Specialty crop nutrients have just taken a quantum leap forward, a leap that’s been fifteen years in the making by Veg Bloom Nutrients by Hydroponic-Research Inc, to be exact.
Every once in a while something enters the hydroponic, greenhouse and indoor growing landscape that changes the way we do things forever. Carbon filters are a great example of this versus Ozone Generators that growers used to maintain air quality in grow rooms a decade ago. We don’t see much of those anymore, do we?
Why? Because growers found something that did the job:
Tough to argue with if a plant growth related technology meets that kind of criteria.
When it comes to crop nutrients, just about anybody who has been around a while knows to be leery of the hype. While so many crop nutrient companies and related products have come and gone, there are a few lasting standards of quality that growers continue to count on. These fertilizer formulations tend to be Liquid Formulas—same with the additives.
Truth be told, it wasn’t until very recently that we would tell you with a high level of certainty that this was the way to go: use pre-dissolved soluble nutrients in many different formulas so you can customize a feeding program.
Now hold on a sec! We’re way past that now—think about it: growers know their target plant, and much in the way of research in hydroponics and soilless growing has been performed in modern cropping environments and grow rooms—why should you have to mess around and play hit or miss for several crops to dial in a feeding program? This is utter redundancy at this point, although it does create more sales for products.
On a small scale garden, that might be just fine. However, when using larger quantities of fertilizer materials to grow on a bigger scale (as is the trend), this simply isn’t a cost effective approach; nor is it an efficient one for labor, mixing, applications or even yields necessarily.
Veg Bloom Nutrients has spent the last decade and a half rethinking, redesigning and now finally releasing for sale to the public a new way of doing things. From our experiences in trialling their products in our test gardens, we feel they have really got something here—perhaps the way we all might be doing things from here on in, as a concept in crop feeding.
Here’s what’s different:
RO/SOFT-this VegBloom label designation matches with filtered water supplies or sources less than 150 ppm TDS
TAP/HARD–this VegBloom label designation will allow you to produce high quality crops with what historic hydroponic wisdom would call lesser quality water sources
HD—VegBloom Nutrients “technology added” formula, containing a few enhancers that are best suited to crops growing in recirculating hydroponics systems like water culture or coco coir. Ideal water supply target levels are 150ppm
DIRTY-VegBloom Nutrients answer for growers using soil or peat mixes or blends thereof. Typically hand watering or drain to waste gardens, ie containers, raised beds, or for outdoors in natural settings
+LIFE–beneficial microbes with a wide range of diversity tested and proven to build healthier plants that have bigger root systems; all of this translates into hungrier and thirstier plants that can potentially produce more.
We caught up with Chris, the company founder and master formulation guru at Hydroponic-Research Inc to get the inside scoop on what inspired this winning crop feeding concept and formulations—and a little bit as to the secrets of how Veg Bloom Nutrients can work so well as a one part powdered crop feeding program.
GZ-To cut to the chase, it’s obvious you’re a really bright guy with specialized knowledge. Where did you get your inspiration and the info you needed to rethink specialty crop feeding programs?
Chris-My Dad. He was an electrical engineer, and a very ingenious fellow. Interestingly, growing up, it’s when he was gardening that I was able to connect with him—that’s when he was most at peace with his thoughts. It really inspired me and still does. In expanding my horizons, I started to research patents that could be applied to hydroponics. Not necessarily stuff made directly for hydroponics, but tech that I could see cross over possibilities for that wasn’t currently being utilized in any of the formulas we had available.
GZ-Interesting. So, we understand that your formulas are made to work WITH what’s in common water supplies rather than assuming total purity, mind explaining this, assuming it’s true?
Chris-Yes, it’s true! Normally you can get adverse reactions with fertilizer materials and impurities like Iron or Calcium found in water supplies. It took me many years, and lots of retooling, research, trial and error, but I feel like I’ve gotten over that old obstacle with some of my “crossover” ingredients. My stuff plays along nice with other elements. Water is a precious commodity, and I believe in a “waste not want not” kind of philosophy. San Diego is ground zero for learning to grow hydroponic crops with marginal tap water—it was 15 years in the making, but it’s here now!
GZ-We’ve seen the results, and tend to agree with you. You deserve recognition for what you’ve done—we admire your new approach with a fresh set of eyes. So many copies of copies out there; you went and did something completely different—and it works!
Chris-Thanks very much. I started out doing this for myself and a few friends long ago. I was sick and tired of paying too much for hydro nutes that needed band-aids. It seemed laughable to me, so I got to work. It’s been a long road since my very first batch of Tap Hard fifteen years ago (for private use), but I wouldn’t change a thing. My keystone philosophies when it comes to making formulas are Sufficiency & Availability—I’ve learned to make the forms of nutrients dance in the directions they need to, rather than trying to swim upstream, versus assuming perfect water and root zone conditions.
GZ-The proof is in the results, for sure. We are genuinely impressed. Congratulations and we wish you continued success and growth. Please, don’t ever stop innovating; you’re doing amazing things through Hydroponic-Research Inc. We can’t wait to see what’s next.
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Erik Biksa has been writing about and discussing hydroponics growing, related technologies and cropping methods since 1999 in a variety of professional publications and platforms globally Erik has travelled the world learning and teaching modern growing techniques and technologies and is appreciated by many growers for his informative yet hands on approaches. Presently, he is the Editor at Grozine Hydroponics Mag.