to Hydroponics in the AeroGarden!
Peat's Guide to Hydroponics in the AeroGarden

Updated - 12th November 2010

I have put together a guide to using hydroponic nutrients in your AeroGarden.

They have been split into a number of parts - currently running at 4 :-

Part 1 - (Updated)
Basic guide to pH levels and measuring nutrient strength, along with items you need to buy.

Part 2 - (Updated)
The main event. Here you will find out how to mix-up the nutrients to the correct strength; tailored for the AeroGarden. Plant growth stages, handy tables and more.

Part 3 - (Updated)
Plant problems and nutrients. Comprehensive guide to plant problems caused by nutrient deficiencies/toxicities.

Part 4 - (No changes made)
How to grow using rockwool cubes in you AeroGarden.
 
 
 

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Thank you both! I wasn't

Thank you both!

I wasn't aware that this was a long-running controversy and am happy to let it continue. If it really made a difference, I would expect that the "right" or "wrong" answer would have been empirically established by now. Until I'm able to read what my plants are telling me, more frequent nutrient replacement is probably a safe way to go.

Thanks again for sharing your expertise.

Carl

 

 
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I'm nowhere near the expert

I'm nowhere near the expert Peat is, but I'll trying chiming in a little.

As I envision it, a given variety of plant has its own range of tolerance for mineral uptake, and doesn't do well when the "salts" - whatever's in the water - are too concentrated. So even if the background EC of the tap water were 1.0 and I was shooting for 2.0, I shouldn't subtract off background EC. Wanted or unwanted though the minerals might be, EC is still a measure of how concentrated the broth is, and the plants can only handle just so much concentration before the cellular transport mechanisms get overloaded and quit working in the right direction.

Just as humans, regardless of how thirsty, cannot drink salt water to slake that thirst.

So if the background EC is high, I think the right answer isn't to make the brew stronger, but to replace the brew more often, to make sure the plants' desired constituents are still there in enough strength.

Or at least that's how I picture it.

As for knowing whether your plants are growing well or badly - that's why I love growlogs. When in doubt, post a picture and ask for feedback.

Moderator. Author of Indoor SaladEcigs 102, and the Calm Act climate apocalyptic series.

Peat
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No problem Carl. OK, this

No problem Carl.

OK, this subject of background EC readings has been debated in many forums and I've seen three possible answers  - add the background EC, subtract the background EC and even half the background EC! Confusion and confliction abounds...

Personally, I completely ignore it, don't even give it a second thought; if I want an EC of two then I mix my nutes up to two - forget the whole background reading, the worst that can happen is the plant is a little underfed.

My take on things is that you don't know what sort of minerals are in your tap water, apart from the usual suspects (calcium, fluoride etc.), these are all used by your plant and are 'additives' of sort. If you mix up an EC of 3.0 your going to have your full EC 2.0 and then the 'other' minerals which you don't know about, these could give you a slight overdose when totaled.

It's always better to underfeed rather than overfeed in hydroponics, you can always add some more nutrients to correct an underfeed - an overfeed is an entirely different matter and requires cutting back the feed or flushing with pH balanced water.

I completely understand what you are saying here, it's a perfectly logical thought process and I've seen it 'debated' in other forums, some people stick with subtracting, others with adding and the conversation continues... 

Best thing I can say is to let your plants guide you and always err on the side of underfeeding, my background EC is 0.4/0.5 which I don't even factor in, perhaps I should (?) - it's not had a detrimental bearing on my grows which, for the majority, have usually done fine.

This, of course, is only my opinion. For all I know I've been doing this wrong for years!

 

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Peat: Wait, I just re-read

Peat:

Wait, I just re-read your response to my first question and are we not going in the wrong direction here?

We are using a measurement of EC, PPM, TDS, or whatever method one uses, to provide an indication of the quantity of nutrients in the water. If the EC meter indicates 2.0 but we know that "contaminents" in the water we used to make the mixture have contributed 1.0 to that measurement, aren't the plants only getting the benefit of 1.0 worth nutrients? Shouldn't we prepare a mixture that reads 3.0 EC on the meter, based on the knowledge that 1.0 of that is merely contaminents in the water and that now the plant, in fact, has 2 EC worth of nutrients?

Carl

 

 
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Peat: You clearly stated, and

Peat:

You clearly stated, and I was aware, that your Guide was to be a basic guide. My questions were in no way intended to be critical; they were addressed to you since you have obviously done considerable work in this area.

Your answers were clear and there is no question that, as compared to AeroGarden, the 3 part components of HG will come closer to targetting the right combination of nutrients for the plant in question. I am just not very good in "reading" my plants (yet?), and was trying to ensure that by using some basic processes and rules I was at least getting as close as possible to the right combination. Your Guide, (and an EC and pH meter) will give me a good start.

Thanks for responding!

Carl

 

 
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Carl, This was always

Carl,

This was always intended to be a basic guide to getting you started, a more 'in-depth' version would have run into more pages.

In answer to your questions though :-

1. Yes, you are correct. If your tap water had an EC of 1.0 then a plant which requires and EC of 2.0 would require you to mix up a nutrient strength of EC 1.0, tap water + new nutrient mix would then equal EC 2.0 In practice, my tap water has never gone above 0.4 EC in three different regions over here, 0.4 EC is negligible and can be dismissed. Fair point though, this would impact people out there with high EC tap water, I'll amend the guide to show the new process in due course.

2. Correct.

A simple EC check cannot determine what different nutrients are in your mixture, it's just a measure of the total amount of nutrients contained. If you have a requirement to check different individual nutrients then there are kits that can be purchased, this is something I've never done, nor intend doing - I don't need that level of precision.

An EC reading therefore cannot tell you what different nutrients (N-P-K etc.), and their individual strengths, are contained in your solution. If using the GHE (General Hydroponics) nutrients you are more empowered to have a better 'idea' of what you are giving your plants. There are an infinite combination of EC readings you could mix, to guide the user GHE have produced charts (which I've amended for the AG) which should give you a good base point to start - it's perfectly feasible to amend these yourself and mix whatever you see fit for your plants, of course you won't have any idea of individual N-P-K nutrient content but that's the risk you take with going it alone.

AeroGarden, as you said, now produce what seems a 'liquid-for-all-occasions', it's therefore a one part nutrient that is very general. It's going to try and grow a diverse spectrum of plants in it's limited capacity, it stands to reason that there could be nutrient deficiencies in some plants. The GHE (3-part) nutrients on the other hand are mixed up to complement your particular plant, you can therefore target that plant for maximum growth by giving it what it actually desires, as opposed to giving it a shot of general mix.

I hope my answers address your questions.  

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  Peat:  In spite of your

 

Peat: 
In spite of your comprehensive Guide to Hydroponics, I still have a few questions:
1. Any EC levels mentioned in your guide are based on the use of distilled water. If using tap water, actual EC meter readings would have to be adjusted (lowered) for any EC contributed by the tap water. Correct? The assumption being that EC contributed by the tap water does not qualify as nutrients to the plant.
2. The nutrients required by a plant depend on a) the particular plant or crop (your Part 2, page 7) and b) the growing stage of that plant. (HG’s different proportions of Flora Micro, -Grow and –Bloom) Correct?
And here is where I get confused. When using HG nutrients, the growing stage determines the particular mixture of nutrients (Micro, Grow and Bloom), while adjusting for the particular plant, we merely vary the strength/dilution of that mixture.  AeroGarden, however, now supplies a fixed mixture in packets (or a quart quantity in a container), and then dilutes this one mixture with water to fit the capacity of the machine regardless of plant or crop.
I assume that, with Micro, Grow, Bloom and dilution as variables, there is an infinite number of combinations that could produce a given EC. So how does a simple EC measurement provide any assurance that the required combination/proportions of N-P-K and all the other nutrients are present for that plant at that particular growing stage?
Am I missing something, or am I making things more complicated than required? Would you kindly point me in the right direction? 

Carl

 
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I know, 2 years on this site

I know, 2 years on this site and we are still filling it with our exploits - I never for one minute thought I'd ever be here after all this time!

Looking forward to our future grows and Beth's successful AG cuke.  

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No, I definitely never

No, I definitely never dreamed I'd grow so much inside in winter. And, my plantings outside were pretty modest before the AG's got me going, too. Every year I plugged nursery-bought annuals into the ground in spring (petunias and snapdragons), a few bush beans, a few Japanese cukes, my annual hibiscus (they aren't perennials in CT). I tried the windowsill, but no good sun, so the plants failed, and that was that.

My gardening overall has mushroomed!

I already envy you both your grow rooms, Beth. Rub it in.

But yeah, I think I've had at least one AG growing lettuce all year, every year, since my first AG got plugged in, November 1 2007. And I almost never ate lettuce before that. Nor tomatoes.

Moderator. Author of Indoor SaladEcigs 102, and the Calm Act climate apocalyptic series.

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Yes I'm a dreamer, but did

Yes I'm a dreamer, but did you ever dream you'd be growing so many things inside during the winter?  I want Peats grow tent! I am thrilled with my downstairs "farm" (Although I still think about covering the basement floor with a foot of soil for a proper grow room ).  I'll get my greenhouse one day and make you green with envy when I pick veggies in December!  One day...  I still love the ag basil and lettuce...

Beth

 

 

 

 

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