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Nutrient Must-Haves for Your Hydroponic Garden

Plant nutrientsPerhaps Nacho Libre said it best, “Those eggs were a lie Steven. A lie! They give me no eagle powers. They give me no nutrients…” Like you, plants simply cannot thrive if they’re malnourished whether you’re an indoor hydroponic gardener or the type that prefers the fresh outside air. They’ll get scrawnier and sickly until finally keeling over and kicking the bucket. With that said, in this article we’re going to talk about the must-haves in the nutrient department.

It’s Takes Mental Elbow Grease!

Sure, you could buy some random nutrient packets based on some really crafty packaging and a rock-bottom price tag, or you could do the right thing. It’s going to take some experimentation and time to come to terms with what works best for your plants and your hydroponic garden/environment. If you’re in 100% control of the nutrient supply, then you don’t have time to waste.

The vast majority of mainstream fertilizers are packing plenty of the primary nutrients that your plants need but do they contain all of the essentials as well. It’s like the difference between your body with and without a steady supply of essential amino acids. Here’s a list of the critical macronutrients your plants require:

The 6 Essential Macronutrients

  1. Nitrogen
  2. Calcium
  3. Sulfur
  4. Potassium
  5. Phosphorous
  6. Magnesium

Those are the 6 essentials that mean the difference between a destitute garden and healthy one. Again, your over-the-counter supermarket or garden shop nutrient packets will most likely have these in safe amounts, but here’s the 10 micronutrients you should be aware of and invest in for the sake of your harvest:

The 10 Essential Micronutrients

  1. Chlorine
  2. Iron
  3. Sodium
  4. Zinc
  5. Boron
  6. Cobalt
  7. Nickel
  8. Molybdenum
  9. Copper
  10. Manganese

Look familiar? Yeah, they should because that list is pretty dang similar to what you and I require as well because after all, like plants we’re living creature made up of living cells. Each of those 16 micronutrients play similar roles in the development of plants as they do for humans and animals.

Are Your Plants Starving?

RootsSpeaking of humans, we’re pretty funny. You see, technically a human being can look physically obese and yet be starving on the cellular level. This happens when there’s plentiful dead calories and very little micro/macronutrients. So, with this knowledge you now have three paths laid out before you.

Path #1: Do some serious label-reading on your local garden shop’s nutrient packets and make sure that not only do they contain all 16 essential nutrient must-haves, but the source of the nutrients is of high quality. If you invest in low quality synthetic nutrients from mega-corporations don’t expect stellar results. It’s the same principle as buying high quality daily vitamins vs. low quality for humans.

Path #2: You could do your own research, invest in the nutrients yourself and engineer your own combinations. Not only can the price of this path add up fast, but there’s so much margin for error that for most people this isn’t a wise way to go.

Path #3: Find an authoritative source either through your own personal network or local community or shop online where you can do much more research on your nutrient sources. There’s plenty of reliable, trustworthy, fully-organic and all-natural nutrient products out there once you start digging around.

Be Aware of the Different Stages of Growth

growthThere are three stages of growth and during each of them your plants have different nutritional requirements: germination, vegetative and generative. They also exhaust nutrient supplies at different speeds during these three phases as well. Germination happens when you go from seedling to sprout. From there you focus on a light-dominant cycle for vegetative growth and then head into the blooming stage where there will be more darkness to mimic the fall.

Once you begin getting really involved with your fertilizers and you’re checking up on sources, scouring the net for reviews and company information, you’re on the right path. A good source will have a variety of nutritional packets that cater to different growth cycles and different classifications of plants.

Conclusion: Apply the Golden Rule

From a nutritional perspective, as a hydroponic gardener you must treat your plants the same way you treat your body (we hope). This means providing not some of the essentials, or just the major macronutrients, but all of them including the 10 essential micronutrients. Thanks for reading and happy fertilizer hunting!

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