As the Colorado winter was arriving I decided to take a couple cuttings from a very productive outdoor tomato plant that my mother was growing. I chose to cut them about 4 inches tall and slid the cuttings into rockwool cubes. They rooted fairly quickly and I have since moved them into a bubble bucket. Check them out!
Let me start this off by saying that my water, out of the faucet,has a PH level of 7.1-7.3 depending on the time of day as far as I can tell and thus is an ideal hydroponic PH level… SO, I have hydroponic PH level reduction in everything I do because the plants I grow do not like this. Remember that I am growing strawberries,an avocado tree, spinach, tomatoes,squash, peas and a few other things yummy things. As with any garden, when the pH is not at the proper level the plant will lose its ability to absorb some of the essential elements required for healthy growth. For all plants there is a particular pH level that will produce optimum results (see chart 1 below). This pH level will vary from plant to plant, but in general most plants prefer a slightly acid growing environment (between 5.5-6.0), although most plants can still survive in an environment with a pH of between 5.0 and 7.5.
When the hydroponic pH level rises in the solution above 6.5 some of the nutrients and micro-nutrients begin to precipitate out of solution and can stick to the walls of the reservoir and growing chambers. For example: Iron will be about half precipitated at the pH level of 7.3 and at about 8.0 there is virtually no iron left in solution at all. In order for your plants to use the nutrients they must be dissolved in the solution. Once the nutrients have precipitated out of solution your plants can no longer absorb them and will suffer deficiency and death if left uncorrected. Some nutrients will precipitate out of solution when the pH drops also.
Great, now armed with the “correct hydroponic PH level” for each of my plants I had the joy of figuring out what each was at and how to make them right.
I placed a call to the Chris at the local hydroponics store and dove right into my issues. He suggested a “Hanna Checker” (portable PH tester) and had one in stock. I also picked up a “Hanna Primo” (EC and TDS tester, also handheld) and was back to the garden to see what I could do about my PH issues.
Now ready to go with one of the most high-tech ways to check my pH, I grabbed the meter. I simply dipped the electrode into the nutrient solution for a few moments and the pH value is displayed on an LCD screen. I did this for all my plants and added distilled white vinegar to each that needed reduction until I achieved what that plant needed for its hydroponic ph level.
Hydroponic PH Levels are incredible important and I hope you take care to insure your are at the proper level so that your indoor sustainable garden can thrive!