The Hydroponic Nutrient Solution

by Michelle
(Tallahassee, FL)

I know that there is to be some kind of solution in the water that the plants are in...what is this solution made up of?

Answer: The hydroponic nutrient solution is made up water and plant food (fertilizer). The trick is knowing what the nutritional requirements are for the plants you are growing, then providing for all of those requirements through your feeding plan. This is harder to do in a hydroponic system than it is with plants grown in soil. The easiest strategy is to use a high quality 3 part hydroponic nutrient, like B.C. nutrients or General Hydroponics. These alone are capable of producing great results when used properly, and as you become more familiar with the needs of your plants, you can make your feeding plan more complicated accordingly (more below)

For plants grown in soil, you can often get away with feeding the plants a fertilizer containing just Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (the basic N-P-K). This is true because organic soil usually contains at least some secondary nutrients (Calcium, Magnesium, and Sulfur) and micro-nutrients (Iron, Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Molybdenum, Silica, Boron and Cobalt). The micro-organisms found in organic soil also produce quantities of humic acid (as well as other substances) which help plants grow.

For plants grown in a hydroponic system, it is not enough to just give them any regular plant food with an N-P-K number. The fertilizer also needs to contain each secondary nutrient as well as each micro-nutrient. The absence of even one of these will cause a nutrient deficiency (and growth problems). This is why most hydroponic gardeners use nutrients made specifically for hydroponic gardening....these fertilizers are complete and using them is much easier than trying to mix up your own recipe.

Make sure to do some research on the plants you are growing. This will help you determine what strength you should make the nutrient solution to start with, and what strength nutrient solution you should end up with at the end of the growing cycle. Lettuce, for example, will do well using a half strength (about 700 ppm) vegetative formula (high in Nitrogen) from start to finish. Tomatoes, on the other hand, can be started with a half strength vegetative formula but will need to have the fertilizer strength increased as they grow. Tomatoes will also require you to switch to a flowing formula (high in Phosphorus) when you cut the light cycle to force flowering.

I go into a little more detail on how to maintain your nutrient reservoir properly on my how to grow hydro page. When I first started gardening with hydroponics, I came up with a very simple, effective, and less expensive way of fertilizing my plants with a product called MaxSea. I do not use MaxSea anymore because it contains bloodmeal and bonemeal, and because I am paranoid about mad-cow disease....however, you can still find directions for doing so on my organic hydroponics page.

Another visitor recently asked me about hydroponic nutrients, and in this post I discuss some of my recommendations for professional hydroponic nutrients. I hope this helps :-)

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All of the items that I personally use and recommend!

AffordableGarden Design&Setup

(10 week update below)

Find out the cheapest and easiest ways to garden productively in this article.

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.

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

High Efficiency

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--->


Click Here to learn more!

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!

If you've found this site helpful at all, I would really appreciate it