In hydroponics, feeding and watering are the same operation but can be driven by different forces.
A wise grower once said that “the ideal time to water is 5 minutes before the plant wilts”. This theory reduces the stress on the plant from too much water (which stresses the roots), and from too little water (which increases the salt level) which stresses the whole plant. This method is a much too simplistic approach to watering. In a commercial green house operation growing hydroponically a grower may water as little as 60 ml per dripper each watering but water every 20-30 minutes in the heat of the day. High sun light, high temperature and low humidity all increase transpiration which increases the need for watering. He will also stop watering up to 4-5 hours before sunset so the plant goes through the night with a dryer root zone. There is no routine set in stone, all things change as the needs of the plant change. Observation and keeping notes are very important tools to become a better grower.
Watering is about providing enough moisture for transpiration and controlling salt levels (concentration) & feeding is about providing the right balance of salts through various nutrients. Most nutrients are a combination of salts. In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that can result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations (positively charged ions) and anions (negative ions) so that the product is electrically neutral (without a net charge). Plants will grow healthier with a low level of a balanced fertiliser/nutrient than a high level of an unbalanced fertiliser/nutrient. Each species of plant, indeed strains within a species, has a different idea about what a balanced feed is. You need to know what deficiencies and toxicities look like in the plant and what can cause the symptom. Not all deficiencies are caused by a lack of an element. It may just be a lack of uptake.
Getting the right feeding schedule can take time – finding the perfect balance is like finding the perfect balance of anything in life. The great thing is that our coconut coir is incredibly forgiving. We’ve removed approximately 20% of the fines so it will not become water logged if you water lots & vice-versa, it’ll hold water really well. Thus, we encourage Growers when using California Substrates coconut coir, go give an aggressive & ideally consistent feeding routine. Try it – we’re positive you’ll see a difference not just in the end yield, but in the ease of day to day operation 🙂
If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch & our Specialist team will come right back to you.