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Hi pavman, Given the scenario you presented, I would keep the TG at a full strength nutrient mix and gradually increase the seedling tray solution from 1/4 strength all the way up to full strength over a period of at least 2 weeks. That way, when it's time to transfer the seedlings from the tray to the TG (only after roots are visible protruding from the rockwool starter plug), they have already been acclimated to the full strength nutrient solution. It should be noted that "full strength for established plantings" is not always the case. There are situations where a half strength mix is warranted.
Lastly, I would strongly suggest you perform a complete TG tub nutrient solution replacement every 30-60 days. 80 days is just too far a stretch to expect your nutrient solution to maintain the proper balance of macro and micro nutrients (yes, even with regular top-offs).
Perfect! As always Joed comes thru!! Thank You!
Are you saying that we should "Drain" and "Replace" the entire water & nutrients every 60 days? Wow .. I guess I missed that in the instructions. So far - 2 months or so in - I have only TOPPED off my tank - with 5 gallons of water & nutrients. If a full drain, I assume we should somehow CLEAN or Wipe down the Tub before re-adding water & Solution???
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Hi cody94549, You may find the following helpful:
How to Completely Replace TG Nutrient Solution
To replace the nutrient solution on a full grown TG that does not allow lifting or removal of the tower base from the tub, try this procedure:
- Turn the pump off.
- Reach into the tub access port and temporarily stick the pump to the tub sidewall with the inlet filter side (side opposite the power cord) pressed against the bottom of the tub.
- Connect the clear hose you got with the TG to the nipple at the very top / center of the TG.
- Turn the pump on and drain (into a large bucket, 5-gallon water cooler bottle, Igloo cooler with wheels or just to the ground as appropriate for the location).
- Continue until the pump flow stops.
- Turn the pump off.
At this point, I use a wet/dry vacuum (in wet mode) to remove the remaining nutrient solution and debris in the tub - this handy tip works great... well worth the cost of a cheap wet/dry vacuum if you don't have one. FYI: this is the one I use:
Harbor Freight - 5 gal. Wet/Dry Vacuum/Blower
More Helpful References
How to Mix TG Nutrients
Thanks for providing these instructions. A couple questions:
1) “Continue until the pump flow stops” — does this mean the pump runs until all the water is gone? Wouldn’t this damage the pump motor if it was pumping little to no water?
2) If you’re completely replacing TG nutrient solution while the tower has growing plants, how do you protect them? They won’t be getting water/nutrients during the time it takes to empty, and then during the processes of adding fresh water/nutrients, testing ph, etc.. Will they be ok during this down time?
"“Continue until the pump flow stops” — does this mean the pump runs until all the water is gone?"
"Wouldn’t this damage the pump motor if it was pumping little to no water?"
- Unplug the pump immedietly after the flow stops. This brief (seconds) period will not harm the pump.
"If you’re completely replacing TG nutrient solution while the tower has growing plants, how do you protect them?"
- It should only take you a few minutes (<=30) to perform the nutrient solution replacement procedure. During this time, it is not necessary to "protect the plants". If for some reason it takes you an excessive amount of time to perform the nutrient change procedure, simply save a small amount (ex: 2 liter bottle) of the old nutrient solution and manually pour just a little (a cup or 2 at a time) in the shower cap top section.
"Will they be ok during this down time?"
- Yes (see above).
Thank you so much for the clarification. I really appreciate it!
I am sorry; I STILL think that replacing ALL 20 gallons of water AND nutrients every 30-60 days is excessive!
Going on OVER A YEAR NOW and still have NOT replaced the water.
Probably won't be doing it until spring.
Plants are doing great; absolutely NO problems.
I DO, however, trim back roots regularly, as needed. This is usually every week.
I DO keep 'sludge' from net pots to minimum by thoroughly cleaning each port every time I harvest.
I NEVER allow the reservoir to receive ANY light.
But my water bill - already at $100. a month for 1 person - would be through the roof if I changed out 20 gallons every 30-60 days ... making the Grow tower a bit impractical and definitely NOT sustainable. It is the recirculating of water in hydroponics that makes it the most water-efficient form of agriculture in the world...not dumping 20 gallons every month.
Sorry...just DO NOT agree.
Hi dperrone, We can agree to disagree. My recommendations are based on science-backed nutrient chemistry and hydroponics industry best practices. You are free to dismiss all three. :-)
So far, it has been about a year, and I have not yet replaced the water in the reservoir.
I just keep topping off with water, and nutrients.
Plants are doing great.
Will probably replace and clean out everything this spring.
But pretty thrilled at the water conservation of the TG.
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dperrone, If you think your plants are "doing great" now, you'll be amazed at how much greater they will be when you optimize the nutrient solution chemistry by performing complete nutrient solution changes on a regular basis (an industry standard best practice for recirculating hydroponic systems like the TG). Just sayin' ;-)
I have a problem validating the TG as water-conservative if one has to dump 20 gallons of water- and nutrient solution - monthly and refill with another 20 gallons of water and MORE nutrient solution.
I had 12 container plants on my back deck through the summer and didn't go through 20 gallons watering them daily!
Where I live we are paying ridiculously high premiums for water; it is inconceivable for me.
I will be curious to see what the plants do, when I replace the existing with fresh.
Hi dperrone, The recommendation is to completely replace the nutrient solution every 30 to 60 days. Even at 30 days, that works out to just over 2 quarts per day... with a standard sized TG, that's less than half a cup of solution per plant per day. That's still a significant savings when compared to the water usage of an equivalent sized conventional soil garden (which is quite a bit higher).
Another "compromise" option that allows you to extend the time between complete nutrient solution changes even further is to monitor your solution's mineral levels with a TDS or EC meter.
If you're happy with your results now, no point in changing anything. If you want to get the absolute best growth out of your TG, replace the nutrient solution every 30 to 60 days.
Hi joed, Am I understanding correctly that you recommend going ahead & filling the Tower reservoir with FULL strength water & nutrients right from the start, to be ready for mature seedlings, and then using a mix of half-and-half pH adjusted water mixed with an equal amount of FULL strength nutrient water from the reservoir to water the new immature seedlings, in the seedling tray on the white base of the tower, every other day until mature enough to transplant into the Tower? I think this is what you are saying. If so this makes so much more sense than what I've been doing for two years, which is filling the Tower Reservoir with only 1/2 strength nutrients, and then trying to do the math (which I'm not good at) to bring it up to full strength, after a couple of weeks. Please confirm I'm understanding you correctly that you put FULL strength nutrient pH corrected water into the Tower Reservoir right from the start, but dilute that to water your emerged seedlings in the seed tray, every other day.
Thanks! Janine, GrowStrongLLC.com
When is this the case for mature seedlings (please give specific examples of types of plants or situational circumstances):
There are situations where a half strength mix is warranted
Janine & Paul, GrowStrongLLC.com