Plant nutrition is the most complex and difficult growth influencing factor to understand, hands down.
To understand all of the reactions, interactions, and processes that are involved with plant nutrition is an enormous task, similar to fully understanding how all of the other plant growth factors interact and influence one another to make maximum results possible.
So, let's get started...the guidelines below are general guidelines for indoor gardening crops. The exact nutritional requirements for every plant will be a little bit different, so GET TO KNOW YOUR PLANTS!
The major nutrients your plants require are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen is used for green, leafy growth and is the nutrient most likely to become deficient in an indoor garden. Phosphorus is needed to grow healthy roots, large flowers, and well developed fruits. Potassium is needed for thick, strong branches and stems, and is also required in substantial amounts to produce fruits and flowers.
In general, plants can use twice as much nitrogen as phosphorus or potassium during the vegetative stage of plant growth. During the flowering stage the opposite is true, and plants generally use twice as much phosphorus and potassium as nitrogen. Depending on your specific situation, phosphorus levels can often be pushed even higher than that.
During the first couple weeks of flowering most gardeners use a feeding formula for the transition that is somewhere between their vegetative feeding program and their flowering regimen.
The secondary nutrients that your plants require are calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. These nutrients may not be used in the quantities that the primary nutrients are, but they are extremely important. Quantities of all three are needed throughout the entire growing and flowering process, with calcium and magnesium being the most heavily used.
Furthermore, the need for calcium and magnesium increase during heavy fruiting or flowering. If you pay no attention to these secondary nutrients, calcium and magnesium are the most likely to become a problem (deficient). Products like Cal-Mag exist so you can give your plants a little extra right when they need it.
Sometimes called trace nutrients, these substances are still absolutely vital to healthy plant growth. For years I have used seaweed based
products to ensure my plants receive a full compliment of usable
micro-nutrients. In addition to providing excellent mico-nutrients,
seaweed also provides plant hormones that are critical for healthy
development. Plants need a small amount of the following to have all
plant processes function without a problem...
The biggest problem with micro-nutrients is that they tend to combine chemically into forms that your plants cannot use. Micro-nutrients in a usable form are called chelated. Always look on your fertilizer package for chelated versions of these nutrients. These are usually labeled as "fully chelated", but will sometimes be noted by the addition of EDTA after the nutrient name. There are two things you can do, in addition, to ensure your micro-nutrients are chelated and available to your plants.
First, you can use fulvic acid or humic acid as a nutrient additive. Humic acids, and the fulvic acid portion of them in particular, are extremely powerful oxidizing agents. In their presence, micro-nutrients become available in their chelated forms. Second, you can try to maintain a healthy population of beneficial micro-organisms in the plant root zone.
Beneficial micro-organisms produce humic and fulvic acids as they carry on biological activity. Their actions break down nutrient compounds into usable forms and tend to keep them in that form for the benefit of the plants. Plants in turn exude carbohydrates, sugars, and esters from their root zone into the soil that the micro-organisms thrive upon. This symbiotic relationship is the whole idea behind true organic gardening.
Temperature, humidity, light strength, pH, oxygen levels at the root zone, CO2, and your beginning water quality all have an effect on the absorption and utilization of nutrients within a plant. These influences speed up, slow down, and sometimes block nutrient absorption and use altogether. Understanding the concepts in the following sections will help you maximize your plant growth...
There are still other factors for you to consider. Enzymes, hormones, vitamins (like B1), and other substances have an impact on how efficiently plants use the food they receive.
To get a better understanding of plant nutrition and it's effect on plant growth, be sure to explore the following sections...
Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 20 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.
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 20 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).
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.
What is colloidal humus?
Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 20 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! 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.
And when I say decrease operating costs, I mean decrease them to almost ZERO, especially if you are producing your own nutrients.
One final solution to eliminate the cost of your hydroponic nutrients: Imagine a hydroponic system that does not require you to buy any nutrients, does not require you to make your own compost, and does not require you to brew your own nutrient tea. Seriously! No cost and no effort as far as providing nutrients to your plants is concerned. Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle, you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the system!
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 20 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.
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!
This is where my advice ends for people growing in water. But some of you out there are in love with soil gardening and organic gardening, and rightly so! It's a pro-human activity. It is pro-conservation. It is pro-life. It nurtures and promotes life at all levels, from the micro-organisms to beneficial insects, to healthy humans. It's natural. it's spiritual. Gardening is written deeply into our DNA, like how you feel watching a bonfire or sitting by the ocean or next to a river.
My friend John at Food4Wealth has more than 20 years experience organic gardening, so he reminds me a lot of myself. He knows organic gardening like I know hydroponic gardening, and over the years he has learned just about every trick there is to organic gardening. He knows what makes the plants grow, and he knows how to do it with as little effort as humanly possible. His garden never needs digging, naturally repels pests, has no weeds, always produces more than his family is able to eat, produces vegetables everyday all year round, and....only requires 8 HOURS of light, easy effort PER YEAR!
Years and years of experience and results can't be argued with....the Food4Wealth gardening strategy is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work....specifically for organic gardeners who love soil gardening. THIS is the most efficient and productive way to do organic gardening, period! And combined with the ability to make a years' worth of colloidal humus compost in just one week (see World's Best Compost), this overall organic soil gardening strategy is just unstoppable- foolproof, low cost, and low effort!