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     LESSON FOUR

Meeting Plant Needs 4-2

When growing plants in a hydroponic garden, we must consider these factors:

bulletthe amount of water the plants need; proper drainage of growing medium
bulletthe optimum temperature and light for the plant
bulletfresh air
bulletshelter and support
bulletpest and disease control
bulletthe water-soluble minerals the plant needs
bulletthe proper pH of the nutrient solution

Water:

As with all plant needs, the amount of water required depends on the species and the needs of that particular plant. A plant that suffers from lack of water will extend a huge, but not very effective root system, and will develop a very small plant above the ground. Many roots are sent out in search of water and when an inadequate amount is found, the plant will not grow to its potential.
In the other extreme, if a plant is over watered the roots can drown because they are not receiving the proper amount of fresh oxygen. This makes proper drainage of a hydroponic growing medium crucial to your plant's health.
The last consideration concerning the water you feed your plants is purity. In a hydroponic garden, you should use as pure of water as possible. Water that has possible toxic contaminants or salt build ups may stunt or kill your plants.

Temperature and Light

The ideal temperature depends on the crops you choose to grow. Most of
the common garden crops, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, beans and
peas will do well with an average daytime temperature of78 F and an aver-
age nighttime temperature of 64 F. Winter vegetables, such as cabbage,
brussel sprouts and broccoli should be grown in slightly cooler temperatures.

  
Min / Max
Thermomete
r

A minimum/maximum thermometer will allow you to track the low and high temperatures in your growing environment. This is important for monitoring overall progress of your hydroponic garden and diagnosing plant growth problems.

For optimum production, heating the root zone is important. For most garden crops 72 F is the ideal root zone temperature. Some growers achieve a heated root area by using heated grow mats placed under the growing medium. Another option is to heat your nutrient solution to the desired temperature and then when your system feeds the plants, the roots are bathed in warm water.

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