The nutrient solution in your hydroponic system will need to be maintained in order to get the greatest growth and best yield from your plants.
Initially the nutrient solution should be made up according to the manufacturers instructions by diluting the nutrient concentrate that you are using with water. The water you use can be tap water, rain water or reverse osmosis water. Most hydroponic growers use tap water as it is the easiest to obtain. When using tap water it is best to allow it to stand over night to allow chlorine that is used as a disinfectant to evaporate off.
The manufacturers instructions for diluting the nutrient concentrate will specify the recommended strength and pH. The strength of the solution is usually quoted in CF, EC or PPM and this is measured using a conductivity meter such as Bluelabs excellent CF truncheon, generally younger plants require a lower CF than adult plants so the CF needs to be raised as the plants grow. A conductivity meter is worthwhile and gives best results, however it is possible to grow without one though we do not recommend it.
When the nutrient solution has been diluted to the correct concentration and any growth boosters or bloom enhancers added it is then necessary to adjust the pH of the solution. The pH of a solution is a measure of how acid or alkaline it is, in hydroponics the plants generally perform best with the nutrient solution between 5.5 and 6.5 on the pH scale. It is within this range that the plant is best able to absorb the nutrients, so to avoid any deficiency keep the pH within this range. If the pH is too high or too low the plant will be unable to absorb certain nutrient and plant growth problems will occur.
The pH may be measured with a pH meter or a pH test kit. Electronic meters such as the pH PRO from growth technology are more accurate than the pH test kits, the pH PRO does cost more however you have peace of mind that you accurately know your pH and will have superior results for your investment.
Nutrient solution pH can be altered using pH up (alkaline solution) to increase the pH value and pH down (acid solution) to decrease the value. PH up and down should never be directly mixed together as they can explode, potentially causing serious burns!!!
For more detailed instruction on nutrient management please call at the hydroponicwarehouse and we'll be more than happy to share our knowledge.