Hydroponic Nutrient Solutions
for Strawberries and Lettuce

by Glyn Lewis
(Zacatecas Mexico)

I have a 500 sq. meter poly tunnel in Mexico. I'm growing hydroponic lettuce (NFT) and strawberries in coco fiber bags. At the moment things are going very well, but I have had to change my hydroponic nutrient. The only one I can get here in Zacatecas is Hakaphos red which is 18.18.18+1.1 this seems to have all the right quantity of nutrients, but I'm not sure. I've asked the people here, but they know next to nothing about hydroponics. Do you know anybody who has used Hakaphos red? It's made by Compo. Many thanks, Glyn.

Answer: Glyn- I have done a little research on the fertilizer you are using. It is made for use in professional hydroponic gardening systems, therefore it should contain all of the secondary nutrients and micro-nutrients necessary for healthy plant growth. In fact, one website I came across provided much information.....Hakaphos fertilizers have very low salinity, have a supply of fully water soluble Magnesium and Sulphur (two important secondary nutrients), and have a relatively complete list of fully chelated (available to plants) micro-nutrients. The micro-nutrients listed in the guaranteed analysis are Sulfur, Magnesium, Boron, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Molybedenum, and Zinc.

I believe this fertilizer will pose no problems with growing lettuce. However, I am concerned about the strawberries. All of the information I came across recommend using a balanced fertilizer for strawberries. You should have no problems with the basic Nitrogen, Phosphorus, or Potassium levels in the fertilizer you are using.

Overall, the fertilizer you are using seems very complete and should be fine to grow healthy and abundant strawberries. My only concern would be Calcium....Calcium is an important secondary nutrient, especially in the development of fruits. I could not find Calcium in the guaranteed analysis of Hakaphos red, and therefor I am not sure if the fertilizer contains any Calcium or not.

I have found a few articles online where Hakaphos red was used to grow chili peppers with very good results. This would indicate the presence of some Calcium in the mix, though I have not found any direct evidence of this. If you plan to use this for your hydroponic fertilizer, you should look closely for any signs nutrient deficiency. Calcium helps other nutrients, like Nitrogen, move from older parts of the plant to the growing tips. A lack of Calcium could mimic a Nitrogen deficiency, with very pale colored new growth or deformed new growth.

If you see any signs of this, you may need to add a supplement to your nutrients (like Cal-Mag, a Calcium and Magnesium supplement). A liquid seaweed supplement, like Maxi-crop, may also work to correct this problem. However, there is also a good chance you will have no problems using this as a hydroponic fertilizer.

In doing my research to answer your question, I came across a couple of websites with information you may find very useful. A college in Florida was doing research on commercial strawberry farming, and found several ways to cut costs and increase productivity. Their report can be found here.

The other report has some similar information on cost reduction and increased productivity, as well as some specific information on the fertilizer program they followed (fertilizer strength and frequency). That report can be found here. I hope this helps!

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for Strawberries and Lettuce

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Mar 08, 2012
OMRI Lettuce Nutrient NEW
by: RH Growers

We are building a commercial greenhouse to grow Certified Organic lettuce. We will be using the Floating Raft System and I have a question about nutrients.
We are becoming Certified Organic which means the input materials must be OMRI Certified or certified with the State of WA.
What nutrients/supplements would you recommend for optimum growth that are acceptable to these agencies?

Thank you!

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Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 24 years ago, my first garden used rockwool cubes and B.C. Nutrients....and I remember thinking to myself yeah, sure, there may be a lot of advantages to gardening with hydroponics, for example there are very few pest problems, therefore very little pest control, no weeding, no plowing or tilling the soil, no soil testing or having to add things into the garden soil, no watering the garden....but for someone who just wants to grow their own vegetables and have more control over their food supply and the quality of the food that they eat, the cost of constantly having to buy grow media and hydroponic nutrients makes this an expensive hobby for most people...

Epic Nutrient Change

I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn't have a whole lot of money to work with and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as possible....and in the last 24 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!

As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol)...

Homemade Cloner

And, regarding the cost of the nutrients....I experimented for about 3 years with making different compost teas and nutrient teas, but there is still a lot of expense $$$ associated with making high quality nutrient teas....like kelp meal, liquid seaweed, rock dust, bat guano, un-Sulfured molasses, worm castings. You can eliminate a lot of this expense by becoming an expert at making high-quality colloidal humus compost, and use your properly made compost as the basis of your hydroponic nutrient solution.

Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 24 years and I have only just recently mastered this difficult skill....and even then, only because I happened to find a very easy to follow, high quality technique and decided to follow the instructions to the letter. I produced more high quality compost in just one week than I was able to use in a whole year! If you can master the technique, I highly recommend it. It is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase the productivity of your food production efforts, while at the same time decreasing the amount of effort required to grow all of your own food, and decreasing the total cost of operating your food production system.

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This solution is aquaponics. If you are serious about producing all of your own food and being self-sufficient, this is the ultimate solution for reducing expenses (as much as possible), reducing the total amount of work required, and maximizing the productivity of your gardening efforts. I have been gardening for over 24 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.

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Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!

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