Are you planning to try out hydroponics to grow your veggies? That is an excellent idea! There are many benefits of hydroponics. For example, it is not as labour-intensive compared to the traditional garden, and you do not have to worry about weeds, pests, and even diseases. Plus, despite its name, it saves a lot of water and is the perfect way to grow fresh produce in any home with limited space.
When it comes to fertilising your plant, you might be wondering if you can use the traditional soil fertilisers for it. To answer that question, let us first understand the two methods of growing using soil or with hydroponics.
Difference between hydroponic and traditional methods
What is the most significant difference between growing using soil and opting for hydroponics? It all falls to the material that the plants grow in.
With hydroponics, the plants are grown in a neutral media where all nutrition will come directly from an external source, such as a fertiliser. On the other hand, soils contain different types of matter, including microbes, that provide the plant with nutrients.
As such, fertilisers for the two different methods will also be different. That is because they both aid the various growing media differently. For example, soil fertilisers will contain food for the microbes to be broken down and turned to nutrients. In contrast, hydroponic fertilisers provide all the nutrition in the form that is ready to be absorbed right away.
Using soil fertilisers for hydroponics
So, can you use traditional soil fertilisers for your hydroponic plants? Yes, you can, but there is one thing to note.
Some traditional soil fertilisers contain ammonium and urea, both of which are meant to be turned to nitrate nitrogen with the help of microbes. As you know, the mode used in hydroponics is sterile, meaning that none of these microbes is present.
If you were to use soil fertilisers for your hydroponics, it can cause many different toxicity issues. For this reason, if you want to use soil fertilisers, you must look for ones that provide nitrogen in its nitrate form and not in the form of ammonium or urea.
When you are picking up soil fertilisers, you can either look for one that already has nitrogen in the correct form (quite rare to find) or look for ones that do not have nitrogen at all. For the latter, you can quickly fill in the missing nutrient by combining it with agricultural grade nitrates. Just note that if you do this, you will need to put in the right amount carefully. Fortunately, there are tools online like a hydroponic nutrient calculator to help you figure that out.
In general, it is best not to use soil fertiliser for hydroponics unless you want to experiment or have no access to the hydroponic nutrients at all. That is because finding soil fertilisers that work with hydroponics on the get-go is a challenge. Even if you do, you will end up saving a lot of time if you were to opt for hydroponic nutrients instead. Of course, you can always make your DIY fertiliser, but while that will save you money, it will take some time to get it right.
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