A HOMEMADE HYDROPONIC NUTRIENT SOLUTION RECIPE

Here is a guide to making your own hydroponic nutrient solution. It will include a very precise recipe, and much easier, still effective homemade one.

To learn more about hydroponics check out hydroponics 101 and an introduction to general hydroponic systems.

To learn how to make your own, check out how to make your own homemade hydroponic system.

Okay, let’s begin!

THE VERY PRECISE NUTRIENT SOLUTION RECIPE

What You Will Need:

Equipment:

1)      Two empty 1 Litre bottles

2)      Two empty 5 Litre buckets/cans

Ingredients:

1)      10 L of hard/rain water

2)      Calcium Nitrate (Ca(No3)2): 200g for fruit, 160g for vegetables, 110g for flowers

3)      Potassium Nitrate (KNO3): 75g for fruit, 55g for vegetables, 75g for flowers

4)      Sulphate of Potash (K2SO4): 45g for fruit, 12g or vegetables, 12g for flowers

5)      Monopotassium Phosphate (KH2PO4): 37g for all

6)      Magnesium Sulphate (MgSO4 * 7H2O): 64g or all

7)      Chelated Iron (FeEDTA): 20g for all

8)      TRACE MIX INGEDIENTS: You will be mixing some items together to create a trace mix. For fruit, vegetables and flowers, you will need these items in these amounts:

  1. Zinc Sulphate (ZnSO4): 2.2g
  2. Manganese Sulphate (MnSO4): 15g
  3. Copper Sulphate (CuSO4): 0.8g
  4. Boric Acid (H3BO3): 28g
  5. Sodium Molybdate (Na2MoO4): 0.25g

Putting It Together:

1)      The first step is to make your trace mix solution. Take the 1L bottle and fill it half way with the hard water. Add the TRACE MIX INGEDIENTS from item #8 above one by one, letting them dissolve before adding the next one. Once finished, fill the bottle up to 1L. This will now be referred to as our TRACE MIX SOLUTION. It can be saved and used multiple times afterwards.

2)      Next, we need to make an IRON CHELATE SOLUTION. Fill the second 1L bottle half way with hard water. Add the 20g of Chelated Iron from item #7. Fill the bottle up to 1L. This too can be used multiple times afterwards.

3)      Take a 5L container, and fill it up with 4L of hard water. Add the Calcium Nitrate (item #2) and let it dissolve completely. Add the Potassium Nitrate (item #3) and let it dissolve completely. Add 100ml of the Iron Chelate solution. Fill the bucket up to 5L with water. This will be MIX 1.

4)      Take your second 5L container and fill it up with 4L of hard water. Individually add the Sulphate of Potash (#4) Monopotassium Phosphate (KH2PO4) (#5) and Magnesium Sulphate (MgSO4 * 7H2O) individually, allowing each to dissolve fully before adding the next. Add 10ml of Trace Mix Solution. Fill the bucket up to 5L with water. This will be MIX 2.

The reason we make two solutions (Mix 1 and Mix 2) is to avoid certain chemicals from reacting with each other over time. The two mixes, as well as your trace mix and iron chelate solutions, can be saved for multiple uses. You now have enough ingredients to supply 100L of nutrient solution for your plants.

To use your nutrient solution, you want to create a mix of 90% water, 5% Mix 1, 5% Mix 2.

So to create 1L of nutrient solution, use 900ml of hard water, 50ml of Mix 1 and 50ml of Mix 2.

To create 10L, mix 9L of hard water, 500ml of Mix 1, and 500ml of Mix 2.

THE EASIER HOMEMADE NUTRIENT SOLUTION RECIPE

Okay, so that was pretty complex, and not everyone is itching to bust out their chemistry sets. Fair enough. This is a much simpler, but still effective, recipe for creating a homemade hydroponic nutrient solution.

What You Will Need:

Equipment:

1)      A large bucket

2)      Something to stir with

Ingredients:

1)      A gallon of hard water

2)      A good fertilizer that contains 20% nitrogen, 20% potassium, 20% phosphorous, and a good balance of the secondary and micronutrients plants need.

3)      Epsom salts

Putting It Together:

1)      Put a gallon of water into the bucket.

2)      Add 2 teaspoons of fertilizer to the water. Stir.

3)      Put 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts into the bucket, to add magnesium sulfate. Stir completely until everything has dissolved.

A NOTE ON CONCENTRATION OF NUTRIENTS

Different plants need different concentration levels to maximize their growth. Plants with similar nutrient concentration level requirements can easily be paired together.

Concentration is measured with a number called the Conductivity Factor (CF). Here’s a list of commonly grown vegetables, and their ideal CF range.

CF 8-12: Lettuce

CF 14-18: Peas

CF: 16-22: Carrots, Cucumbers, Leeks, Potatoes, Radish, Sweetcorn

CF 18-24: Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages, Cauliflower, Celery, Onions, Pumpkins, Spinach, Silverbeet

CF 22-28: Tomatoes

Conductivity factor can be determined by measuring the conductivity between electrodes in a water solution.

Good luck and stay prepared!

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Comments

  1. Hi, can I know where do you buy those chemical?

  2. I’m sure chemical outlets or gardening outlets should have them.

  3. Hi Rambo,

    Let say there is no chemical shop at my local area, is there any homemade way to obtain secondary and micronutrients?

    Thank!

  4. I am growing barley fodder for our dairy goats and was wondering if their is a way to increase the calcium level in my barley fodder, and any thing else that can be added so they get the most out of the fodder.
    Thank you
    Jack

  5. Hi Rambo,

    For the “Easier method”, you said need to mix with epsom salt, can I know what is the reason for that? As I know, a good fertilizer with trace elements should be contained magnesium/sulfer ingredient.

    Thanks!

    • No, a good fertalizer will have manganese, not magnesium
      read the label more closely.
      Epson salts required (and most brands even have a gardening
      instruction on the label)

  6. @Jack: depends on the growing medium. If it’s soil, crushed egg shells work well. If it’s a liquid solution, you may need to get hold of calcium in liquid form. There may be another trick (ie would some form of milk work?) but none that I know of.

    @Lee: yeah, check the specs, if the fertilizer has enough then you’re covered. If not, Epson salts are a way to increase the magnesium sulfate content. Depends what your growing, most plants won’t need much. Things like roses, tomatoes and potatoes need more, so adding Epson salts is a good idea.

    • Lime, available at any garden supply store, is calcium hydroxide, or get “calcium antacid” tabs available OTC at the drug store. Also available there is milk of magnesia, a source of magnesium, but in a poorly soluble form. Epsom salts are a more soluble source of Mg & sulfur and available at the same drug store.

  7. Great for no cheap no fuss nutrient.
    Any post-use / regular use steps to deal with salt buildup? ( like a 50/ 50 every 2 weeks? )

    How about an “organic” fish emulsion based recipe?

  8. Is this food grown in all water containers. I have seen them where they grow fish below them and they always have fresh fish and the fish fertilize the plants. Do you have a plan for that?

  9. Hi,
    Why can’t we use FERROUS SULPHATE instead of Chelated Iron..??
    FeSO4 it is easily soluble in water to form [Fe(H2O)6]2+ and widely using for agriculture purpose …!!!
    rajeev.k.sekharan@gmail.com

  10. How do I control moulds (fungi) in the growing barley fodder in hydroponic solution?

  11. Hi there Rambo.

    Thanks for providing the very precise method on producing the nutrient solution.
    Just a question on he solution made above, what will the NPK factor be and how can I alter the NPK factors by using your method? I am a a chemistry graduate from the UK, but unfortunately my knowledge from all those years have worn off! Hope you can provide me further on this. Thanks!

  12. Thank you, Rambo.. they are very usefull knowledge for me.

  13. Hi,

    Got your recipe while searching for hydroponic nutrients. Really appreciate the efforts put in by you to spread the knowledge. I am trying to make the nutrients using the fertilizer with 20%nitrogen,potassium and phosphorus. However, in India the fertilizer that is available has 19% each of the above chemicals. Can that be used. Besides you also talk about the secondary elements. I am not able to understand what your are talking about. Looking forward to an early reply from you.
    Thanks and regards

  14. Ok this is awesome. Could you kindly list the brand of fertilizer you ended up using in the second recipe? It might make this even more dummy proof.

    Thanks!

  15. I don’t quite understand the CF and how to measure it,in a hydroponic bed holding 28 gal of water growing yellow squash how much of this mix would I use
    for different vegtables how do you tell how much of this mixture to use with them??
    Thanks Jim

  16. As you can tell I am band new to hydroponics this is my first time trying this hope it is as good as everyone states.

  17. Caroline says:

    For THE VERY PRECISE NUTRIENT SOLUTION RECIPE, you suggest to use hard/rain water. I think that rain water is softwater, not hardwater. What do you think?

  18. Rambo – Thanks for the detailed list. Can you tell me the source you used to determine what and how much to use of each? Also, I read that chelated minerals using glycine or amino acids for the chelates instead of the usual EDTA provides better absorption, but only find these formulations in mineral supplements for human consumption. Are those OK to use?

    Thanks

  19. 1. Thanks for that EXCELLENT guide. It was exactly what I was looking for.

    2. I just wonder, you mix 50mL to 900mL water (1:18). Plagron with its Hydro concentratre uses 1.6mL to 1000mL water (1:625) – so I wonder how concentrate you really can make it? (I am aware that Plagron does not use Trace stuff which may or may not react).

  20. Caroline,
    rain binds CO2, which makes it slightly acidic. My rain water has a Ph of about 5, which is pretty hard. My home water has nearly 8, which is too soft for plant use. Plants generally prefer hard water.

    • Hard and soft water differs in calcium Ca and magnesium Mg. Low or high PH is not soft or hard water.
      A problem with hard water is nutrient solutions containing a mix for softer water. You will then end up with too much Ca probably blocking other nutrients.
      You can get nutrient solutions for hard water.

  21. All done! The A + B chemicals mixed well. For the Fe I used EDDHA-Fe6, it looks after mixing like coffee, really deep dark black coffee.

    For the other trace chems I got a bit a flaking first. Maybe I didn’t mix very well. Now, 4 days later the flakes seem to be gone though.

    I prepared then 20L ready to use fertilizer (1L each). The color looks a bit like a reddish tea because of the dark 100mL Fe mix. I used 6L right away and have 14L for future use.

    One question: my rain water has a Ph around 5. When you adjust the Ph (I got NaOH)? Shall I adjust right away when I do the 20L?

    • Add PH adjustment last.
      Measure the different mixes and you will find that they all affect the final watermix.
      So use them all together and let it really mix at the end. Use brutal force.
      At last add Ph adjustment, mix, measure, add ph, mix, measure.

  22. Hello!

    I want to mix the solution for Strawberry, with the ratio of 1/10 (To create 10L, mix 9L of hard water, 500ml of Mix 1, and 500ml of Mix 2), is it possible to reach the values below?

    Plant EC PPM x 500 CF PPM x 700
    ————————————————————————————–
    Strawberry 1.8 – 2.5 900 – 1250 18 – 25 1260 – 1750

    Thanks so much!

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