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Organic Hydroponics Gardening for Your Indoor Garden?

using “organic” fertilizers in rockwool can be called organic gardening using “organic” fertilizers in rockwool can be called organic gardening

Organic hydroponics gardening, synthetic hydroponics or synthorganic hydroponics nutrients…what’s it all mean for your indoor garden?

Of course, let’s agree right now that the term “organic gardening” is not easy to define.

For some growers, organic gardening means growing your plants in soil, and giving them nothing else other than light, water and air.

Other growers believe that using “organic” fertilizers in rockwool can be called organic gardening.

And yet, few growers realize that what most companies call “organic fertilizer” is not organic (meaning that the source materials are all pristine without any exposure to chemicals, pesticides, etc.) but is actually “natural.”

Natural means that the materials are from plants, rocks, the ocean, animals, etc., but not necessarily free of chemicals.

Introducing Yourself to Organic Gardening

But let’s not get confused by terminology. If you chose to grow in soil that’s well-aerated, easily drained, enlivened by beneficial microbes and full of rich organic material, your plants can grow reasonably well and give you decent yields…even if you don’t give them added fertilizers.

Obviously, this type of gardening is simple and inexpensive, especially when compared to soil-free hydroponics gardening where you have to pour in all the nutrients your plants need.

And no matter what media you’re using in your root zone, you’ve probably had questions about whether to use organic fertilizers, synthetics only, or a combination of both.

The first thing to realize is that there are plusses and minuses for organic/natural gardening. Another thing is that although most of the organic/natural fertilizers in hydroponics stores have problems, you definitely can find organic/natural fertilizers that’ll work well in your hydroponics garden.

More about that later, but let’s start with the realization that organic nutrients are slower-feeding than synthetics. The ingredients in organic/natural fertilizers aren’t chelated, which means they aren’t bound to special substances (chelates) found in some synthetic fertilizers that bind to nutrient elements and more efficiently deliver them into your plants’ roots.

Before organic ingredients are bioavailable for your plants to take in, they have to be worked on by beneficial microbes, enzymes and decompositional forces in your root zone.

Unfortunately, most hydroponics root zones don’t have this kind of lively environment. The good news is you can buy liquid beneficial microbes and potent enzymes that’ll break down organic components so your plants can use them faster.

Finding the Organic Gardening Fertilizer With Low Odor and Easy Use

There are good organic/natural hydroponics fertilizers, but they are the minority. We’ll talk about how to find those fertilizers, but it’s useful to know what you don’t want.

Definitely watch out for thick and sludgy fertilizers. They don’t dissolve properly in your nutrient reservoir, nor do they move easily through irrigation tubing and drip emitters.

When they reach your root zone, they sludge it up, creating a wonderful home for fungus gnats and clogging that increase your chances of having root problems.

That’s why the most successful organic gardening experts carefully mix organics into their reservoirs and then give them an hour to fully become soluble before they send the nutrient water to their plants.

Another problem with some fertilizers is that they smell like what they are. They often contain fish emulsion, guano, and other bad-smelling materials, and unlike the kind of organic/natural fertilizers you want to use, they are not properly made, so the odors are front and center.

Even with high-powered venting and odor control, these inferior brands can make your grow space and nearby environment smell like a sewage treatment plant.

Organic Gardening with “Natural” Fertilizers?

It’s interesting to note that many nutrients companies would like you to believe that they have organic fertilizers for you, but the reality is that these fertilizers are “natural,” but they are not organic.

Organic is a somewhat officialized term when it comes to agricultural fertilizer products. In most cases, you’d want to see an “OMRI” certification on a product. This certification promises that the product has been sourced from 100% organic sources.

On the other hand, a quality so-called “natural” base formula may contain kelp extracts, guano, bone meal, bloodmeal, manure, compost, alfalfa extracts, fish emulsion and other materials…not all of them sourced organically.

Is this a problem for your plants or your health? Will it affect your growth rate and yield? The answer to both questions is almost certainly not, but the other side of the story is that regardless of whether ingredients are “natural” or “organic,” it matters how they were sourced and processed into your fertilizer.

For example, kelp is a high-powered ocean plant that contains a wide selection of natural boosters, hormones and enhancers for your hydroponics plants.

But you can’t just put strips of kelp into a fertilizer. It has to be processed and most companies process it using a potassium solvent that diminishes the value of kelp’s natural hormones and other factors.

There’s another, more professional way to process kelp (using water washing instead potassium solvent), and this gives you more punch from the kelp.

Another difference between non-synthetic fertilizers is how much they are filtered and how easily they flow through your hydroponics system.

Many a would-be organic hydroponics grower has created big headaches using organic or natural fertilizers that gummed up their pumps, reservoir, tubing, emitters and root zone.

Organic Gardening Myths and Misunderstandings

There are various myths and misunderstandings about organic/natural fertilizers.

One of them is the belief that organic/natural can’t give you as big or as powerful yields as synthetic fertilizers.

Grandmaster growers will tell you that skilled growers can get comparable yields using organic/natural ferts versus synthetics, and they’re right. Again, it all depends on whether you’re using a high quality organic/natural fertilizer. If you are, the main difference is not in yield but in growth rate.

Organic/natural ingredients are not chelated, so it takes a while longer for your plants to absorb them. A crop fed only organic/natural nutrients will usually take 5-20% longer to go from veg to bloom to harvest, compared to a crop grown with all synthetics.

According to grandmasters, by combining a quality organic/natural base hydroponics fertilizer with synthetic bloom booster additives, you get the best of both worlds because organic/natural ferts provide natural materials not found in synthetics.

Organic/natural base ferts made by most companies do not provide enough micronutrients, so adding a synthetic micronutrient formula or finding an organic/natural base fert that’s been manufactured to contain micronutrients is important.

For some growers, using all-natural, preferably organic ingredients is part of a mindset that rebels against chemicals and synthetics in their indoor garden.

There’s not much science to back up the idea that an all-natural/organic feed program produces cleaner, fresher, better-tasting crops (especially when compared to a synthorganic program), but that’s what some people believe.

For me, the synthorganic method has worked the best. By combining synthetic additives with high quality organic/natural base nutrients and growing in rich soil I’ve produced large, high quality yields.

So how can you find an organic/natural hydroponics fertilizer that’s good enough for you? One key is to query your hydroponics store staff, as well as fertilizer manufacturers, to find out as much as you can about product quality, viscosity, applicability and appropriateness before you invest in fertilizers, especially if you’re considering a switch from a synthetic program you’re familiar with.

Ask the hydro store if they have any sample bottles that you can open, smell and pour. That right there will tell you a lot about the fertilizers.

When you contact the nutrient manufacturers, ask them bluntly if their products are designed and tested to work well in all types of hydroponics organic gardening and as part of a synthorganic program.

My encouragement is that organic hydroponics gardening is worth trying in your indoor garden so you can compare the costs, effort and results and determine how organic gardening compares to synthorganic and all-synthetic feed programs.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 01 June 2011 21:42

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