How To Mix Hydroponic Nutrients - Speeding Up Growth With King Crab

A hydroponics system is one where you allow the plants to grow in an environment where they haven’t really evolved to grow. However, with a little cajoling and with lots of love and care, plants grow wonderfully well in a hydroponics system giving fresh produce and joy to the practitioner.

So you’ve set up a hydroponics system. Now the next vital step is to set up a fertilization schedule so that your hydroponic garden can grow and thrive. So how to mix hydroponic nutrients? Let us take a look.

Which Hydroponic Nutrients Should You Choose?

Fertilizer mixes come in two forms – solid (granules or powder) and liquid. Also, what plant you are growing will decide what fertilizer mix you’ll use because different plants have different nutrient requirements. Premixed hydroponic nutrient solutions are commercially available. You’ll just have to mix them in the correct proportion to water and use them for your hydroponic system.

If you are using commercially available liquid (or dry) ready-to-use hydroponics nutrients, you’ll find that different manufacturers offer 1-part, 2-part, or 3-part nutrient bottles. Usually, these sets contain nutrients for the “grow” and “bloom” phases. While these are typically NPK fertilizers, the ratio varies according to the stage of growth of the plant. Micronutrients are also part of these two nutrient mixes. In some cases, micronutrients are available as a separate mixture, making it a three-part hydroponics nutrient set.

However, while liquid nutrients are easy to handle and apply for beginners, if you are a DIY type of individual, you can simply buy inexpensive fertilizers and some salts to mix your own nutrients.  

The ratio of the three major macronutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (or NPK) – differs in different chemical-based fertilizer mixes and depends upon the specific plant you wish to fertilize.

While farming in the soil you only (usually) need an NPK fertilizer since the soil has most other micronutrients. In a hydroponics system, however, you’ll need to account for almost all nutrients. Most soil fertilizers do not contain many micronutrients as the plants get them from the soil. But for a hydroponics system, you cannot use just a soil fertilizer. So basically you’ll need good base nutrients like an NPK fertilizer, calcium nitrate, and magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt). These provide the major, and most minor, nutrients to your plants.

You can also supplement your fertilization schedule with a bacterial. These come as dry or wet preparations and contain carefully chosen live microbial strains that support the growth of the plants through different modes of action.

How to Mix Hydroponic Nutrients

Water plays an important role in the quality of the fertilizer solution you’ll make for your hydroponic system. If you are using tap water, remember that it has chlorine. If you add your plant nutrients to chlorinated water, they will form compounds (chelates) with chlorine and become unavailable to plants. Chlorine can also harm your plants.

Fill up the nutrient reservoir or container you’ll be using to mix your nutrients in with tap water and let it sit for at least 24 hours to allow the chlorine to dissipate. The water needs to be at ambient temperature – between 65 and 75 degrees. If the water is too cold, the fertilizer may not dissolve completely. If the water is too hot, it may put the plants under stress. You should take a measured amount of water so that you can follow the exact dilution guidelines for your nutrients.

Add the nutrients to the water one by one – letting the first one dissolve or mix completely before adding the next. Never mix the nutrients in a container and then add them to water. Their concentrated forms will react with each other and form compounds and precipitates that won’t nourish your plants.

Shake the bottles well before use. If you are using the same container (like a calibrated beaker), always rinse it after you have used it to add one nutrient solution. As mentioned earlier, never let two nutrient solutions come in contact with each other in their concentrated forms. Depending upon what brand you are using, follow the dilution instructions carefully.

Once the entire solution is homogenous, check the pH of the solution using a good quality pH meter. The pH level should be slightly acidic - between 5.5 to 6.5. You’ll find that usually, the water’s pH is in the alkaline range (above 7). You’ll have to add a chemical (called pH down) that will bring down the pH to the desired range.

If you are adding a bacterial, add it after you’ve adjusted the pH so as not to put the microbes under pH stress. Check the pH again, just in case.

King Crab®, from Plant Revolution, has to be mixed with water at 0.5 mL per gallon of water, for hydroponics use. King Crab can be used with any fertilizer line.

Speeding Up Growth with a Microbial

In nature, plants have a very close symbiotic association with many microbial communities. They even form a highly specialized ecosystem called the “rhizosphere” that develops around the roots and contain millions of beneficial microbes. These microbes perform many activities – fix nitrogen, solubilize and mobilize soil nutrients to make them available to the plant, provide plant growth-promoting substances, and so on – that support the healthy growth of plants.

When growing plants in a hydroponic system, prevailing wisdom says that since all the nutrients are provided to the plant in a simple form, there is no use for microbes to be introduced to the system. However, many studies indicate that when beneficial microbes are introduced into a hydroponics system, the growth of the plant is positively influenced.

Microflora develops faster in a hydroponics system than in soil. This could be explained by the fact that since either water or a usually sterile solid substratum is used for hydroponics, because there are no competing microbes, like in soil, the addition of bacterial hastens the development of microflora.

King Crab is a carefully selected consortium of potent plant growth-supporting bacteria that can be used in soil or in a hydroponics system. It contains helpful species of Bacillus, Paenibacillus, and Pseudomonas. These bacteria perform a variety of functions that support the growth of plants in a hydroponic environment, like enhancing the uptake of nutrients by plant roots.

For instance, Bacillus subtilis, a constituent of King Crab, is known to decrease high-salinity concentrations of water or nutrient solutions. A study showed that Bacillus amyloliquefaciens increased the efficiency of water use in hydroponically-grown tomatoes. Pseudomonas species influence plant growth  

Parting thoughts

Numerous studies have shown the positive effects of adding plant growth-promoting microorganisms to hydroponics systems. Scientists are also looking at developing hydroponics systems supplemented with plant growth-promoting microbes for space travel. A recent study showed that helpful microbes in the hydroponics system allow the plants to adjust to the stresses of space travel and thrive under artificial growing conditions.  

King Crab, like all Plant Revolution products, has been developed after extensive research and has been tried and tested in field conditions. The overarching philosophy of the company is to utilize cutting-edge research to develop microbial that seek to leverage the best that nature has to offer.

The common-sense approach of using natural processes to help speed up plant growth holds true even in an artificial environment like a hydroponics system. Even though you aren’t growing plants in soil, the effect of plant beneficial microorganisms cannot be overlooked.