Aeroponic Nutrients and Scheduling
When you search the web for answers to “How Much Nutrients to Use?” the answers are not as easy as 1,2 3. It appears that every gardener using Aeroponics, Hydroponics or Soil use different nutrients which can make things confusing. While the purpose of the nutrients is to feed the plants it is essential to give the plants the amount of nutrients needed to have strong healthy plants. Not all nutrients are the same but when following the manufactures recommended levels to use may be too much.
Before applying any nutrients to the water I highly suggest taking two readings. PPM (Parts Per Million) and pH (potential Hydrogen). These will be your base readings and are going to change as nutrients are added. Whenever I check my water first mine read 170ppm meaning that my water is a little hard. This does not have too much of an effect on the plants from what I can tell. My pH reads 6.8 which is good and almost perfect. Anything over 7.0 needs attention and should be lowered.
While adding nutrients you will see the ppm go up. How much should it be increased to? Here if you have a schedule of what the manufacture suggests I would do a test on a gallon of water. I have found that if you follow the manufactures recommendations you may overdo it. I have gone to the other extreme starting out at ¼ strength and have good results. But as plants mature they will probably want more. I have found understanding the plant and where it is in its life cycle helps to adjusting how much nutrients are needed. I have yet to find a science on this as it is a fickle finger and knowing your plants.
On an average I like seeing daily growth and keeping my reservoir pH and nutrient ppm levels adjusted for optimum growth I watch the new leaves. I want them shinny and green as possible. I watch the older leaves too. The smaller leaves will show me if I am using too much nutrients and the older larger leaves will show me if I am not using enough nutrients. While all this is good I also watch my pH and keep it around 6.8.
If I use the recommended nutrients the manufacture suggests I will have a ppm level upwards from 650 to 850. I have run my system at 250 while the plants are just starting out. As time goes and the plants age I start to increase the ppm to about half of what the manufacture recommends. Most manufactures will give the amount to use in ml, oz. teaspoons to tablespoons. Again take some measurements using a gallon jug to see how much to use for the desired level.
As every system used to deliver the nutrients to the plants is different, so will be the plants ability to take up the nutrients. My Aeroponic system has high oxygen which allows the plant to take up the nutrients efficiently which allows me to run my ppm at a lower level than a hydroponics system from what I have read. I have also found that plants only use up so many nutrients every day. I have never seen more than 20ppm used up in one day. When I see this amount used every day I know I am at optimum levels. I see my plants in the vegetation growth cycle to use more water than the plants in flowering growth. Just my observations and am I wondering what other people are seeing. I do run my flowering cycle 100ppm higher than my vegetation. As plants mature they want more and need more.
As you can see, depending on your grow system, type of nutrients and the water used makes up what your schedule is going to be. All my plants are at different stages and it is what I like. I like to maintain my reservoirs at certain levels and maintain them at that. While I find that I am adding water to my reservoirs once a week I use that water to increase or decrease the ppm nutrient level and adjust the pH accordingly. Plants best adjust to subtle changes and increases and it is advised not to shock your plants but to nurture them, just pay attention and always allow 5 days to see any adjustments made before doing something new. It takes time and patients at maintain an indoor garden.