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Gardening

What kind of maintenance is involved with a hydroponic system?

As with soil-based production, producing crops in hydroponic systems always requires maintenance. The following list may seem like a lot of work; however, as you become experienced most tasks and checks will only take a few minutes each day.

Daily

* Check reservoir for water levels, pH and TDS fluctuations.

* Check grow room temperatures and humidity percentages.

*  If you use CO2, the CO2 system should be checked to ensure that it is working correctly.

* Check watering system. If a pump fails it should be replaced immediately. If drippers are blocked they should be cleaned or replaced immediately.

* Check plants for disease and insect infestations. It is always best to stop disease and insect outbreaks early. The longer an infestation is left the more difficult it will be to cure, yield losses will be high and crop failures are possible.

* Check plants for leaf discoloration and deformities that may be caused by such problems as nutrient deficiencies or nutrient burn (over feeding), as well as leaf curl from lights being to close.

* Crop hygiene is extremely important. Cut off and discard diseased leaves. If a plant is badly diseased, it is always better to throw out one or two plants to control disease outbreaks than it is to destroy a complete crop. The same applies to insect infestations, especially spider mites.

* General maintenance – failed light bulbs, light movers, fans, loose ducting, leaks etc. should be replaced or repaired.

Weekly

* The growing medium should be flushed once a week to stop nutrient lock up.

* Complete reservoir change should done weekly to prevent nutrient imbalances and bacteria build-up.

* Foliar spraying for disease and insect pests should be done weekly to prevent outbreaks.

End of each crop

* The hydroponics system should be completely sanitized at the end of each crop. This will minimize disease carry over to the next crop.

* The grow room should be sanitized with insecticides and fungicides. Walls, floors, ceilings and equipment should be wiped down to remove insects/eggs and fungi spores. The cleaner the grower is in his growing room the fewer problems he will have in the following crop.