Dissection of a Nutrient Label

caps, then it is an element unavailable to the plant in its original form or it could be a man made element.

The EDTA stands for Ethylenediamine­tetraacetic acid which is the organic chelate that the manufacturers wrap the nutrient in to get the plant to uptake it and use it. The word chelate (pronounced: “key-late”) is derived from the Greek word “chele” which lit­erally means “claw”, pointing towards the process of chelation in which the chelate chemical grasps the mineral, wrapping it in disguise. Manufacturers use chelates to kind of fool the plant, because some raw minerals and all man-made ones won’t come across as food to the plant. The chelate is some­thing the plant would see as food and allows the mineral it’s encased to enter the root system to then be uti­lized as food. Some other compounds used as chelates are ‘DTPA’ or ‘EDDHA’. Not as widely used as EDTA but they all have the same basic function.

Dissection of a Nutrient 04A man-made substance is not a min­eral, even if it has the exact same chemical composition and structure as a naturally occurring mineral. Plants will not be fooled by this either. All man-made chemicals need to be che­lated for the plant to allow them to be absorbed into the root system.

The mineral based and ‘man-made’ nutrients are being used by manu­facturers more and more due to a sales boom in hydroponic systems. It is evident that you will run into a bunch of problems trying to run vegan organic nutrients in most hydropon­ics systems. This is because they a lot of times are run with magnetic driven pumps or through small tub­ing, fittings and drip emitters. Organic nutrients are very thick and viscous and most hydroponic systems are not designed to have that type of material run through them. This doesn’t mean that you as a hydroponics grower can’t feed your plants organic food. You can always design a passive hydroponics system using a gravity feed method and utilize wider tubing to allow the nutrients to move through it freely. Another downside to using organics in water systems is that those nutrients are usually derived from ground-up fish, algae and guano, which tend to give off a foul odor when used in hydro systems. Soil growers rarely notice the odor because the medium tends to diminish the odor a bit mak­ing them less likely to stink up the place. An easy option to stay as organ­ic as possible is to just use a less than 100% organic line of nutrients. There are several companies that make nutrient lines offering 50-90% organic ingredients in them, only replacing

the derivatives that will clog hydro systems with mineral-based ones. A few good examples are Botanicare Pure Blend Pro line, Fox Farm’s grow big, big bloom, tiger bloom trio, Canna Nutrients or even the Aptus line of additives.

Feeding Charts- Here is a basic break­down of nutrients commonly found on a feeding chart:

Dissection of a Nutrient 05Base Nutrients- This again refers to your basic grow/bloom, grow/micro/ bloom, A&B nutrients etc. These are designed to keep your plant alive, happy, healthy and growing. These contain a lot of the micro and macro nutrients that the plant needs to survive, but anything beyond basic growth is going to be a separate bot­tle on the feeding chart. If you want more flower sites, bigger buds or fruits, stronger plants, better flavor etc, besides needing a strain that has all that as potential, you will need to use some additives.

Root Boosters- These are beneficial microbes in the form of bacteria (bacil­lus) and fungi (mycorrhizae) that play a critical part in the soil food web when added to the root zone. Inoculated is the term for adding these beneficials to the root zone, there they will colonize and live there symbiotically with the plant. These ‘good’ bacteria consume ‘bad’ bacteria as decomposers, break down nutrients as nutrient cyclers, build soil structure and prevent as well as cause disease, all while the plant provides a home and the sugars (carbohydrates) for them to survive. The waste produced by these microbes contains carbon and other nutritional compounds that had been immobilized prior to consumption, but after microbe consumption they are now mineralized and made available to the plants again. Their ability to affect pH can make them an important tool for organic gardeners and they can vastly improve the uptake of nutrients and water from the growing medium, build­ing root and plant structure from the ground up. However this is less neces­sary in some forms of hydroponics such as deep water culture, current culture and aeroponics where the plant has con­stant access to the water and nutrients.

Composting Teas – These teas add nutrients as well as living organisms to the plant and root zone, by combining ingredients such as; organic compost, worm castings, sea kelp, guano etc. While most recommend using these for soil grows they can also

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