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Super Charged: Can Nutrient Supplements Really Take My Garden to the Next Level?

Nutrient supplements can take your grow to the next level. Nutrient supplements can take your grow to the next level.


Being an educated and informed gardener today is harder than ever. There are so many things to keep track of: hormones, vitamins, enzymes, biologicals (bacteria), humic acids, carbohydrates and more. With ever-expanding plant technology and entrepreneurship, it doesn’t take your average plant enthusiast long to become overwhelmed when trying to determine which products are worth their weight in gold and which are better left collecting dust. So what do most of us do when offered such a paradigm? We settle on old faithful, of course: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Throw in a little cal-mag with occasional micros, and boom, you’ve got the bare minimum. It works, and for new growers honing their skills it works very well indeed.

Still, even successful farmers wonder if there are ways they can improve their product. The catalyst might be some eye-popping pictures from your friend‚Äôs grow, or maybe a buddy’s extra-tasty tomato salad. Whatever the reason, we all find ourselves wondering from time to time, “Can top-shelf nutrient supplements really take my garden to the next level?”

Science says yes! Proven supplements like the ones mentioned above have clinical studies from universities all over the world that show increased cell division, biomass and yield when used correctly. Changes in growth are particularly noticeable if used early in a plant’s life because the growth increase is somewhat exponential. But while science says yes, many growers have reported no increase except for their costs. Why the gap between scientists and so many amateur gardeners?

If you have trouble, just keep in mind that a garden can only do as well as its weakest link. Focus on the fundamentals of environment and NPK, then move on to the bigger and better world of supplements.

Rather than being one simple answer (e.g. they don’t work, or controlled conditions don’t transfer to the real world), there are a number of potential explanations. Here’s a list of common reasons people don’t get the most from their additives, and hints to help sort them all out:

Too Much, Too Early!

Every old-time farmer will tell you to dial in your nutes before you mess with anything. What they mean is that every grower needs to get the most from their plants without supplements or additives before they can get to the next level. After all, you don’t hand a 12-year-old their first skateboard and tell them to do a 30-foot drop-in.

What you really want to focus on first is your main nutrient feed. Quality brands of main nutrients like pH Perfect‚ Sensi Grow A & B, Jungle Juice 2-Part, Jungle Juice 3-Part and Iguana Juice are easy to master and will have you dialed in very quickly. Once you have your garden running smoothly, you might be surprised how big and fast your plants can grow.

If you have trouble, just keep in mind that a garden can only do as well as its weakest link. If you don’t have enough airflow, no amount of products will make your plants grow faster because they are simply out of CO2. Focus on the fundamentals of environment and NPK, then move on to the bigger and better world of supplements.

Add Supplements One at a Time

One of the most common mistakes growers make in their high-performance gardens is throwing too many products they don’t understand into the mix at once. Sometimes going out and buying all the nifty supplements you can find and mixing them together will work out great, but if any problems do arise, diagnosing them properly will be almost impossible. This is why it’s almost always better to add nutrient supplements one at a time.

Start by using biologicals like Voodoo Juice, Piranha and Tarantula. Once you have mastered the use of micro-critters, move onto using heavy bloom boosters like Big Bud, Overdrive and Hammerhead. After you’ve perfected the timing of adding your bloom boosters to get the heaviest yields possible, add quality-enhancing products like Bud Candy and CarboLoad to make sure those tomatoes are as sweet as grandma’s. By taking their time and adding supplements one crop at a time, gardeners can get a clear idea of what each product is doing to their plants and how it affects their needs. The notable exception to the one-at-a-time rule is when two products are meant to be used in conjunction.

Only Using Part of the Equation

Often people hear a particular product increased yield or quality in a friend’s (or a friend-of-a-friend’s) garden. Naturally, they go out, buy the product and start using it immediately. Several months later they’re met with disappointment and lighter pockets. This is likely because the product they bought was only part of the reason their friend did so well.

Take for example the combination of carbohydrates and biologicals. Your friend may have already been using biologicals when he added carbohydrates to the mix. In this example, the carbohydrate product has greatly increased the speed at which your friend’s biologicals are breeding. Because these little microorganisms are so active, they free up nutrients, create enzymes and generally put the garden into overdrive. You, meanwhile, are only using the carbohydrate product and see no significant change because your microbes aren’t as active. Understand that many products only work under specific conditions. Try to learn as much as you can about each additive and use it with its correct counterparts.

Are You Addressing a Problem You Don’t Have?

Sometimes a product just isn’t for you. Using the example above, let’s say instead of only getting part of the equation, you’ve copied your friend’s nutrient program exactly. Several months go by and still no improvement. This could be because you don’t have the same problem your friend fixed by using these products. If your friend had hard water and you don’t, their increased yield and quality could have simply been the result of those little bacteria and fungi freeing up calcium and sulfur that were binding in the water. Since you have great water at your house (in this example at least), you won’t see any drastic results from these additives. Always make sure your supplements address a specific need in your garden.

There’s a Difference Between “Value” and “Cheap”

There is no doubt we all like saving money. Being an efficient gardener is sometimes the difference between success and failure. That being said, the value of something is more important than its price. Take for example the pH Perfect products from Advanced Nutrients: The value gardeners receive from not having to constantly adjust pH levels and from knowing that their prized plants will grow big because they always have access to food, is well worth the asking price.

While it may seem like a ticket to the high-end nutrient show is steep, just keep in mind that you’re buying value—value that will increase your yield while minimizing the time and effort you have to put in. This is the kind of value that can put your garden over the top. Just remember to master the basics, take your time adding products, avoid being cheap and address your garden’s specific needs.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 18:31

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