Category Archives: Garden Maintenance

3 Basics Of Hydroponic Algae Growth

hydroponic algae growthAlgae growth is actually made up of several different types of plant-like organisms.  Since there are many different types of algae growth, its appearance in your hydroponic system can take a few different forms. Algae may be slimy, bubbly, fury or stringy and may appear as different colors including green, brown, red, and black. Since algae thrive in the same conditions as plants, a hydroponic garden is an optimum environment for algae growth. Here are three things you want to know about that algae growth in your hydroponic system.

How Does Hydroponic Algae Growth Start?

Algae in your hydroponic garden start from microscopic spores that are transported through the air. There are steps you can take to reduce the levels of contamination, but it’s hard to prevent algae spores from reaching your system. Since algae are plant-like, your hydroponic system can be the best environment for algae growth. Warmer temperatures, nutrients, water and light is what algae need to grow. Light reaching hydroponic rich water starts the growth of algae. Once is starts it spread can reproduce rather quickly.

Is Algae Growth Harmful To A Hydroponic Garden?

A small amount of algae growth is not harmful to you hydroponic system or garden. Almost every hydroponic system has some sort of hydroponic growth at one point or the other. Often times treating your hydroponic system for algae growth can wait until after you harvest your crop. When algae is abundantly growing is when it can become an issue. Large amounts of algae can clog up your system. Clogged pipes can lead to overflow or a blockage to the pump can cause to stop working. Besides wear and tear on your system, algae can deprive your plants of oxygen. Algae will steal the oxygen from the plant’s root system, affecting respiration, causing your plants to weaken.

How Do You Get Rid of Algae In Your Hydroponic System?

The best way to stop algae growth is taking away at least one element it needs to grow. By removing its source of light or reducing the amount of nutrients exposed to light, algae will not be able to grow. Finding something that will rid your system of algae and not harm your plants is a challenge. Since algae are plant-like, often what is harmful to algae is harmful to your garden. Grapefruit seed extract is used to by municipalities to treat drinking water and in studies has shown to be effective at removing algae while not harming your garden. There will always be some algae growth when hydroponic gardening, it;s just about containing it so it doesn’t take over your garden.

The Best pH Level For Your Hydroponic Garden

It’s important to measure the pH of your hydroponic garden on a regular basis. Plants are not able to take in nutrients when your nutrient water falls out of a certain pH level. Most plants prefer a pH level that is slightly acidic, around 5.0 to 6.5. To get the most out of your plants its best to tailor the pH to the plant your growing.

Best ph level for garden

Recommended Ph Level By Plant

Fruit Crop pH Vegetable Crop pH
Apple 5.0-6.5 Asparagus 6.0-7.0
Banana 5.5-6.5 Basil 5.5-6.5
Blackberry 5.5-6.5 Beans 6
Blueberry 4.0-5.0 Broccoli 6.0-6.5
Cantaloupe 6 Cabbage 6.5-7.0
Cherry 6.0-7.5 Carrots 6.3
Grape 6.0-7.5 Cauliflower 6.0-7.0
Mango 5.5-6.5 Celery 6.5
Melon 5.5-6.0 Chives 6.0-7.0
Peach 6.0-7.5 Cucumber 5.5-6.0
Pineapple 5.5-6.0 Eggplant 5.5-6.5
Plum 6.0-7.5 Fodder 6
Raspberries 5.8-6.5 Garlic 6
Strawberries 5.5-6.5 Kale 6.0-7.5
Watermelon 5.5-6.0 Lettuce 5.5-6.5
Mint 7.0-8.0
Onions 6.0-6.7
Pea 6.0-7.0
Peppermint 6.0-7.5
Peppers 5.5-6.5
Potato 5.0-6.0
Pumpkin 5.5-7.5
Spinach 5.5-6.6
Squash 5.0-6.5
Tomato 5.5-6.5
Zucchini  6.0

If you discover your pH level is our of range then you should correct it immediately. Adjusting pH is an easy fix.

6 Ways To Keep Your Hydroponic Nutrient Solution Cool

The temperature of your hydroponic nutrient solution is not something that should be overlooked. Too cold and roots will not form properly, the plant will grow slow and maybe die. A hydroponic nutrient solution that is too hot does not hold the oxygen your plants need to survive. This can cause stress to your garden and could eventually result in death. The hydroponic nutrient solution should be kept between about 65 degrees and 80 degrees. So what are some ways to cool your hydroponic nutrient reservoir?

thermo slide

Shade Your Hydroponic Reservoir

Try and keep you hydroponic reservoir in a shaded from the heat source. Hydroponic reservoirs are often dark colors to prevent algae growth. Dark color attracts light and with it heat. Building a box or cover for your reservoir can help cool down the temperature of your hydroponic nutrient solution. If your hydroponic garden is inside you may need to move your reservoir away from hot lights or equipment.

Add Ice Packs To Your Hydroponic Reservoir

Adding clean ice packs to your hydroponic nutrient solution is an easy way to combat the heat. Keep in mind you don’t want to cool down your nutrient solution too much or alter the temperature too quickly. Use an ice pack size that will make sense for the amount of nutrient solution you’re using. Frozen water bottles work well as alternatives if you don’t have any ice packs. You can use milk jugs for larger hydroponic reservoirs.

Change Your Reservoir Color

Altering the color of a dark reservoir is a good way to help control the temperature of your hydroponic solution. Painting it white will deflect heat away from the reservoir. An alternative to painting your hydroponic reservoir is wrapping it in something metallic such as foil.

Top Off Your Reservoir With Cool Water

If it is just a warmer day than usual, adding cool water to your nutrient solution may be all you need to cool down the temperature.

Bury Your Hydroponic Reservoir

If your hydroponic garden is outside, burying your hydroponic reservoir could solve your nutrient solution temperature problems

Purchase A Reservoir Chiller

If you have the money, the simple solution to cooling your hydroponic nutrient solution would be to purchase a water chiller. Water chillers can start at little over $300 and cost as much as you want to spend.

Nutrient Lockout

If you notice your hydroponic plants becoming stunted or showing colors resembling nutrient deficiency, then your plants may be experiencing nutrient lockout. It’s easier to diagnose nutrient lockout with hydroponic gardens because nutrients are measured to the exact amount (or should be) to supply the plants with enough nutrients. Nutrient lockout is exactly what it sounds like. Nutrients in the solution are locked out from being absorbed by the roots. Picture a mineral clog in the arteries of the plant. This can mean the death of your garden.

nutrient lockout

Nutrient lockout can mean the death of your garden and should be treated immediately.

Some Causes Of Nutrient Lockout

  • Not mixing hydroponic nutrients properly or too much nutrients in the solution will cause nutrient lockout. Many nutrients have to be mixed a certain way so make sure to follow the instructions on the bottle. Follow a feeding chart if you’re not experienced with using different nutrient levels so not to add too much nutrients.
  • The buildup of excess minerals or salts in your reservoir will cause nutrient lockout. It’s important to change your nutrient solution every week or so and use a clean reservoir. Rinsing the root with fresh water to get excess nutrients off is also recommended.
  • Improper pH levels will cause nutrient lockout. pH levels should be measured regularly and kept between 5.5 and 6.5. Different minerals can only be taken in by the plant at certain pH levels. If the pH of your nutrient solution falls out of these levels, adjust the pH asap.

How To Treat Nutrient Lockout

First, you need to flush your reservoir and plants with fresh water. To help save a garden experiencing nutrient lockout, a leaching agent should be used to leach out any minerals built up in your garden. You can find many products over the internet or at your local hydroponics store that will flush your system of excess minerals. Run clean water through your system and over the plant’s roots to further flush your system. I like to then empty the reservoir again, replacing it with more fresh water only for the plants to sit in for a few days before getting them back on nutrients.

How to Adjust pH Of Hydroponic Nutrient Solution

Proper pH levels are important with hydroculture gardening. Most hydroponic nutrients have a pH buffer that helps keep the pH level of your solution at its proper levels, but a spike or dip can happen resulting in your plants not being able to take in nutrients. If your pH is off-balance, it’s important to adjust the pH levels back to the proper level. If the measured pH level doesn’t fall between 5.5 and 6.5, then you will need to adjust pH. pH balance isn’t a hard thing to correct. You may already have something around the house to use as a short-term fix until your able to pick up something more stable.

adjusting pH

What Is Natural Way To Adjust The pH Of A Hydroponic Garden?

You can adjust pH levels by adding an acid to lower your pH level or an alkali to raise it. Household items such as white vinegar or citric acid can be used to lower pH, while baking soda can be used to raise it. The problem with using these household ingredients is that it’s only a short-term fix. These ingredients don’t contain any buffer to help maintain the pH level, so you often you will have the same problem occur in the next day or two.

What is The Best Way To Adjust pH Of A Hydroponic Garden?

The most simple and effective way to regulate pH is to buy a product that is specifically made to adjust the pH of hydroponic solutions. Several hydroponic companies offer specific products for this issue, many simply called pH up and pH down. I would recommend keeping these on hand in case you do run into pH problems. Using pH up or pH down is simple and since it is made for hydroponics, is sure to be safe for the plants in your garden. As well as correcting the pH quickly, hydroponic pH adjusters also contain a buffer that keeps the pH regulated at the proper level. This will stop the pH problem from happening again in the next couple days.

I prefer to use General Hydroponic pH up and down to regulate my hydroponic gardens. First, you should test your hydroponic solutions to see what your current pH level is. Add a little pH up or down and wait about a half hour to test your water again. Repeat if needed. To change the pH level a couple of levels I usually add about 1 teaspoon per gallon. If you , you can use the other adjuster to push the pH back in the opposite direction until you get it in the desired range.

3 Ways To Measure pH Of Nutrient Solution

When using hydroponics to grow your garden it is very important to measure pH level of your nutrient solution and keep it at the proper level. Without the proper pH levels, your plants will not be able to take in all the nutrients they need from the nutrient solution. When you measure the pH of the nutrient solution, it should fall somewhere between 5.5 and 6.5. It’s a good idea to measure pH of your nutrient solution daily to maintain a healthy hydroponic garden.  Here are the 3 ways to measure pH of your hydroponic nutrient solution.

 Litmus Test Strips To Measure pH

Litmus pH test strips

Litmus pH test strips.

Testing your hydroponic nutrient solution with litmus test strips can be one of the cheapest ways of checking the pH. The strips contain a pH-sensitive dye that changes color when dipped into your nutrient solution. The strip is then compared to a chart explaining what different color shades mean. Measuring pH with test strips can sometimes be difficult due to the fact that the color differences can be subtle. Since it’s hard to sometimes distinguish the exact color the strip is giving, it is less accurate of a measurement. With that being said, you can still give you a pretty good idea if the pH of your hydroponic nutrient solutions is in the area it needs to be.

 

Liquid Test Kit To Measure pH

liquid pH test kit

Liquid pH test Hit.

While a little more expensive than the litmus test strips, using a liquid pH test kit to measure your hydroponic nutrient solution is a little more accurate. Many are familiar with this type of pH testing if they have owned a pool. The liquid pH test kits work by placing a few drops of a pH sensitive dye into a small amount of the nutrient solution. The color of the resulting liquid is then compared to a chart showing what color represents which color of pH. Liquid pH test kits are easier to read so are more accurate that test strips.

 

 

Electronic Meter To Measure pH

Electronic pH meter

Electronic pH meter

The most accurate way of measuring the pH of your nutrient solution is by using an electronic pH meter. There are a variety of different pH meters ranging in sizes and prices, but as a hobby gardener, I suggest simpler pen like version. These pens come with an LCD screen that will show you the exact pH measurement. Before measuring the pH of your nutrient solution it will most likely need to be calibrated. pH meters are sometimes sensitive to elements and need to be well taken care of for accurate readings. Most pens have to remain wet or in a buffer when not in use to keep from drying out.

If your pH measurements of your nutrient solutions aren’t falling in that 5.5 to 6.5 range don’t panic. If caught early there are a few different ways to adjust the pH to the correct level without losing your garden.