A Hydroponic Mold Problem

by Bob
(Fish and Jacks Canada)

I set up a hydro system as in the article "My Most Successful Homemade Hydroponics System". Into day 7 and it appears that mold is growing on the roots, or am I mistaking this with algae? The res is covered, not allowing any light into the nutrients solution as well as the PVC piping.

Would the rate of flow of water through the system allow for mold to grow on the roots? I could send u a picture of the mold or algae in question as this is my first time and not certain about the growth in question. Thanks, Bob.

Answer: Bob- Mold will not usually attack the roots of your plants whenever they are submerged under water, as all of the mold varieties I am familiar with require full-air in order to survive. Depending on the color of the film on your roots, I suspect one of two things. If the layer is some shade of brown, it is likely just an organic film made up of nutrients and beneficial micro-organisms. If the film is green, however, and very small thread-like strands are beginning to hang off the film, than the problem is definitely algae.

If you gently rub on one of the affected roots, the layer should rub away and show a white, healthy root underneath (or possibly stained slightly off-white is OK too). If you rub on the affected spot and it is black, or if it simply disintegrates in your hand, than the roots could be dying back due to lack of oxygen in the standing water. Hopefully you have included air bubblers in your nutrient reservoir and this is not the case. If it IS the case, you have a more serious problem. All of the dead root tissue in the system will attract and grow a large population of some very nasty micro-organisms that like to colonize and destroy roots- like pythium or fusarium.

So, give the roots another check. Make sure you have air bubblers aerating the nutrient solution. And double check the temperature of your nutrient solution....it should be between 67 and 72 degrees ideally. Any warmer than that, and the water cannot hold the dissolved oxygen and the solution will begin to favor the bad micro-organisms. I sure hope this helps you out Bob.

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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)...

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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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