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Cutting Edge Question and Answer

1) What is the best temperature for my reservoir?

The most beneficial temperature for your nutrient solution is around 52-68°F. In order to achieve this range you can get an inline water heater or a submersible water heater for colder conditions. An inline water chiller works in extreme heat conditions.

The optimum Ph level for maximum nutrient availability is different for all elements, for instance Nitrogen has a different optimal Ph range than Phosphorus. The optimal Ph range can also vary due to medium and growing method variances, that is to say soil vs. rockwool or Aeroponics vs. Ebb and Flow. Therefore, we recommend a Ph range that is most inclusive, from 4.5 to 6.5. The Ph level we recommend for the most inclusive beneficial range is 6.

We do not recommend using Ph up at any time. If your water is acidic, i.e. RO water, adjust your water to Ph 7.0, then add nutrients. Utilizing this method, the elements are less likely to be locked out because of a severe Ph swing.

PPM levels vary from situation to situation. Our recommended vegetative mixing rate can run as high as 2000 PPM, while a “flush” mixing rate is much lower. Please refer to the CES product mixing and reference chart for specific recommended PPM ranges for our products. Note: Our mixing chart is based on a 0 PPM water source, please test your water to establish your specific base range.

PPM (parts per million) is based on the EC (electric conductivity) of a solution. The EC level measures the electrically conductive elements of a solution. PPM is an ambiguous number that is relative to the EC of a solution.

Depending on the type of plant you are growing, a transition mix may be beneficial. Some more hardy plants don’t need to gradually accept a new mix, while some more delicate plants appreciate more subtle changes in its’ diet in order to reduce the risk of shock. Slower growing plant varieties may benefit from a transition period more than a faster growing variety as well. Some plants are naturally more efficient at taking up Iron and don’t require a transition stage.

We always think it is a good idea to flush during the last week of a fruiting plants’ life cycle. Flushing helps to reduce the amount of residual fertilizers that may have built up in the medium or within the plant itself. By flushing, you are in essence dilluting the plants’ sap so as to reduce or remove built up salts. By reducing the residual build-up you in turn enhance the plants’ natural flavors in fruits and scent in flowers.

Flushing with straight water, or a VERY dilute nutrient solution will suffice. Citric acid (available at any brewcraft store) can also help when flushing is desired.

CO2 is a compound of two of the “free” elements. “Free” elements are the majority of what a plant uses to grow. These elements are: Carbon (C), Oxygen (O), Hydrogen and Nitrogen. The sources of these elements are: Air, which supplies N and O, and water, which supplies H and O. In theory, if more Carbon and Oxygen can be made available the plant will be less restricted in its’ growth.

CO2 generators are a good way to supplement CO2 in an indoor garden environment. Although a garden with sufficient intake/exhaust should supply plenty of fresh air and CO2 to a garden, certain growers prefer to add more CO2. There are issues to take into account when using CO2, mainly that exhaust fans need to be shut off during the CO2 application. Therefore, gardens that run on the hotter side may have a problem if the fans are shut down for any extended amount of time. NOTE: “Closed” garden systems, with no intake supply of fresh air, require the introduction of CO2 by artificial means. Two popular methods are the aforementioned CO2 generators (usually fueled by natural gas or propane), and refillable tanks with pressure/supply regulators.

Tank change intervals depend on the size of your reservoir, and whether or not you are using a drain to waste or recirculating watering system. The average life span of a reservoir is about 5-7 days. When using drain to waste it is best to check your PPM/EC level as the nutrient solution is used to make sure that there is no spike in the PPM/EC, but usually the plants will use the fertilizer as they grow. It is more critical to check your nutrient solution while utilizing a recirculating system, as the runoff can drastically change the PPM/EC level of your nutrient solution. If your PPM/EC is raising in your recirculationg reservoir, you should top it off with plain water until your meter shows an acceptable level.

The size of a plant or the growth stage can determine the rate of water usage and nutrient uptake. Logically, the larger the plant gets, the more water and nutrient it will use. Some short-term crop plants (tomatoes, lettuce) go through an aggressive nutrient uptake around the 3-5 week period, so make sure to keep up on tank changes/monitoring during this critical time period.

If your plants dry out it is critical to address the issue as quickly as possible. Obviously the root cause of the problem should be addressed, i.e., cleaning clogged emmiters/water lines, adjusting the watering schedule or just stepping up and not neglecting your garden. To try and “nurse” a plant back, spray with plain water until the leaves perk up, and water with a diluted nutrient solution. If you have access to compost tea, add it to your reservoir to help alleviate plant shock.

Yes. Cutting Edge Solutions products have been developed wth a very broad range of variables, from water sources to varying types of medium and growing methods. Through our experience with these differences we have achieved a final formula that is effective when used across a wide spectrum of methods.

The type of medium that is used is entirely up to the grower themselves. Soil is much more forgiving than Rockwool, in terms of the risk of drying out, is usually more Ph stable and can more easily support microorganisms in your soil. Rockwool, on the other hand, can help with more immediate availability of nutrients to the plant which equates to quicker growth, as well as provide an “easier” or “cleaner” method of growing indoors for people in more urban areas or apartments. Coco-Coir or Coco-Coir/Soil blends are very popular as well, providing some of the benefits of drainage and aeration of rockwool with some of the benefits of an “organic” based medium that can help sustain the microbiology in the medium. Hydro Rocks are not a favorite medium of ours. They can produce very fast results from on-demand availability of nutrients, but also tend to suffer from a higher rate of evaporation which can end up causing more salt build-up as a result. Also, Hydro rocks tend to be more succeptible to bug problems in the root zone.

Strictly from an environmental perspective, soil may be less of an impact on the earth than hydroponic media. Rockwool is not biodegradeable and must be “recycled” to dispose of it properly. A person could definitely argue that custom soil and Coco-Coir have a significant impact as well. Soils are typically “mined” from rich sources until the source runs dry, also, the amendments to soil are not infinite and will eventually run out. Coco-Coir is typically shipped from southeast asia and/or south of the US border so the impact of shipping it could be a consideration. The bottom line is this: investigate your options according to your own needs (practical and ethical), try it out and choose what works best for you.

Drain to waste is an easier method of watering strictly because it limits the possibility of severe fluctuation in your PPM/EC and Ph of your nutrient solution. A recirculating system may require more monitoring/adjustment of the nutrient solution, but can also help to keep the biology thriving in your system. If you add a beneficial fungus or bacteria to a Drain to Waste system it essentially has one shot at adhering to the plant or the medium. By utilizing a recirculating System the biology is being redistributed several times and has more of an opportunity to establish itself in the plant’s rhizosphere.

Once again, this is a matter of opinion. You could easliy find proponents for all Hydroponic methods. Aeroponics, NFT, Aquaponics, Ebb & Flow, and conventional drip systems all have their benefits and drawbacks. The costs of setting up these systems vary greatly, and can also be a consideration. sIt is a matter of trial and error and finding what works the best for you.

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