For saving space and soil, this method also has several
other benefits, including no soil-borne diseases, no
weeds to pull and no soil to till, run-of-the-mill side
benefits of soil-less gardening.

The Nutrient Solution

Modern nutrient solutions come in several different types. It is important to make sure that the solution you use is the best for your purpose. Solutions that are designed specifically for soil, often called plant "foods" or fertilizers, are suitable only for soil and not for hydroponics. One of the reasons for this is that various trace elements can be relied upon to exist in soil and they are not usually added to the solution. The other reason is that much cheaper and less soluble materials can be used with soil nutrients. They are also often crudely formulated and contain the wrong form of crucial elements such as nitrogen.

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True hydroponics nutrient solutions on the other hand must be complete, containing every element needed for plant growth in its most soluble form. This is why hydroponics solutions tend to be more expensive. Do not be put off by this as the total cost of nutrients is still a very small part of your overall expenditure and saving money on nutrients is to run the risk of serious problems. Always use the best quality nutrient solutions as the solution is the only source of nutrition in hydroponics so it must be of the highest quality. The advantage of course is that every time you water your hydroponics plant, you can be sure that it has a full profile of nutrients in exactly the right proportions. You can never be sure of this with plants in soil. In fact, it is almost impossible to maintain a good balance of nutrient with soil in containers.

While it is true that plant "foods" for soil are not suitable for hydroponics, it is quite possible to use hydroponics solutions for soil growing. You can actually achieve great improvements this way because the plant is fully supplied as it may not have been before. There is a risk, however, that you may overfeed the plant so we recommend that you make the solution at only half the regular strength and that you only use it once a week with soil. The symptoms of over feeding are easy to spot and quick to remedy.


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