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Long Nute Change Interval Question


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  #1  
Old 03-04-2015, 07:17 PM
budbon budbon is offline
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Default Long Nute Change Interval Question

I am prepping everything for hydroponics this spring in Colorado. I plan on having 6-8 Dutch buckets growing tomatoes and peppers as well as some 4" NFT tubes growing leafy plants and strawberries. My question: in the fall we plan a 4 week trip visiting the New England States. If I use large enough containers, would the plants survive without replacing nutrients? Also what would be the chance the PH levels would be so out of whack it would destroy the plants? I know our timing is bad but the trip has been planned for some time.
These plants will be outside and I can get friends to harvest if necessary.
Any suggestions would be appreciated. By the way, I'm a hydroponic newbie.

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Old 03-05-2015, 06:59 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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If I use large enough containers, would the plants survive without replacing nutrients?
Yes but first it would be large enough to hold enough water volume. 4 weeks, 4 weeks worth of water volume. Quick numbers 8 tomato plants, with a minimum of 2.5 gallons per plant, but should be at least twice that. So 5 gallons of water volume per plant, 8x5=40x 4 weeks=160 gallons. Even if you had a 160 gallon reservoir for the 8 tomato plants. You would still need a automatic water replacement system to replace the water the plants drink up, or your nutrient concentration will just rise as the water level drops. That's not that hard to create. A float valve connected to a fresh water line will keep the water level correct. However the pH will change because of the water being added through the water line. That is unless you have a separate holding tank with pH adjusted water your running the water line from. It would need to be higher than your reservoir so you can gravity feed the water to the float valve in the reservoir. You would also want to make sure you have a air stone in the fresh water tank as well as the reservoir, to keep the water circulating and mixing.

Quote:
Also what would be the chance the PH levels would be so out of whack it would destroy the plants?
Probably not destroy the plant if your using a large enough reservoir. But it will likely change for sure in 4 weeks (even in a large reservoir). The buffering ability of the pH buffers depends largely on water volume and how quickly the plants use up the nutrients. But if you had a large enough reservoir (like I mentioned above) and replaced the water the plants drink up with pH adjusted water or a very diluted nutrient solution through the water replacement system, there's a good chance the pH will remain close enough to be fine until you get back.

My advice would be,
teach the friends that would be harvesting the plants for you how to check and adjust the pH, as well as how to change the nutrient solution for you. Much simpler and easier, and they can call you if they need help or there are any problems.
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:21 PM
budbon budbon is offline
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Thanks GPS Frontier, I figured training someone would be the proper way.
GPS Frontier?? Are you a geocacher?
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Old 03-05-2015, 10:50 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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No, sorry I never got into geocashing. Many years ago I had a website called gpsfrontier where I sold garmen gps devices. So I just used it as my user name here. I know what geocashing is, but I just never got into doing it. I'm not selling the gps devices or have that website anymore either.
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Old 03-06-2015, 10:27 AM
budbon budbon is offline
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Is there an issue with mixing a large quantity (100 gal) of nutrient solution and having it stored so it could be added into the smaller reservoir thus eliminating the need of mixing every few days? If I were to get a friend to check and tend to the garden while I am gone there would not be the concern he is doing it correctly.
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Old 03-06-2015, 05:56 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Normally you don't really want to mix it up until your ready to use it. But if you keep it in a cool (75 degrees or so and below), and dark (no light at all) place, adjusted the pH, and use a air pump and air stone in it to keep the water moving and mixing, it should be fine. But I don't know why you would be needing to mix it every few days. I often mix up one gallon of nutrient solution in a water bottle I keep to use it to water my seedlings. I don't use it full strength. I mix the full strength solution (I have in the water bottle) with fresh water in another container to dilute it before I use it for seedlings.

When replacing the water the plants drink up (every few days) you want to use fresh plain water withough't any nutrients. Only mix up a new batch of nutrient solution when you do a nutrient change. Sometimes if you plan to put off changing the nutrients longer than you should, I might add a diluted amount of nutrient solution. How diluted depends on how long I plan to wait until I do a nutrient change as well as how long it has been scene the last one. As well as if the pH is fluctuating, how big the plants are, and how much water volume I have in the reservoir to begin with.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 03-06-2015 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 03-07-2015, 06:04 AM
budbon budbon is offline
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Sounds like I need to shorten my trip:-)
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Old 03-09-2015, 05:54 PM
budbon budbon is offline
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You used the figures of 2 1/2 gallons for one tomato plant. Is that a weekly estimate? Is there somewhere that shows (estimates) the water/nutrient needs for each plant?
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Old 03-10-2015, 05:17 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello budbon,
There isn't a chart that lists plants and gives water uptake requirements for them. There are simply to many variables for any such thing to be accurate. There is however a general rule of thumb to go by:

Small plants, minimum gallons per plant
Medium size plants, minimum 1 to 1 gallons per plant
Large plants, minimum 2 gallons per plant

Tomato plants are one of the largest plants, especially if your growing indeterminate varieties, and don't prune them. Like I said there are just to many to many variables for any type of chart to actually be accurate for all plants, plant sizes, not to mention under all types of growing conditions. But here is an article that helps explain the variables, as well as the types of problems you can run into when the reservoir (water volume) is to small:

What size reservoir do I need

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