Homemade Hydroponic Nutrients

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September 1, 2015

Making your own does save you money with many things, so it’s not surprising that a lot of people want to know how to whip up a batch of homemade hydroponic nutrients. The problem is that this is a world apart from DIY projects. It’s one thing to build your own birdhouse, make pizza from scratch, or concoct a hydro system from odd parts bought at Home Depot… None of this stuff is alive. Apart from the yeast in the pizza crust, and you only need to keep it alive for an hour.

Garden plants must live, and live well for weeks, perhaps months, uninterrupted. The quality and balance of what you put in the nutrient tank is critical to your harvest. For newcomers – this is super important – your plants have needs growing in the hydroponic garden that the soil delivers without you needing to intervene. Soil growing is a lot more forgiving. All you have to do is put in a little fertilizer and make sure nothing gets too dry or stays too wet. A lot of what is needed is naturally there, but…

Not so with hydroponics.

You only get out of this kind of growing what you put into it. You ARE Nature here. It’s not magic. It’s science.

Of course, there are reasons that experienced indoor gardeners would want to make their own nutrients. Doing so gives them more control over what happens in the solution tank. It might be correcting a water issue, or something more complex, and they just cannot get the same results using off the shelf nutes.

Pinching Pennies?

If you’re looking for the secret to cheaper hydroponic growing – stick with a build it yourself system. The investment of collecting the salts, you need to whip up nutes from scratch at home is not going to cost less. Over time it may save you some money, that is if you are a stickler for accuracy and purchase the best quality ingredients.

That’s how the big names in hydroponic nutrients became so successful. It’s always the same stuff coming out of the bottle – not similar, mind you – exact. You are assured of a dead ringer match from bottle to bottle, batch to batch, for years on end.

How do you make that happen? Dead-on accurate measurements, and for that you won’t be using the measuring tools from your kitchen drawer that help you bake a cake. Now you need to invest in a scale too, and again, you can’t use one designed for kitchen use. It needs to be able to measure less than a gram, and give you the option to calibrate it, which means you’ll also need a calibration weight. The least expensive one I located today was over $40 on Amazon, and the weight was an additional $8. So, before you even start accumulating the ingredients you’ll have to invest at least $50 bucks to be able to measure them accurately.

A quart of vegetative nutrients runs under $30 for several good brands. Typically the most you would use about a tablespoon per gallon of water in your tank solution, which means you’ll have 64 gallons of nutes for less money than just buying a reliable scale to measure for making it yourself. So, homemade nutes really isn’t the answer if you’re strapped for cash to get going.
But since you are on a quest to make your own hydroponic nutrients… we’ll get into the rest of what you want to know.

The following measurements are per gallon of water:

Vegetative Stock Nutrient (9.5-5.67-11.3)

  1. Use warm water – ingredients must easily dissolve.
  2. Be sure to dissolve each salt in your water before adding another.
  3. Let the finished solution cool before diluting it with water for your reservoir solution.
  4. This is concentrate like you get in a bottle of pre-mixed product. You only need add a small amount per gallon of nutrient tank water.

Adding It to Your Reservoir

How much of this nutrient mix you need to use varies by growth stage and your EC/PPM requirements. Generally, this is 1 US tablespoon per gallon of water dilute, and for tender new seedlings 25% of that measure. But as a hydroponic gardener you should think in EC or PPM, which translates to… 250-400ppm for seedlings, 500-1000 veg, 1000-1500 aggressive growth/bloom stages, and 1000 for end of flower, and 0 for last week or so.

Before sales tax or shipping the materials total $81.60, plus your $38.00 scale and weight… your cheap DIY hydroponic nutrients will set you back $119.60. You can make 256 gallons of ready-made precision nutes for that kind of money. Yes, you’ll be able to make more nutes in the long run for the initial investment, but how big is your garden? How long will it take to use all this up? Do you have the proper space to store the materials you haven’t used in the first batch?

Top quality ingredients may run you more. The links on this list only show the first place we found the material at online. You’ll have to do that part of the investigation, but you can count on the ‘recipes’ being just what you need.

Here’s the ingredients needed to mix your own nute blends to finish your crop. Mix the following with 1 gallon of water:

Flowering Stock Nutrient (5.5-7.97-18.4)

  • 4.10 grams Calcium Nitrate – Ca(N03)2
  • 2.80 grams Potassium Nitrate – KNO3
  • 0.46 grams Sulfate of Potash – K2SO4
  • 1.39 grams Monopotassium Phosphate – KH2PO4
  • 2.40 grams Magnesium Sulfate – MgSO4
  • 0.40 grams 7% Fe Chelated Trace Element

Fruiting Stock Nutrient (8.2-5.9-13.6)

  • 8.00 grams Calcium Nitrate – Ca(N03)2
  • 2.80 grams Potassium Nitrate – KNO3
  • 1.70 grams Sulfate of Potash – K2SO4
  • 1.39 grams Monopotassium Phosphate – KH2PO4
  • 2.40 grams Magnesium Sulfate – MgSO4
  • 0.40 grams 7% Fe Chelated Trace Element

NOTE!
Before you do anything though, read the label thoroughly on each bag/container of elements. You need to be familiar with how to handle it safely… these are chemical components. The leftover portions can’t be stored just anywhere. You need to have a cool, dry place for them. They cannot absorb any moisture – it will mess up future batches, because the humidity difference will alter how much actual elemental salt you’re weighing out.

Accuracy is critical to nutrient solution quality. If it’s off, your plants will suffer – especially when you’re making small batches of stock nutrient.

Chelated Trace Element Mix

You should also be aware that the trace mix used in these formulations was noted at:

  • Iron – Fe: 7.00%
  • Manganese – Mn: 2.00%
  • Zinc – Zn: 0.40%
  • Copper – Cu: 0.10%
  • Boron – B: 1.30%
  • Molybdenum – Mo: 0.06%

The only chelated trace element mix located for sale online is a bit different. The product has 7.5% iron, and Eric Coulombe says the original 7% is high. Check with your local hydro shop to see if they carry such a product, chances are if they do the iron content is much lower. You can also find them at regular garden centers, but the ingredients will probably be the same or similar to the Jack’s brand we found for the purpose of discovering the cost of this DIY project.

Big thanks to Keith Roberto for sharing his nutrient formulas with us.

Tammy Clayton

Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine
Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.
Tammy Clayton

No Comments

  • Himanshu Kataria October 3, 2016

    HI,

    I cannot find the information on how to create
    Chelated Trace Element Mix.
    The info about the salts used to create chelated mixture and the process of making it.
    It would be of great help if anybody could provide me with this information.

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