The things that are least exciting are the ones that receive the least amount of attention. Everybody loves the top of the garden, the grow bed and the plants. Sometimes maintaining your hydroponic reservoir is an afterthought.
While not exciting, the hydroponic reservoir is an important piece of the hydroponic system, as it houses the food for the plants. I often get asked how much work goes into maintaining the reservoir portion of the hydroponic system, so here’s what you need to know.
Maintain Proper Nutrient Solution Temperature
It’s important to keep your nutrient solution at between 65-75 degrees. When temperatures get too high, dissolved oxygen levels go down and create an environment ripe for root rot. Temperatures that get too low will slow down plant growth.
For small reservoirs, aquarium heaters are usually enough to warm up a nutrient solution that is too cold. To combat rising temperatures, check out these tips for cooling your hydroponic nutrient.
Top off Your Hydroponic Reservoir
In circulating systems, you may need to top off the reservoir in between reservoir changes. Water is lost due to evaporation and plant processes and may need to be replaced to keep the system running properly. Smaller reservoirs will need to be topped off more often.
Change Out The Water
How often you change out the water on your hydroponic system depends on your set up and preference. You’re going to find many different opinions on the topic. Personally, I would recommend weekly or bi-weekly nutrient changes. If you really get to know your system and your using an EC meter, you can go a week or two longer.
Ec meters will give you an idea of the amount of fertilizer in the water, but not the amount of each specific nutrient. Since plants don’t take in nutrients at the same rate, topping off for too long can cause a build-up of certain minerals. Water changes give you the opportunity to start fresh with the right chemical balance, reduces build up in your system, and gives you the opportunity to clean your reservoir.
Provide Proper Aeration
A well-oxygenated nutrient solution is important for healthy root growth. It’s necessary for plant process and stimulates the growth of the beneficial organism that strengthens the root system. It’s never a bad idea to add an extra air stone to maintain a high amount of dissolved oxygen.
Clean The Filter
If you don’t have a filter somewhere on your hydroponic system it’s a good idea to add one. This will prevent plant matter and debris from getting into your nutrient reservoir. Clean the filter often to reduce the build-up that pests love. Deep water culture systems do not need a filter but its good to clean floating debris out of the nutrient solution.
Do Regular pH and EC Checks
Maintaining proper pH and EC levels are important tasks when maintaining your hydroponic reservoir. pH ranges should be kept in the 5.5-6.5 range. Make sure to do some research on the variety of plants you’re growing to determine the proper EC levels for your hydroponic garden.
Check Your Equipment
It’s a good idea to check over the equipment in the hydroponic reservoir on a regular basis. Broken pumps, aerators, and connections can go unnoticed for a short time before your garden shows signs.
It’s helpful to keep extra parts put away as backups. In my experience, things tend to break at inconvenient times.