Hydroponic growing places plants directly in nutrient solutions, generally water containing fertilisers, instead of the traditional planting in soil method. Sometimes hydroponics techniques use artificial mediums, like gravel, rockwool or perlite, to support the plant's root structure. In other cases, the roots simply hang within an open water-based medium. When growing hydroponically, you will need to provide specific quantities of various nutrients, either by purchasing specialised fertilisers or buy following nutrient recipes to make your own.
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"Hydro Juice" General Recipe
"Hydro Juice" provides the nutrients needed by the average hydroponic plant. If you find that some plants respond better than others, you might try slightly modifying the recipe for your next growing season, adjusting those elements most needed by each kind of crop. Hydro Juice is a two-part nutrient solution. If the recipe is made as a single solution, some elements may separate before being added to the water tank, upsetting the delicate balance of chemicals. Add hydro juice to your nutrient tank by first mixing solution A into a tank half-filled with water. Next, finish filling the tank with water and add solution B. In solution A, mix 1003 grams of calcium nitrate and 73 grams of EDTA iron. In solution B, mix potassium dihydrogen phosphate (263 grams), potassium nitrate (583 grams), magnesium sulphate (513 grams), manganous sulphate (6.1 grams), boric acid (1.7 grams), copper sulphate (.39 grams), ammonium molybdate (.37 grams) and zinc sulphate (.44 grams). The highly concentrated solutions can each be added in a ratio of 100 mls (cc) for every 10 litres of water.
University of Florida Tomato Nutrient Recipe
The University of Florida's IFAS Extension (Institute of Food and Agriculture Services) used this nutrient formula to grow hydroponic tomatoes. The tomatoes grew in rockwool, perlite and NFT (Nutrient film technology) media. With all measurements in miligrams per litre, the IFAS growers used 70 mg/l of nitrogen, 50 mg/l of phosphorus, 120 mg/l of potassium, 150 mg/l of calcium, 40 mg/l of magnesium and 50 mg/l of sulphur. The solution also contained trace elements, including 2.8 mg/l of iron, 0.2 mg/l of copper, 0.8 mg/l of manganese, 0.3 mg/l of zinc, 0.7 mg/l of boron and .05 mg/l of molybdenum.
Nutrient Recipe for Tomato Plants
The University of Arizona's Controlled Environment Agriculture Center offers another nutrient solution recipe for growing hearty tomatoes. Instead of providing a list of elements, like the University of Florida, this recipe calls for a number of easily found fertiliser salt compounds. All quantities are in grams, appropriate for 1000 litres of water at a 1 ppm (or mg/l) concentration. Mix together 5.64 grams of boric acid, 11.24 grams of calcium nitrate, 2.68 grams of cupric chloride, 3.91 grams of copper sulphate, 11.10 grams of chelated iron, 5.54 grams of ferrous sulphate, 10.75 grams of magnesium sulphate (or Epsom salts), 3.60 grams of manganese chloride, 4.05 grams of manganese sulphate, 1.50 grams of molybdenum trioxide, 7.98 grams of monopotassium phosphate, 2.05 grams of potassium chloride, 10.0 grams of potassium nitrate, 2.50 grams of potassium sulphate and 4.42 grams of zinc sulphate.
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