Is Microgreens A Profitable Business? (We Ask The Experts)

Growing microgreens is not a small business. This burgeoning industry is gaining traction and putting down roots all around the world as casual gardeners along with commercial farmers are supplementing their income by going small.

But all in all, is it a profitable business to enter into? Are there customers willing and waiting to buy these micro vegetables and salads?

Fortunately, the barrier to entry is low, and the profit to be made is high, with potential customers from farmers’ markets to top-end restaurants ready and waiting to go micro.

The Business of Microgreens

A microgreen business is not necessarily a micro business. The investment required to start is very minimal, possibly as low as $100, and the investment in time can be measured in a couple of hours per day, depending on objectives.

The popularity of microgreens has reached a stage where demand is outstripping supply, where consumers are electing to purchase these vegetables over their larger relatives, confirming that if there was ever a time to enter into this lucrative field, it would be now. 

Numerous restaurants relish the opportunity to garnish their dishes with these nutrient-dense greens and are more than willing to purchase these quality, organic, GMO-free products at a premium price.

With the right crop selection, marketing, and dedication, a small-scale operation with just 10 – 20 trays can make a healthy profit of between $500 – $1,000 a month. If that can be achieved on a part-time basis with minimal work, then imagine what could be achieved with a full-time operation.

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A simple method to calculate what level of revenue can be attained is by cost analysis. That would start with the cost of such things as the trays, grow lights, growing mats, seeds selected, and even packaging. Factor in the time allocated and a ballpark figure can be reached to what the overheads would be.

Each tray should have the capacity to have three yields a month, and each yield should be about 10 oz. The market sale price is generally around $20 per tray, so with 10 trays, it’s possible to make $200 a month. Multiply that figure by the three yields from each tray and revenue of $600 a month is within reach.

Scaling up amounts to adding more trays and varying the seeds implanted to broaden the sales possibilities. From there, further expansion and increased revenue would be dependent on growing the customer base.

The Experts On Microgreens

Many experts attest to the sustainability of microgreens as the direction that farming has to take for the foreseeable future. They themselves have seen sales quadruple within a matter of months, acknowledging that it isn’t just a passing trend as more and more environmentally conscious consumers are eating wiser and healthier.

From the point of view of the casual farmer, a gap is being filled and buyers serviced on a more personal level than from a big corporation. That personalized attention is capturing an ever-increasing sector that is appreciating the quality of the greens on offer, a quality product that they can forward onto their ever more discerning clients.

The impact that microgreens are having is echoing through multiple sectors, from restaurants, to marketplaces, to personal chefs, to supermarkets, the wave of a revolution taking shape. A major factor is the ability to grow microgreens anywhere being an attractive lure for someone with green fingers who is confined within a concrete jungle.

This advantage of being able to grow microgreen vegetables and salads in even a small apartment indoors means that unpredictable weather conditions can be avoided. If run as a business rather than garnishing personal meal dishes, they can be located close to potential customers, making for easy deliveries and cutting down on the carbon footprint of having to truck the stock in.

Growing within this type of protective setting, opens wide the opportunity to grow a diverse range of agricultural microgreens that uses up to 95% less land than traditional outdoor farming.

The lack of experience is not a barrier to entry as this trade can be easy to learn, improve upon, and perfect, and the small amount of initial investment required makes this method appealing.  It can be started from a single tray of seedlings on a windowsill, and a trial-and-error method can be employed for complete newbies with very little risk.

Experts predict that the acceptance of microgreens throughout so many sectors will continue to increase nationwide, with many more urban farmers importing the farm to the city, bringing fresh produce to those hard-to-reach inner-city zones, at affordable prices.

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There are a plethora of blogs, books, and videos out there that can walk anyone through the start-up and growing phases, and how to overcome problems as well as how to repeat harvests profitably.

Even before the crops are harvested, however, the experts recommend contacting at least 25 – 30 local restaurants to sell to as well as scope out farmers’ markets and some supermarkets. And then beyond that have a regular routine to continue searching for buyers until a core group is purchasing what you’re growing regularly.

Another option is to sell directly to the consumer, either through Facebook or advertising. Whatever sales channel is selected, though, consistency is the key, to the quality of the product and to providing a good service to the growing client base.

A Microgreen Season

In the world of microgreens, growing seasons are not even a consideration. Couple that with the fact that within 1 to 4 weeks, depending on the crop chosen, a plant can be harvested, and seedlings replanted quickly, then it’s plain to see and appreciate the lure of growing salads and vegetables the micro way.

Due to this fast-growing period, the grower has more scope to experiment with the plants selected, either to eliminate them completely or have them under a rotation cycle to maximize sales. This quick turnaround time also allows scope for experimentation with different varieties rather than having to wait a full growing season to see if the results are a success or a dismal failure.

As in any business, some crops will have higher sales in some months than others, so it’s important to be able to swap out some crops quickly to take advantage of fluctuations and demand. If the interest in the quality of your produce increases dramatically, upscaling the microgreen farm is just a matter of adding a few more trays to satisfy the increased demand.

If maximizing the space available is a priority, experts recommend using racks to utilize unused vertical space. They are easy to install and this technique has enabled growers to boost their yields substantially, by properly organizing their crops, and many farmers have reaped the benefits of growing upwards.

Further methods of increasing the bottom line, according to experts in this field, can be augmented by taking note of the small details. For instance, can the yield be increased by adding a few more seeds to each tray? Can the overheads be reduced by cutting back on the light from the grow lamps to save on electricity costs?

A minor tweak here or there can make a big difference in any business, so it is advisable to keep records to understand where changes can be made, and new initiatives introduced.

There is also a temptation to grow as many varieties as possible to increase revenue opportunities, and there can be nothing wrong with that if there is already an established client base. However, keeping proper sales records can shine a light over a short period of time on which crops are selling well, and which need to face the cut.

The Best Microgreens To Grow

Essentially, the variety of microgreens that are selected can depend on the level of experience of the grower as some salads and vegetables are easier to start with than others, but may not command the highest resale prices.

If making a living is the goal or to supplement an income, then crop selection is important from the outset even though the time from seed to harvest is pretty fast.

Advice from expert microgreen farmers is to keep it simple. There is always a temptation to differentiate your business from the rest by planting obscure crops that will command higher sales prices but may not sell in sufficient quantities on a regular basis to provide a stable income.

Hard to grow and hard to sell, is never the way to go.

Choosing to start your microgreen farm with radishes, salads, sunflower seeds, or even pea shoots is the smart way to go as either of these three appeals to consumers, are easy to grow, and can be re-grown quickly to provide multiple harvests.

They offer a diverse variety of tastes, textures, and colors to dishes that appeal to chefs in particular. An added bonus is that they can be refrigerated after harvesting to extend the longevity of the product to keep them fresh if they cannot be sold immediately.

A rule of thumb is the wider the potential customer base due to the produce on offer, the better option of repeat sales, a regular income, and a profitable business.

As the business starts to grows more varied crops can be added and the growing space extended. Once this starts to happen additional attention to detail has to be increased in regards to crop health, maintaining the correct temperatures in the coolers, and ensuring there is sufficient light for optimum plant health.

Detrimental issues such as mold and pests can undo some of your hard work so it is important to periodically monitor these to avoid problems with the crops. Optimum health equals optimum quality and that will impact the demand for your microgreens.

Expert Tips For Your Microgreens  

One of the best ways to advance your micro business is to listen to the experts. All of them have been where you are now and have learned the ropes by planting one seed at a time. Some of them have started on kitchen countertops and windowsills and grown from there.

Mistakes and missteps they have made along the way and the owner of Minifarm Box in La, Conor Fitzpatrick, has a few wise words to impart.

He first points out a southern facing windowsill where the sunlight naturally pours in can make the difference between a mediocre crop or a robust harvest packed with flavors and vibrant colors, not to mention the extended life cycle afforded.

He reiterates the importance of proper drainage so the plants do not become waterlogged, and that a lightweight soil seed starter mix is ideally used to start with as it won’t become too tightly packed around the growing roots. Ensure also that it is soaked sufficiently to start the seeds better on their sprouting journey.

Once harvested the microgreens can be cleaned in diluted apple cider vinegar and rinsed with water to remove any unwanted bacteria and seed husks.

The founder of The First Leaf Microgreens in India, Swati Jain, hails microgreens as a superfood as they are packed with antioxidants and healthy nutrients, as well as vitamins A, B, C, E and K. In fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, microgreens contain from four to 40 times more nutrients than the regular sized plants.

Regularly eating these nutrient-dense crops can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and improve heart health, especially if eaten in their raw natural state when the most amount of nutrients will be absorbed by the body to deliver maximum beneficial efficacy.

Broccoli microgreens, for example, have an anti-cancerous compound, sunflower microgreens are loaded with protein and fights the effects of aging in our cells, red amaranth microgreens maintain bone health, helps to control blood pressure, and even improves vision, and wheatgrass, juiced, and drank daily, purifies the liver and controls blood sugar levels.

Small they may be but microgreens pound for pound are a powerhouse of concentrated nutrients that are punching way above their weight class.

Is growing microgreens a profitable business? Ask the casual grower who is making over $2,000 a month from the windowsills in the comfort of their own home.

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The Reasons Why Microgreens are Expensive

One of the current trends for healthy crops you can grow from home is Microgreens. Aquaponic and hydroponic gardeners turn to these, as the growing methods are near to what they are used to carrying out.

Microgreens are easy to grow and take very little time compared to conventional crops. With this, the question is often asked. What are the reasons why microgreens are expensive? Because every harvest of these young plants requires fresh soil or clean sterilized growing mats and trays, microgreens are expensive.

Growers need artificial lighting, fans, or climate control equipment to create a microgreens-friendly atmosphere. Microgreens produce less biomass per square foot (less plant weight) than typical crops, even with this equipment. As a result, microgreens are typically more expensive than other vegetables seen in grocery stores.

What Are Microgreens?

Microgreens are immature vegetables harvested when they are between one and three inches tall, usually after a week or two. The delicate texture, powerful flavor, and vivid color of these tiny greens make them great garnishes and salad toppings.

Microgreens are nutritional powerhouses, providing the same vitamins and minerals as full-sized vegetables and herbs in a fraction of the size. These tiny, year-round greens are straightforward to grow in confined, indoor spaces, making them a popular choice for urban farmers or gardeners with aquaponics systems and looking to optimize space. 

Microgreen examples:

  • Collard Greens
  • Red Cabbage
  • Watercress
  • Beet Greens
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Bok Choy
  • Lettuces
  • Arugula

How Do You Grow Microgreens?

One reason microgreens are expensive is the way they are grown. While it is a relatively straightforward process, it is quite involved in certain growth cycle stages.

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Even in the most basic form of growing, there is some equipment you need.

  • Seeds
  • Growing Trays and Growing Mats
  • Spray bottles
  • Clean water
  • Scales and measuring jugs

Seeds

Seeds are the principal thing you need and lots of them. Microgreen seeds are also different from regular seeds as they offer a higher germination rate.

Trays

Growers can use various trays or containers that come in any shape and size, although specific trays are used when microgreens are grown for profit.

Typically, level trays are best for growing microgreens, and when you harvest, you can trim across the tops of the edges as your guide.

Trays require sterilization between growing sessions, so it could be the case of having two set of equipment to avoid any growing interruptions

Growing Medium Or Mats

Trays need soaking before you fill them with your seeds. Along with providing water and nutrition, it helps the seeds stick to the mats. Depending on the media or mat in use, these may need disposing of, or cleaning and sterilizing before repeat use.

If you use earth or other organic growing media, it will need composting or disposing of.  

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Key Reasons Microgreens are Expensive

Besides mats, media, and seeds, there are more significant reasons why microgreens are expensive.

Here are areas that skyrocket the cost of these micro wonders.

Location

Because of the nature of microgreens, you can’t grow them outside in conventional growing conditions. Many gardeners use a greenhouse or another area of their home where they carry out their growing.

Since the microgreens don’t grow higher than a few inches tall, they are often grown on racking or shelving units to maximize vertical space.

These setups have one thing in common: they are all enclosed environments with controls on temperature, humidity, and any other variables that could face crops out in the open. The most significant characteristic from a location viewpoint is the crops are shielded from external influences and pests.

Power

Microgreens can be grown in greenhouses, and when done so, they get the benefit of natural light. However, many microgreen gardens don’t access natural light and use grow lights for maximum lighting periods.

Besides this, you can find temperatures are controlled at optimum levels, as is airflow. Fans continually blow air around the microgreen’s environments. One of the main reasons for all this is to control humidity. High levels of humidity can harm your crops as they grow so close together.

The airflow and temperature help stop fungal growth, yet they need lots of electricity to operate.

Labor

Taking care of microgreens takes more timing and accuracy than it takes working hard in a garden or tending to a hydroponic or aquaponic garden.

The amount of effort is less as there isn’t heavy lifting, although you have to do things in specific steps and at certain times. To ensure no crop failures, you have to complete each step of the short growing cycle on time exactly.

Your rhythm and precision will dictate the crop’s success or failure. This is true for most crops regardless of how you grow them, yet it is more vital for microgreens.

Nearly all types of microgreen crops will be sown and harvested in less than ten days. Every step you take can keep you in a routine each day Each step, and frequently each day requires you to be on the ball and exactly as you could quickly affect all your crops.

For instance, when you are in the germination phase, you need to know the exact amount of seeds to sow and ensure they are dispersed across the growth mats. With this, the mats and trays must have the precise amount of water for germination.

After this, seeds are placed in dark areas and weighted down, for example, to help stimulate strong development at the base instead of reaching for the light prematurely. It is your job as the grower to act as a surrogate mother to your seeds and make sure they get the best first few days of germination that allows them to grow strong until it comes to harvest.

Keeping the hundreds and thousands of seeds warm and moist can be a repetitive challenge before you reach harvest time.

Harvesting is a manual process, and there is little other way to harvest microgreens than using a sharp pair of scissors. After harvest, there isn’t much chance to regrow from the stems and roots as a fresh batch can grow faster.

Once harvested, all the cut stems need washing, and then it is the task of sterilizing and cleaning your trays before you get them ready to use again.

Beyond this, the shelf life of microgreens may not be anywhere near as long as full-grown vegetables.

Why Economics Make Microgreens Expensive?

All the above are the key physical reasons microgreens command a higher price compared to regular vegetables.

When you compare the numbers of seeds you grow, you will produce the equivalent of years’ worth of crops in one shot.

As much as you do, it isn’t only the reasons above that lead to high prices.

Economics leads to such high prices, and currently, there isn’t anything growers can do to change this.

Microgreens Are On An Upward Trend

The fact microgreens are the trendiest thing going is among the top reasons they are so pricey. Regular veggies can be grown and bought anywhere. Microgreens are around two decades old, despite that, few people or growers understand them.

Initially, they were garnishments for fancy restaurants, yet their nutritional benefits were recognized, and they started hitting the mainstream.

You can easily see why commercial growers and retailers are taking scarcity to hike up the price.

Microgreens Are Healthy

If you have a basic understanding of nutrition, you’ll know that society is edging towards a healthier range of foods. Most foods that contain nutritional elements are costlier than other types of foods.

Microgreens are among the most expensive foods available as, compared to size and portion, they are far healthier than the crops they would grow into. Microgreens can be up to 50% more nutrient-dense than a full-grown crop.

Microgreens will command higher prices than full-size veggies in a society, which values healthy eating and is more than willing to pay for the privilege.

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5 Disadvantages Of Aquaponics

Many people have heard of aquaponics, and it’s suitable for growing food and fish in a small area. However, not everything is as golden as it appears on the surface.

With this, we will look at the top 5 disadvantages of aquaponics. You will see how installation costs, types of crops, electric use, expertise for installation, and potential failure can all be a downside for any new aquaponics gardener.

 Aquaponics Benefits Overview

Before looking at the disadvantages, it is good to understand the advantages of building an Aquaponics garden. With comparison, you can see if the downsides outweigh the good points or vice versa.

Here are the benefits in bullet list form to compare before we look in more detail later.

  • Plant Watering: Because aquaponics is a closed system, you don’t have to water your plants, but you will have to keep your fish tank water level topped.
  • Speed of Growth: Plants in an aquaponics system grow twice as fast as plants grown by traditional methods. Aquaponic plants get nutrients directly to their roots. Fish waste is converted to nitrates, and the process occurs around the clock.
  • Growing Space: Aquaponics gardening saves space as you can grow ten times the food in the same area used by conventional methods.
  • Organic Taste: Aquaponics is USDA Organic Certified. You don’t need to use any additional sprays or fertilizers that can take away this organic status.
  • Fewer Weeds: In an aquaponics system, weeds are less likely to be an issue.
  • Fish and Food: Aquaponics produce fish and crops in the same system with the same effort.
  • Lower disease and pest risk: You’ll find your aquaponics system less prone to pests and diseases.
  • Raised Beds: The media bed where your crops grow is lifted, thus suitable for people with back problems. Most tasks are at waist level or higher.

Disadvantages of Aquaponics

Here are details of the top five disadvantages of an aquaponics system.

Setup Costs

Pumps, tubing, tanks, and grow beds are all required to set up the system, which can be costly. To get the best results, such systems can perform better when under covers, such as in a greenhouse or canopy. Without including these, you can purchase kits that can be between $2,000 or more at the lowest cost.

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More extensive systems that can feed a family start at around $5,000. However, there is no reason to go to this expense. If you take the time, you can rustle up many of the parts needed for a fraction of the cost.

You can build a system for 25-50% of the cost of a kit. Any large tanks can be used for tanks and grow beds, and you can use concrete blocks and a wooden frame rather than laying a concrete slab.

Gravel is affordable, and the direct costs fall onto your water pumps, air pumps, and tubing.

System Expertise

Setup requires a good understanding of how an aquaponics system operates. If you rush in and add fish too quickly after building, you can easily lose all your fish. It takes a while for beneficial bacteria to accumulate in your system, much like an aquarium does so.

Besides this, gardeners can go the other way and add too many fish to their system, and the plants can’t convert all the waste and ammonia into nutrients. System cycling is vital, as is continual monitoring of pH levels for the same of your crops and your fish.

Crop Types

Many say you can grow anything in an aquaponics system, and in theory, you can. However, not everything grows effectively, and sometimes, some crops aren’t worth the effort.

Leafy vegetables are the primary crops, and root vegetables are given a miss. This occurs because root crops can deform when they hit solid objects such as a stone in the ground. Growing in gravel can lead to crops that are strange shapes.

Electricity Use

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Unfortunately, aquaponics demands the use of electricity to keep the system running and recycle the water. Even if aeration for your fish is catered to by returning water to the tank, you will run your water pump around the clock on some system types (flood and drain using a bell syphon).

Even if you use another timing schedule or system type, you will find you are running your pump multiple times per hour and an air pump for your fish tank aeration.

With larger systems, you will need larger water pumps or multiple pumps. Additional lighting can be an inclusion if your system isn’t outdoors or you can’t get the required amount of daily sun. Your system must be in a location where you have access to electricity.

Potential Failure

Based on the type of system you have, the effects of power failure or another kind of failure can significantly affect the health of your crops and your fish.

In the short term, your plants will get by, and you can manually water these. While it takes time, you could keep enough water in the system to protect your crops.

However, fish can’t survive too long without oxygen, and in an enclosed environment, the amount of ammonia would increase quickly. Should you have a power outage or pump failure while you are not by your system, you could see them suffer sooner rather than later.

Advantages Of Aquaponics

Any gardening will have disadvantages, and aquaponics is no different, as we can see.

However, many forms of gardening have as many upsides to them as aquaponics does. The plus sides easily outweigh the disadvantages, and most will be negated the longer you use your system.

Over time, the only cost you can see is that of your electricity. Here is a little more insight into the advantages of your aquaponics system.

Environmentally Friendly: Aquaponics is a closed system that doesn’t need the disposal of toxic wastes into any local watershed. Gardeners have a self-cleaning system and can let the plants do all the water treatment or add in biomass filters as part of their system.

Organic Fertilizer: Aquaponics is user friendly and healthier than organic farming, it is your system generating its fertilizer rather than you depending on outside sources.

Commercial grade farming uses many fertilizers in comparison. In addition, you can do away with any pesticides or herbicides in aquaponics as using them in close quarters can harm your fish.

Water Savings: Aquaponics delivers considerable water savings compared to a conventional garden. Numbers are around 80 to 90%, and the only water lost is that used by your plants, and the minimal amount of evaporation from the grow beds.

High Nutrition Levels: In all aquaponics systems, the fish and plants get all their needs from fish foods used to lead to waste. They are then converted to rich forms of nutrition available every minute of the day rather than the regular feeding of fertilizers in a typical garden.

Affordability: While there is a cost for electricity and potential fish food, there are cost savings in other areas. You can cut labor and fertilizer costs to zero as the system meets its own needs and takes little in terms of maintenance care.

Ease in Maintenance: Aquaponic systems are easy to run. If you use a bell siphon, these have no parts operated by external power, and thus no parts can break. Water pumps are the only area that requires maintenance.

Space Efficiency: You can quickly scale your aquaponics systems up or down, and the only area that needs changing can be the numbers of the fish.

If horizontal space is at a premium, you can use vertical space using grow towers.

Install Anywhere: If you have access to electricity, you can build your aquaponics system anywhere. If you have a commercial system or use them for a small profit, it can be built close to your market.

Transport costs can thus be reduced, as can damage from shipping.

Conclusion

As with any garden, there are upsides and downsides. Once you learn the upsides, you soon find these outweigh any downsides there are. After initial setup, any costs incurred, you can recoup expenses many times over, and electricity can more than be paid for by the return of bumper crops you harvest on a more regular basis.

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The Growing Cycle Of Microgreens

Microgreens have been making appearances on plates in restaurants since the 1980s, punching above their size class when it comes to the nutritional value that they deliver, and the richness of their flavors.

Small they may be, but the variety in textures accompanied by the aromatic taste makes them well worth the effort of growing them yourself rather than just popping down to the local supermarket.

The ease at which they can be grown, the flexibility of where they can be grown, and the quick growing cycle from seed to harvest make having your very own microgreen garden well worth the effort.

Growing Microgreen

Starting your own mini farm packed with microgreens couldn’t be easier. These micro herbs, which are normally between 1–3 inches in height, are very easy to grow and can be grown successfully in settings from greenhouses to windowsills.

Planning has to start first with seed selection, and the starter farmer should opt for about 5 different varieties of greens to have a varied crop. To eliminate the guesswork of which seeds to sow, it is possible to purchase a professionally premixed pack of seeds that will all mature at the same time.

Regardless of which seeds are bought, they need to be thoroughly rinsed to remove any residues, and then soaked in a bowl of cold water for about 12 hours or overnight. After that period has expired, the seeds should be rinsed again and returned to the empty bowl, then covered in a damp paper towel to provide moisture and prevent the seeds from drying out.

This pre-soaking process helps to weed out which seeds are going to be viable before sowing, saving time, effort, and disappointment. Seeds that float to the surface of the bowl are unlikely to bear fruit, so to speak, and should be discarded.

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Sprouting will then occur over the next 36 to 48 hours and it is recommended that the seeds are sprayed lightly a few times a day. Once the little sprouts are noticeable, the seeds are ready to be transplanted into their growing medium, which is either soil or coconut coir.

The easiest option is soil as it is cheap, readily available, and easy to use. Within an indoor setting, whether in a greenhouse or other indoor space, temperatures and ventilation can be controlled, and even lighting can be regulated for best results.

Once the seeds are ready and soil has been selected for the growing medium, choosing the right containers is the next step, and trays are one of the easiest to employ due to their cost and ease of scalability.

Microgreen Trays

Tray selection depends on objectives in regards to the size of the crops to be grown, space available, and even budgetary concerns. Fortunately, there are trays to suit every situation and every budget. Avoid flimsy trays, however, despite the cheap prices as they will complicate the process if they have to be constantly moved or stacked.

Buy durable and strong and you can’t go wrong.

Shallow trays with a depth of about 1.5 inches are more than suitable for microgreens, with or without holes for drainage. As seedlings don’t require a lot of space for the roots, and the plants themselves only growing to a height of 1-2 inches, they are perfect for the job.

The number of microgreens to be grown in each tray depends on the type of plant and the size of the seeds themselves. A simple rule of thumb is if the seeds are large to place 6 or 8 of them per square inch in the tray. Smaller seeds can be placed 10 to 12 per square inch, allowing sufficient space for the roots to grow unimpeded.

The soil itself shouldn’t be compressed too heavily, just leveled out by hand, and the sprouting seeds gently pressed into just below the surface.

Once all the seeds are sowed, water them from a spray bottle then cover the trays either with another tray or with a paper towel. This will give them a blackout period which will help the seeds to germinate just that bit faster.

After a few days, the baby shoots will start to grow into baby plants and should now be exposed to sunlight or grow lamps, about 4 to 8 hours a day is sufficient. Not enough light and the actual taste of the plant can be underwhelming, and the nutritional content decreased.

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Popular types of vegetables to grow are radishes, broccoli, pea shoots, mustard, and arugula, each of them bringing to the plate their own splash of color, texture, taste, and a host of rich vitamins and nutrients.

Harvesting Microgreens

Between 7 to 21 days a telltale sign that the crops are ready for harvesting, is the rich green color of the first two leaves. Once these are noticeable, they’re good to go.

It is important, though, that the microgreens are never pulled directly from the soil as that will disturb the roots of the plant, and not allow them to be regrown. Instead, to achieve multiple harvests from one tray, cut about a centimeter above the soil line with a pair of scissors, a sharp knife, or a pair of sheers, and then the next harvest will soon be on its way.

The microgreens harvested then need to be washed, dried with a paper towel, and then are ready to be eaten at their freshest. Any excess can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

Any microgreens grown outside can be harvested in much the same way, although they may take slightly longer to grow due to temperature fluctuations, intensity, and consistency of sunlight. They do tend to be hardier, bigger, and make a better crop for a profit-making enterprise.

One of the many selling points with microgreens is that they are incredibly nutritious when compared to their bigger brothers, packed with up to 40 times more vitamins and minerals. Also, because they are so cheap, quick, and easy to grow, they can be marketed very profitably year-round.

There can be no doubt that growing microgreens commercially makes good business sense if you are so inclined. Sold by the pound, they are ideal for urban growers or small-scale farmers who are looking for a high-profit margin enterprise with a small financial commitment to start.

If expansion is a goal for the future, the microgreen garden can easily be scaled up by adding a few more trays at very little cost or changing to a larger location to add more varieties.

Regardless of your goals with growing microgreens, there is no doubt that they are, pound for pound, punching above their weight class in terms of taste, nutritional content, and the amount of profit available in a competitive marketplace.

Small in size they may be, big on potential they definitely are.

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How To Grow Cauliflower In Aquaponics

Aquaponics is a growth industry that is easily available to every level of experience for the avid aquaculturist, whether their goal is to set up a gargantuan commercial farm, to start up a small to medium size going concern to supply at the local market, or simply to grow a few veggies at the bottom of the garden to feed the family.

Tomatoes, potatoes, grapes, onions are just a small selection of crops that can be reared under this system, but there is also a very wide variety of leafy plants that can be cultivated under the farming initiative that is aquaponics.

One of those is cauliflower. Underappreciated, it is loaded with essential nutrients, flourishes within the aquaponics environment, and is gaining in popularity.

Why Cauliflowers In Aquaponics?

Growing cauliflowers in aquaponics is a comfortable and sustainable way to grow this vegetable in a controlled environment that promotes faster growing times, resulting in a more frequent harvest of an often-overlooked vegetable that itself has a wide variety of uses for many a tasty dish.

The botanical family that the cauliflower belongs to is called Brassicaceae, and its siblings are cabbage, broccoli, kale, and brussels sprouts. What differentiates it from its brothers and sisters are the cream-colored stems that it is renowned for.

This compact head, known as the curd, is packed full of vitamins and minerals as well as being loaded with fiber and antioxidants. The white coloration is due to an insufficient quantity of a substance called chlorophyll, which is the cause of the green pigment in plants.

In nature, there are many types of pigments yet Chlorophyll alone is the key to photosynthesis. What this process does is allows plants to absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide efficiently, naturally, and then to convert those rays of light into energy, which finally releases oxygen into the air to sustain life on earth.

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Despite the white stems on the head of the cauliflower, it contains more than enough chlorophyll to provide all the benefits derived from this molecule. For example, eating this vegetable can aid in reducing inflammation and the risks of cancer due to its anti-carcinogenic properties, and it even has a natural deodorant that helps with bad breath.

What is not widely known about cauliflowers is that there are actually over 100 varieties, which can be broken down into four main categories: Italian, Northwest European, Asian and Northern European.

Historically, the Italian cauliflower is the mother of all cauliflowers, the other varieties derived from this original. The Northern European variant became popular in the 18th century in Germany while the Northwest European cauliflower flourished a while later in the 19th century in France.

Unlike the two European varieties that take longer to bring to full maturity, the Asian offshoot has a more flexible resilience that enables it to grow in warmer temperatures with an added bonus that it stands up well to weather fluctuations.

Fortunately, the climate in an aquaponics farm is controlled and remains consistent. Under these circumstances, the choice of which cauliflower to plant is down to personal choice, goals, and local availability.

The Practical Way To Grow Cauliflowers in Aquaponics

To grow cauliflower in aquaponics several stages have to be followed, with certain considerations factored into the equation from the outset to make a success of the project.

First, the seeds need to be selected with care and close attention. Genetic manipulation is common with cauliflower seeds to create a hybrid vegetable, and that alteration can produce a resulting harvest that is different than what was expected.

About 10 years ago cauliflowers with different colored curds started to appear, orange, green, purple, to name a few, and soon became quite popular, adding a splash of color to the kitchen table without altering the traditional taste significantly and only marginally affecting the nutritional values.

Hybrid cauliflowers have no different discernable taste to the traditional cream-colored head variety, fortunately, but the hybrids do need to be planted from new every year.

Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that the seeds purchased are open-pollinated, meaning that they have not been altered scientifically in any way and that they have been fertilized by bees, moths, and birds, for example. Aquaponics is all about mimicking nature so it’s always better if the seeds and plants are as close to natural as possible.

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To start, newly purchased seeds are in an elongated pod and are only ready to be harvested from the pod when it turns brown. That indicates that they are now mature and ready to be stored in a dark place temporarily before being sowed into a growing medium where they will reside for between 4 to 5 weeks to complete the slow germination process.

Proper watering and care are important to promote optimum growth and guarantee healthy seedlings. When the germination process is completed, they will then be ready for transplantation into a permanent growing medium.

In aquaponics, choosing the media bed is crucial so there is a good movement with the flooding and draining system employed to encourage the roots to expand outwards, especially since cauliflower is a heavy plant. Expanded clay pebbles are probably the most versatile media to use, allowing enough air and moisture for the needs of this vegetable.

Fortunately, cauliflowers need very little maintenance and, being a water-based plant, are one of the best vegetables to grow for beginners as they easily thrive in the aquaponics world.

Also, being a fairly easy and hardy vegetable to grow, it is possible to speed up the formation of the heads of the cauliflower by reducing the air temperature range down to between 50 to 59° from its normal range of between 66 to 77° for autumn crops; for spring crops that air temperature range can be elevated to between 59 to 68°.

If the temperature is too cold, or the cauliflowers do not receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, either directly or from grow lamps, the heads will not properly mature. Overexposure to sunlight, on the other hand, can adversely affect the harvest by causing the curd to separate into rice-like grains, so care has to be taken.

That same amount of care has to be allocated to the choice of fish due to these specific temperature ranges that can be too cold for some species of fish. One of the best varieties to complement cauliflowers in aquaponics is trout as they do well in cooler water temperatures, and will supply all the nutritional needs of the burgeoning aquaponics vegetable garden.

Afterward, when some of the fish have matured and outgrown their surroundings, some of the trout can be harvested themselves to provide a very healthy meal, being a good source of protein and loaded as they are with omega 3s.

When initially setting up the growing system for cauliflowers in aquaponics, it is important that the water temperature is monitored constantly and that the nutrient demands are met. Cauliflowers react favorably to high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus so nitrate levels also have to be kept and the correct levels.

With a commercial farm that has other vegetables apart from cauliflowers, separation has to be adhered to in regards to nutrient hungry plants if they are grouped together, as supplying the nutritional needs of all of them in the same zone can be challenging.

However, with proper initial planning, and an efficient system put in place, growing cauliflowers in aquaponics can be very rewarding with a regular harvest possible every few months despite the seasons and surrounding weather conditions.

The Blanching Of Cauliflowers

Once the head of the cauliflower achieves a diameter of about 1 – 2 inches, the outer leaves need to be tied together over the expanding head of the plant. An elastic band or a piece of twine is sufficient for this task, as long as a certain amount of flexibility is left to allow for further growth of the head and leaves.

This technique is known as blanching and if overlooked the traditional cream color of the curd can be lost, turning it into a not-so-attractive greenish-brown color instead. Not only will it appear unpalatable to the eye, but the taste will become stronger and very bitter as well.

Blanching is not necessary from day one, but about 30 days after transplanting the seedlings it is advisable to start checking the development of the head. When the curd is about the size of a chicken egg, the process of blanching can begin.

Conduct tying the leaves loosely over the head at this stage to allow leeway so the head can grow freely without being constricted by the leaves. After that, continued regular attention needs to be paid to all the plants as the heads on different cauliflowers will expand at varying growth spurts even if they were all transplanted at the same time.

Using different colored elastic bands can aid in differentiating which plants are ready for harvesting and which need a few more days to further mature.

This process is slightly time-consuming, but it is 100% worthwhile to take this extra step to ensure that the head forms perfectly and, more importantly, has that sweet taste that you’re striving for.

Amazingly, thanks to dedicated plant breeders, there are some varieties of cauliflowers that perform self-blanching so the leaves do not need to be tied manually over the growing curds. This time-consuming endeavor undertaken by the plant itself relieves the farmer of this burden, with the leaves curling over the developing head automatically as it continues to grow.

In about twelve weeks, when the heads are compact and firm, they will reach full maturity and be ready to harvest. The indicator that the cauliflower is ready is when the head is firm, white, and compact. Excise the head with a knife, taking care not to damage the leaves, and enjoy.

The Benefits Of Cauliflower In An Aquaponic Garden

A fact about the humble cauliflowers that is easily overlooked when compared to other, more popular trending vegetables, is just how healthy they can be. Studies have shown that obesity can be tackled by introducing this vegetable that is packed with fiber into your regular diet. It also has a wealth of other nutrients and a single serving of 100g contains:

  • Vitamin C – 24.7mg
  • Dietary Fiber – 2g
  • Calcium – 24mg
  • Phosphorus – 44mg
  • Potassium – 299mg
  • Zinc – 0.27mg
  • Copper – 0.039mg
  • Manganese – 0.155mg
  • Selenium – 0.6µg
  • Fluoride – 1µg
  • Vitamin B-6 – 0.184mg
  • Folate- 57µg
  • Choline – 44.3mg

An extra bonus is that these vegetables are low in carbohydrates. That makes them even more attractive from an aquaponics farmer’s point of view, with the cauliflower being featured worldwide as a replacement for high carbohydrate foods in popular dishes or even as a complete replacement item to healthify a staple meal.

Innovative ingredients are popping up all over the internet on how to make cauliflower rice, soups, pizzas, and many other healthy food items suitable for the popular keto diet.

Aquaponics And The Sustainable Cauliflower

As a farming method for raising fish and growing vegetables, it is hard to find a system that is better than aquaponics. It has the potential to be able to feed the world in a sustainable way that can be adopted and transported to virtually any country in the world, to the four corners of the earth.

This form of farming is becoming universally popular with individuals, business people, entrepreneurs, and even governments, all impressed by the substantially increased food production capabilities within a controlled, indoor environment that uses less water, requires less land, and has reduced labor needs compared to traditional outdoor farming.

Furthermore, the resulting harvests, devoid of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, have a tendency to produce crops that provide better nutritional benefits, a bonus in countries where affordable nutritional foods are in short supply. Accompanied by the fish as a source of protein and it’s plain to see how aquaponics can feed the world.

The wide range of produce that can be grown in aquaponics is incredible. Cauliflowers can be reared under the same umbrella as peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, and even tropical fruits such as bananas, oranges, and lemons to add a wider range to the harvest

This recirculating enclosed aquaculture that spawns a better cauliflower, combined with the raising of fish, can provide nutritious food to feed a family or a village in any type of climate, hot or cold, dry or wet for the foreseeable future.

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What Is A Fogger In Aeroponics?

Hydroponics is an established form of growing crops with the roots immersed in water that has been around for a number of years now and is a highly successful and environmentally friendly method of growing a wide range of harvests.

Aeroponics is a similar method but without immersing the roots completely in water, the roots dangling freely in the air, unencumbered by soil or water. A fine mist of water is periodically sprayed to deliver the essential nutrients and hydration with equally impressive results.

And now there is Fogponics.

This method takes nutrient delivery to the next level, enshrouding the plants in a fine cloud of water that works extremely effectively, bringing additional benefits through this all-pervading fog.

So How Does Fogponics Work?

The established framework of aeroponics acts as the base for this revolutionary system, but the fog doesn’t just appear by itself. Water has to be siphoned from a source and vibrated through a system of electric foggers to create a haze similar to what is encountered in rain forests, and that haze forms the new humid climate conditions for optimum crop growth.

These ideal conditions found in the atmosphere of rainforests are in a constant cycle of being hot, humid, and extremely wet. Under these conditions, it has been found that vegetation becomes very lush and becomes very abundant very quickly.

The fog created artificially in fogponics, however, is generally dry and laden with minute droplets of water. In fogponics, the contents and the fog itself can be controlled in regards to its size, the frequency of its appearance, dispersion, and the variety of nutrients contained within it. And the beauty of it is that establishing a farm is not too difficult.

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If already established, converting a large commercial aeroponics farm into a fogponics one can put a squeeze on the finances, but a smaller installation doesn’t have to break the bank and can be done on a budget.

Once the scale of the operation is settled upon and goals established in regards to crop selection, the apparatus can be reconfigured, scaled up or down to conduct a series of trials if necessary to confirm whether this growing method is the right direction for your farming ambitions.

What would be required to either conduct a small experiment or to start a small-scale operation within a budget, is a construction-grade storage container. The size of the container will be dependent on what goals are set in regards to operational parameters and the growing potential of the plants to be installed.

To incorporate the plants, several rows of approximately 2-inch holes need to be drilled into the lid of the container, evenly spaced out in a grid formation to allow for plants to grow unencumbered by neighbors set too close.

Before being able to insert the plant stems, foam-filled net cups need to be glued into the holes with notches cut into them to support the cloning plants themselves, and allow the stems to dangle within the container in anticipation of the sprouting roots.

Water then needs to be added to the container along with the nutrient mixture, and finally, the fogger can be added to the equation to complete the set-up.

Choosing the right fogger is the key to success and its installation either into a small-scale operation or into a larger commercial endeavor is crucial.

First, it is important to understand that there are foggers for fogponics and foggers that are used for different applications, such as the elimination of bugs with pesticides, for example. These fumigation foggers use aerosol propellants to create the fog to eliminate pests such as cockroaches.

The fogger that is to be introduced for a fogponics network works differently from those types and has to have the capacity to go ultrasonic, its role being to convert water into a specialized vapor.

What enables the fogger to convert the water into the much sought-after fog, is its high oscillating capacity to reach a crescendo of 2MHZ, which equates to an incredible two million vibrations a second. By generating this level of ultrasonic frequency, the water becomes nebulized, which is another way of saying that it becomes a fog.

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These specialized foggers are the key to fogponics, and the small droplets that are generated within the fog are then either blown slowly over the plants or are fed into an enclosed space where the roots are encased.

This is an extremely efficient form of delivering ultra-low volumes of nutrients and water for hydration and supplementation and is impressive in its simplicity.

In this environment, plants tend to absorb the maximum level of nutrients required to thrive and grow. This is due to the ability of the fog to penetrate and seep into every nook and cranny of the crops, unlike spraying, ensuring a constant supply and complete delivery to all the plants so they all grow uniformly.

In Fogponics Size Matters

The droplets of water in aquaponics used in the misters typically have a water psi pressure sufficient to produce water droplets of 50 microns or larger. These size droplets wouldn’t work in the system of fogponics, being way too large to float in the air as part of the fog.

To reduce the size of the droplets and create the fog itself, the water pressure is dialed up to 800 to 1200 psi to atomize the droplets and reduce the size of the droplets to 5 to 30 microns. At this size, the fog can be created using a high-pressure pump, distribution piping, nozzles, controllers, timers, and then basically the system is ready to go.

This precision high-pressure reduction in the size of the water droplets is the key to the effectiveness of fogponics, and is especially suitable for seedlings and cloners from cuttings owing to their undeveloped roots which are susceptible to not absorbing sufficient nutrients in other methods.

Fortunately, fogponics tends to be gentler and more pervasive. This means that the appropriate level of moisture can be delivered, and more importantly be controlled to deliver the right amounts of water so the roots do not dry out from being overlooked by the spraying system, or become waterlogged because they are on the front line.

With the correct timers and monitors installed, the fog can be emitted at a level of frequency desired by the grower to provide the necessary quantity of the mixture for plant sustainability, for all the crops.

Herbs and green vegetables such as cucumbers, lettuces, and spinaches also flourish under this fog-covered environment.

Why Choose Fogponics?

Being a sub-technique of aquaponics, the adjustment to Fogponics isn’t a great leap in regards to equipment or structural changes. But why make the change, why go that route?

The answer, surprisingly, lies in oxygen delivery, and the size of the water droplets.

For optimum oxygen delivery to the plant roots, the water droplets ideally need to be within the range of between 5 – 30 microns. In aquaponics, the water emitted from the sprayers is between 30 – 100 microns. They can be reduced to the lower range but the density of the water has to be increased, so in the end, it is not a practical solution.

Something that is not widely known even aquaculturists, is that the bigger the water droplets the less oxygen is contained within them, and the less oxygen that is delivered to the plant roots. To counteract that deficiency, even in such an efficient system as aquaponics, more water has to be utilized to provide enough oxygenation. 

Alternatively, if the droplets within the fog are too small then not enough nutrients will be delivered for the plants to grow.

With Fogponics, the ultrasonic nebulizer takes those reduced-sized water droplets and converts them into the fog that hangs in the air, fully loaded with oxygen and nutrients, ready for the plants to absorb what they need.

And there is an even more beneficial by-product of these nebulizing foggers.

With the smaller droplet sizes, there is a more efficient and faster nutrient solution absorption by the plant roots, resulting in a much faster growth rate and a quicker harvest. Due to this abundantly high level of oxygen and the constant supply of water saturation, a dramatic boost to the metabolism of the crops occurs.

How does this work exactly?

Under this environment, the roots develop what’s known as trichoblasts, fine hairs that sprout along the stems. It is these fine hairs that are responsible for turbo-boosting the metabolism and increasing the plants’ ability for a heightened level of nutrient absorption.

These fine hairs on the roots thrive within the atmosphere of the dense fog, extracting oxygen, water and nutrients at increased levels compared to other farming methods.

This hyperactivity doesn’t oversaturate the roots, fortunately, it just allows them to absorb a greater amount of nutrients efficiently from the constant presence of the fog, with the results that the plants grow at a faster rate.

Overall, the introduction of a fogger elevates an impressive farming endeavor to the next stage of evolutionary growth. It becomes more cost-effective and more profitable, no matter what crops are being grown.

Marijuana growers especially appreciate the faster growing times under this system. The additional boost to profits accumulated at harvest time as well as the savings on water bills is also an important factor in the decision for them to change over to growing their produce in this manner.

This water-saving aspect is accomplished because the fog is trapped within an enclosed space, and the minute water droplets are utilized more conservatively in comparison to other farming methods.

 Under this environmentally friendly farming umbrella, the water used is also not lost to evaporation, and that lack of wasteful evaporation saves on crucial nutrient depletion that could be detrimental for the plants.

Additionally, in this system these nutrients are evenly dispersed to the roots of all the plants to ensure equal growing capabilities across the board, so no favoritism is shown.

A Fogponics System

Fogponics is a revolutionary, energy-efficient indoor farming system that is more than worth the investment in terms of money and time. Just ask NASA.

Through experimentations and in-depth research, the technicians at NASA have practiced and trialed a plethora of growing scenarios with various plants and crops, such as potatoes, to gauge the most efficient growing methods in an effort to reduce cargo costs for future space missions.

They discovered that it could be a game-changer for the future exploration of space, the efficiency of the foggers easily boosting the capacity to actually grow produce faster without installing heavy, cumbersome equipment. In space, the only missing component, however, would be sunlight and photosynthesis.

In the fogponic farming system, this photosynthesis is encouraged by the use of LED lights to imitate the life-giving properties of the sun itself. A process of conversion is then initiated with the artificial light being converted into chemical energy.

Further reactions within this process instigates the separation of the oxygen and hydrogen molecules to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for the crops to soak up.

All of this is undertaken automatically within the system that is fully controllable, scalable, and starts from a simple fogging machine.

So, if it’s good enough for NASA…

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The 5 Best Water Pumps for Aeroponics on a budget

Aeroponics is a form of hydroponics that goes a step further than the conventional way of growing without soil. While you still use a closed-loop system, yet the plants don’t use any growing media.

The way aeroponics works is to suspend your plants on top of a dark chamber where they are periodically sprayed or misted with a nutrient-rich solution comprising tiny droplets.

You can build an aeroponics system using a minimum of materials. However, if you are on a budget or want to try this form of gardening, you may wish to know the best water pumps for aeroponics under $100. We have done all the hard work and gone through an abundance of suitable water pumps you could use for building an aeroponics system. They are merely submersible pond pumps, yet they meet specific criteria.

Aeroponics Droplet Size

Plants are more likely to consume nutrient water when droplets are in the 5 to 50 microns range than any other size.

The size of water droplets is vital to maintain aeroponics growth. Should the water droplet be too large, it restricts the oxygen to the root system. Also, if the water droplet is too fine, as created by ultrasonic misters, these lead to an excess of root hair, and the plants don’t develop a lateral root system to sustain development.

HPAs (High-Pressure Aeroponics) need a high pressure to function correctly and produce an ideal 50-micron droplet size from misters.

When building your own, you typically use low-pressure aeroponics (LPA), which comes with a far lower cost for construction. For this, you would run your system on a timer 24 hours per day and 7 days per week.

Aeroponic Water Pump Specification

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For choosing a pump for your aeroponics system, the brand name isn’t as vital as the specifications and the reliability of your pump.

Any pump you choose should be capable of generating 40-60 psi or higher. It needs this pressure to push the nutrient solution through tiny holes in the spray nozzles.

Besides the PSI it can generate, you need to remember it should have a high GPH (Gallon Per Hour) range of 1,250 – 1,600 or around 1/3 – 1/2 HP. It will be the size that determines the pressure it will generate.

It is essential to use a manifold to work alongside your high-pressure pump of this caliber in your system. By doing this, you can apply the right amount of fluid pressure to your roots, prevent spray heads from clogging, and prevent the pump from overheating.

Best 5 Water Pumps for Aeroponics

VIVOSUN 800GPH Submersible Pump

One of the best low-end submersible pumps you can get is the VIVOSUN. It can be mounted in either a horizontal or vertical position.

To limit the flow, there are three nozzles of sizes: 0.51″, 0.62 ” and 0.74″ as well as a control known for more controlled adjustment.

The pump allows you to dismantle its tools free and clean by running in clean water. You also have the backup of the 1-year warranty, all at a very budget friendly price.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 4.1 x 2.6 x 3.5 inches.
  • Max Flow (GPH): 800 GPH.
  • Lift Height: 10 Feet (adjustable flow rate.
  • Voltage: 24W; Voltage:110-120V.
  • Warranty: 1 year.

The VIVOSUN is a decent pump designed to face the rigors of aquariums, ponds or small aeroponics system.

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VIVOSUN 2600 GPH Submersible Water Pump 120W Ultra Quiet Pump

Moving up the VIVOSUN range is the far superior 2600 gallon (min-max flow) per hour model. For a decent-sized aeroponics system, you’ll find this kind of energy-saving pump more suited.

Although powerful, the VIVOSUN pump runs at 30 – 40db, so you can hardly hear it in operation. It delivers a massive 2700 gallons of water per hour, although the range of pumps in this series can go up to 9200 GPH, yet they consume more power than the 120W of this model.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 11.57 x 8.58 x 8.19 inches.
  • Max Flow (GPH): 2600 – 9200 GPH (from a range of 5 pumps).
  • Lift Height: 14.8 Feet (fixed flow rate.
  • Voltage: 120W; Voltage:110-120V.

With a guide price of less than $85, you get a pump you can use as a submersible or as an inline pump, thus offering flexibility in your system design. You get an adjustable nozzle angle, and you can remove parts for easy cleaning.

JEREPET Aquarium 24V DC Water Pump with Controller

The JEREPET offers a six-speed adjustment of flow control from 30% to the max flow. If used in aquariums, you also have a wave mode and feeding mode. All these are set from a controller that sits outside your water source. In an aeroponics system, this means you won’t have to open the system to adjust.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 7.5 x 3.5 x 4.8 inches.
  • Max Flow (GPH): 1250 GPH.
  • Lift Height: 13.1 Feet (fixed flow rate.
  • Voltage: 32W; Voltage:24 V DC (Input voltage 100 – 240v.

Operation is less than 30db thanks to the sealed impeller and ceramic shaft. You can use the pump submersible or inline, and it offers an auto shut-off in case it runs dry.

With a budget friendly price, you’ll find a high-performance pump that offers excellent flexibility for your aeroponics system.

HYGGER Quite Submersible and External

The Hygger offers excellent performance and can be used in small to medium-sized aeroponics systems. It comes with auto shut-off if there is a lack of water and offers two types of water intakes.

One is for normal water levels, and the second for low water, where it hugs the bottom of your reservoir. You’ll also find they can stop different sizes of debris being sucked in the pump with these.

To control the Hygger pump, you have an external LED controller that offers 71 flow settings from 30% to 100% max flow. It is easy to use and only has three buttons. Up, Down and Pause.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 7 x 4.1 x 6.4 inches.
  • Max Flow (GPH): 1350 GPH.
  • Lift Height: 13.1 Feet.
  • Voltage: 40W; Voltage:24 V DC (Input voltage 100 – 240v.

With a guide price of just under $100, you get a more than capable pump, yet you are paying for it. It offers many features and simple controls and can be a submersible or inline pump.

VIVOSUN 1982 GPH Submersible Water Pump

The VIVOSUN is the final pump on the list, but that doesn’t mean it’s the least capable. It offers a solid construction where the drive ring piece is made from silicon carbide material.

The VIVOSUN pump offers energy-saving designs and ultra-quiet operation design at 30-40db when running. It can pump 1982 GPH, so this is more than ideal for a medium-sized aeroponics system.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 15.24 x 8.03 x 7.09 inches.
  • Max Flow (GPH): 1982 GPH.
  • Lift Height: 14.8 Feet (fixed flow rate.
  • Voltage: 110W; Voltage:24 V DC (Input voltage 100 – 240v.

For a very reasonable price, you have a high-capacity pump that offers many features. It is a fixed rate, yet you have three hose adapters to change the flow of water.

You get a pump designed for around the clock operation, and the company offers a decent warranty as a backup.

Conclusion

Here are some of the most popular pumps you can find for aeroponics, hydroponics and aquaponics. Each offers lots of power and water flow, yet they can be more suited to various sized systems than the others are.

You will discover higher capacity pumps offer more dependability. In the way aeroponics work, you need reliability more than anything.

Should your pump fail, then you have no other means of watering your plants, and they can suffer almost immediately compared to any other type of system.

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Do You REALLY Need A Biofilter For Aquaponics?

Any beginner entering into the aquaponics sphere at one point or another will have this question or topic raised. Being newbies, they simply won’t know what to do at this early stage of their learning curve. But to be honest, there are many experienced growers who are also on the fence, hearing many conflicting voices for and against its usage.

The need for a biofilter is bacteria-driven. Beneficial bacteria are an integral component in the recycling system in aquaponics and help to harmonize the existence and wellbeing of the fish inhabitants and the burgeoning plant life. For a harmonious co-existence, a biofilter is a must have

Why Is A Biofilter Needed In Aquaponics?

Imitating nature is the underlying tenet of aquaponics, creating an environment of co-dependency between fish life and plant life. To flourish symbiotically, each relies on the other for nutrients, food, filtration, the conversion of waste materials into nitrates, and the ability to recirculate cleaned water back into the system.

This self-sustaining environment combines the benefits of aquaculture with the system of hydroponics, but it wouldn’t function quite so harmoniously and seamlessly without bacteria. To understand the need for bacteria it is necessary to know how aquaponics work, and that will determine whether a biofilter will be required or not.

The overriding principle with aquaponics is that there is no reliance on fertilizers to aid in plant growth. That chore is undertaken by nutrients. But where do they come from and how are they replenished?

A closed-circuit system like aquaponics utilizes the water from the fish tank to transport nutrients and water in a closed-circuit cycle. known as the nitrogen flow cycle, to the roots of the plants and back again.

The process is initiated by the waste of the fish and as this waste material begins to decay it starts to be broken down into ammonia. If left unchecked, this ammonia will turn toxic to the underwater dwellers and eventually lead to their demise. Adding to this build-up of ammonia will be the decaying organic matter of leftover food and dead plant segments.

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In aquaponics, a conversion process starts to occur due to the interference of beneficial nitrifying bacteria, where the mounting toxic ammonia is converted into nitrite compounds. At this phase, the danger to the fish has been eliminated but the nitrite is still not usable for the nourishment purposes of the plants. What they need are nitrates.

A friendly bacterium called Nitrobacter is the leading protein in the oxidation process that will ultimately convert nitrites into nitrates, so the nutrients can now be absorbed as plant food. Without this beneficial bacterium, the aquaponics farm would fail.

So, if this system functions so seamlessly without any intervention required, why would a biofilter be needed?

The aquaponics closed-cycle system works when there are sufficient beneficial bacteria to complete the conversion cycle. If there is a shortfall due to a lack of surface area for the bacteria to grow, then more bacteria have to be introduced somewhere along the conversion line to make the world go around.

How A Biofilter Works In Aquaponics

Biofilters are essentially a large surface area attached to the aquaponic farm where additional bacteria can set up a colony and grow, increasing the efficiency of the nitrification process if it is underperforming.

Bacterial conversion, from ammonia to nitrites to nitrates, occurs in all aquaponics systems. The need for a biofilter can become necessary if there is an increase in the fish stock in the tank. This can be the result of a spike with breeding, and if so more fish generally equates to more poop, and proportionally more waste means more ammonia.

If this accumulation continues unchecked, the aquaponics farm can enter into the forbidden zone very quickly. Therefore, it is imperative to recognize when the biosphere is in jeopardy and act accordingly to expand the playing field. Fortunately, a biofilter will correct this imbalance automatically if connected to the circuit.

The setting-up process of interconnecting the two and expanding the surface area is not that complicated. It consists of another tank with one or more air pumps that are used to push water from the new side to the old, so they now operate on the same circuit.

Sand or gravel is most commonly used as the growing medium as it allows the colonization of the bacteria to progress easier. Nitrifying bacteria start to proliferate on the expanded surface area and, because bacteria require oxygen to grow and thrive, the biofilter should be set for additional aeration for maximum growth.

Plants will now be able to perform their duties after receiving the nutrients, by cleaning the water which is then returned back to the fish tank to start the cycle all over again. This expansion increases the efficiency of the nitrification process considerably.

All of this process is important to the chemical stability of an aquaponic biosphere, the wellbeing of your fish, and the successful growing of your crops. And the good thing is that nothing goes to waste, recycled as it is again and again.

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A Biofilter in All Aquaponics Systems?

An aquaponics farm is in essence its own filtration system. And an efficient one at that. But with two living organisms to co-exist together a balance has to be reached or one will thrive and the other will decline. There are several factors that need to be considered.

The pH balance is front and center among them. A reading of 7.0 to 7.5 is considered neutral and is ideal for both organisms. If that level drops below 6.0 the nitrification process will slowly grind to a halt and become toxic to the fish and the plants will not receive enough nutrients.

Regular monitoring will detect the pH imbalance which can then be corrected before it gets into this danger zone.

This recalibration occurs naturally in a system that has a growing medium of gravel, clay or lava stones as long as the surface area is large enough to encourage bacteria growth. In this case, a biofilter will not be necessary, the grow beds themselves being the ultimate biofilter.

Problems occur, however, when this natural filtration system is overwhelmed by fish waste. This imbalance arises if more fish are added at a later date, or more fish are birthed in the tank, or even if too much fish food is being entered into the habitat, not eaten, sinks to the bottom and starts to decay. Either one of these will spike the production of ammonia.

Types of Biofilters

When installing a biofilter the location has to be situated after the mechanical filter as it is not designed to handle large fish waste deposits which can become trapped in the pipes. If this happens, the waste will continue to accumulate, creating an aerobic zone that will encourage excessive bacteria growth away from the expanded surface area which will not be utilized, and that will reduce the efficiency of the biofilter.

The mechanical filter acts as a screening filter to control this build-up of solids so the level of ammonia will not become too much for the biofilter to cope with.

There are various models of biofilters but these three are the most frequently used:

A Moving Bed Filter, also known as a Moving Bed Biological Reactor (MBBR), is a biofiltration model that is constantly in motion and at its core revolves around K1 media and constant aeration.

K1 media are made of small plastic discs and are ideal at trapping particles suspended in the water, and their large surface area encourages the growth of bacteria. With their virtual neutral buoyancy ability, they are subjected to a steady stream of air pressure that aerates the water and pushes them around.

This type of biofilter is essentially a constant flow system that uses an air pump to keep well-oxygenated water churning over, essentially creating a biological reactor. This system keeps the K1 media floating and in motion, assisting in the collection of good bacteria, and is especially effective in a raft aquaponics system.

Due to the collision of the media, each disk performs a continual self-cleaning process and this helps by keeping the nitrifying bacteria rejuvenated for optimum ammonia and nitrite nitrification.

A Static Filter biofilter has the advantage of the ease of use and ease of setup. It is essentially a flat tray in a separate container next to the plants, filled with a media mat to provide a sufficiently large enough zone to grow the necessary bacteria needed for the biofilter to work to its fullest potential.

The deeper the media incorporated, the more beneficial bacteria will be nurtured. Here, the principal theory is the water flows through the tray at one end into the media, the conversion from ammonia to nitrates occurs, and the cleaned water flows out through the opposite side back into the closed system.

With a Drip Filter, the water drips into the system from the top, passes through the bio medium at a slow rate, performing the vital conversion process from ammonia to nitrates, and flowing out the bottom on its way back to the fish, completing the cycle.

The Need For The Biofilter

A biofilter doesn’t have to be a part of the aquaponics system from the initial set-up. It can be integrated at a later stage as and when needed. The good news is that its inclusion isn’t a costly addition, and some would say it’s better to have it in place on standby if needed urgently. It is always better to have a quick fallback solution on hand if a nasty build-up of ammonia surges unexpectedly.

The fact that a biofilter requires very little maintenance is a reason all in itself to have one. There is no downside to having one even in this self-sufficient aquaponics biosphere. It can be implemented at any time to regulate ammonia, supplying enough oxygen for additional bacteria growth when required.

Sometimes adjustments in the aquaponics system can create an imbalance between ammonia build-up and lack of nitrates. This can occur due to plants being replaced, reduced and the opposite reactions can occur if the fish population is increased.

What has to be considered, and is often overlooked by beginners and some experienced aquaponics farmers, is the age of the fish being added into this bio-sphere. To maintain the equilibrium a specific stocking method has to be adopted.

This includes having a staggered age range of the fish throughout the same tank and employing a harvesting regime every three months. A recommended approach is to harvest the more mature fish who are now weighing about 500g and restocking them with new fingerlings or juvenile fish weighing about 50g each.

This staggered approach is to avoid swapping out of all the fish at the same time and to alleviate the sudden impact on the system. If a full fish exchange took place at the same time, out with the old and in with the young, then that would result in too much of a drastic adjustment requirement in regards to the filtration process.

Another reason for implementing this rotation is because larger fish tend to eat more than their juvenile co-inhabitants. And when larger fish if eat more they are going to excrete more waste. If this re-stocking process is not utilized, ammonia can reach unfavorable levels, rising completely unnoticed until something starts to die off.

Monitoring and reacting to this fluctuation can take years of experience as well as constantly keeping a close eye on the ph level. With a biofilter connected, these fluctuations are automatically adjusted as the water and the waste are washed through it, maintaining the delicate balance of this bio-diverse system.

The bottom line, the final word, on if a biofilter is necessary for a self-sustaining system like aquaponics, is yes.

Without one, time-consuming re-calibration tasks would need to be incorporated into a more frequent maintenance routine.

With one, your aquaponics farm will be a problem-free dream to run, and your plants, your fish, and your precious time will be the happy beneficiaries.

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How to Use Peat Moss in Hydroponics and Why

Hydroponics is a growing method that disregards the use of soil yet it still requires an aggregate system to support the roots of the plants. Nutrient-rich water is then delivered through the medium selected to create a cohesive system that works extremely well.

But which grow media is best?

Peat moss or perlite are the two most common types used in hydroponics. Out of the two, peat moss has the highest capacity for holding water and is often used as the primary media. Although not ideal for all hydroponics set-ups, it can be balanced out to be a one size fits all media.

But what exactly is peat moss and why use it for hydroponics?

Peat Moss and Hydroponics

The formation of peat moss actually takes millennia to form, composed as it is from dead fibrous materials and the decomposition of other living organisms, specifically in peat bogs. The decaying material slowly creates even wetter conditions as the peat continues to absorb more water. This in turn leads to the expansion of the peatlands and encourages the growth of more peat.

These waterlogged areas are ideal for peat bog production and, due to the low oxygen content in the accumulation of the peat layers beneath the surface, the decompression rate is slowed down. This reduction in oxygen is a contributing factor in the length of time it takes for the peat to form, and why only about a millimeter of surface growth is recorded each year.

Due to this growth rate peat moss is not classed as a renewal resource. Peatlands do encompass large swathes of land, however, and, even though the zones are under almost complete water saturation, do allow regular harvesting because of this wide land coverage.

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The countries that have the ideal conditions for peat growth and the landmass are few and far between. Among them are Finland, Ireland, Sweden, Germany and Canada, which is the principal supplier to the United States.

For decades the method of gathering the peat involves taking the living moss from the surface of the peat bog while it is alive, in its entirety, which then leaves the next harvest only available in the following year.

A newer technique, mainly used in Europe, does not skim the surface completely bare, but leaves partial spores behind that will regrow the new peat at a faster rate.

This technique enhances the growing cycle and enables a bigger and more frequent harvest. The shoots that are left on the surface can continue to accumulate and multiply faster, while at the same time buds on the layers below the surface can continue to proliferate.

With the advent of this new technique, sustainability can become more of a reality, allowing more peat to be harvested, which in turn will make it more readily available, slow depletion on a global scale, and should also lessen the price to the end consumer.

Now, although peat moss didn’t become more readily available until the 1900s, it went on to revolutionize the way plants were grown in soil due to its numerous beneficial properties. Its usefulness became apparent because many part-time growers or homeowners didn’t have the ideal soil for growing the full range of crops they wanted.

This soil erosion occurred either due to layers being scraped away during the construction process or compacted by the heavy machinery and building materials piled on top of it.

With the introduction of peat moss mixed into their soil, they found that those obstacles to improving their poor growing difficulties were overcome, and they could now transform their garden into a thriving farming endeavor.

And then peat moss found its way into hydroponics.

Peat moss as a medium in hydroponic cultivation is a perfect fit not only because of its efficient capacity to maintain water but crucially its ability to hold on to nutrients, precious nutrients that can easily be washed out of other types of aggregates in a hydroponics system.

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Yet at the same time, there are certain challenges that have to be weighed up when using this medium.

Peat moss is an organic substance and its decomposition doesn’t stop when it is harvested. That continuing decay plays a major role in its stability as a substrate, owing to its chemical nature constantly being in a state of flux.

Another contributing factor in this chemical instability is the source of where it was harvested and the particular species of moss that was used to produce the peat moss in the first place. Fibric, hemic or sapric are three of the different material compositions for peat, and each has its own level of decomposition; fibric is the least, hemic has partial decomposition and sapric is the most decomposed.

For hydroponics, stability is a crucial component and for this reason, it is better to have peat moss that is more decomposed. The higher level of decomposition will ensure a higher chemical stability ratio, and that will make your hydroponic cultivation life go smoother and make life easier.

To find out its decomposition ratio, place a small amount of wet peat moss in your hand and gently squeeze. By the amount of water fallout and the malleability of the lump between your fingers, will tell you all you need to know about its stage of decomposition.

Basically, the less water that is squeezed out and the more of the peat moss that pushes out between your fingers, indicates a higher level of decomposition. And the opposite results are true. If there is more water and less peat moss that squeezes out, the less decomposed it is. This is known as The von Post scale and registers the decomposition rate from H1 to H10.

Apart from the possible chemical instability, peat moss has a small level of acidity in it that can assist in equalizing and maintaining the correct ph range in a hydroponic network. The significance of this means that constant monitoring of the ph balance isn’t as difficult or time-consuming as with other media.

Due to this feature nutrient absorption by the roots will not be negatively affected.

Another beneficial feature is the water retention property that peat moss has to absorb large amounts of water, and eliminate any amount not needed. Amazingly whatever excess water is initially absorbed is naturally drained away like an overspill to flow throughout the hydroponic system, transporting much-needed nutrients to the plant roots.

In hydroponics, peat moss is a light-medium and to set it up in a hydroponics system is fairly straightforward.

Have on hand a solution mixture of nutrient-rich water suitable for your seeds, and fill your seedling tray with peat moss. Add sufficient solution so that the peat moss is wet throughout before planting the seeds, then cover them with another ¼ inch level of peat moss. Then add more water.

At this time, place the tray under grow lights and cover it with a plastic sheet to contain moisture to encourage faster germination.

After the seeds begin to sprout the sheet can be discarded, then it’s just a matter of daily monitoring to prevent drying out from lack of water. If you notice a slight lack of water, a gentle misting spray is normally sufficient to take up the slack.

If and when necessary, it is advisable to thin out the plants if needed to create more growing space, and then when they are large enough, transplant them into small pots. As they continue to grow the smaller pot can be placed completely in a larger pot already filled with peat moss.

How to Overcome the Challenges of Peat Moss in Hydroponics

As with any grow media there can be challenges when used in hydroponics, and with peat moss that manifests itself when it is used as a standalone product. This occurs because peat moss is anaerobic in nature, holds on to more water than most other aggregates and, now that it is exposed to nitrogen, starts to degrade and compact.

This can then lead to the roots being choked by the compaction process which will lead to oxygen deprivation.

The solution is to add an amount of perlite to the peat moss. With the correct mixture, this will increase the aeration and solve the problem.

Another obstacle that will potentially need to be overcome is the ph level. When first harvested, peat is outside the range necessary for optimal hydroponic farming. Initially, it will actually be below the recommended ph range and that will create issues in your hydroponic setup.

So, a speedy solution is required at the beginning to stop the problem before it can become a headache.

To alleviate this potential lurking issue is possible as long as the rating on the peat moss itself is on or above level H7 on The von Post scale.

Once tested, and the low ph level is discovered, it is advisable to have the peat moss treated with calcium carbonate(lime). It sounds complicated but if you use the palm squeeze method, over a small period of time you will be able to judge where the decomposition level lies. And then understand how much lime needs to be added.

A useful tip is to treat the peat moss yourself for usage in hydroponics. Remember that peat moss is also used as a mixture with garden soil for non-hydroponic purposes and therefore will have different additives and may actually already be fertilized, which is detrimental in hydroponics.

If unable to do your own treatment, then purchase an unfertilized peat moss that has only lime added. This will save you time, ensure a successful hydroponic farm system, and will allow you more control over the nutrients delivered to your plants.

Types of Peat Moss in Hydroponics

There are many different grades of peat moss, with the varieties dependent on the location of harvesting, and that will reflect on which you select for your hydroponics system.

But that is not the only factor that should be considered.

Once the harvested peat arrives at a processing and treatment facility, the next steps will determine which one will be right for you.

At the facility laboratory analysis tests are carried out on the peat for ph content, moisture, temperature and bulk density, to name just a few. The peat is then graded and separated according to color, smell and purity.

At this stage, some additives and fertilizers can be accurately added and blended in before being converted into the growing media you are searching for, and that will be suitable for the crops you intend to grow in your specific hydroponics setup.

The reasoning for using peat moss in hydroponics are numerous, as long as the minor drawbacks are resolved from the beginning.

The correct decomposition ratio has to be determined from the outset. Once that is revealed, the peat moss needs to be dried out and mixed with perlite, for example, depending on your hydroponic requirements. Once dried out it is surprisingly light and manageable, with open pores that allow good aeration and good drainage.

With the correct mixture with perlite, the issue of compaction is removed, and because the peat was originally formed in low oxygenated conditions, it won’t contain any fungus or harmful bacteria.

Peat moss is easy to work with so won’t cause dust fallout like some other grow media can. And, of course, making life easier should always be appreciated.

And one of the benefits of peat moss, depending on which peatland it is sourced from, is its microbial composition. These friendly microbes inhibit the growth of unhealthy pathogens that could negatively affect crop health and nutrient absorption.

The Reasons for Using Peat Moss in Hydroponics

When at first the decision is arrived at to start a hydroponics farm or extend a going concern, regardless of size, the ultimate goal is to grow the best crop possible in the fastest time. Hydroponics allows this to happen and combined with peat moss as a growing medium increases the harvesting capabilities and the ease of maintenance.

Hydroponics allows a wider range of growers the flexibility to set up their very own organic indoor farms in a variety of locations previously unheard of. This flexibility provides a wide array of options to choose the best and most cost-effective substrate suitable for the crops they intend to grow.

Peat Moss should be at the top of this list.

It has the flexibility as a grow media to give plant support, while at the same time absorbing sufficient water to maximize nutrient delivery to the roots. If mixed with perlite, it increases aeration and water drainage, alleviates compaction, and makes crop production more stable, and harvests more predictable At the end of the day, Peat Moss may not, at first sight, be the go-to media for every situation or crop selected for Hydroponics farming, but it has the ability to be morphed into the ideal substrate to deliver a perfect harvest every time.

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How to Fix and Prevent Nutrient Burn

When growers first start running a hydroponic system, one of the first problems they encounter is what we call ‘Nutrient Burn.’

The problem sounds much worse than it actually is, and manifests from growers who give their plants too many nutrients or fertilizer. The way it manifests comes in a couple of differing ways. The first being leaves which appear scorched on the tips, and the second area, which isn’t as obvious, is that of root burn.

This can be more severe on your plants as there will be the drying rims of the leaves. Roots, which are turning brown, will accompany this and plant growth will be slowed quite considerably.

Here, we will look at all you need to know about the exact causes of nutrient burn, and what you can do to fix the problem and prevent it occurring again.

Why Do Plants Get Nutrient Burn?

Because it is down to the grower to provide the correct nutrients to plants in a hydroponic system, the problem ultimately comes from the grower.

A logical thought when first beginning a system can be, the more nutrients, the better my plants will grow.

Unfortunately, this is far from the reality. When growers overfeed their plants, it will lead to them being ‘burned’ in either of the two ways previously mentioned. To fully understand why this happens, it is good to know what these burns are.

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These spots are not physical burns as if the plants were on fire. These are more like burns you get on your skin from a toxic compound. Nitrogen is one of the major compounds that makes up hydroponic nutrients.

Even though overfeeding plants is the main cause of this problem, it can stem from other areas.

  • Mixing nutrients too strong
  • Over-watering – plants need dry periods where they can absorb oxygen
  • Boosters for blooms – used on some plants, and when used too often or too strong it causes toxicity
  • Plant growth stimulants – if these are used to frequent, it can cause dwarfism in plants and they will try to absorb too many nutrients

Once you begin overloading your solution with these compounds, your mixture quickly turns into a toxic substance. Hence, this is where leaves begin burning. Any grower who overfeeds their plants can spot the following.

These are early indicators their plants are over-fed and will end up with nutrient burn.

  • Tips of leaves burn and turn yellow
  • Leaf tips turn bright green
  • Leaves turn darker green
  • Stalks and branches may turn dark red. Purple of magenta
  • Leaf tips bend at 90 degrees

How Do I Fix Nutrient Burn?

We saw Nitrogen is one of the main compounds, which leads to these issues; it isn’t though the only one. Once plants are reaching the end of the vegetative stages of growth, plants will be looking for more calcium and magnesium.

If these are overfed, the same symptoms will transpire in your plants. Fixing the problem may appear daunting to new growers, yet it is easier than they may think.

Following some simple steps can mean the difference between saving crops and losing a host of plants.

  1. Get rid of burned or damaged leaves
  2. For extra security, trace backward on the calyx clusters to their supporting branch and remove the entire floret.
  3. Discard any dead leaf matter as this will rot and cause contamination
  4. Flush your growing pots and the growing medium with clean pH balanced water.
  5. Check your tank’s pH and EC levels. Adjust this using fresh water only. You can drain your system to be sure you have no nutrient excess in your reservoir. Run for 24-hours with just fresh water and test EC. If high, drain and repeat the process, and check. Continue until your EC levels are acceptable.
  6. Depending on the extent of the nutrient burn, you can ease back on the nutrients in your mixture and supplement this with an organic liquid tea for around seven days.

Preventing Nutrient Burn in My System

This kind of problem usually happens by mistake, and for this reason, it can be something, which is easy to prevent happening again.

Taking on some, good habits can help prevent this. Here are some pointers, which will help prevent nutrient burn:

  • Use the right nutrients for the correct growth stage
  • It is advisable to use 3/4 strength, which is given on the packaging – manufacturers are not always right.
  • Use digital pH/ EC meters to check your nutrient strength at regular intervals or when you are topping up your reservoir.
  • Always flush your growing medium and pots with your system to stop salt buildup.
  • Use the best measuring device for the nutrients. A kitchen-measuring spoon, which is exact to the dose, makes things easier.
  • Never look down on the line of measuring jugs. Always look at eye level when reading measuring lines.
  • Be sure to use distilled water, as this won’t aggravate the problem by adding more nutrients.

As you go through all of these steps to eradicate the problem, you need to try to figure out what caused it in the first place. Fixing the issue is only any good if you know what not to do next time.

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Additional Steps for Prevention

One of the main things new growers do is to not fully understand their plants requirements. Each type of plant differs. Understanding this as well as what is already in your solution are the very first steps in prevention.

Different crops do have different requirements. A good rule to follow is that leafy crops like herbs, spinach or lettuces need higher levels of nitrogen. If you are growing fruits like cucumbers, peppers, eggplants and tomatoes, then these will be seeking lower amounts of Nitrogen.

If you attempt to grow any root vegetables, these require higher amounts of potassium.

Regardless of which plant type you are growing, there are different nutrient requirements for different development stages. Understanding what plants need in their flowering or bloom phase as compared to their growth or vegetative stage can make a massive difference.

One final thing, which has an effect, is where your plants receive their light source. If you are using grow lights indoors for your crops, these will again be looking for different nutrients and levels than crops grown outdoors.

Generally speaking, crops require more nitrogen if they are receiving full amounts of daylight, or they are being exposed to high doses of artificial lighting. This has more of an effect when crops are outdoors.

If your plants are following regular growing seasons, crops which produce fruits will be looking for more potassium in the late fall or winter when levels of light are reduced. Although the levels of Nitrogen and Potassium can be increased to double the requirement in wintertime, this will not be the case under grow lights where conditions will be consistent.

Problems with Concentrated Nutrients

It can be a good cost saving to use concentrated nutrients. However, the use of these needs plenty of due care and attention. These concentrated formulas are often where new growers become mixed up and don’t fully understand the bottles instructions. 

Not making a conversion in your quantity can leave plants open to burn straight away. As well as this, if these nutrients go anywhere near your plants in their undiluted form, they can quickly kill your crops. No grower should be mixing concentrated formulas in their grow room.

Conclusion

Adding too many nutrients won’t deliver bigger plants and larger fruits. This is a common mistake, yet when you look at all the above information, you can see it can be resolved quick, and while saving your plants.

The good thing is that any grower can learn from their mistakes, so for this to happen a second or a third time? There is no excuse.

There is only so much you can give you plants before you smother them. It is like being a regular parent with your child. Give them what they require and they will blossom, give them too much, and the results are never what you expect.

Related Questions:

Is nutrient lockout the same as nutrient burn? The two are similar, and some of the symptoms may appear to be the same. However, nutrient lockout is where your plants are unable to absorb the nutrients you are giving them.

What causes nutrient lockout? Over time, your pots and growing medium will have an excess of salts that build up in certain areas. If these are allowed to carry on accumulating, they can bind some of the nutrients and prevent them from being available to your plants.

How do I fix nutrient lockout? The good thing is you can solve nutrient lockout by following the same steps as for nutrient burn. Although these two things are different, they cross paths and begin to show similar symptoms. The main thing is to use plain water to dissolve and flush this salt accumulation from your system. If these remain, the problem will occur as soon as you begin adding more nutrients.

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