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Hydroponic Nutrients for Vegetables
If you intend on growing vegetables and other plants hydroponically, you’ll need quality nutrients. When considering the best hydroponic nutrients for vegetables there are a couple things you should consider.
The N-P-K levels listed for hydroponic nutrients and other fertilizers represent the nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). The type of hydroponic vegetables you intend to grow will determine the ratios needed. For example, if you intend to grow mostly green leafy vegetables then nitrogen will be most important. Vegetables that flower and fruit will require high nitrogen levels as well. However, once they begin to set fruit high phosphorus and potassium levels will be important.
Price vs. Quality
Obviously, price will be a factor but don’t just go for the cheapest nutrients without considering nutrient ratios and solubility. The cheapest nutrients may or may not be the highest quality. Expensive doesn’t necessarily equal best either. Getting the best bang for the buck is the goal.
Solubility: Liquid vs. Powdered Hydroponic Nutrients for Vegetables
Some nutrients are available in a concentrated liquid form. The plus side to liquid hydroponic nutrients, they are very water soluble. Cons would be that they are generally more costly. Concentrated nutrients are usually more expensive per gallon of mixed nutrients. Shipping costs are usually more as well.
Powdered nutrients usually have a lower cost for the nutrients and shipping cost for the same equivalent of mixed hydroponic nutrients. The only real con is that mixing with water is a little more time consuming.
Best Hydroponic Nutrients for Vegetables
Listed below are some of the nutrients we’ve personally test out. We consider these the best hydroponic nutrients for vegetables. We’ve listed the strengths or weaknesses of each product.
Easy to Use Hydroponic Nutrients for Vegetables
We feel that dry powder Masterblend is the clear winner. It provides all the required nutrients at the proper levels. On paper some of the concentrated liquid forms of hydroponic nutrients sound like they would outperform the Masterblend nutrients. However, our real-world experience showed that the Masterblend nutrients produced excellent results. We saw no improvement in growth or harvest when using Fox Farm or General Hydroponic nutrients.
All three parts of the Masterblend hydroponic nutrients can be mixed at the same time and used in all growth stages of the vegetables. The Fox Farm and General Hydroponics which require the hassle of mixing different nutrients at different growth stages.
The Masterblend dry powders are easy to store, we put the excess powder in Tuperware containers. When combined with water the total gallons of mixed solution beat out the Fox Farm and General Hydroponics nutrients by a huge margin. Masterblend currently has a 5-star rating on Amazon, not an easy accomplishment in such a competitive market.
Can I Use Soil Nutrients in Hydroponics?
Generally speaking, fertilizers made for soil won’t work as hydroponic nutrients. Most soil fertilizers require bacteria to break them down into a usable form for the plants. A good example of this is urea nitrogen. As you can see in the image (left), there is no urea nitrogen in the hydroponic nutrients (right) but a high percentage of the total nitrogen in the soil fertilizer. Only the ammoniacal and nitrate nitrogen can be taken up directly by plants. Again, you’ll see a huge difference in the percentages.
Do Hydroponic Nutrients Go Bad?
You won’t have to worry about your hydroponic nutrients spoiling the same way as food. They do however need to be stored properly. Liquid nutrients should be kept away from light to ensure algae doesn’t start growing in the bottle. Dry powder hydroponic nutrients should be kept dry to avoid caking.
Can Hydroponics Be Organic?
While there are a few hydroponic nutrient brands that are considered organic, most are not. In recent years strides have been made to grow organically using hydroponics. However, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is not quick to allow hydroponics, or even aeroponics, earn the label of organic.
Check out our Hydroponics page for more articles