Organic Hydroponics

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Organic Hydroponics
The formulas in this section are designed for mediums that drain well such as perlite, coconut fibers, and clay pellets. These formulas will also work fine for soilless mixes such as Sunshine MIx® and Jiffy Mixtm. These formulas have been formulated to give flowering plants all the necessary primary and secondary elements, as well as the trace elements necessary for vigorous growth. No salts will accumulate with the organic ingredients, which will provide a fine tasting smoke. If quality is an issue and so is volume, the following sample formulas are definitely worth a try.

For complete control, cheap and light perlite is recommended for the medium because it does not alter the solution pH and fertilizers do not cling to it. Perlite also allows lots of air to get in the spaces when solution drains through it. However, perlite needs regular irrigation such as a few waterings a day or continuous irrigation. Not for the sake of food necessity, but for the fact that dry perlite sends out a dust. This dust can collect on the top of leaves.

Clay is good medium, but it is heavy and a little expensive. It is negatively charged and will hold some positive ions such as calcium and potassium. All mediums can be flushed with plain water regularly to remove salts.

Materials that alter the pH can be of use to keep the pH down, such as clay. Also, holding some water and nutrients can be good too, especially between feedings when the water is drained from the growing medium.

Vegetative Growth
Any recommended rate from an organic fertilizer manufacturer should work fine, but feeding needs to be more precise during bloom. If chemicals are used during vegetative growth, and organics are used during bloom, nobody will be able to tell the difference from a garden grown only with organics. This is a way to make tasty produce on a skinny budget.

Sample Formulas
Vegetative Growth Formula #1
Use the manufacturer’s recommended rate for Sea Mixtm 3-2-2, or two-thirds of the recommended rate for Alaska Fish Fertilizer®, combined with the recommended rate for liquid kelp. In addition, pH up or pH down can be added until the ph is between 6.0 and 6.5.
Adding Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate), 1/2 to 1-teaspoon per 5 gallons will help combat magnesium and sulphur deficiencies.
Special note: all pH testing and addition of a ph up or ph down is optional, although recommended. Hydrogen peroxide usage at 1 to 3 ml per gallon is recommended to keep the medium clean.

Vegetative Growth Formula #2
When it comes time for the second feeding, the fertilizing can be repeated. Below is an optional solution to use:
Sea Mixtm, two-thirds of the manufacturer’s recommended rate; humic acid (made from organic molecules created from the breakdown of organic matter) at one-half to two-thirds of the recommended rate; pH up or pH down until the pH hits 6.0 to 6.5.

Vegetative Growth Improvisation Formulas #3
Since the pH of a water supply varies from town to town and city to city, it is possible to use different organic fertilizers to balance the pH. To lower the water’s pH, one custom formula is to make a tea with worm castings and add fish emulsion or Earth Juice®. To raise pH in the water, going a little heavier on the wood ashes is an option. There are many other organic fertilizers with varying ph readings.
A tea of composted steer manure and liquid kelp can be good for a near-neutral water supply.
Every organic fertilizer will alter the pH of a solution to a different degree.

Flowering
A grower can apply any commercial fertilizer and mix it at the recommended rate. Results will be fine. But, in order to grow specific plants productively and with the lowest cost, making custom formulations is the way to go. All large-scale farms know the importance of making their own fertilizers, which is a major expense once the farm is set up.
During flowering, a grower cannot afford to be sloppy. Feeding is more critical and plants use more nutrients when they are producing flowers.

Sample Formulas
Bloom Formula #1
1. Four teaspoons per gallon of Earth Juice®Bloom.
2. Four teaspoons per gallon of Earth Juice®Grow.
3. Four teaspoons of bat guano per gallon. Guano should be placed into a teabag or added directly into the tank. Bat guano can cause stomach aches when it is used in a recirculating hydroponic system, even with minimal exposure. Using the replacement (potassium phosphate) from the chemical cheat sheet (below) is safer than bat guano. Organically, using more Greenfire®Earth Juice Bloom is another option.
4. Growth Plus (Nitrozyme®) at 1/2-teaspoon per gallon.
5. Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) at .5 to 1 gram per quart (liter). Epsom salts should be dissolved in warm water before adding to nutrient solution.
6. One gram per gallon of sulphate of potash (potassium sulphate) or 2 grams per quart (liter) of wood ashes. Sulphate of potash should be mixed separately in hot water for it to completely dissolve.
7. Finally, pH is adjusted 5.5 to 6.5 with natural pH up or natural pH down.

Options
A grower can add the following to the above formula before adjusting pH.
1. Humic acid at 1-teaspoon per gallon or at 1/4 to 1/3 the recommended rate.
2. For other trace minerals, a grower can add half to full recommended rate of liquid kelp.
3. Adding 1 tablespoon of molasses and two teaspoons of yeast into 1 quart (liter) is a cheap homemade catalyst. The mixture should be dissolved before it is added to the tank. It will add enzymes and help to combat upward pH drift.
4. The solution should sit one or two nights so that pH stabilizes. Running a pump in the solution can help keep the solution agitated. Sometimes, some of the materials, such as bat guano, will flow to the bottom, but most of this formula will stay nicely mixed.
The pH of this solution will drift less upward, the longer it sits in the nutrient tank.
5. pH should be monitored daily and adjusted to 5.5 to 6.5, using either a natural pH up or a natural pH down. Adjusting the formula to a lower pH is a good way to deal with upward pH drift.

Chemical Cheat Sheet
Use .5 to 1 gram of calcium nitrate instead of Earth Juice®Grow and Earth Juice ®Bloom; use chelated trace minerals (1/2-teaspoon for every 5 gallons) while canceling the usage of Growth Plustm (Nitrozyme®) and Pyro Claytm; use potassium phosphate at 1/2 to 3/4 gram per quart (liter) while eliminating the bat guano. The potassium levels can be changed during various stages of bloom to accommodate phosphorous levels.

Bloom Formula #2
1. Four grams per quart (liter) of Pure Earthworm castings. Worm castings can be wrapped in panty hose, a teabag, or cheesecloth. Squeezing the castings in the bag periodically helps to release the fertilizer more quickly.
2. Four teaspoons per gallon of Earth Juice®Bloom .
3. Four teaspoons of bat guano per gallon. Guano can be put in a teabag or panty hose. Guano should be squeezed periodically to release the fertilizer. Bat guano can cause stomachaches when it is used in a recirculating hydroponic system, even with minimal exposure. Using the replacement (potassium phosphate) from the chemical cheat sheet is safer than bat guano. Organically, using more Greenfire®Earth Juice Bloom (recommended rate) is another choice.
4. Growth Plustm (Nitrozyme®) at 1-teaspoon per gallon.
5. Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) at .5 to 1 gram per quart (liter). Epsom salts should be dissolved in warm water before adding them to a nutrient solution.
6. One gram per gallon of sulphate of potash (Potassium Sulphate) or 2 grams per quart (liter) of wood ashes. Sulphate of potash should be mixed separately in hot water to completely dissolve the crystals before adding them to the nutrient solution.
7. The pH should be checked daily and adjusted to 5.5 to 6.5. A lower number is better for an upward drifting pH.

Options
1. Pyro Clay can be added at 1 gram per liter.
2. Humic acid can be added at 1-teaspoon per gallon or at 1/4 to 1/3 the recommended rate.
3. For other trace minerals, half to full recommended rate of liquid kelp may be added.
4. Adding 1 tablespoon of molasses and 2 teaspoons of yeast into 1 quart (liter) works as a catalyst. The mixture should be dissolved before it is added to the tank. The mixture will add enzymes and help combat upward pH drift.
Chemical Cheat Sheet
Use .5 to 1 gram of calcium nitrate instead of Earth Juice®Grow and Earth Juice ®Bloom; use chelated trace minerals (1/2-teaspoon for every 5 gallons) while canceling the usage of Growth Plustm (Nitrozyme®) and Pyro Claytm; use potassium phosphate at 1/2 to 3/4 gram per quart (liter) while eliminating the bat guano. The potassium levels can be changed during various stages of bloom to accommodate phosphorous levels.

Special Notes (for All Organic Hydroponic Formulas)
Solution should be topped up regularly (i.e. daily to weekly) with plain water or nutrient solution, depending on how the pH, PPM, and water level changes.
The pH of the solution should be checked and modified after adding liquid to reservoir. Drawing a top-up line in the reservoir with a permanent felt-tip pen helps to make topping-up the reservoir a brainless exercise. Large reservoirs that can run a few days to a week with proper pH and PPM make things even more brainless.

These organic formulas on pages 97 to 101 should be somewhere near 1,500PPM when read on a TDS meter after they are mixed, if the water supply reads at 0PPM. A PPM meter can be used as a reference meter. A grower should take readings once in a while and see if the PPM goes up or down.
If the PPM stays the same or goes down just slightly, adding the regular mixed solution to the reservoir should suffice.
Making a solution that keeps a constant PPM (or slightly lowering PPM) gives the plant the exact elements they need until the reservoir becomes empty and is pH buffered: this is the path to feeding perfection. With this method, the reservoir is easy to clean before adding new solution. This is efficient gardening.
If the PPM goes up, more water should be added to the tank to dilute the solution. With this approach, complete changes of solution are recommended, especially for larger plants that use up more nutrient than water.
After a couple of weeks, an organic hydroponic solution can bring on odors, depending on the fertilizer (e.g. stinky bat guano).
If a PPM meter is used in an organic or chemical-organic garden, what works is changing the solution when the PPM drops to 1/3 to 1/2 of the original strength (i.e. PPM drops from 1,500 to 500 to 750PPM). The waste can be poured out anywhere in an outdoor garden. Or, addition of the same formula can be added from time to time to replenish nutrients, if there is no smell. Or, for the trained eye, individual nutrients can be added such as Earth Juice® Grow, bat guano, etc., as deficiencies are spotted.
Nitrogen consumption is probably the heaviest from all the elements in the formulations. Changing the solution and replenishing all nutrients is the best move to keep things simple.

Optional: Foliar Feeding
Note: All pH testing and addition of pH up is optional. The results will still be beneficial if the wetting agent is left out of the recipe.
Foliar feeding should be stopped 2 to 3 weeks prior to harvest so that all residues are rinsed off, and so that nutrients have time to be flushed out of the plant tissue. Flushing allows for top quality. To protect the lungs, a respirator should be worn while foliar feeding.

Formula A
1. 1/3-teaspoon or 3ml of Nitrozyme®(Growth Plustm) per quart (liter) of water, or any liquid kelp used at recommended rate for foliar feeding.
2. 1/16-teaspoon or .25ml vitamin B1 per quart (liter) of water.
3. Organic wetting agent (manufacturer’s recommended rate).
4. Optional: pH up or pH down (to bring the pH to 6 to 6.5 after adding the above ingredients).

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