Just for visiting us, Bob Saffell wants you to have FREE of charge his 4500 word booklet, entitled "Growing Selected Hydroponic Vegetables and Herbs". In his booklet Bob tells how to grow sweet delicious strawberries, mouth-watering tomatoes, savory herbs such as thyme, basil, sage, tarragon, rosemary, lettuce for mesclun mixes, and even how to grow chickens and roses together.

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I know you will be interested in our new series of reports (much like the above) in which we explore in great depth each of the topics given in the reports listed below. Since we introduced these reports we have had a high demand for them.

These are the topics that so many people have asked about in the past. These are the really hot topics, some of which are sure to catch your eye.

These reports are jam-packed with information that you can use today. We have cut right to the chase and given you all the meat and the potatoes!

All of the material contained in these reports is new and, except for an excerpt or two from my books, not easily available elsewhere. I'll tell you one thing: they're huge bargains!



Trace elements are hardly ever deficient, especially if you use commercial fertilizers or mix from one of the basic formulas. It's almost impossible to diagnose for deficiencies. But there excess is quite toxic. So be careful. You should be on the lookout for deficiencies and toxicity for all the elements. RULE OF THUMB FOR AVOIDING TOXICITY: flush the entire system with water only after every third feeding. Some media come pre-mixed with nutrient, so check with your supplier. You have to be on the alert for toxicity.

Watch the pH of your system! Do not try to get an accurate measurement of pH with litmus paper. Litmus is only for rough estimates. Use a good pH kit instead. Healthy plants will take what they need from a solution if the pH is within the proper range. Most vegetables like a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. Also check the salinity (salt residue) of the solution or medium with an electrical conductivity meter (E.C. meter). This will tell you the ion balance or imbalance within the solution or media. In other words pH testing should also include the media.

Plants change the nutrient solution as soon as they begin taking up nutrient. If you are using the bag technique, your worries are limited because the solution should always be the same and you will leach with water after every third feeding. Thus you will get rid of salt its composition, and disorders will be less likely to occur. Successful growers can give a rough diagnosis of their crops at any given time. They can tell if anything is wrong. The more experience you have, the more accurately you can make a diagnosis.

Though inadequate when compared to laboratory testing, quick tests can be made with the HACH Chemical Company plant analysis kit (P O Box 389, Loveland, CO 80539). Since laboratory analysis can be slow, there are faster ways to respond to a problem. Hydroponics lends itself nicely to this procedure. If you think you've diagnosed the problem, isolate a few plants and double or triple the amount of the element in question and see what happens the next few days. In any case don't be too quick to jump to conclusions. Don't over react. You could add an extra feeding to your regular number of feedings within the given time schedule. Do nothing else until you're sure this has corrected the problem. Even then, when you have to do something, do not increase the nutrient solution's strength by more than 20%. One last tip: usually healthy new growth on a plant does not indicate a nutrient deficiency.

Towards a more detailed analysis:

As stated before, bag culture normally will not have these symptoms if you irrigate with plain water at regular intervals. No matter what technique you're using, if you have larger volumes of nutrient in solution you'll be more able to control toxicity or deficiency. If you formulate for the plant in question you should be able to avoid most problems.

When it comes to trace elements, the following concentrations are considered to be toxic. Using tomatoes as an example with ppm per dry weight as the basis: more than 150 ppm of Boron, more than 500 ppm of Manganese, more than 300 ppm of Zinc. For cucumbers: more than 200 ppm of Boron, more than 550 ppm of Manganese, more than 650 ppm of Zinc. For lettuce: more than 300 ppm of Boron, more than 250 ppm of Manganese, more than 350 ppm of Zinc. Excesses normally occur with copper, boron, manganese, nitrogen, phosphorous and salts which include chloride. Those who work with hydroponics can normally expect excesses and deficiencies in all major and some minor elements. That's why the smart grower makes regular checks on his nutrient mix and solution, as well as, having dry plant samples analyzed at laboratories. weekly, sometimes daily, checks on nutrient solutions are needed for top production.

To repeat: plants are constantly taking up nutrient from the feeding solution. This in itself will give rise to both deficiencies and excesses. That's why the nutrient solution must be checked and replenished when necessary. But even though a deficiency or excess can show up dramatically so also can it diminish rapidly if corrections are promptly made.

You must control the medium and you have to accurately analyze what's going on. And like with disease symptoms, you have to be sure it's not insect damage you are looking at. Normally a plant's growth will be considerably slowed before the symptoms appear. Old leaves show first any problems which indicate nitrogen, phosphorous or potassium. While young leaves at their growing points show what's going on with boron, zinc, manganese, copper, iron and calcium. There are four areas to watch. These are: the root system, the shoot or growing point, old leaves, and new leaves. Roots can show the following: toxic copper, which causes browning, aluminum, which causes stunting. The principal plant symptoms are stunting, chlorosis (yellowing), tissue death or local necrosis, and purpling.

Sometimes a grower is too busy to wait for a long drawn out analysis from a distant laboratory. He can do some things for himself by running tests on the plant in question. He can ask the following questions and perform the necessary adjustments.

1. Does this plant have a deficiency of nutrients? How about toxicity?

A. See if the plant improves if you make a change. You could either double or halve the nutrient supply or you could boost up or retard the rate of flow.

2. Which nutrient is causing the trouble?

A. Do the same as the above with the suspected nutrient only. With micro nutrients, such as Boron you could use a foliar spray to see if you get improvement for a suspected deficiency.

3. Is the pH out of whack? Or is there too much salt?

A. In the first case use a pH meter which is correctly calibrated. In the second case use an Electrical Conductivity meter.

4. Is it the water?

A. Have your water analyzed from time to time. Water also can change in content.

Some further tips:

AMMONIUM FERTILIZER: Don't use on floral crops in the winter.

One authority recommends you use phosphoric acid to lower pH and potassium bicarbonate to raise it.

When using extra lighting for tomatoes, don't go beyond 18 hours a day because tomatoes need a dark period to do well.

Problems not related to nutrient toxicity, deficiency:

When a plant is in trouble:

First check the following: too cold, too hot, dirty leaves, animal or insect pests, poor ventilation, nutrient solution too strong or too weak, medium too dry or too wet, not enough nutrient solution in tank (or not enough fertilizer in bed or pot). Also, maybe too much light, too little light, water dripping on the plants.

Healthy but yellow leaves: pH out of range for plant's use.

Leave yellow and then fall: too cold, too dry, too much water.

Healthy leaves suddenly drop: too cold, too dry, too much water, shock from sudden changes such as temperature or light.

Wilting: too hot, too dry, too much water.

Variegated leaves don't variegate: not enough light.

Leaves have brown spots, margins: too much water, too much nutrient, too hot, too dry, too much sun or light.

Leaves and stems rot: too much water, too much humidity, fungus or disease infection.

Plants grow poorly: too much water, too cold, not enough nutrient.

Flowers, buds drop: too much water, too dry, too cold, sudden changes of temperature or light.

Notice, how many times over watering occurs? Amateurs as well as professionals have a tendency to over water. A rule of thumb is to push your index finger as far down as it will go into the medium. If you feel any moisture at all then the plant does not need any water.

Also you can use a meter or sensoring device. Just remember, more plants are killed by over watering, than by anything else. Too dry or too cold means the air surrounding the plant. There are other things, which can go wrong just like in any other business.

Good housekeeping is essential. The growing area should be fenced off to keep out stray animals. Keep the weeds and grass mowed around the entire area. Keep the shed and greenhouse neat and clean. Keep all pathways clean. Don't allow loose materials to lie around where bugs and mice might hide. When applicable, keep the plants open to the air and pollination from bees.

To repeat: don't allow moisture to drip from overhead and onto the plants. Make sure you have good ventilation. Sow all seeds and cuttings at the same time.

Don't set up a hydroponicum where trees will shut out the sun. But trees are useful for a windbreak. If you have them, then build near them. Try not to build your hydroponicum in a polluted area. Keep the birds out. If you start out right, most of the above will hardly ever occur. Plants, like humans, are difficult to kill. You require almost a direct hit to do the job. In order to kill a plant with kindness, you would have to pour the fertilizer, undiluted, directly upon it.

In a large measure our world depends for its survival on more and more people "farming" the hydroponic way. The methods we propose take a little manual labor in getting started, particularly if you start out with the sand/gravel technique as described in this section. But afterwards, when you are more experienced pumps and electricity will do the hard work for you.

When you do decide to go commercial {as described later on, you will in a short time hire others to do the potting, planting, harvesting and packaging. Even that cannot be classified as hard work. If you've ever done intensive gardening the organic way, you'd know what hard work is!

In Blooming Prairie, MN, a grower uses an NFT system developed by and purchased from an outfit in Ohio. The system is familiar to our readers: it features the NFT trough with plastic cap to keep out the light and with holes at regular intervals for seedling plug-in.

What makes this grower's system unique is that he is doing it in Minnesota! We receive letters every day from people who think the winters are too severe, even as far north as St. Louis. You only have to look around just about anywhere in the United States and Canada to find an on-going hydroponic operation working full-steam ahead.

Marketing in the grower's area? He finds the market exceeding his expectations. His best marketing technique is this: when he gets a customer he keeps him by furnishing quality and consistency of product. His best customers are area hospitals, some supermarkets and an occasional produce warehouse.

The grower grows Bibb lettuce and some leaf lettuce. He intends to stay with two or three crops instead of too many. This feeling comes from his background in farming where he found it more efficient to concentrate his efforts on two or three crops rather than to spread himself too thinly.

This is just a small sample of what's in store for you. To get an overview of what we're about, please CLICK HERE

They are as follows:
"How to Start on a Shoestring and Make a Profit with Hydroponics"
"Big Dollars Growing Gourmet Salad Greens"
"Beneficial Insects - How to Mass Rear and Make a Profit"
If you would like a copy or copies of your own,

bsaffell@mayhillpress.com...copyright 1998 - 2009 by Hilmur Saffell Last Update: 112109


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