Your reservoir is the most important component for your hydroponic garden. The water it will hold will not only be one of the elements you’ll be using to replace the soil for your plants, it will also be the carrying medium for your hydroponic nutrients. To ensure the health of your garden, this necessitates that you make sure the water is clean and free of any undesirable substances.
Tap water issues
Depending on where you live the 5 main water contaminants your ordinary tap water could contain are:
- chlorine which may or may not be good for your particular hydroponic setup
- calcium carbonate which is insoluble, will raise the ph (acid) level and create calcium deficiencies
- bromine which can kill your plants
- herbicides which can kill your plants
- and sodium chloride, which is a salt that can also be fatal to your plants
If chlorine and bromine are your only tap water issues, simple aeration of your water, (letting it stand uncovered) for a few days (and taping the sides of your water vessels to free the bubbles of bromine) will allow these substances to dissipate without the use of expensive equipment or aquarium tablets. After this you can test and adjust the ph so it’s between 5.5 – 6.5 and then add your hydroponics nutrients.
Pond, stream, lake and well water issues
Aside from the concern about an imbalance of hydroponic nutrient content caused by ground derived minerals, reservoir water sourced from wells, lakes, streams and ponds may also have undesirable soil borne pathogens and bacteria that can make your hydroponic plants unhealthy. Bacteria, undesirable microbes as well as oxygen stealing algae from these water sources (algae being a common problem with hydroponics gardening) can be managed by using about 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per gallon of water. More than this however can be dangerous for your plants.
Rain water issues
Rain water, although it can be very safe to use with your hydroponic nutrient system, it depends on your location and how it’s collected. Some hydroponic nutrients can be rendered inert in high ph levels making acid rain something to strictly avoid. New cement tanks that catch rain water can leach excess minerals and galvanized iron gutters and roofs can add undesirable levels of zinc. Collecting normal ph rain in a large plastic rain barrel or other such container can, however, offer a pure, inexpensive source of water to which you can add your hydroponics nutrients.
Any water you use should be properly tested before adding any hydroponics nutrients and afterwards, it should be checked again at least once a week (on account of mineral take up). This is so you’ll be know exactly how to adjust the ph level and mix the correct ratio of nutrients according to your water content and plant needs.
Aside from the weekly ph analysis and mineral check, a single solution for all of these water contaminant issues which can negatively impact the effectiveness of your hydroponic nutrients and your plants’ over all health, is to purchase a reverse osmosis water filtration system for your hydroponic garden. Although the average RO unit can only filter about 1 or 2 gallons an hour for a cost of about $170 – $250 it’s a very dependable way to guarantee the best quality of water for use with your hydroponic nutrient system.