WATER SYSTEMS FOR HYDROPONICS AND GARDENING

The effects of beneficial micro-organisms in plants

Beneficial microorganisms are a vital part of the soil and, consequently, an important part of plants food. They are also an essential part of organic composts. But there is an enemy of these micro-organisms: chlorine.

These micro-organisms are very important for the soil food web. They are micro, but they have a big function in the soil, because they directly affect the plants food, breaking down organic matter and converting it into a form that is readily available to plants. We not only find beneficial micro-organisms in forests or gardens, but also in substrates, soils and composts we use for potted soil and growing at home.

Bacteria and Fungi in plants

Bacteria and fungi are two kinds of beneficial soil micro-organisms we find living near plants to feed from their green matter. At the same time, they help plants to achieve the food they need, into a form readily available for them.

efectos microorganismos beneficiosos plantasBacteria are the oldest, most primitive forms of life and come in three styles or shapes: spiral, coccus and rod-shaped. In nature, bacteria serve as one of the main decomposers of organic matter, second only to fungi, making them a vital part of the soil food web. As they decompose organic matter, the bacteria ingest organic carbon compounds, nitrogen and any other elemental nutrients present. When the bacteria dies, all these nutrients are held in the soil. The process by which the nutrients are converted into plant-accessible forms is called mineralization.

Another example of beneficial micro-organisms are mycorrhizae, a type of fungi that growers include in composts to protect plants roots from diseases that can affect them, and to guarantee a better absorption of nutrients. In nature, these kind of fungi and plants have a mutually beneficial relationship, because they help each other to get food.

Beneficial micro-organisms are also used for avoiding parasites and other pests. By using specialized micro-organisms, like Bacilus Thuringiensis to kill worms, we can protect our plants from different parasites that affect their growth and health.

Organic compost and beneficial micro-organisms

Growers know about the importance of nutrients for the plants. A good soil is one of the basis for the plants growth and for this reason they use quality composts and fertilizers to stimulate the soil.

Beneficial micro-organisms are an important part of organic fertilizers. They improve the soil, and allow the beneficial micro-organisms to easily convert the organic matter into food available to plants.

Chlorine, the enemy

However, even with the positive effects that these micro-organisms have, there is an enemy for them: Chlorine, and especially in summer. All municipal water supplies contain chlorine, a chemical disinfectant used to kill off deadly bacteria and virus in the water supply. With hot weather, there are more possibilities of bacteria and virus, so the levels of chlorine in the water are even higher.

As chlorine is used to eliminate bacteria from water that can affect the human body, irrigating with chlorinated water can also kill the beneficial micro-organisms that live in the soil near plants, and that we find in every potting soil.

Eliminating chlorine from your water is the best way to maintain the effects of beneficial micro-organisms in our plants. 

How to avoid a nutrient lockout

A high EC water may contain larger quantities of hard water minerals, like calcium and magnesium, also known as limescale. High amounts of these minerals, together with added doses of nutrients, can block or saturate plants roots, prohibiting them from absorbing the added nutrients, which is also known as “nutrient lock out”.

As a result of this nutrient excess, plants could be damaged. Some symptoms of saturated roots are yellow, dry leaves or stunted growth, and even plants death, because they can’t absorb the nutrients they need.

Of course calcium and magnesium are necessary for growing, but in adequate quantities according to the plant needs. These minerals are nutrients for plants, and we find them dissolved in water, but we can’t know the exact amount that is present. We can use our EC meter to measure the total quantity of dissolved mineral salts in our water, but that still will not tell us what is the percentage of calcium and magnesium.

To avoid these problems, most growers prefer to start to irrigate with pure and clean water. This way, they know the exact amount of nutrients they are adding to their plants.

It’s very important, because our plants can receive an EC of nutrients from 1,4 up to 2,2, according to the type of plant or the growing stage. For example, if the water we use has an EC of 1,0 then we will only be able to add from 0,4 to 1,2 of nutrients to reach our maximum levels. Starting with an EC in the water of only 0,1 or 0,2 or even an EC of 0,0 we will be able to add much more nutrients to our plants

The best way to achieve clean and pure water is by using Reverse Osmosis systems (RO), specifically designed for use in hydroponics and gardening, because your water will be free of all salts and heavy metals up to 95%, and free of chlorine and other contaminants up to 99%.

Water hardness

Water quality and water hardness varies all over Europe, from Country to Country and even from city to city, town to town. It is important to convert hard water into soft water to be able irrigate your plants with the best quality water possible.

What is hard water? Water that concentrates a high volume of dissolved mineral salts, especially calcium and magnesium. The hardness is measured in milligrams of calcium carbonate per liter (mg /l). Depending on the concentration of magnesium and calcium in the water, we can talk about four types of water:

  • Soft water (concentration of less than 150 mg / L of calcium carbonate)

  • Semi Soft water (concentration between 150-200 mg / L calcium carbonate)

  • Hard water (concentration between 200 and 400 mg / l of calcium carbonate)

  • Very hard water (concentration between 400 and 550 mg / l of calcium carbonate.

Hard water can produce problems in the plants, like limescale precipitated in the root stem. When this happens, the plant cannot absorb the necessary nutrients, so if you add doses of nutrient solutions to the plant, they won’t have any effect on it. Moreover, if you want to add nutrient solutions of calcium and magnesium, you have to be careful with hard water, because you can cause a Nutrient Lock out: high amounts of these minerals in water, together with added doses of nutrients, can BLOCK or saturate plants roots, prohibiting them from absorbing the added nutrients.

Depending where you live, the water you receive at home has different dissolved salt levels. Living near mountains, near the sea or big cities are factors that affect the water quality. For example, take a look to this map of the water hardness at British islands:

hardness water in british islands

London area has hard water, while Edinburgh appears as a soft water area. The most important thing is that wherever you live, you can improve the water quality, lower the EC level and change it into soft water. If you irrigate your plants with the best water quality, they will be healthier and faster growing. And this process is possible with RO systems.

Reverse osmosis (RO) to lower EC

A high amount of calcium and magnesium in the water we are using to irrigate can cause deficiencies in our plants. The only reliable way to remove dissolved salts in the water, or what is the same, lower the EC, is a Reverse Osmosis System.

What are the benefits of lower EC? First of all, you will get plants with healthier and stronger roots that absorb 100% of all the nutrients you add, avoiding dissolved mineral salt accumulation in the roots, such as limescale. You will guarantee more food for your plants, because when your water EC levels are low or even 0.0 (pure water) you can add the nutrients the plants really need, without worries about excess or lack of nutrients. Fertilizers you add will also be more effective, and ultimately, your plants will grow better and healthier, which means better results and therefore better quality and more profits.

GrowMax Water has designed a complete range of Reverse Osmosis Systems for hydroponics, starting at 20 L/h of pure water, and designed to minimize the waste water, with only (aprox.) a 2:1 (bad/good) ratio. All units include an installation kit for easy connection indoors or outdoor. These systems reduce up to 95% of dissolved salts in your water, lowering the EC in addition to removing chlorine.

Converting your hard water into pure water will provide your plants the quality water they deserve. Visit our website and take a look of the range of reverse osmosis systems, and discover which one best suits your needs irrigation.

 

Water pressure is important to know when installing a reverse osmosis System

The first thing we need to know when installing a reverse osmosis System is the inlet water pressure. 

All membrane manufacturers base their production calculations on 60 psi(4,3 kg/cm2) and advise in most cases a mínimum pressure neccesary of 40 psi (3kg/cm2) for the RO unit to function correctly.

Importance of a good strong inlet pressure

With a good strong inlet pressure, RO units will produce a good quantity and good quality water, while also sending less water to drain.

Without a correct water pressure (less than 40psi/3kg) Ro units will produce less water, worse quality and also send more water to draon.

4 kg/cm, the optimal pressure
4 kg/cm, the optimal pressure

 

For this reason, all Growmax Water Garden Reverse Osmosis Systems include a pre-pressure gauge, pre-installed after the sediment prefilter and before the green carbon block pre-filtre and in all cases, before the membrane.

How to obtain the best results with your RO unit

If after installing the RO unit you see the pressure gauge below the mínimum requirement (40psi/3kg), you shoould install a Growmax RO Pressure Pump Kit, to obtain best results for quantity and quality of water. This Pump kit will raise your inlet water pressure by 40psi/3kg. Above your corrent inlet watwer pressure.

GrowMax Water has two Pump Kits available, the first for the Power Grow and Maxquarium units, then also a HF (High Flow) Pump to be used with the higher producing Mega Grow unit.

Remember that good, strong water pressure is the key to an optimum functioning RO unit.

Tips for watering roses and rose bushes

The Catalan tradition on the Sant Jordi’s Day is giving a rose. Taking this special date, we suggest some tips for watering your roses, and so keep them well maintained throughout the year.

The first months of rosebush

During the first year of planting, lack of water is, in many cases, the cause of a rosebush fail. So watering during this stage is the key. Because during the first months, the roots are still shallow, and need to absorb more water to develop.

To learn how to water our rosebush properly, we must consider the type of soil in which we will plant it. If for example there is a sandy soil, the rose bush will not retain water very well, and will need more frequency and amount of watering, especially at first. If instead it is a clay soil, it will hold moisture longer and will need less water.

Watering the rosebush depending on season

As with most plants during summer times, it is important to moisturize the rosebush. With the heat and drought, plants need more water and more frequently. In areas of excessively hot weather, it is recommended to water the rose bush once every day. In areas of more moderate heat is sufficient watering every two or three days.

Generally it is important to water them early in the morning or in the evening, but never during the hours of more heat and sunshine.

During the winter, the rose tree has no leaves and therefore do not need to water it frequently. Except that it still young or you’ve planted in pots. In the latter case, it is recommended to water it regularly so that the roots do not dry out.

¿Hose or watering can?

You can use both, it depends on your comfort and the garden space you have available. If you use the watering can, it is advisable to use with artichoke-shaped neck, as the water will not come in a single stream. In this way you won’t erode the soil from the roots. In the case of using the hose, it is important to avoid high pressure jet.

In both cases it is essential not to wet leaves or flowers, and apply irrigation on the foot of the plant. You should also try never swamping the rose bush because they can rot the roots. Yellow and falls leaves are a sign of rotten roots.

If in addition to these tips, you provide your rosebush with water of high quality and without chlorine, you guarantee healthier roots. In order to manage this, you can make use of water filtration systems, which remove 99% of chlorine, Herbicides, Pesticides and Volatile Organic contaminants. This way you will guarantee success and health for your rose bush and the other plants in your garden, and very convenient, because the filters include connectors for external taps.

Spring has arrived, begin your outdoor crop

Spring is the best season for starting outdoor growing. In Spain, the weather starts to get warmer, cold nights decrease, increase daylight hours … factors that make this the best time to start growing outdoor. But what about the water quality you will use to irrigate?

Often in the preparation of appropriate tools for cultivation, we forget the importance and quality of a fundamental element: water. This element is the basis for growth, and although weather conditions are now more favorable for growing, without a filtration system that gives good quality water, plants do not proliferate as we would like. Because water isn’t equal everywhere…

EC control levels and chlorine

For example, high amount of minerals, a high EC, or heavy metals in water can block the absorption of nutrients needed by the roots. If this situation happens, no matter the quality of the nutrients that you use for plants, because due to the high concentration of mineral salts and calcium in the water, they won’t absorb it. As a result, our plants will show deficiencies.

On the other hand, during the warmer months, municipalities add more chlorine to the water networks to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria. During this time, the water contains more chlorine, which burn before the roots and removes the beneficial bacteria of fertilizers.

To prevent these problems and to ensure the quality of water, there are water filtration systems, which eliminate up to 99% chlorine. If water in your area is very hard, and has a high EC, with RO systems  you will eliminate up to 95% of salts and heavy metals, and up to 99% chlorine. In this way, you will add the necessary nutrients that your plants really need, and they will grow healthier.

So remember, if you’re going to start outdoor cultivation with the arrival of spring time, consider the quality of the water you’re going to irrigate. Using filtration systems or RO can help you get the best results.

10 REASONS TO LOWER THE EC AND ELIMINATE CHLORINE FROM YOUR WATER

There are several reasons to lower the EC and eliminate chlorine from your water. If your plants could talk, they would ask you for quality water, and we explain you why.

eliminate chlorine and lower the EC

1. MORE NUTRIENTS FOR OUR PLANTS

Keep in mind that our plants can receive an EC of up to 1,4 to 2,2, according to the type of plant or growing stage. If, for example, the water we use has an EC of 1,0 then we will ONLY be able to add from 0,4 to 1,2 of nutrients to reach our maximum levels. If on the other hand, we start with an EC in the water of only 0,1 or 0,2 or even an EC of 0,0 then we will be able to add much more nutrients to our plants.

2. HEALTHIER ROOTS

By lowering our EC we eliminate salts that we don’t want in our water. This will give us healthier roots, by avoiding lime scale build up in the roots and they will be able to absorb 100% of the added nutrients.

3. PROTECT OUR SOILS

We know that soils contain Beneficial Microorganisms whose function is to protect plants roots, by keeping them clean and healthy, so that they have maximum ability to absorb nutrients and fertilizers. However, when we water our plants with chlorinated tap water, the chlorine, a chemical, kills off our beneficial bacteria that is present in the soil. Chlorine will also burn our plants delicate uptake roots.

 

4. MAINTAIN A BALANCED pH

By using a garden reverse osmosis system to lower your water’s EC, we achieve a balanced pH, as RO water has a pH of approximately 6,5.

 

5. AVOID NUTRIENT LOCK OUT

A high EC may contain larger quantities of hard water minerals, like calcium and magnesium, also known as limescale. High amounts of these minerals, together with added doses of nutrients, can BLOCK or saturate plants roots, prohibiting them from absorbing the added nutrients, which is also known as “nutrient lock out”.

 

6. PROTECT OTHER MICROORGANISMS

In the case that we have to use specialized microorganisms (for example to kill worms or other parasites, etc.), it will not make sense if we water with chlorinated water, because the chlorine will kill these microorganisms that we have just purchased.

 

7. AVOID GROWING PROBLEMS

Many times we encounter small problems or challenges with our plants and gardens, without knowing where some of these problems come from (yellow, dry leaves, burnt tips, stunted growth, etc). Professional growers assure us that if we begin growing by using a low EC water, many of these problems can be avoided, as we will know EXACTLY which nutrients and what quantities our plants are receiving.

 

8. ACHIEVE BETTER RESULTS FROM OUR NUTRIENTS

By starting with PURE WATER, our plants will not absorb any undesirable elements that can be present in the water and therefore we will achieve a 100% effectiveness out of our added nutrients and fertilizers.

 

9. PURE WATER IS THE FOUNDATION FOR GROWING

Just as a house must be built with a good, strong foundation, you must also start with PURE WATER to have a strong foundation for GROWTH. Knowing that we start with a clean, chlorine free, low EC water, is the right way to help our plants to GROW TO THEIR FULL POTENTIAL!

 

10. QUALITY WATER FOR US AND FOR OUR PLANTS

Finally, one simple question. If for our own personal drinking water we prefer a clean, quality, and chlorine free water (often bottled), why wouldn’t we give the same water to our plants? They also DESERVE QUALITY WATER!

HARD WATER FOR YOUR PLANTS IS NOT RECOMMENDED

What is hard water? Hard water is that which has a high concentration of the mineral salts calcium and magnesium, also called “limescale”. The formation of limescale is a problem for our plants and our plants roots.Calcium phosphate is what our bones are made of and it is 95% water insoluble. The calcium phosphate often falls out of the nutrient solution as lime scale. Once lime scale is formed both the calcium and phosphorus become unavailable to the plant.

We can use our EC meter to measure the total quantity of dissolved mineral salts in our water but that still will not tell us what percentage of those salts are hard water minerals. 

 To compensate for excess minerals, hard water nutrient formulas are usually lower in calcium and magnesium, with reduced levels of sulfates, so a hard water nutrient formula complements the minerals already present in the water. 

Also, if water is excessively hard, or an analysis shows  toxic levels of trace elements such as sodium or boron, the water should be filtered or processed.

HOWEVER, most growers will simplify water quality management by using only reverse osmosis water. RO removes all (90-95%) of the mineral ions, so the grower starts with clean, pure water. Therefore, if you use RO water all of the essential elements will come from your nutrient solution, not from the source water, creating the perfect mineral balance for plant growth. 

RO is definitely recommended for any applications where a water softener is in place. A water softener does not remove the calcium and magnesium from the hard water, rather is replaces them with sodium ions, often at toxic levels. If sodium exceeds 50ppm the plants may not be able to reach their true genetic potential. 

RO water is also perfect for topping off your reservoir between nutrient changes, replacing water lost to evaporation without adding any unwanted minerals.

Experts say that if an analysis shows that even one element is approaching toxic levels an RO system is definitely needed. 

CAL INCRUSTADA DENTRO ENG