How to Maintain Your Hydroponic Systems￼
Once you have set up your hydroponics system, you will need to ensure there is proper maintenance. Before you get started, get your grow room clean as possible. You will also need to clean the plant box; it is advisable to use a 10% bleach solution.
Ensure to cut off the dead leaves and just remove them from the grow room. Keeping the dead leaves will attract fungus overtime, something you don’t want to have around. If you notice some diseased plants present, remove this to ensure the infection does not spread. When changing the water in the reservoir, ensure to clean it before filling it back with water.
If you are using a dripping system try and buy a few more drippers, this will make it much easier when you need to change the drippers when clogged. A bucket of vinegar will also come in handy to throw the clogged drippers in to get them clean. Ensure the pH level never goes below 5 or you might damage the stone wool. When the pH level is below 5 and higher than 7 then your plants will not be able to absorb nutrients.
Between 1-2 hours before you start planting ensure to saturate the stone wool with water of a pH level 5.5. The reservoir solution should be changed once a week. You can try and top up the reservoir and also adjust the pH/EC. However, the solution might be out of the vital micronutrients or it could be infected with the Pythium known as root rot.
If your current reservoir contains a nutrient solution that is diluted, try to use phosphoric acid or some lemon juice to lower the ph. It is advisable to keep a journal that has details of the pH, EC, C02, temperature and the light level each given day.
This process will make it much easier to learn from your mistake, thus, being able to succeed. These types of records will make it easier when further assistance is required, in case you encounter any problem. Before you start blaming the plant food for producing unhappy plants, read through your journal. Everything that you do needs to always be in balance.
Therefore, change one perimeter at a time and slowly look for the effect. A common problem that arises for most is the reservoir water could be a little too cold. If this is also the case for you, it is advisable that you consider putting a heating element in your tank, or have heating mats under your Grodan. This should make it easier for you to maintain your hydroponic system effectively; a happy system grows healthy plants.
Obtain Accurate PH Testing
Obtaining the optimal pH levels is critical in growing healthy plants and obtaining high yields in both the hydroponics and soil gardening. Maintaining the optimal levels especially in the soilless growing systems leads to accurate and frequent pH testing; when an ideal pH level is achieved it will maximize the amount of nutrient a plant takes in. As a result, the nutrient will increase a plant’s productivity and vigor.
In the event that the pH levels are beyond the plant’s range, its ability to utilize the needed nutrient is blocked or reduced. Thus, this would result in other problems arising. It is crucial the pH levels be adequate for dispensing on the crops you are growing. Most of the vegetables that are grown outdoors in soil do well in a wide range of pH levels.
Most prefer the slightly acidic of 6 to those that are neutral at 7. The good news is hydroponics helps in pinpointing the best pH readings in order to create optimum conditions and just maintain it at that. It leads to healthy and more productive plants and will avoid wasting valuable nutrients. Ongoing calibration of your pH meters should be part of your regular testing.
This ensures that your meter gives you accurate measurements. How often you do the calibration is just a personal choice. Use a proper testing technique before you condition, you need to rinse the new bulb with either deionized or distilled water.
Furthermore, before you calibrate you will need to ensure you have soaked the electrode for about 15 minutes in a buffer solution. Ensure that you never condition your electrode in distilled water as this will erode the glass membrane in the electrode.
Despite the various advice that you might find online, ensure never to wipe your electrode, because when you wipe, you might alter the static charge as the sensor would need to conduct the readings properly. Ensure that you rinse with distilled water between uses. To dry the electrode after cleaning just blot, not wipe. A continuous monitoring system meter has three probes each having a different nutrient measurement, that is, EC, pH, and TDS.
Ensure that each probe has been kept separate from the other when using. Once a month the electrodes will need to be cleaned with a good cleaning solution. Every six months you will need to switch out the instant-read meter. This is in continuous and frequent use. Or you could change it after a year if it is used every two weeks. These tips should help in maintaining the optimal pH levels for your crops.
Types of Hydroponic Systems
With the technological advancements taking place it has allowed growers to move their gardens from outdoors into an indoor environment that is carefully controlled. In this controlled system, they are able to fine-tune every aspect that will take place in the growing process.
The hydroponic technology has allowed farmers to ditch the traditional soil we have been accustomed to for years and maximize the nutrient absorption while still saving the amount of water used and producing higher yields than before. But just like any new system the hydroponics system still has a long way to go.
As a result, there are six types of hydroponic methods that you will find in most grow rooms. The deep water culture is also referred to as DWC is when the plants are suspended above a nutrient solution having the root system completely submerged.
We all know overwatering affects plants so how exactly do plants survive in this kind of condition? Water tends to deprive the root of the needed oxygen, but the nutrient solution that is used in the DWC is aerated with some oxygen bubbles that will flow up from the bottom of the setup reservoir. As a result, all the oxygen needed is adequately provided to the root system. The Ebb & Flow is a hydroponic system that involves the use of a repository tray system.
The reservoir is responsible for holding the nutrient solution and water. Two tubes are used to connect both the reservoir and the flood table. One of the tubes is connected to the pump that is in the reservoir to ensure a proper flow of water that cycle through the tray, while the other tube is connected to the overflow, which is responsible for delivering the needed nutrient back to the receptacle.
The Nutrient Film Technique also referred to as NFT is considered the most complex type of hydroponics arrangement that is present. It also uses a pump and reservoir system. The plants are placed in net pots that will allow the roots to hang freely; then the containers are later aligned in a neat row.
In the wick system, the container is connected to a reservoir with the use of a large wick, which soaks up the nutrient solution and efficiently delivers it to the roots of the plants. For effective results, the best medium that you should use is perlite or coco coir.
The reason being these mediums have a high-level absorption and proper water retention. Aeroponics is one of the most advanced technologies in the hydroponics system. The system utilizes net pots and the hanging root system discussed in the NFT method. The roots of the plant hang over the nutrient solution, but the difference is there not submerged in this solution.
Instead, the needed nutrient solution is delivered with the use of a misting and pump system. This method can provide the needed amount of water and nutrients to ensure there is maximum absorption. The drip system is another advanced method having a reservoir that utilizes the air pump.
This way it keeps the solution moving adequately and a nutrient pump that sends the needed amount to the plants. Thus, the roots are not exposed in this system. Not forgetting, the plants will be grown in a standard medium in the hydroponics system like the vermiculite or coco coir.