Question

What should I be documenting to help my garden be more successful?

Answer
By Eric Hopper | Last updated: November 3, 2021
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Q: I’ve been growing using hydroponics for the last year and have had okay results. A friend suggested I keep a journal. I am hoping you can advise me on what kinds of things I should be documenting to help my garden be more successful. Thanks, Evan P.

grower writing notes in the garden

A gardening journal is a useful tool for any type of garden, but it is especially valuable for hydroponic gardens.

Hydroponic gardening is revered for its rapid speed of growth and efficiency in nutrient solution usage. Things happen quickly in a hydroponic garden and problems are no exception. To minimize or eliminate potential issues, a hydroponic grower must monitor his or her hydro system on a regular basis. Keeping a detailed garden journal is one of the best ways a grower can improve the performance of his or her hydroponic garden. After collecting data from different grow cycles, a grower is then able to make subtle changes and compare the data to see the effect(s) of those changes. For example, increasing or decreasing the PPM of the nutrient solution at various stages of growth may increase or decrease the garden’s overall performance. With proper documentation, it is easier to pinpoint which subtle change increased (or decreased) the performance of your garden.

With hydroponic systems, it is important to monitor/document everything involved with the nutrient solution, such as pH, PPM, water level, water temperature, irrigation intervals, and dissolved oxygen (DO) content. The nutrient solution in a hydroponic system is much more than just “water” for your plants. The pH, PPM, temperature, and DO content all play major roles in the plant’s ability to uptake nutrients. With a good digital tester, these parameters can be tested and documented in less than five minutes. Each time these variables are tested (preferably multiple times per day), they should be logged in the garden journal. Close monitoring and documentation of these factors will allow a grower to see any changes and/or any patterns that may develop. Equipped with this information, a grower can adjust the nutrient solution more accurately and proactively. For example, let’s say the pH of the nutrient solution always decreases out of the desired range at the beginning of each light cycle. After seeing this pattern develop over multiple days, a grower could preemptively adjust the pH so it remains within the desired range at the beginning of each light cycle.

It is also a good idea to record all the major influential components of plant growth in your garden journal for an indoor garden as well. Light, air, water, nutrients, and atmospheric conditions all affect plant growth. Data collected regarding these parameters will help a grower make informed decisions about the optimal ambient temperature/humidity for various stages of growth, when to change bulb/light fixtures, and when to clean/replace air filtration devices, such as carbon filters.

I hope this answers your question.

Keep on Growing,
Eric Hopper

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Hydroponics Tools and Equipment Growing Methods

Written by Eric Hopper | Writer, Consultant, Product Tester

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Eric Hopper’s past experiences within the indoor gardening industry include being a hydroponic retail store manager and owner. Currently, he works as a writer, consultant and product tester for various indoor horticulture companies. His inquisitive nature keeps him busy seeking new technologies and methods that could help maximize a garden’s performance.

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