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How Hydroponics Systems Work For You, Part 7: When Air Meets Water & Beyond

Your flowers deserve the best hydroponics system Your flowers deserve the best hydroponics system

For several weeks we’ve been discussing hydroponics systems and learning huge amounts of hydroponics wisdom together. Last time I started to tell you why the ability of rockwool, coco coir, Pro-Mix and other solid root zone media is a big factor in how and why people choose their hydroponics systems.

But I didn’t finish that topic because I sidetracked into the general observation that every medium has its issues. Coco coir interacts weirdly with calcium, for example.

People will tell you to get the latest and best versions of coco coir, which are treated and manufactured to do away with the nutrients-interaction problems that early coco coir had. Or they’ll tell you to use hydroponics nutrients designed especially for coco coir. But when you look into it you find out that those nutrients are weird themselves, and they only work, if they work at all, with the brand of coco coir manufactured by the nutrients manufacturer.

If you have a pump failure in aeroponics or water culture, your plants’ roots can be damaged in minutes and dead within a few hours.

“But what about Grodan rockwool?” you might ask. What indeed. It doesn’t have the calcium problems that coco coir does, but it often has its own unique problems, which is why you have to pre-treat it to up its pH from its naturally low place to a place where your hydroponics nutrients can be absorbed by your roots.

Ok, then, how about peat-based mixes such as Pro-Mix and Sunshine Mix. I don’t like peat. And I don’t like mixes. For example, Pro-Mix products are often injected with a wetting agent and fertilizer. The fertilizer goes away after a week or so but the wetting agent can deteriorate during Pro-Mix storage. If it does, the Pro-Mix never absorbs water properly. Other problems happen so that you may have to dose your Pro-Mix with dolomite to keep its pH within range.

Using supersoil or similar customized root zone media you have to source many different materials, many of them organic, and hope that they are going to mix together symbiotically to create the right nutritional elements in forms that can be absorbed. And these hardships with solid root zone media are precisely why people turn to DWC NFT or aeroponics - because your plants’ roots are just hanging out in air (and maybe hydroton in a net bucket), and every so often you spray or flood reverse osmosis water filled with nutrients and oxygen into your root zone and your plants are happy, happy, happy until…

Until the electricity goes off or there’s any other kind of water-nutrients delivery problems that dog aeroponics systems (such as clogged misting devices in an aeroponics system).

If you have a pump failure in aeroponics or water culture, your plants’ roots can be damaged in minutes and dead within a few hours.  There’s no wet rockwool, coco coir, Pro-Mix or soil around your roots. That’s why an electricity, pump or irrigation failure with solid media is nowhere near as rapidly catastrophic as with an aeroponics or water culture system. In aeroponics, DWC and NFT, you are relying on pumps, aerators, misting devices or similar technologies and you are also relying on electricity. It can go bad fast.

Are you ready to install instant-trigger back-up electricity sources so that if your main electricity goes bad you have an automatic system in place to immediately provide the electricity needed to ensure that your hydroponics roots get their oxygen, water and nutrients on a regular basis?

Are you living in a place where the municipal electricity supply is susceptible to periodic interruption due to thunderstorms, brownouts, you forgot to pay the bill, frayed wires, nuclear war or other causes?

If you live somewhere without 100% reliable electricity and if you’re not willing and able to install a back-up electricity system, you’ve got to stick with coco coir, rockwool, Pro-Mix or a similar material because at least those materials hold water and nutrients for a while, so a temporary electricity outage won’t mess your hydroponics plants up too badly. Your roots will survive, safely encased in their rockwool womb, for a couple of days.

Oh my god…I have again gone over the maximum number of words allowed for this article. Last time I did this, a voodoo doll situation emerged, so that I was hexed, and wracked with pain. One pin was stuck in for every extra word I wrote. For the sake of my health I must leave off for now, but have no fear, more articles will appear, on Rosebudmag, yes right here, and sooner or later the nuances of every hydroponics system will be clear to you.

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Hydroponics systems make all the difference in maximum yield or tears of sadness in your garden.
Last modified on Monday, 16 July 2012 16:55

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