day one-two of WEEK THREE: More Growth, but Plant Looks Unhealthy, High pH, Dangerously Low Levels of Nutrient Solution

day one of WEEK TWO:

** It has been a whole seven days since I last checked on the system. Although I was pretty happy to get off school Monday and Tuesday on account of hurricane Sandy, our plant was left to fend for itself. Unfortunately, we have been running into high pH levels and small losses of our nutrient solution, probably because the plant is taking full advantage of those delicious nutrients. Because we were away for a whole week, we couldn’t monitor our plant’s progress. Here is a picture of what we came back to:

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, our plant looks terrible. Although we saw a lot of growth, it does not look healthy. Our nutrient solution was extremely low and was not touching the solution. We do have some roots growing and they were still in the solution, so I think that the plant was still able to get some nutrients, but not enough to maintain healthy growth. Here are some of my findings:

Before Class:
Growth: Plant is now a total of 4″ tall.
Water Temperature: 70.8 degrees Fahrenheit
pH Level: 7.0

After Class (the changes we made to our system, if any):
Growth:
Water Temperature: 70.8 degrees Fahrenheit
pH Level: 6.1

Other Adjustments we made:
Our plant needs more nutrients. Just by looking at it, you can tell that it is not receiving the adequate amount it needs. We lifted the plant up, added more hydroton around the plant, drastically increased the amount of nutrient solution to make sure that there will be enough to last the weekend without fear of our plant using it up, and also, because we moved the plant closer to the top of the yogurt container which houses it, we hope that it will have a little more access to light, so we’ll see if this makes a difference. I know that this is a long shot, but we’re hoping to reverse the damage done by our long absence. Our goal now is no longer focused on the size of our plant’s growth, but making sure that our plant receives adequate light and nutrients to ensure healthy growth.

We are also trying a new experiment with our nutrient solution and our problem with high pH levels. Since the beginning, we have run into very high pH levels around 7.0 or more and we constantly have to add pH Down. Up until now, we have been adding the pH Down chemical directly into the coffee container itself. This time, however, we started a new batch of a nutrient solution and tested the pH level at 6.9 (this is expected because the pH of the tap water we used is around 7.0) and brought the pH levels down of the entire gallon of nutrient solution before we add it to the system itself. In the new batch, we brought the pH down to between 6.0 and 6.1, and my hope is that when I check the pH of our solution on Monday, it will read the same, between 6.0 and 6.1. I have wondered why the pH is fluctuating so much and this is one way I can test to see if the cause is (a) something in the system itself or (b) the way the chemicals in the nutrient solution react to the pH Down chemical. It’s worth a shot, so we’ll see what happens on Monday. For anyone reading this, what has worked well for you? Are you running into the same problem? If not, what plant are you growing and what type of system are you using?

-Dustin

One thought on “day one-two of WEEK THREE: More Growth, but Plant Looks Unhealthy, High pH, Dangerously Low Levels of Nutrient Solution”

  1. Dustin, I don’t think the PH is your major issue. Unless the PH down is affecting your nutrient solution. 7.0 is not really that high and shouldn’t be causing your problem. I think your problem might be caused by your water level. Your plants roots should be in the water at all times. I’m basing that observation on your systems design. I would try raising the water level and see if that helps. If that doesn’t work you may want to try buying bottled water to help correct the PH.

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