Now, you have two options to enrich your hydroponics with nutrients. You can either go for purchasing the ready-made nutrients or make your own at home. So can you make your own hydroponic nutrients?
Yes, generally any plant requires a mix of 16 elements to grow appropriately. These could be a mix of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Boron, Chloride, and so on. Thus, a nutrient solution is a combination of these kinds of elements to help grow your hydroponic crops quite effectively.
So, let’s discuss more in this exciting journey when you decide to make DIY hydroponics nutrients.
What Do You Need To Make Your Own Hydroponic Nutrients?
Before I discuss the entire procedure and respective ways of making hydroponics nutrients, here’s a brief section on what are hydroponic nutrients, their importance, and their implication especially in hydroponics farming.
In simple terms, hydroponic nutrients are elements required to grow hydroponic plants and are mostly available in the form of nutrient solutions. You have to add them into the water of your hydroponics system. And, you can’t even think of growing your indoor farming by overlooking these hydroponics nutrients.
Not only are they required, but highly beneficial as well. A hydroponics nutrient solution mixed in water will be exposed to its root system directly. It means the plant doesn’t have to spend its energy on extracting nutrients as in the case of soil farming.
Let’s have a look at the list of some of the essential nutrients for hydroponics as follows!
- Nitrogen (N)
- Potassium (K)
- Phosphorus (P)
- Iron (Fe)
- Manganese (Mn)
- Copper (Cu)
- Calcium (Ca)
- Magnesium (Mg)
- Sulphur (S)
- Chlorine (Cl)
- Zinc (Zn)
- Molybdate (Mo)
- Boron (B)
So, make sure to include these in your solution while you get to know can you make your own hydroponic nutrients?
What Are The Other Factors Required?
Yes, you have to consider a lot of other factors before making hydroponic nutrients at home. Let’s discuss them one by one as follows in a bit of brief detail!
1. pH and EC Stability/Balance
pH and Electronic Conductivity are primary factors worth checking for in your prepared hydroponics nutrient solution. The pH determines the acidity or alkalinity of a specific solution. Due to the presence of different elements in a nutrient solution, the pH can vary greatly.
Thus, you need to maintain an ideal pH range of 5.0 to 6.0 while preparing your hydroponics nutrient solution. It’s a perfect range for growing plants in soilless media.
On the other hand, EC determines the amount of salts in a particular nutrient solution. It also measures the ability of a substance to conduct electricity. It is always advised to keep EC stable as too high EC means plants will get susceptible to osmotic stress and ion toxicity. And, low EC can result in certain nutrient deficiencies.
2. Water Quality/Ratio
You either will make a nutrient solution or go for its powdered form. So, this factor is especially applicable when you make hydroponic nutrients. Thus, determining the quality of water before pouring it down to your solution is quite necessary. You have to particularly look for the concentration of saline elements or the concentration of harmful elements such as boron, chlorides, and sodium etc.
Always remember that poor water quality can cause toxicity, diseases, dehydration, low yielding, and other growing concerns. And, imbalanced water can even damage hydroponics systems while costing you extra bucks for system replacement. This session of water testing can be conducted while you’re giving water to the plants and throughout the nutrients solution distribution.
3. Nutrient Balance
Balancing nutrients or different elements is also crucial as we all know that it’s a mix of different elements. The nutrient balance simply means adding the essential elements specifically that match the crop you’re growing. A good nutrient solution is a mix of almost every element needed for plant growth. For this purpose, I’ve already mentioned the inclusion of important nutrients or proper element balance in your hydroponics nutrient solution.
4. Shelf Life
What would be the shelf life of your DIY nutrients solution or powder? Yes, it’s important to take that into note as well! The simple way to check this via the DIY concept is to look at the expiry dates of elements or other alternatives by which you make hydroponic nutrient solutions. However, there is nothing to worry about when you see the solids or precipitates forming on the sides of the bottle to which you may have stored the solution. It doesn’t mean that your nutrients are going bad. A good shake can easily solve this concern.
Purity simply refers to maintaining the balance of the right nutrients and using the best quality water as already mentioned. Apart from this, the ingredients must be in their purest form, i.e. free from any concrete or other solid particles that can disturb the effective distribution of nutrient solution among the hydroponics system.
6. Temperature Balance
Most of the ideal temperature is already maintained if you’ve checked for the nutrient balance, water quality, pH, and EC stability. However, you need to maintain the temperature of the roots of hydroponic plants as well. The cool temperature is mostly preferable for the hydroponic roots. And, it’s also important to squeeze as much yield out of the hydroponic plants as possible to minimize the chances of any infection or diseases.
The Best Way To Make Nutrient Solution
Making your own hydroponic nutrients solution can fine-tune the level of each nutrient that exactly your plant needs. Every hydroponic plant needs the same kind of primary micronutrients and macronutrients, yet their concentration in each plant will greatly vary as per what you’re growing. The kind of crop, its growth stage, and other environmental factors come into play while making your own hydroponic nutrients.
The nutrients that hydroponic plants require in large quantities are known as macronutrients. Some of the macronutrients that are listed as important for such plants are hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
And, the secondary macronutrients are magnesium, calcium, and sulfur. There are almost 8 important micronutrients required in hydroponics plants, namely zinc, iron, boron, chlorine, molybdenum, manganese, cobalt, and copper.
For DIY hydroponic nutrients, you can simply add water to the nutrient concentrate bought from the best hydroponic supplier. Or, you can follow the steps given below to make your own hydroponic nutrient via the hydroponic fertilizer or some other important ingredients.
Materials You Will Need:
- Tub, Bucket, or other Container
- pH tester and adjustment kit
- Large measuring cup or Gallon jug
- Water-soluble hydroponics-specific fertilizer
- Large spoon or stick
- Epsom salt
The solution we’ll discuss below is best suited to the hydroponics system with raft setups, ebb-and-flow systems, and other kinds of hydroponic environments that are unlikely to clog. Thus, Aeroponics or drip hydroponics may not be ideal for the purpose.
You have to mix more than a single batch of nutrients if your hydroponics system reservoir holds a lot of water. Don’t overfill the container or tub with nutrients that may rather spill than get mixed up.
- Add Water
You need to pour enough water into a tub, bucket, tank, or any other container to fill the hydroponic system with the nutrient reservoir. For reference, you can add 1-gallon water by which you can make almost 250 times the nutrient solution. It means that you can create around 250 times of nutrient solutions with 1 gallon of concentrate. Make sure you’re adding the distilled or pure water only.
- Check its pH
Ensure that the pH level of water you are using should be between 5.5 and 6.5. If not, you can use the pH adjustment kit to maintain the ideal level. There are several kinds of pH adjusters also available that gardeners can use to adjust the pH levels, such as sulfuric acid, nitric acid, or phosphoric acid. Citric acid can also be used if it’s organic gardening. Yet, you have to be a little cautious with using chemicals like nitric acid or sulfuric acid as they can be a bit dangerous.
- Add Hydroponics fertilizer
Now, you need to add hydroponics-specific fertilizer which is around 2 spoons per gallon of water-mixing dry fertilizer. However, you are always required to ensure the usage of hydroponic-specific fertilizer for better growth. And as said earlier, they must contain those important macronutrients and micronutrients. The recipe to make the best DIY hydroponics fertilizer is to combine the macronutrients and micronutrients required for plant growth.
After you’re done with this, replace the old fertilizer in your hydroponics system every two to three weeks with the new one. It’s the best practice you’ll ever make as mixing the new fertilizer with the old one can result in salts buildup which further can destroy the plant’s growth.
- Take Epsom Salt
Add 1 tsp Epsom salt per gallon of water. It’s because salt is one of the significant parts of a hydroponic nutrient solutions.
- Mix Hydroponic Garden food in water
Mix the dry ingredients of hydroponic garden food within the water until all the crystals and powder have been dissolved. Then, you need to immediately use the hydroponics nutrient formula once the mixture is formed as it may lose its strength when stored.
- Monitoring and Replacement
The monitoring and replacement of hydroponics nutrient solution is required every two weeks to ensure its constant supply. You have to use just the plain water for replacement if the water level drops changes due to absorption or evaporation. It’s also wise to check the pH balance before and after while adding nutrients.
Can You Make Nutrients For Herbs?
Yes, the indoor herbs are another great option for hydroponic farming, which can be grown using different kinds of growth media such as sterile root cubes built from vermiculite and peat or cellulose fiber. And, in terms of nutrient solution, you have several recipe options where you can combine 2 ounces of potassium nitrate, ½ ounce of potassium phosphate, 3 ounces of calcium nitrate, and 1.5 ounces of magnesium sulfate, all mixed in 25 gallons of warm water.
However, there are certain specific considerations you’ve to keep in mind to ensure that your plants and herbs are in good condition. For reference, the herb basil grows at its best when 80 parts per 1 million of magnesium are provided. On the other hand, arugula needs additional copper to create the healthiest leaves. A few herbs, such as mint and sage, need no changes to the nutrients solution mentioned above.
So, this is all you need to know about Can you make your own hydroponic nutrients? The recipe to make the best common DIY hydroponic nutrient solution is discussed above. And, I have also mentioned certain special considerations you need to keep in mind before making hydroponics nutrient solutions such as pH testing, EC stability, temperature maintenance, and so on.
Keeping your plants enriched with nutrients specifically in the soilless media shouldn’t be overlooked. First and foremost, you have to check for the nutrient requirements of your hydroponics plants or herbs, which are usually the same in every case. Then, the mixture of crucial macronutrients and micronutrients is equally considered specially while making the hydroponics-specific fertilizer.