Hydroponic Nutrients in Undeveloped Countries

by Lovie
(Berkeley, Ca)

I am introducing the hydroponics growing method to under privileged countries through my non-profit organization. What I need your help with is an issue with moving newly rooted clones in a bubble/DWC system to another clinic, and I wanted to know how long can we keep the air stones off before there is damage to the plants? I am fairly new to this type of growing....

Also, I am asking people to grow their own produce in an under-developed country that does not have resources for good, water soluble hydroponic nutrients. So what can we use organically for nutrients? Micro and macro-organisms? N-P-K? Thank you, and I know that a LOT of people will benefit from your help.

Answer: Lovie- Most plants will tolerate several hours in standing water. This is especially true if the water has been well oxygenated (by an air stone) before transport. In fact, I used to take clones and place 3 or 4 of them in the top of a half gallon milk jug with no air bubbler. My success rate was nearly 100%, in spite of the fact that the clones were usually in there for over a week.

I have written many pages on how to produce nutrients (for organic gardens as well as hydroponics) in countries where purchasing them is not an easy option. Below, I will run down a few of these links for your convenience....

Hydroponic Nutrients in Vietnam On this page I talk about using compost tea, aged manure, green cover crops like Alfalfa hay, seaweed and kelp meal.

Homemade Hydroponic Nutrients For this guy in India, I touch on some difficulties with making your own fertilizer recipe. These include avoiding a nutrient deficiency, trying to gauge nutrient strength, and trying to keep the pH of your nutrient solution right. I again discuss compost tea and seaweed, this time with more detail on how to actually make good compost tea. I also touch on using wood ash and bat guano for Phosphorus, and on using worm castings. I do not spend enough time on worm castings....keeping worms can be done easily anywhere in the world, and provides a constant and high quality supply of "worm manure", which contains good amounts of readily available Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, and which will never burn your plants.

Worm Casting Tea Supplement On this page, you can find more information on using worm castings, as well as information on a couple of products that include worm castings as a major ingredient. These kind of organic teas are made of worm castings and bat guano, and can be duplicated using worm castings and aged manure from any number of animals.

Hydroponics in Koh Samui Thailand In this page, I make a few interesting points on crop selection for remote gardens that make their own fertilizer, and I also mention compost tea once again.

These are a great place to start for the kind of operation you are interested in running. Unfortunately, I can only give you general rules and recipes, because so many factors will be different for each location you will be setting up. However, no matter where you set up, you will always be able to make some kind of high quality compost from local materials. Most locations, particularly in agricultural areas in under-developed nations, also have access to animal manures and/or Alfalfa hay.

Finally, no matter where you decide to set up, if the area is temperate enough to support crop growth it is also temperate enough to support a small worm farm (which can be made with cheap plastic containers). Between these things, and the use of other local materials (and with a little experimentation) you should have a solid starting point to get your projects on their feet. Good luck, and Happy Growing!

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Jul 16, 2010
Hydroponic Nutrients
by: lovie bains

Thanks Jason! Everything was so helpful and I am sure that my students won't have any trouble in preparing a strong nutrient tea in no time! Please let me know, in your opinion, what would be a strong phosphorous additive, since a lot of Indian native plants require tremendous amounts during flowering. Thank you again! Cheers!

Added Response: Phosphorus is one of the harder nutrients to provide for with this strategy. Bone meal, a very common slaughterhouse product, may be one solution to your problem....but if you are in India there may be religious objection to using it. Many bat and seabird guanos are high in Phosphorus, but you often have to disturb protected species to obtain it if it is not purchased. Lastly, clean wood ash is almost all Phosphorus, but just a small amount will change the pH of your solution considerably. These are just items off the top of my head, and with a little more research I believe you can find a more suitable local material that will yield the Phosphorus you need without a lot of other issues. Hope this helps!

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All of the items that I personally use and recommend!

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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 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.

And when I say decrease operating costs, I mean decrease them to almost ZERO, especially if you are producing your own nutrients...

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The ultimate 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! Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the 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.

Produce garnden vegetables AND fish together. Eliminate fertilizer costs!

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!

The Same System/ 10 Weeks Later!

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