WHAT IS HYDROPONICS?
Hydroponics is the science of growing plants without soil. The plants thrive on the nutrient-water solution alone. The growing medium merely acts as a support for the plants and their root systems while the solution passes freely. The growing medium, if any, is totally inert.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF HYDROPONICS VERSUS SOIL GROWN PLANTS?
You can grow more plants per square foot in a hydroponic garden because roots are directly fed ~ therefore, there is no competition for root space. As a result, you can get higher yields per square foot, per unit of time. Your plants will grow faster because they will be getting all the nutrients they need and in the proper proportions. Their root systems stay smaller, so the plant can concentrate it’s grown energy on producing plant mass, rather than roots.
ISN’T HYDROPONIC GARDENING COMPLICATED?
NO! If you follow directions, you can garden hydroponically. A few simple steps must be followed on a regular basis to insure that your plants thrive. Once you get used to the routine ~ it’s a snap.
CAN PLANTS BE GROWN ORGANICALLY, HYDROPONICALLY?
Organic and hydroponic growers have typically regarded each other somewhat suspiciously and the two growing methods were not thought to be compatible. There is common ground, however, and more people are finding that with a little experimentation, they can grow a successful organic, hydroponic garden. Products used for hydroponic gardening include bat guanos, liquefied seaweed products, fish based fertilizers, and an extensive line of organic nutrients., such as Bio Bizz. Ask us for more information on organic, hydroponic gardening.
WHAT TYPES OF PLANTS CAN BE GROWN HYDROPONICALLY?
Anything can be grown hydroponically, but some plants prove to be more space efficient. Some plants we suggest are tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot chilies, lettuce, spinach, squash, cucumbers, broccoli, beans, snow peas, herbs and flowers of all types.
DO YOU REALLY GET BETTER YIELDS IN LESS TIME?
Absolutely. The plants, receiving everything they need, tend to be healthier, faster growing and generally more productive. Expect 30% faster growth with many crops.
WHAT ABOUT TASTE? WILL THE FLAVOR COMPARE TO MY OUTDOOR GROWN, ORGANIC PRODUCE?
You bet! Perhaps even better! This is simply due to the fact that the hydroponically grown plants are getting everything they need, when they need it. Don’t be fooled by “hot house” produce grown commercially. The grower’s primary concern is shipability and storage, not flavor. When you grow your own vegetables at home, you can expect nothing less than excellent results. Plus, hydroponically grown produce has the added benefit of a longer shelf life.
WILL I BE USING ANY PESTICIDES? IF SO, WHAT KIND?
Generally, indoor environments demand less pesticides for obvious reasons. Hydroponic growing eliminates soil borne pests, as well. However, if pests do become a problem, one can choose to use insecticide soaps, natural pyrethrums and, in some cases, beneficial insects. These controls will be completely safe to use on edible crops and are also environmentally safe.
WHAT IS THE BEST GROWING MEDIUM?
There is no clear cut answer to this question. Like everything else, this comes down to preference. Different mediums work better for different situations and different crops.
- Rockwool will allow the grower an easy set up, since it is pre-formed and modular. It holds a tremendous amount of water and offers a buffer against drying in the case of electrical outages or pump failures. As Rockwool is disposable, it lends itself to quick end of crop clean-up. Also good for starting seedlings and cuttings.
- Coconut Fiber is recently becoming more popular. Coconut fiber is the first “organic” medium to offer high performance in modern hydroponic applications. It can also be added into soil mixtures to increase water retention. Coconut fiber holds more oxygen than rockwool and is pH neutral.
- Grow Rocks (Called Hydroton or Diatatomite) are a super-fired type of baked clay formed to create a porous, reusable hydroponic media. Due to their sturdy nature, Grow rocks provide secure support for the plants’ root zone. This non-degradable, sterile growing medium provides the delicate balance between moisture retention and aeration and holds a neutral pH . Easy to use.
TIP: Stick with dwarf or compact plant varieties when gardening indoors. They will perform better under lights and are lower maintenance. Try hand pollinating tomatoes, peppers and other veggies for best results!
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO CALIBRATE A TDS OR EC METER?
Answer: Standard reference solutions are used. The bottles are marked with the conductivity (EC) value in micro Siemens/cm and the corresponding ppm values for sodium chloride (NaCl) and potassium chloride (KCl) solutions, and sometimes for a “442” reference mixture. The conductivity of sodium chloride solutions is close to that of hydroponic mineral nutrients, so a “1000-ppm NaCl” standard is most frequently used when calibrating the meter for hydroponic solutions. You should follow the calibration instructions in the manual, which the manufacturer of your meter provided.
WHAT DOES A TDS OR EC METER MEASURE?
Answer: The electrical conductivity (EC) of your nutrient results from motion of mineral ions when the meter applies an electrical voltage. The ppM value of a sodium chloride solution happens to be very close to half of its conductivity value (in microSiemens/cm), so many meters display the conductivity as an equivalent NaCl amount
WHAT DOES THE TERM PARTS PER MILLION (PPM) MEAN?
Answer: It is a common unit for measuring the concentration of elements in the nutrient solution. One ppm is one part by weight of the mineral in one million parts of solution.
HOW DO I CONVERT BETWEEN TDS AND EC READINGS?
Answer: To obtain an approximate sodium chloride TDS value, multiply the EC reading (in micro Siemens/cm) by 1000 and divide by 2.
To get an EC value, multiply the ppm reading by 2 and divide by 1000.
Thus, if your EC is 1:
1*1000/2= 500 ppm.
And if your ppm is 500:
500*2/1000= 1 EC
IS IT BETTER TO USE AN EC OR A TDS METER?
Answer: If you have plant nutrient recommendations in EC units, an EC meter is convenient. If your plant nutrient recommendations are in ppm values, a sodium chloride TDS calibration is easier to use.
USING THE 3-2-1 FLORA SERIES MIXTURE, APPROXIMATELY WHAT TDS OR EC READINGS SHOULD I EXPECT?
|Nutrient||EC (micro Siemens/cm)||TDS meter (NaCl standard)|
WHY IS CONDUCTIVITY OF THE NUTRIENT IMPORTANT?
Answer: Conductivity is a measure of the strength of the nutrient solution. The higher the conductivity, the more dissolved solids there are in the solution. Delicate plants, cuttings, and seedlings can experience fertilizer burn if the conductivity is too high. Once the plants begin growing, they need a stronger nutrient solution, so conductivity must be increased by adding concentrated nutrient. Some plants prefer a milder nutrient strength, while others grow better and produce better quality fruit with a higher concentration.
HOW DOES CONDUCTIVITY AFFECT PLANT GROWTH?
Answer: Conductivity is really a measure of the nutrients in the solution. Low conductivity implies a low nutrient concentration, which usually results in nutritional deficiencies and slow growth rates of your plants. One can look at the situation, as a higher conductivity is more food for your plants. However, be careful of very high levels as this can burn and or kill the plant.
WHAT ABOUT FRESH AIR?
Answer: Ventilation is often overlooked as a problem. Plants absorb nutrients when the water molecules in the leaves respire (i.e. evaporate). Better ventilation aids a high transpiration rate, which translates into a greater rate of nutrient uptake. Remember that ventilation means changing the air, not just blowing it around the room (circulation).
I AM NEW TO HYDROPONICS. WHAT DO I NEED TO START?
Answer: Hydroponics is a fun and satisfying hobby that you will keep adding to your list of items. To start you will need a hydroponic system, hydroponic nutrients, an inert hydroponic media (may be dependant on type of hydroponic system), a light source (natural or artificial), time and plants.
WHAT IS HYDROPONICS?
Answer: Hydroponics, simply stated, is the growing of plants without soil in a nutrient rich solution.
WHERE CAN I GROW WITH THE HYDROPONIC METHOD?
Answer: Anywhere. Indoors, in a greenhouse as well as outdoors. Any plant can be grown with hydroponics, though some are more delicate than others. If there is enough light for the plant to grow, you can probably bet somebody has grown it using hydroponics.
WHAT IS AEROPONICS?
Answer: Aeroponics is a method of growing in which oxygen is infused into the nutrient solution, allowing the roots to absorb nutrients faster and more easily. This facilitates rapid growth resulting in fantastic yields.
IS HYDROPONICS ORGANIC?
Answer: There is a huge popular debate about the value of “organic” fertilizers and methods. Many people would like to apply “organics” to hydroponics. Currently accepted organic fertilizer components are dependent upon organisms in the soil to convert the “organic” materials into a useable form for plants.In hydroponics we provide the minerals required for plant growth directly, completely eliminating the need for soil and soil organisms. The result is much higher growth rates and yields, and better crop quality than organic methods can achieve.
WHY IS GROWING HYDROPONICLY BETTER THAN GROWING IN SOIL?
Answer: Hydroponic produce is cleaner than its soil grown counterpart, and the grower has the ability to adjust the nutrient feed for maximal growth and yield in the shortest time.
HOW DOES THE TASTE OF HYDRPONIC PRODUCE COMPARE WITH SOIL GROWN PRODUCE?
Answer: Hydroponic produce frequently exceeds soil grown produce in terms of flavor and nutrition. This is because all of the nutrients required by the plant are immediately available when the plant needs them.
WOULD YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN IN A LITTLE MORE DETAIL, THE VERIOUS ELEMENETS REQUIRED FOR PLANT GROWTH?
Answer: Certainly. About 160 years ago scientists determined that ten elements were required for plant growth. Three of these ten were provided by air and water: carbon (C), hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O). The others, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S) and iron (Fe) were obtained by plants from the soil or other growing medium. Six additional elements have been determined essential for plant growth: manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), boron (B), molybdenum (Mb) and chlorine (C1). These six also are generally supplied through the growing medium. The Flora series of nutrients contain all of these elements.
WHAT IS A GOOD INEXPENSIVE HYDORPONIC SYSTEM FOR THE FIRST TIME USER?
Answer: Our WaterFarm, PowerGrower and EcoGrower are all good systems for a beginner. Nearly any plant can be grown, and if you later decide you would like to have some additional units, they can be linked together and expanded with our controller.
WHAT IS THE BEST SYSTEM FOR STARTING CUTTINGS?
Answer: Our RainForest Series does an excellent job for starting cuttings.
WHICH IS THE BEST SYSTEM FOR GROWING SMALLER PLANTS?
Answer: You can use any of our systems, though the AeroFlo2 produces the most rapid and dramatic results.
WHAT IS THE BEST SYSTEM FOR GROWING TOMATOES, PEPPERS AND CUCUMBERS?
Answer: These plants have longer growing periods and need enough space for adequate root development. Our best systems for these crops are the WaterFarm, PowerGrower, EuroGrower and the EcoGrower.
CAN I TURN MY SYSTEM OFF AT NIGHT TO CONSERVE ENERGY? SHOULD I RUN IT CONTINUOUSLY OR CYCLE IT AT INTERVALS?
Answer: All systems can be left off at night once the plant roots are long enough to reach the nutrient level in the reservoir. Longer cycles depend on the type of system you have:
AeroFlo systems: The cycle can be set to run continuously during the day and coming on once or twice during the night on 15 to 30 minute intervals.
EuroGrower systems: Set the timer to come on for .5 hour/ off 1.5 hour during the daylight cycle once the plant has a good root system. These systems use coco peat which holds moisture and nutrients in the root zone.
WaterFarm, PowerGrower and EcoGrower systems: Set the timer to come on for 1 hour/ off 1 hour during the daylight cycle.
RainForest systems: These units are run continuously, especially if you are trying to root cuttings. If you are growing plants, they can be shut off in the evening once the roots have grown into the nutrient solution.
All of our systems can be run 24 hours a day 7 days a week for optimal results, power conservation is the only reason to cycle watering.
HOW DOES THE DUTCH POT SYSTEM DIFFER FROM THE WATERFARM SYSTEM?
Answer: Each WaterFarm, PowerGrower and EcoGrower can be used as a stand alone system, or several can be connected together. There is a growing chamber and a nutrient reservoir for each unit. They use an air pump to deliver nutrients and have expanded clay pebbles as the medium. The Dutch Pot (EuroGrower) is a single chambered system which is drip fed by an in-line pump. Drainage from all units returns to a single reservoir. In the Dutch Pot, smaller grade media such as coco peat may be used without fear of particles entering the nutrient stream and clogging pumps.
WHAT IS THE CONTROLLER, AND WHAT DOES IT DO?
Answer: The Controller is a large external nutrient reservoir, which can supply make-up nutrient to as many as eight WaterFarm or PowerGrower modules. It provides an additional supply of nutrient solution as the plants move into their rapid growth phase. The larger Texas Controller can be used to supply up to 12 WaterFarm or PowerGrower modules, or it can be used in conjunction with the RainForest or EcoGrower systems.
CAN YOU RECOMMEND A SIMPLE SOLUTION FOR KEEPING GROWING MEDIA OUT OF DRAINS?
Answer: The General Hydroponics’ CocoTek Mats were designed for this purpose. The CocoTek mats can be cut to fit any application and come in two sizes, 4’x8’x1/4″ or 4’x4’x1″.
THE HOSES ON MY WATERFARM HAVE GOTTEN DIRTY. WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO UNCLOG THE SYSTEM?
Answer: The easiest way to clean the drip ring and pumping column is to soak the pieces in hot water. You can add 1 Tablespoon bleach per Gallon as a cleanser. After soaking, plug one end of the drip ring and run hot water into the other end. This forces water out of the drip holes and removes any deposits. Some people keep an extra pumping column and drip ring that they swap out during every cleaning. The used pieces are soaked in bleach solution, rinsed thoroughly, dried, and stored for the next cleaning.
WHY IS MY WATERFARM OR POWERGROWER NOT DRIPPING FROM THE DRIP RING?
Answer: Make sure the y connector for the 1/4″ air line and 1/2″ drip line (both are connected by the y connector and are the pumping column assembly) is on the bottom of the reservoir in the nutrient solution. There should be a 1/2″ drip line to connect the drip ring tee to and a 1/4″ air line to connect the 1/4″ air line to coming out of the top of the pumping column support tube. If this part is correctly installed, check the drip ring, pumping column and y connector for debris and clogging. If the system still will not drip correctly call or email GH.
HOW DO I DEAL WITH ALGAE BUILD UP IN MY HYDROPONIC SYSTEM?
Answer: The best method is prevention. If you keep the solution away from light, i.e. keep the lids closed and all openings sealed, you can prevent algae from growing. If you already have algae in the system you can remove it with a brush, or use hydrogen peroxide (3ml of 3% H2O2 per gallon of solution) to remove it. If there are particles floating in the nutrient solution, be sure to flush the reservoir and growing chamber with ample water, and then start with a new batch of nutrient. If the problem is severe, make sure you have the algae completely flushed out to avoid the risk of clogging some of the flow lines in the system.
IS THERE A WAY TO GET PARTS FOR OLD GH SYSTEMS?
Answer: Email or call General Hydroponics with the specific parts needed or a description of the parts and GH will let you know if the parts are available and a give you price if available.
ARE THE PLASTIC COMPONENTS USED IN GENERAL HYDROPONICS SYSTEMS FOOD GRADE SAFE?
Answer: Yes, all of our plastic parts are food grade safe. No chemicals will leach into growing plants. The plastics are also UV stable under artificial lighting and natural lighting.
DO I NEED A HUMIDOME FOR MY RAINFOREST SYSTEM?
Answer: No. The Vortex sprayer, included in the RainForest 66, 318 and 236, supplies an ultra fine mist of water, oxygen and nutrient in just the right amount for cuttings to survive until roots form. As with the Vortex sprayer, the pumping set up used in the RainForest 36 will also supply the right amount of water, oxygen and nutrient for cuttings to survive until roots form, no humidome is needed.
WHY ARE THERE THREE PARTS TO THE GENERAL HYDRPONICS FLORA SERIES NUTRIENTS?
Answer: The concept behind the Flora-series is simple: Different kinds of plants have significantly different nutrient needs, and these needs change during each plant. s growth cycle. By using different combinations of FloraGro, FloraBloom and FloraMicro, the grower is able to fulfill the exact needs of the plant at each stage in the plant. s life cycle. As the crop grows, the grower is able to precisely adapt the nutrient formulation to meet the crops changing requirements.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE PURPOSE OF EACH COMPONENT OF THE FLORA SERIES?
Answer: In hydroponics, the plant roots are constantly provided with all the water, oxygen and nutrients they need. The challenge for the grower is to keep up with the plant. s needs, and to avoid damaging it with either excesses or deficiencies of minerals. As a general rule, a plant consumes more nitrogen during the formative or vegetative stage, and more phosphorus, potassium and magnesium as it flowers. Throughout its growth cycle, the plant will also consume calcium, sulfur and micronutrients such as iron, manganese, boron, molybdenum and copper. FloraMicro, the foundation or “building block” of the Flora Series system, provides nitrogen and calcium as well as trace minerals, which are essential for a comprehensive hydroponic plant diet. By adding FloraGro to FloraMicro, the plant will receive additional nitrogen and potassium, which stimulates structural and foliar growth. To stimulate flower and fruit development, FloraBloom is added to provide the necessary phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and sulfur.
WHAT IS A GENERAL POUPOSE NUTRIENT RECOMMENDATION?
Answer: The proper ratio of each Flora Series nutrient depends on the crop and the stage of growth (look on the label for specific recommendations for different crops). However, as a rule of thumb we use the “1-2-3” ratio:
For seeds, cuttings, or delicate seedlings- use 1/4 tsp. of each nutrient to 1 gallon water
For the vegetative stage of growth- use 3 tsp. FloraGro to 2 tsp. FloraMicro to 1 tsp. FloraBloom to 1 gallon water
For late vegetative to pre-bloom stage- use 2 tsp. of each nutrient to 1 gallon water
For bloom initiation to ripening stage- use 1 tsp. FloraGro to 2 tsp. FloraMicro to 3 tsp. FloraBloom to 1 gallon water.
HOW DO I MIX THE FLORA SERIES?
Answer: Always start with a reservoir filled with water, then add the concentrated nutrients one by one.
Never mix the nutrients together in their concentrated form, as this will cause nutrient “lock-out” making some minerals unavailable. It is best to begin by adding FloraMicro, stirring well, and then adding FloraGro and/or FloraBloom. If both FloraGro and FloraBloom are used, add one, stir well, then add the other.
WHEN THE RESERVOIR LEVEL BEGINS TO DROP, SHOULD I TOP IT OFF WITH FRESH WATER OR NUTRIENT SOLUTION?
Answer: If you drain, clean and remix the nutrients every 7 to 10 days, it’s okay to top off with fresh water daily. As plants consume nutrients and water, the nutrient strength in the hydroponic reservoir will change. GENERALLY, nutrient strength should run between 800 to 1500 parts per million (ppm). Your exact ppm requirements will depend on your circumstances and style of growing. We strongly suggest that you measure ppm, you will need to purchase a nutrient testing device and start monitoring your nutrient solution. We use meters with a “sodium chloride” scale. Before using your meter, calibrate it with General Hydroponics Standard Reference Solution. Then, measure the ppm in the solution. If you find that it is greater than what you want, add water to bring the indicated ppm down to a safe level. If you find the ppm is too low, add nutrient solution to bring the indicated ppm up to its desired level. Your water quality will affect your final readings. When in doubt, remember that it is always better to apply too little nutrient than too much. Unless you know the specific ppm tolerance level for the plant you are growing, it is best to keep the nutrient solution between 800 and 1500 ppm.
BETWEEN CLEANINGS, HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CHECK THE RESERVOIR LEVEL?
Answer: Fast growing crops consume large amounts of nutrients and water so it is important to keep an eye on the reservoir every couple of days. Also consider the size of the plants(bigger plants, more water consumption) and how warm and dry the environment.(hotter, more transpiration).
DO I EVER NEED TO DRAIN THE RESERVOIR AND REFILL WITH FRESH WATER AND NUTRIENT SOLUTION?
Answer: Yes. The reservoir should be drained and rinsed every 7-14 days, depending upon plant size and nutrient usage. It should definitely be drained and cleaned whenever you change the nutrient ratio formula. It is also a good idea to rinse off the growing medium (Expanded clay pebbles, CocoTek coir) each time the reservoir is cleaned. Plant waste will tend to accumulate on the growing medium.
Check out the article ‘Advanced Nutrient Management for Hydroponic Growers’ on the quick tips or press release page of this website.
WHAT IS THE SHELF LIFE OF THE FLORA SERIES NUTRIENTS?
Answer: Properly stored (cool environment, out of sunlight, sealed container) they should last indefinitely.
WHAT IS THE SHELF LIFE OF THE DRY NUTRIENT LINES?
Answer: Our dry nutrient formulations should be stored in a dry cool environment. Remember to seal the bag and replace the lid on the container. Avoid leaving this product in direct sunlight or warm humid environments.
WHAT IS THE SHELF LIFE OF THE FLORANOVA SERIES NUTRIENTS?
Answer: Properly stored (cool environment, out of sunlight, sealed container) the FloraNova series should last up to one year without any problems.
DO I USE MAXIGROW AND MAXIBLOOM AT THE SAME TIME?
Answer: Yes and no. The Maxi series is designed to use one part at a time, but in a time of transition it may be beneficial to mix the two at half strength each (makes a full strength nutrient solution). Use MaxiGro in the vegetative stage and MaxiBloom in the fruiting/flowering stage.
Note: If your plant is not fruiting or flowering plant, MaxiGro is all that you will need to use.
DO I USE FLORANOVA GROW AND FLORANOVA BLOOM AT THE SAME TIME?
Answer: Yes and no. The FloraNova series is designed to use one part at a time, but in a time of transition it may be beneficial to mix the two at half strength each (makes a full strength nutrient solution). Use FloraNova Grow in the vegetative stage and FloraNova Bloom in the fruiting/flowering stage.
Note: If your plant is not fruiting or flowering plant, FloraNova Grow is all that you will need to use.
CAN I FOLIAR FEED WITH GH NUTRIENTS?
Answer: Of course. Make sure you use a weaker nutrient solution than you would for root feeding. Avoid foliar feeding in the heat of the day and under excessive sunlight. Generally, the best times to foliar feed are in the early morning and late afternoon. Make sure you spray the undersides of the leaves. This is where the stomata or “lungs of the plant” are located, and where maximum absorption occurs.
CAN GH NUTRIENTS BE USED IN SOIL?
Answer: Absolutely! All of our nutrient blends contain the necessary elements for plant growth. Start with the formula ratios identified on the label for the specific plant or crop you are growing, and then adjust and experiment until you find the right formula for your specific need.
IS THE FLORA SERIES ORGANIC?
Answer: First, what is or is not “organic” is the subject of intense debate. In the United States, there are numerous definitions of “organic”, many of which differ significantly. Each state has its own regulations for labeling produce as “organic”. Additionally, there are 36 non-governmental organizations, which can “certify” produce as organic. Now only crops grown from unrefined minerals are recognized as “organic”. The trouble is unrefined minerals do not dissolve well for hydroponic use and some of these unrefined minerals contain quantities of impurities, some of which are toxic to plants. For that reason, FloraBloom, FloraGro, and FloraMicro are made from high quality refined minerals. This ensures high quality crop production, but prevents the crop from being considered “organic”. Our GHBB line of nutrients and additives are all OMRI certified organic.
IS FLORANOVA SERIES ORGANIC?
Answer: FloraNova Grow and Bloom contain 3-5% organic substances creating the marriage between mineral and organic gardening.
CAN I USE MORE THAN THE RECOMENDED DOSE OF KOOLBLOOM AT ANY TIME DURING THE FLOWERING OR FRUITING CYCLE?
Answer: No, using too much KoolBloom will actually cause all blooms and possibly the plant to deteriorate and die. KoolBloom works on the premise that the plant is shocked into mass flowering. Shocking the plant too much will cause rotting and in extreme cases death.
WHEN IS KOOLBLOOM BEST USED? HOW MUCH?
Answer: KoolBloom can safely be used three to four weeks before the end of the plants life cycle. Use only the recommended dose of 1/4 tsp per gallon (1.5 g / gallon). This will increase the ppm by approximately 200 ppm (0.4 mS).
WHAT NUTRIENT STRENGTH SHOULD I USE KOOLBLOOM WITH?
Answer: Use a less aggressive nutrient strength in the range of 1000-1200 ppm (2-2.4 mS) before adding the KoolBloom.
HOW IMPORTANT IS WATER QUALITY IN HYDROPNICS?
Answer: Water containing too much calcium and magnesium (called “total Hardness”) may create serious problems. Contact your municipal water supplier who can provide you with an analysis of your water supply. If you are using well water, many laboratories can provide you with an analysis if you send them a sample. If the dissolved salts in your water supply measure 200 ppm or more, we strongly recommend that you obtain a water analysis to determine calcium content. Excessive calcium is the main factor in determining if your water is hard. If an analysis of your water supply reveals that the Calcium content of your water supply is greater than 70 ppm (mg/liter) you should use Hardwater FloraMicro. Hardwater FloraMicro provides rapidly growing plants with a combination of chelated micronutrients uniquely formulated for hardwater conditions. Other options are to collect rainwater, install a reverse osmosis filtration system, or use purified water. Do not use mineral or “spring” water, which can unbalance the nutrient solution, or even be toxic to plants.
MY WATER IS CHLORINATED, IS THIS A PROBLEM?
Answer: Chlorine is highly volatile; it evaporates as soon as it hits the air. By the time the nutrient solution reaches the roots, the chlorine is gone.
I UNDERSTAND THE ROOTS ALSO NEED OXYGEN. HOW DO THEY GET IT?
Answer: In a properly functioning hydroponic unit, the roots receive oxygen from the air, which surrounds them, as well as from the oxygen, which is dissolved in the nutrient solution. The proper medium can play an important role in this process.
WHAT ABOUT WATER TEMPERATURE?
Answer: Temperature of the nutrient solution should be in the range of 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 26 degrees Celsius). Before adding water to your reservoir, it is a good idea to allow it to come to the same temperature as the water in the reservoir. Plants do not like rapid temperature changes, especially in the root zone. Aquarium heaters can be used to warm the nutrient solution in the winter, and look for “chillers” to cool the solution in the summer if high temperature becomes a problem.
WHAT IS pH?
Answer: pH is the measure of acidity/alkalinity of a solution.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THIS IN A LITTLE MORE DETAIL?
Answer: Specifically, pH is a measure of the hydronium ion H3O+. It is based on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 14. “Pure” water has a pH of 7.0. If the pH is less than 7, the solution is acid. If the pH is greater than 7 it is alkaline. Because the scale is logarithmic and not linear, a pH of 6 indicates ten times more H protons than a pH of 7, and a pH of 5 indicates 10 times more protons than a pH of 6.
WHAT pH IS BEST FOR GROWING PLANTS HYDROPONICALLY?
Answer: The ideal pH range for most hydroponic crops is between 5.5 and 6.5.
HOW DOES pH LEVEL AFFECT PLANT GROWTH?
Answer: pH is important because it affects availability and absorption of several of the 16 atomic elements needed for plant growth. Maximum absorption of these elements is found at pH readings 5.5 to 6.5. When pH falls below this range many of the macro elements (N, P, K, etc) have less availability, and absorption of the micronutrients can reach toxic levels.
HOW DO YOU CHANGE THE pH?
Answer: pH is adjusted by using an acid to lower it or an alkali to raise it. General Hydroponics’ pH Down and pH Up are designed for this purpose. Many acids and alkalis are extremely corrosive and dangerous, so care should be used if you are not using a product labeled for hydroponic use.
WHAT IF I CAN NOT GET ANY pH DOWN, AND MY SYSTEM IS RUNNING HIGH?
Answer: Short-term solutions include citric acid (which degrades in solution) or sulfuric acid made for car batteries. Make sure this does not include any lead, and be very careful with this acid. Vinegar will also work, but generally, the effects are short term.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CHECK MY pH LEVEL?
Answer: When first starting out it is a good idea to measure the pH of your water everyday, until you get a feel for your system. Measure your water and then add your nutrients. Within an hour check the pH and adjust accordingly. Repeat this process until pH stabilizes. The liquid Flora Series has special pH buffers to help maintain a desirable pH. It is a good idea to note how much water, nutrients and pH modifiers are needed to obtain the desired values. After several “start- ups” you can generally get a feel for how much acid or base to use for your situation. Frequently pH stays within a desirable range for a considerable time, and then rapidly rises or falls to an extreme. This is usually an indication of the need to do a nutrient change. If you are using hard water, pH has the tendency to climb above 7.5. Sometimes this can be neutralized with acid, though one might consider adding a reverse osmosis unit in an extreme case.
HOW MUCH pH UP/DOWN IS NEEDED PER GALLON?
Answer: Start out with one milliliter per gallon. Wait 15 To 30 minutes, and test your water again. Frequently you will only need 1 to 2 ml of pH Up/Down per gallon of water. You may need additional pH Up/Down if you have hard water. The General Hydroponics Flora Series is pH buffered to facilitate keeping the pH in a favorable range.
THE pH IN MY SYSTEM DROPS BELOW 4 EVERY FEW DAYS AFTER CLEANING AND REFILLING. HOW DO I INCREASE THE pH AND STABILIZE IT?
Answer: The easiest way is to continue adding pH up. This is generally fine because the additional elements that are added are potassium ions. Potassium is frequently the highest element in hydroponic nutrient solutions. Sometimes pH crashes because of the presence of a large amount of microbial activity in the nutrient solution. This is usually a result of poor maintenance of the system due to infrequent nutrient changes or other stresses. The best way to avoid this scenario is to keep a clean system with adequate nutrition.
WHAT ARE EXPANDED CLAY PEBBLES?
Answer: Expanded clay pebbles are used in hydroponics as a medium to support the plant. They are chemically inert, do not affect pH and provide excellent drainage. They are made from a special type of clay, which is heated to a high temperature causing it to pop like popcorn.
WHAT IS COCO PEAT?
Answer: Coco peat is an organic medium made from coconuts, frequently used in both hydroponics and seed sowing mixes. Its advantages are that it is lightweight, relatively inert and comes from a sustainable source. However, coco peat comes in various grades, and can actually be detrimental to plant growth if it contains salt-water residues from poor processing.
WHAT IS ROCKWOOL?
Answer: Rockwool is a substrate made by melting rock, extruding it in threads and then pressing it into sponge-like blocks.
WHAT ARE COCOTEK PRODUCTS MADE FROM?
Answer: CocoTek products are made from all organic sources. Coconut fibers are spun together with natural tree rubber to form the popular CocoTek products.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EXPANDED CLAY PEBBLES AND COCO PEAT? WHAT ARE THEIR APPLICATIONS?
Answer: Both Expanded Clay Pebbles and Coco peat are pH neutral media. Expanded Clay Pebbles provide free drainage and aeration, while coco peat provides moisture retention and the ability to hold onto a small amount of nutrients.
DO THE ROOTING MEDIA (PEBBLES, ROCKWOOL, COCO PEAT, ECT) CHANGE THE WAY NUTRIENTS ARE USED?
Answer: They can. Rinse the growing media (especially important when using Rockwool) before using it. We suggest you check the nutrient solution pH and ppm(see above) and adjust the solution accordingly.
HOW BIG DOES A BRICK OF COCO PEAT BECOME?
Answer: One brick expands to approximately two and a half gallons.
CAN YOU RECOMMEND A SIMPLE SOLUTION FOR KEEPING PARTICLES OF SMALLER GROWING MEDIA FROM GETTING INTO MY NUTIENT SOLUTION?
Answer: General Hydroponic’ s CocoTek Mats were designed to do just that. CocoTek Mats also create a unique air and moisture balance around the net cup. The CocoTek Mats come in two sizes, 4’x8’x1/4″ or 4’x4’x1″, that can be cut to fit any application.
HOW DO I USE RAPID ROOTER PLUGS FOR CUTTINGS?
Answer: Rapid Rooters work best when in a 50-cell tray. Place a cutting in the small hole on the top of the Rapid Rooter plug enough where the cutting will stand upright on its own. Place the tray under proper lighting, then once multiple roots pop out the cutting can then be transplanted into a hydroponic system or directly into soil.
HOW DO I USE RAPID ROOTER PLUGS FOR STARTING SEEDS?
Answer: Rapid Rooters work best when in a 50-cell tray. Drop the proper amount of sees in the small hole on the top of the Rapid Rooter plug and place the tray in a dark area until sprouting occurs. Then move tray into a lighted are and grow until seedlings are large enough to transplant into a hydroponic system or directly into soil.
DO I NEED TO SOAK MY RAPID ROOTER PLUGS?
Answer: For optimal results soak Rapid Rooter plugs in pure water with a light blooming formula (200ppm or 0.4mS), then place back in tray and follow procedure for cuttings or sees.
DO I NEED TO WATER MY RAPID ROOTER PLUGS?
Answer: Do not water Rapid Rooter plugs unless they are drying out. The plugs are designed to hold the proper amount of moisture and oxygen that is optimal for starting seeds and rooting cuttings.