by Greg Green
This is the most important part of your hydroponics set-up. Your mix and the choice of nutrients will depend on whether your plant will die, grow, grow big, or grow very very big.
Nutrient solutions basically come in a number of different forms. It is vital to check that the solution you use is the best for your type of plant. Some solutions are for soil and can only be used with soil. They contain the wrong elements for hydroponics use. There are soil-based supplements/fertilizers and then there are hydroponics nutrients.
Most hydroponics nutrient solutions are complete nutrient solutions. They provide every element and compound needed for proper plant growth. Because of this hydroponics nutrients are a bit steep in price. Always spend your money on the correct nutrients because any short cuts will lead to failure and kill your plant.
If all the nutrients are contained in a single pack there is a chance that the elements may combine and precipitate in the pack. This may cause the solution to become unbalanced and is then rendered useless to you and your plants. Keeping this in mind, get a complete nutrient solution that is contained in several bottles called ‘Twin’ or ‘Triple packs’.
One brand name called Formulex has managed to hold all the elements in a single pack using certain chemicals to prevent precipitation. This pack is very good for starting clones or seeds in a rockwool SBS tray. Formulex can be used in soil grows also.
Twin / Triple Packs:
For best results the hydroponics grower should consider a Twin or even a Triple pack. Basically the chemicals are held in different packs to prevent precipitation. Optimum, Power Gro, Ionic, and General hydroponics Flora Series are the most common multi part nutrient solutions. The most popular one with cannabis cultivation is the G.H. Flora Series, a 3-part system, Gro, Micro, and Bloom. An experienced grower can adjust these nutrients to get optimum performance from their plants.
These packs have instructions on the bottles explaining how to mix down the nutrients into water, and can be broken down and mixed weaker or stronger to the grower’s needs.
MONITORING RECYCLE SYSTEMS
Depending on what set-up you are using, you may find that your solution goes through a system that uses the nutrients in the reservoir over and over. As the plant extracts the nutrients and minerals from the solution it will become depleted of its resources over time. For this reason we must understand how to monitor our nutrients. In today’s world monitoring systems are a bit expensive. If you have a ppm reader (TDS meter, Total Dissolved Solids) you can understand how much of your nutrients have been used up and how much more you need to add to reach the optimal nutrient level. All reservoirs will become unbalanced and need replenishing. As a general rule, an initial amount is used to fill the reservoir. As the plants use up the solution, we top up the reservoir to maintain the initial level.If you start with 10 gallons of solution then we need to top up to that total of 10 gallons every few days.
If you do not have a reader you can still grow a good crop, but it takes practice to get it right. If a cannabis hydroponics grower does not have a ppm reader, then they tend to replace the reservoir more often instead of topping it up. That way the grower is certain that the new solution will contain everything the plant needs. If you have a ppm reader then you only need to top off the reservoir as needed. PPM (parts per millionth) readers can be expensive, but over time they will help you save money on the cost of hydroponics nutrients.