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FAQ's - Water

Q. Is there difference if I use tap water compared to distilled? Will tap water affect growth rate negatively?
A. Yes, there is quite a difference actually. Tap water may be suitable to drink but can contain high levels of minerals that may not be suitable for plants. You can have your water analyzed at the local waterworks company to find out a break down of what's in the water. Usually tap water is usable for growing but using distilled water is much better. Distilled water is totally pure and is the best water to use to feed your plants.
Q. If I have a pythium outbreak, which is killing my root system, can I use H2O2 to save them?
A. Using H2O2 in the reservoir will kill the pythium spores, but it may also damage healthy roots that are still remaining unless given the right dose. H2O2 will oxidize organic material in general, rather than only killing the pythium. Once the damage is gotten this far it's hard to control. When it comes to pythium the best method for control is prevention. If your crop is close to being done then the best thing to do would be to finish it off and after harvest sterilize everything! Try and keep on top of it this time.
Q. Should I pre-treat my water by letting it sit out for 24 hours before adding the nutrients?
A. Yes, if using tap water, allowing it to sit with the lid off of the container for 24-48 hours will allow the chlorine in the water to dissipate.
Q. Can plants live in salt water?
A. Most plants do not respond well to saltwater, but different plants have different levels of sodium tolerance. Eventually feeding with saltwater will kill your plants, so this is not recommended.
Q. What does "PH" mean?
A. PH stands for probable hydrogen. It is a measurement of a nutrient solution's relative concentration of positive hydrogen ions. It is measured on a scale of 14. 7 is neutral and below 7 is acidic and above 7 is called alkaline.
Q. Is PH really that important? What does it affect?
A. Yes, it is extremely important. The PH affects the way a plant absorbs its nutrients. If the plants PH is too low (acidic), acid salts bind up nutrients chemically and the roots are unable to absorb them. Too high of a PH (alkaline) and certain nutrients become unavailable.
Q. Does a point or two really matter on the ph scale? 6 or 7, what's the big deal if I'm off a bit?
A. For every full point change in PH it causes an increase or decrease by 10 times. For example soil with a PH of 6 is 10 times more acidic than soil with a PH of 7. Soil with a PH of 6 is 100 times more acidic than soil with a PH of 8, so yes a point or two really does matter.
Q. What do I use to adjust my Ph levels in my nutrient solution?
A. To adjust and make the PH lower or more acidic you can use PH down, a pre mix concentrate which is usually phosphoric or nitric acid but a number of acids will work to lower the PH. To raise the PH use a pre mix concentrate which is usually potassium hydroxide.
Q. Can I adjust my PH using the chemicals from my pool to lower the PH?
A. No. While it will lower the PH, your plants will not be happy. It might cause a reaction with fertilizer salts in your nutrient solution.
Q. Should I use nitric acid or phosphoric acid to lower my PH?
A. If you are in the vegetative stage use nitric acid. It will give your plants a small amount of nitrogen. If you are in the flowering stage use the phosphoric acid and it will give your plants a small amount of phosphorus.
Q. Is Ozone a good way to sterilize my water?
A. Yes, ozone is the strongest oxidant for disinfecting your water. Use ozone prior to mixing your nutrient solution. Clean the water first using ozone, and then add the nutrients. The ozone will not react well with the nutrients.
Q. What is the best water source to use to germinate my seeds?
A. The best would be distilled, and is also very readily available. Tap water has a high chlorine content but if left out for 24 hours it will have enough time for the chlorine to dissipate and will be suitable.
Q. Sometimes my nutrient solution gets milky and cloudy even though I have an air pump running all day, all night, why is this?
A. Possibly the beginning of a certain type of algae, or perhaps just residue from your medium. If the medium is rock wool or hydroton it is harmless. Possibly your nutrients are precipitating in the reservoir resulting in a cloudy deposit. If your reservoir temperature is climbing too high this can also have a negative effect on your nutrient solution. Make sure your reservoir temperature is running between 65-72 F. The warmer the reservoir the less available oxygen is there for the roots. As temperature raises this really slows down the growth rate and becomes prone to disease and fungal attacks.
Q. How can I add Oxygen to my nutrient solution?
A. The best and most cost effective way is to use a suitable size air pump running on a continual basis.
Q. What should my water temperature be at in a hydroponics nutrient solution?
A. The Ideal temperature for the nutrient solution to be at is between 65-72 F.
Q. What are some of the preventative measures I can take to protect my water reservoir against pythium attack?
A. Some growers use chitosan or silica in the reservoir to increases the plants natural defense system. Some also use a variety of beneficial microbes in the nutrient solution to fight off any opposing fungi. Keep your nutrient solution clean and at the right temperature (65-72 F). Always clean and sterilize equipment between each crop.
Q. Why am I getting Algae build up on my flood table in the corners where the water sits?
A. The algae are forming due to the light coming in contact with the standing water in your table corners. Try and cover this some how. Fill it with clay pellets or a piece of white poly but somehow block the light from coming in contact with the standing water. Algae are bad and are a breeding ground for fungus gnats.
Q. My nutrients are always cloudy in my water, even when I mix a totally new and clean mixture?
A. If the fertilizer is granular (dry) then this is very common and is usually caused by a protective coating that is applied to it while being manufactured. If you are using liquid fertilizer and clouding still occurs on a regular basis you should contact the manufacturer of the fertilizer and find out why. Make sure you mix your fertilizer in the specified order. Often times manufacturers require there fertilizer be mixed in a certain order.
Q. Should I use H2O2 on my seedlings in rock wool?
A. No, it is not needed this young in the plants early stage. At this stage there will be hardly any organic matter for the H2O2 to attack therefore it will attack fragile little root hairs. Older root systems are stronger and more resistant to H2O2 damage, unless extremely high doses occur.
Q. How do I lower my PPM in my nutrient solution?
A. Just add water until PPM reaches desired level. Only do this once. After one time the nutrient tank should be drained and replaced with a fresh new mixture. Always monitor your nutrient solution for drastic changes in ppm.
Q. Why does my PH change so much?
A. In the bloom stage the plants use allot of potassium which naturally acidifies the nutrient solution. Temperature also can change pH levels.
Q. What does NFT stand for?
A. Nutrient film Technique. It works by running a thin film of nutrient solution over the plants root system usually in a flood or trough system.
Q. Do certain plastics leach back into the nutrient solution like Rubbermaid containers and plastic pails for example? Are these types of products safe for use in a hydroponics system?
A. Usually products such as Rubbermaid are rate as food grade based on the fact that food could quite possibly be stored in them. Always look for food grade plastics when seeking out material for a hydroponics garden. Better to be safe than sorry. Some plastics can leach back releasing harmful toxins into the water system so be careful what you use. The safest bet would be to purchase equipment for hydroponics growing so you know it will be made of the correct materials.
Q. Is it good to add potassium silicate to my nutrient solution?
A. Yes, it is very beneficial to your garden. It increases the plants resistance to disease as well as salinity. It also increases the pant in strength and health. Use potassium silicate in your reservoir in small doses always to maintain a strong resistant plant.