Advice from the Experts
WHEN MIXING YOUR NUTRIENTS THERE ARE SOME GUIDELINES TO FOLLOW.
Plant nutrients are split up into separate parts that not only trigger different segments of plant growth but also contain different important micro and macro nutrients. The reason why these nutrients are split into different bottles is because not all elements react well with each other and some can actually cause the other to get locked out.
MIXING YOUR NUTRIENTS
The easiest way to mix nutrients is with a bucket, however the more nutrients you have to mix and the larger the quantity may require more advanced mixing solutions.If you are using a 3 part nutrient line (grow, micro, bloom)
Make sure that the micro is always the first thing in the water. This will ensure there is no lock out and everything mixes well.
Silica, however, is the one exception to this rule. If silica is used in your nutrient line add it first because silica can cause lockout if added after other nutrients.
Most nutrient companies will tell you their mixing order but if you can’t find that information, it’s always safe to use their feed chart as a guide of when to add each nutrient.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO
When mixing nutrients there are some important steps to stick to in order to avoid problems. For example, before adding nutrients or supplements, you should check the EC/PPM of the water you are using.
Hard water and PPM levels (.7 scale) can hinder growth which is why it's recommended to use reverse osmosis water. Add your base nutrient until the target EC/PPM level is reached. The ideal level depends on plant size, plant variety or strain, lighting intensity, environment, and growth phase.
If you don’t know where to start, check the feed sheet or nutrient calculator from the nutrient line you are using.
mix your solution thoroughly and then check its pH (be sure to calibrate your meter weekly to ensure accurate readings). Adjust your pH to the appropriate level based on grow media being used:
Hydroponics 5.5 – 6.2
Coco Coir 5.8 – 6.2
Soil 6.2 – 6.7
Still have more questions?
At River Roots Garden Supplies we carry a wide variety of nutrients, all with different chemical recipes that can impact your plant in different ways. While the product sheet for most nutrients may not include the potential side effects on your plants, we do our best to know them ourselves so you can avoid any surprises.
Come into our shop in Moline or shoot us a message with your grow questions, nutrient questions, or whatever questions you may have.
What Is Soil?
BEFORE HYDROPONICS IT WAS ESSENTIAL FOR GROWING BIG, HEALTHY PLANTS.
If it isn’t taken care of properly, it can ruin a harvest. We all know how important soil is for plants, but what is soil?
WHAT IS SOIL?
The USDA defines soil as, “a natural body comprised of solids (minerals and organic matter), liquid, and gases that occurs on the land surface,” but the soil you get at River Roots is much more complex than some dirt from the ground.
Different soil brands will experiment with new ingredients, like adding bat guano or ground up seashell. Others combine various mediums together. Peat, coco, perlite and more combine to create a blended soil product.
River Roots Garden Supplies sells a variety of soils and mediums that can be used as standalone mediums or amendments. Here’s what you might find inside a bag of soil at River Roots.
The result of millions of years of decomposition, peat moss, more commonly just called peat, is a moss that develops in bogs in the northern hemisphere. Canada is one of the top producers of peat moss.
Peat is used in soil mixes mainly for its ability to hold water and nutrients for a very long time. Due to the nature of its composition, peat decomposes very slowly over time, making it very cost-effective for cultivators. However, peat moss is not a renewable material. It takes centuries to develop, making some growers hesitant to support the practice.
Perlite is known for its great aeration qualities. A man-made product, perlite is created through superheating volcanic glass to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, popping the glass and expanding it to over 10x its original size. This process makes a very lightweight product that looks like popcorn.
Very porous and lightweight, perlite allows water to drain more quickly from your plants. Perlite is great for plants that don’t mind less moisture in the soil, or plants that do well in soil that drains faster than other mediums.
Coco is the byproduct of the coconut industry and a renewable resource with minimal ecological impact. It comes from the husks of coconuts either decomposed or ground up that are left over from processing the rest of the coconut. The end product is similar to peat in apearence and structure, but operates differently.
Unable to hold as much water and nutrients as peat, coco provides better aeration for plants. Growers can then feed plants more often which can help them grow more robust. Coco is also high in sodium and potassium.
Other additives aren’t necessarily mediums themselves, but are regularly added to soils for their beneficial, organic properties.
Bat guano is added for its readily available nitrogen, phosphorus and other micronutrients. Kelp meal is dried and milled seaweed that contains a rich amount of Potash, making it an ideal supplement for all plants.
One of the most common (and naturally occurring) organic supplements for soil is earth worm castings. Worm castings contain a healthy dose of nitrogen that is slowly released into your plants over time. Additionally, earth worm castings carry many other beneficial micronutrients and bacteria.
So, what is soil? It’s a lot of things! But one thing it definitely isn’t, is just dirt.
As growers and cultivators, it’s important to know what is in your soil, and what can be added to make your soil better.
What Is Hydroponics?
GROWING WITH HYDROPONICS CAN BE VERY COST EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT COMPARED TO GROWING IN SOIL. BUT IF DONE IMPROPERLY, CAN END UP COSTING MUCH MORE.
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in a nutrient-rich water solution. As opposed to soil, hydroponic systems support the root system of plants via inert mediums such as coco, rockwool or perlite.
Hydroponic systems aim to allow direct contact between plant roots and the nutrient solution. These systems also allow better access to oxygen for optimal growth. Growing with hydroponics has many advantages when maintained properly.
ADVANTAGES OF HYDROPONICS
Hydroponic systems allow for maximum nutrient uptake from your plants roots. This allows them to grow at a much quicker rate compared to soil. When done correctly, plants in a hydroponic system can mature up to 25% faster and yield 30% more than the same plants grown in soil.
Also as hard as it may be to believe, growing with hydroponics can actually save water. Up to 20x less water is used in hydroponic systems compared to soil based growing. In fact, compared to soil, hydroponics is better for the environment because it reduces waste and pollution from soil runoff.
DISADVANTAGES OF HYDROPONIC SYSTEMS
The biggest disadvantage of hydroponics is the cost. While cost effective, the initial setup of a hydroponics system will be more expensive than soil. However, hydroponics is a more advanced, and much more effective growing system compared to soil. And you get what you pay for with both options.
Your plants roots will be in direct contact with the nutrient solution. So you need to monitor your plants much more closely than with soil. Which can become time consuming, and obsessive.
On top of that, should a pump failure happen when you aren’t there to fix it, the results can be disastrous.
In a hydroponic system your plants are used to having direct access to fresh water. Thus they cannot store nutrients like soil would. A clogged drip system pump or a timer malfunction can easily result in the death of your plants unless resolved as quickly as possible.
SHOULD YOU GROW WITH HYDROPONICS?
Like everything when it comes to growing, it’s all preference. Hydroponics are expensive, time consuming and laborious. But when done efficiently, hydroponic systems are one of the most effective and highest yielding methods of growing out there.
It depends on your commitment, availability, and pocket depth. But you can believe that a well-established and maintained hydroponic system will pay for itself in no time.
If you have more questions or want to share your experience with hydroponics, get in touch with us!