Interested in learning how to make your very own hydroponic fertilizer for your plants? Here is a simple recipe guide to get you started.
Before we get started, you should understand the needs of your plants and what is already available to them naturally. Nature itself, especially under soil-based conditions, does a lot of the work for you. This is because, within the soil itself, there are already the necessary nutrients that your plants need. However, the minute you change the living conditions from soil to a hydroponic environment, you are taking away the plant’s chance to be able to take in nutrients from the soil. As such, it becomes your job to ensure that your plants have the nutrients that they need to grow healthy and strong. A benefit of making your own fertilizer is that you are given the opportunity to choose and adjust which nutrients should be included and how much. This allows you to have more control over the outcome of your plant.
Obtaining the ingredients
Now to begin, we will be learning how to make our very own homemade nutrients for your hydroponic plants. Most of the nutrients that are found in homemade fertilizers usually come from fertilizer salts. It is very easy to obtain these salts. You can find them at many plant-food suppliers, agricultural agencies, some gardening shops or nurseries as well as chemical suppliers. These fertilizer salts are usually sold in bulks of twenty-five to fifty pounds per bag. This then becomes a problem because you would not need this much fertilizer salt unless you have a huge hydroponic garden to supply nutrients with. Additionally, having to buy so much fertilizer salts for no reason would only add on to your unnecessary costs. So, if you are able to find friends who share the same interest, maybe you could split the bill and fertilizers amongst yourselves. Even with this knowledge, it should not deter you from trying to make your own fertilizers! Go online to check if there are others who are willing to sell smaller amounts for a decent price.
Types of Nutrient Salts
Now onto the other salts. There are different varieties out there in the market for you to choose from. However, some salts work much better than others. This is because of their varying properties. For example, some salts are better able to dissolve which allows the plants to absorb more nutrients or they have a longer storage life, more affordable and not erratic. One such example would be potassium chloride being a better option as compared to potassium sulfate. The availability of chloride within the salt would help the plant to survive better if it was to be in an environment that might have a chlorine concentration level that is not very welcoming to the growth of your plant. However, one thing to note when choosing potassium chloride is that, if it were to be used in the long run without checking the chlorine concentration regularly, it might end up being harmful to the plants.
Another example would be choosing between magnesium nitrate and magnesium sulfate. Usually, people would tend to choose magnesium sulfate instead for it is the cheaper option. Magnesium sulfate can be easily and readily found in Epsom salts. Ensure that there is no scent, dye, or perfume added into this mixture before you purchase the Epsom salt.
Other than Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium you must have at least ten other elements in your nutrients in order to have healthy plant growth. Here are a few to note:
- Iron: for chlorophyll production
- Chlorine: needed for photosynthesis
- Zinc: used for energy transference
- Manganese: helps the absorption of nitrogen
While we do understand that plants require a different amount of nutrients on different days, trying to give in to their every need will become tiring. As such, you must be able to provide your plants with a balanced amount of nutrients. To do this, your fertilizers should have the right amount to satisfy the maximum requirements of the plant.
Since nutrients are absorbed through the roots of plants, it is very difficult to overfeed your hydroponics. However, do note that if the concentration of salt is too high, it might become difficult for your plants to take in any water. The result of having too high a concentration of salt would result in the plant having to give out more water than taking in, leaving it dehydrated.
Recommended Nutrient Formula (120 gallons)
Our recommended formula contains ten ounces each of sodium nitrate, potassium sulfate, and calcium nitrate, five ounces of magnesium sulfate, and fifteen ounces of superphosphate. To create the powder, use one teaspoon each of manganese sulfate and boric acid powder, half a teaspoon each of zinc and copper sulfate. Lastly, one ounce of iron sulfate. Then mix the powder and solution together. For every hundred gallons of water, add half a teaspoon of the formula. Once you are done, throw all leftovers away as it is of no use.
If there is a need to adjust the formula of the fertilizer the easiest solution would be to use a foliar spray. This can be used for about anything. The spray is made of a very diluted mixture of water and nutrients. Spray over your plants a few times a day for about a week or so and you will notice your plants going back to normal.
As for the water supply, try not to use water from a water softener as it might be too alkaline for your plants. Distilled or rainwater is good enough, you do not need to turn to anything expensive. Pure water is not advisable too as it might not have the nutrients that your plant needs. In the event where you feel that your plants require more carbon dioxide, you can choose to purchase a carbon dioxide generator.
Now that you know how to make your own fertilizer, it is time to know the proper way of storing them as well. Keep them away from moisture!
Hopefully, this gives you enough information on how to make your own fertilizers at home. Have fun and hope that your plants grow strong and healthy!