Can 14-14-14 with Cal-Mag etc be Used as Nutrients

by Robert Blake
(So. Leyte Philipines)

It is difficult to find a formula for hydroponic nutrient solution to be used in a hydroponic system here in the Philippines. Philippine Phosphate Corp has a commercial fertilizer of K, P, and N2 with Ca, Mg, and Zinc. Can we blend this to supply the nutrients to our garden? What would be the dilution ratio?

Answer Robert- The fertilizer you have there would be a great start with even numbers of N-P-K and the supplementation of Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc. However, in a hydroponic system the plants depend on the nutrient solution for 100% of all their nutrients, which would also include two other secondary nutrients (Sulfur, Iron) and several other micro-nutrients.

Unless these nutrients are present (and not listed), you will have to find a way to incorporate them into your final hydroponic nutrient recipe....and always keep careful track of the recipe you are using and the results it produces. It is the only way you can eventually achieve excellent results. I do have a few ideas for the recipe. Mixing the fertilizer you have with some form of organic fertilizer would go a long way to making your recipe complete....some suggestions would be well aged cow manure, fish emulsion, and seaweed or kelp meal. Compost, as long as it was properly made and is truly compost, would also be a good additive.

The quantity does not need to be very much, as you only need secondary and micro nutrients to complete your formula. However, it would be impossible for me to guess and expect to be right. A recipe using 3 parts of the 14-14-14 and 1 part of the organics would be a good place to start. If you use organics, be sure to strain the hydroponic nutrient solution very well before adding it to your hydroponic system, as it is likely to clog or cause other problems.

It would also be very difficult to guess at a proper rate of dilution for the final fertilizer recipe. Since the majority of the mixture would be made up of the 14-14-14 fertilizer, and since this represents all of your major nutrients (N-P-K), try to find someone who is using that same fertilizer on crops and find out what dilution rate they are using. This kind of information should be available at the Philippine Phosphate Corp also.

Ask many people to get a good idea of how the fertilizer is being used successfully. Once you have a dilution rate in mind, consider this your "full strength" solution. When starting seedlings, only use 25% of this strength. After 10 or 14 day, you can give plants 50% strength. After two more weeks, you can begin giving them 75% solution and continue giving them this until you complete your first crop successfully. If you do not experience any problems with fertilizer burn you can experiment with increasing the nutrient strength during the final stages of growing your next crop. Just remember, increasing the nutrient strength is not always a beneficial thing! I hope this helps you out Robert....and I would love to hear how things work out for you. Happy Growing!

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(10 week update below)

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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 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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