Most plant feeds in the world of hydroponics now come in a liquid concentrate form, ready to dilute with water. Mixed to a standard strength, they are easy to use and give great results.
While liquid nutrients do a great job, it is important to be aware of what you are feeding your plants and what effect each element has.
More knowledge can only make you a better grower after all and a good way of being more aware is to stretch yourself, try out a new method that will test you a little, and teach you something in the process. So, what are the other options?
Well, one option is to use the nutrient elements that the liquid feeds are made from in their raw form to make your own concentrates and nutrient solutions.
Upon closer look, this is probably not a viable option, as buying these nutrient elements in their rawest form directly from suppliers (which you would think is the cheapest option) would never be cost-effective due to the large minimum amounts that you would have to order.
In addition, the majority are restricted and not available for sale to the general public. You would also need to know the form these elements need to be in to make plant feed, which is a minefield in itself. Chemicals can be very dangerous to handle and so when considering all of this, I wouldn’t recommend it.
An alternative would be to turn to companies in the hydroponic and gardening industry that have done some of the hard work for you and have broken down the raw elements into individual concentrate powder form.
What Are Powder Feeds?
Concentrated powder feeds come in small, convenient, cost-effective packets, ready to be directly dissolved into water so you can make up your own concentrate/nutrient solutions. They are often bulked out and dyed to be easily distinguished.
I would advise that raw individual element powders are better utilized to overcome nutrient deficiencies in your plants’ standard feeding regime, rather than being used to make up a complete feeding regimen by themselves.
By using them in this way, you can directly introduce higher rates of any one element that your plant is lacking, experimenting along the way to see results that can pull your plants back from the brink of death and push them to their full potential. If you are going to use powder feeds in this way, remember that less is always more.
Start off with a small dose, as you can always add more. They can be very strong to the point that 0.1 gram can have huge consequences to your plants. So, the rule is, use them but be careful.
Premixed Powder Feeds
Another option is to use premixed powders. These are a blend of powder elements that have been specifically designed for different plants to get the best yields possible. They are available either in powder form or a compressed powder tablet. The tablets are normally made to be mixed into a pre-set amount of solution (i.e 50 liters (L), 100 L, and so on). They are basically the above raw elements but pre-mixed into a stable, soluble form.
They may be expensive but if you look closer at the dilution/mix rates, it is possible to save money when buying them in a pre-mixed powder form.
Another great thing about powder feeds is that a little powder goes a long way, and you can make as much or as little as you need at any one time to keep your nutrients fresh. Thus, they are cheap, easy to move, reduce waste, and easy to post and use.
To make up accurate measurements of feeds, I would advise using a ppm/EC meter, which is another tool that can make you a better grower. Also, remember to keep powder feeds in a dry, moisture-free environment.
Ok, so if powder feeds are so good, why aren’t they more widely available and used? As previously stated, liquid feeds perform well, but powder feeds are on the rise. If you have never tried them, they are well worth a look.
Whether you plan to use them as a complete nutrient feed range or just to counter the effects of a nutrient element deficiency, you should definitely consider having them in your arsenal.
As well as benefiting your plants, they will inevitably increase your awareness and knowledge of what your plants need, why they need it, and how often they need it, which can only lead to bigger and better things.
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