In previous blog posts we at the Big Shop have begun a series explaining how to start your first ever indoor grow room. We’ve already covered the basics and what entry level equipment you’ll need. Of course, your plants should flourish given the correct air flow and lighting, as well as a good environmental control system, but they won’t be growing at all if they aren’t provided with the necessary nutrients and chemicals – that’s the subject of today’s blog entry!
The mineral nutrients necessary for plant growth can be subdivided into two groups – macronutrients and micronutrients. Greater amounts of macronutrients are needed than of micronutrients, hence the names (‘macro’ meaning ‘large’, and ‘micro’ meaning ‘small’). These nutrients dissolve into water and are absorbed into the plant through its roots. After all, in soil, the nutrients need to chemically travel to reach a plant’s roots, whilst a hydroponic solution – being liquid – can bring all the necessary nutrients straight to the roots.
Fortunately we can skip the science lesson here as new growers don’t necessarily need to understand the exact chemistry of plant growth – at the Big Shop we have a wide selection of nutrient solutions and supplements, so take off that lab coat as you don’t need to make your own from scratch! For example, take a look at the Flora series from General Hydroponics as a good quality and good value first step.
Of course the right level and ratio of nutrients is important, but be careful not to neglect other similarly important grow room ingredients. It’s of paramount importance, for instance, to maintain a steady pH level. The pH scale is how acidic or alkaline a substance is – read more about this in one of our previous blogs. The correct pH will maximise the potential nutrient uptake for your crops – while an incorrect pH could starve them of their sustenance and prove fatal to your plants if allowed to get too out of hand.
Different varieties of plant have adapted to require different levels of pH, but almost all of these sit within the range of between 5.5 and 6.5 pH; it is therefore advisable to aim for a steady 6 in your hydroponic system. Being a liquid-based process, maintaining the pH in a hydroponic setup is simple – merely keep regular track of the pH levels and add pH+ or pH- solution if your measurements head towards one end of the scale or the other.
It’s generally a good idea to test the pH of your solution a couple of hours after you do anything with it – after adding supplements or replacing the liquid for example. Once adjusted, leave it an hour and test again, repeating the process until the correct pH level is settled. Testing your solution twice a week is a beneficial routine to get into. And don’t worry – the Big Shop has plenty of equipment for testing and maintaining pH levels in your grow room.