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Hydroponics Root Zone Flushing: Gotta Do It

Flushing keeps your hydroponics root zone clean. Flushing keeps your hydroponics root zone clean.

Wouldn’t it be great if everything in life was simple? Especially hydroponics growing. If growing was simple, we could just plug and play and watch our hydroponics plants grow on autopilot.

But cruise control hydroponics would take all the fun out of it, right? Of course, I’ve been in 50,000-watt commercial grow ops where cruise control hydroponics is necessary, unless the grower wanted to employ dozens of workers. You can’t sanely manage that many plants unless you have some degree of automation.

Many of us aren’t large-scale commercial growers. We’re dedicated to connoisseur crops, and it’s fun to go for the gold by concentrating on gardening details.

One detail that’s very important has to do with how hydroponics nutrients are administered and absorbed by your plants’ roots. If you’re using systems with root zone solid media such as rockwool, coco, soil and hydroton, you can get faster growth and bigger yields by understanding how nutrients interact with the root zone and your plants.

If you’re using aeroponics, NFT or DWC these issues are far less important, although you do have to ensure that misters and other irrigation equipment stays uncontaminated and free-flowing.

In rockwool or other solid media, nutrient elements don’t just flow through when you’re watering. Nor are they all absorbed by roots. Some fraction of nutrients builds up in the root zone. If you’re not using reverse osmosis water, pollutants from impure water can store there too. This affects root zone pH, electrical conductivity (EC or ppm), and your plants’ nutrients absorption.

If nutrients and/or pollutants build up around roots, your roots can be damaged. Or particular nutrients will dominate the root zone to lock other nutrients out of your plant. Fortunately, you can do several easy things to make sure your root zone is clean and neutral.

I recommend a mini-flush with Final Phase every 3-4 weeks, timed so that you definitely do a flush when you change from grow phase to bloom phase. Of course you do a full flush at the end of bloom cycle before you harvest.

A mini-flush is using Final Phase at one-quarter strength for a day’s watering cycle. If you don’t have Final Phase, use clean, pH-balanced water with no nutrients in it. If you’re using soil, it’s harder to flush the root zone. The soil may have onboard nutrients that are built into the soil and can’t be washed away.

Choose your hydroponics soil carefully. Many of my friends who grow in soil are fans of Fox Farm Ocean Forest. They like it that Fox Farm tells them how long the nutrients in the soil will last, and when and how to use hydroponics nutrients to boost the soil fertility.

In all cases with flushing, watch out for overwatering and ambient humidity uptick. Drowned roots hurt your yields, and high humidity helps molds.

Yes, this is a bit more complicated than pouring the recommended doses of nutrients into your reservoir, setting a timer, and changing the reservoir water every few days. But when you fine-tune the details of your hydroponics garden, you avoid problems and max out your yields and quality. That’s the fun of hydroponics growing.

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This cat performs a different kind of flush than the one you need for your root zone.
Last modified on Wednesday, 25 July 2012 18:58

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