Walk into any hydroponics shop and you will most likely see that they sell Reverse Osmosis water purification systems.
You may ask yourself why someone would spend money on a water filter to grow plants. Most people give straight tap or hose water to their house and garden plants and they do just fine. But, what about more prized flowers and fruits? What if you only want give your vegetables the best and most pure ingredients? Most importantly, what if you were interested in pushing your plants to the max and achieving explosive growth? Serious gardeners have long realized how important pure water is to the success of their important crops. After all, water is the root of hydroponics and therefore the most important component to a healthy garden. Water acts like a carrier that bathes your root zone with nutrients, additives, and promoters.
If you look at the top nutrient manufacturer’s feed charts, you will notice a common theme.
They all require using 0 PPM (parts per million) water as a starting base for the nutrient solution. Without this ultra pure base, it is much more difficult to dial in the PPM’s of your formula while making sure you have the proper amounts of each component vital to healthy growth. When the feed chart says bring the nutrient solution to 1200 PPM and you are starting with water that is at 500 PPM, what do you do? It is hard to even guess what that 500 PPM is composed of, nonetheless try and adjust for it in the nutrient formula you are trying to perfect.
The first step is to determine how bad your water is and what type of system would be most beneficial to your garden.
Free water reports are available from your municipality or water company, although water quality fluctuates greatly throughout an area and over the seasons. Test kits can be ordered online and are quick and affordable. Some hydroponics shops do water testing and there are many labs that can do an analysis. A key indicator of water quality for plants is total hardness as expressed in PPM of calcium and magnesium or in Grains per Gallon (GPG). With too much hardness, the nutrient formula can be thrown out of balance and deficiencies and lockouts can quickly become a major problem. Any water source over 50 PPM of hardness should be purified. This translates to 3 GPG and is considered soft water, which few people have straight from the tap.
Organic gardeners using compost teas or bio-extraction solutions should use purified water.
Anyone gardening with living micro-organisms such as beneficial bacteria, fungi and nematodes, mycorrizae, and trichoderma, must have chlorine and contaminant free water in order for those helpful microbes to survive and flourish. Unfortunately, it’s rare someone’s water source is perfect for their prized plants. Letting city water sit out overnight may get rid of some free chlorine but doesn’t affect the chloramines or other contaminants. Water from well or spring sources is often too high in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and iron. This water may be fine to drink but for hydroponics may be too heavy with these minerals and may contribute to nutrient lockup.
Gardeners that start using pure water never go back to untreated water.
There are still plenty of people that haul 5 gallon jugs of water to their garden. They will go through these lengths to pamper their plants and make sure they only get the best. If you do the math, a water purification system from a hydroponics shop pays for itself quickly with the money and energy saved hauling water. There are several customized filtration systems available for gardening and hydroponics on the market.