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Hey there,

Can anyone give me input as to what is wrong with these plants?  I did have spider mites but I believe I have gotten rid of all of them. My AP system in indoors.  Is this a light issue, nutrient issue, ph, or insect issue?  I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to gardening - kinda learning as I go.  My PH does tend to run on the low side - around 5.

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Vlad, if I may chime in here, KOH is a very strong base. Without getting too much into chemistry of acids and bases, a base is a H+ taker while a acid is a H+ donor. KOH will take H+ from an acid (water can be acid or base) and form something else. The key part is that in an acid base reaction it will form a salt and water. The salt in the base's case will form something with an Hydroxide ion (OH-). KOH is a salt of Hydroxide and Pottasium. Anyways, the way to tell whether it is an acid or base is if it has a Hydroxide ion (base) H+ion (acid). Sometimes a base or acid  will just turn into salt and water and be an acid/bases such as NH3 which when put in water forms NH4OH and water.*Interesting fact if you find some "natural NH3" and put it in water--then let it dry--you get homemade Ammonium Hydroxide. Anyways Pottasium Bi-Carbonate is a much better buffer--becuase it is less strong. Also, if you see the structural formula of a substance and it has H in the front of it--minus other rules--it is a acid--a base if it has an OH ion.

*What I meant is that a acid or base doesn't nescesarilly have a H+ or OH-.

Wow... all sorts of points that need addressing here...

Vlad mentions that Maxicrop+Iron... contains Iron Sulphate... which surprises me somewhat...

 

But if that's so... it should be used sparingly... only to address specific iron deficiencies... and in general Maxicrop on it's own should only be used once, or twice a month at the most... primarily during cycling, and/or while establishing new systems...

 

By preference I'd suggest Chelated Iron to address Iron deficincy... as the chelated form can be taken up regardless of pH.. and Iron deficiency should only be apparant and related to pH issues... (don't know why you have an Iron deficiency with a pH of 6.0)...

 

Loading your system with Sulphates... is not a good thing... as excessive sulphates can cause edemnas(?) in plants...

 

With that in mind... Epsom Salts are Magnesium Sulphate... while the magnesium has benefit to plants... the sulphate doesn't...

 

If you need to address a magnesium deficiency it should be addressed by other means IMO... bare in mind... Epsom salts will NOT address your pH issues... it is NOT a pH buffer....

 

As Vlad says.... alternating between a Calcium, and Potassium buffer is preferable...

 

If your pH is reading 6.0... as again said... it may well be below that... which can cause a bacterial nitrification crash... and it should be addressed immediately....

 

I would suggest hydrated lime.... Calcium Hydroxide... as the issue needs be to addressed faster than perhaps a carbonate, or bicarbonate buffer will do... or more correctly, with a lesser amount required...

 

I would suggest that if buffering is again needed.. that you then use Potassium BiCarbonate... especially if your plants are flowering/fruiting... as a Potassium boost is beneficial at such stages of growth...

 

You could perhaps look at incorporating some shell grit... Calcium Carbonate... either sprinkled through the grow beds, or ina "sock" under a water return... as a self-regulating pH buffer and Calcium boost...

 

If you need to address a magnesium deficiency... use Dolomite lime.... Calcium, Magnesium Carbonate.. which will provide both Calcium, Magnesium... and by virtue of the carbonate.. also buffer pH...

 

Don't use Epsom Salts for the reasons above.... don't use Sodium Hydroxide, or Sodium BiCarbonate ... baking soda.. (unless you absolutely have to).... as while they are both pH buffers... they will both load your system with Sodium....

Quick question: would Na added to your system decrease NO3 availibility, or would the salt simply disassociate?

RupertofOZ said:

they will both load your system with Sodium....

I presume you're asking about Sodium Nitrate... NaNo3....

 

The possible dissocation would indeed be Sodium... and nitrate.... but why would you want to add either to your system???

Just re-read your question.... if you mean would the Sodium combine with the nitrates... well possibly... but probably unlikely...

 

The Sodium is more likely to be taken up into the flesh of the fish... and plants...

 

By the way... Sodium and Potassium are often interchangeable... or inter-related.. in plant uptake...

Wow, thanks for all the info. My gardens have always run on the low side of pH. My city water pH is almost 8 and the garden gets between 10-20 gallon top off each week. The only plants that are having a rough time right now are tomatoes (way too many in the garden to begin with), cucumbers and my year old eggplant. I have an excess of pepper plants in my big garden (actually none in my small one) which it sounds like in other posts could drop the pH?? But both gardens have the same pH, I think. I'll try and find a lower pH measured for more accurate readings.

I won't rush this because now I'm paranoid about crashing. Again, the Potassium bicarbonate is on it's way. Is this only a foliar application?? That's where i get confused. I use the Maxicrop with iron every week or so just to juice up the nutrients. I thought this was preventative, like taking your vitamins. Not so much though?? I also suffer from a lack of long term, direct sunlight. Much is blooming, little is fruiting. The fish eat pretty well. They're not a big as I'd hoped at this point, but have not lost any lately (KNOCK ON WOOD). I only feed at night.

Thanks again for all the insights. I just want to eat some healthy veggies... And fish.

Maxicrop is a way to supplement trace elements and potassium.  It sounds like you are not dosing much so I'm not too worried about overdose but it is more common to dose every few weeks.

As the guys say, you need to buffer up a bit.  The marble chips or shells or limestone chips will work but they are very slow.  You may need to use something that will act a little quicker in case your pH is way low.  What are your ammonia levels?  That is one to watch since a sudden spike in ammonia levels is often the first indication some people have that they let the pH drop way too low too fast and the bacteria crashed.

But ya know, it could all just be lack of light.  How do the leafy greens do for you?

I'm just gonna copy/paste the crap I wrote about potassium bicarb in your other thread, here. Sorry if you saw it already...

Potassium bicarbonate is used by winemakers to raise the pH of their wine (or the terminology they use "lower the acid content"...which amounts to the same thing...raising pH), much the same way it's used to raise the pH of your AP system water. So wineries don't use it as a "nutrient" the way Aquapons do...In an AP scenario, potassium bicarb can serve 3 separate duties:

1) Added to system water to raise pH (and has the effect of adding some potassium)

2) Foliar fed as a fungicide (and should has the effect of adding some potassium, though I'm not sure exactly how effective this method alone would be...I'm not saying it's not, just that IDK)

3) Foliar fed as a potassium supplement (and has the effect of being an organic fungicide).

So, it's a fungicide, it's a K supplement, and it's a carbonate buffer.

As far as "synthetic" or "natural" to me, is as synthetic or natural as baking soda (NaHCO3) is... (potassium bicarb is also used as a dietary supplement for us humans)...

The term "organic" even when used in chemistry seems pretty arbitrary and is not always clearly defined, nor do the lines drawn make much sense sometimes. The use of the term by governmental regulating agencies both on this side of the pond and yours, make even less sense at times, is full of seeming contradictions, and even more arbitrary...

Allisyn, you can get a Tetra Test pH test kit at many aquarium shops for a couple bucks, they go down to pH5.0...really though I wouldn't even wait long for a new test kit as it might be too late...with your API test kit, pH6 is a big time red flag to take some action and buffer pH up...

An additional rant on the use of "organic" terminology...for instance

Potash is allowed, Potassium hydroxide (a precursor to potash) is not.

Potassium hydroxide is labelled as a "Synthetic" and "Not Allowed"...So when I take ashes from by wood burning stove, stick them in a barrel with some rocks and straw (just for filter material, they do nothing for the process) and run rain water  through the ashes and collect the potassium hydroxide that dribbles out the bottom of the barrel...that is considered "Synthetic and Not Allowed". Yet Potash, mined by heavy diesel gulping machinery, trucked halfway around the globe and packaged and shelved is perfectly "Organic"? Or if it's not mined, it's made in a factory by the electrolysis of potassium chloride which turns it into the NOT ALLOWED potassium hydroxide, which they then carbonate with carbon dioxide gas to get the "perfectly allowed and organic" Potash. To me this is utter bullshit and needless to say, I do not agree with this and other NOP (or our EU counterparts) rulings.

BTW...the little clay balls in your media system are not approved for "Organic" food production either according to OMRI/NOP. If anyone knows otherwise please expand. As best as I can tell they have no status at the moment...

Just to be pedantic....

 

"As far as "synthetic" or "natural" to me, is as synthetic or natural as baking soda (NaHCO3) is... (potassium bicarb is also used as a dietary supplement for us humans)..."

 

NaHCO3.... is Sodium Bicarbonate....not Potassium BiCarbonate...

Rupe, where I grew up (in the US)  Sodium Bicarbonate (NaHCO3) is known as baking soda...

And Potassium Bicarb (KHCO3) is used as a dietary supplement...

I was just stating the case that IMO Potassium Bicarbonate is about as dangerous or "synthetic" as baking soda...Sodium Bicarbonate...

Maybe you read the post too quickly or misunderstood?

Vladimir, thanks again for all the explanations. I totally agree that the gov'ts ideas are definitely skewed at best on most things... My potassium bicarbonate hit the mail so...

How do you add it to your water like I need to? My ammonia levels are always near 0. My leafy greens are ok. I don't have many as were getting a little warm, but the chard is beautiful if something would stop eating holes in it and the lettuce I do have isn't supposed to be dark (red tipped) but it's growing ok. It is leggy more than a nicely formed head but my friend was impressed with the girth of the stalk.

I'm pretty sure there is a lack of something (besides sunshine) because my cucumbers did exactly what everyone else's did earlier in this post and looked just the same. I managed to get about 5 big fruits off of it. I thought it was mostly the older super huge leaves just getting, well, old, so I trimmed them off and then the whole plant kind of gave up. Snow peas also came to a stand still and string beans not "prolific". I did not pinch tips though, so that might have caused some of my lack of beans and peas.

I'll update full stats later today if I find the pH kit I need.

Thanks again!

As far as adding the potassium bicarbonate, I usually just use a very small measuring spoon and add a little under the water inlet of each bed.  Let it dissolve or mix for a few hours and check pH again.  Can do the same with a little bit of lime as well.

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