What is 'week one' of feeding?
I want to share my thoughts on what I believe is actually week one and when you should start feeding your plants hydroponic plant food.
A lot of feeding charts don’t actually indicate when week one is, and a lot of customers and enquiring gardeners are just as confused.
Most 'week one' feeding charts look overwhelming. Why is that?
Most growers that have been growing indoors for a while have been growing from clones, clones that have been taken from *sexually mature plants are identical copies, so as soon as they form roots they technically can take these higher doses of foods without any problem.
*Note: Before you can start taking cuttings/clones the plant has to be grown until “sexual maturity”, which would take approx. 6-8 weeks after germination.
Growing from seed?
A seedling takes around 2-4 weeks before it is considered a young plant, during this period its main purpose is, metabolic chlorophyll formation.
If our seedling is only 10cms in height, it’s not going to be able to distribute full strength hydroponic nutrients at a dose we would normally give to a full sized plant.
If you do go ahead and follow the feeding chart and you have started from seed, you most likely will encounter nutrient burn/overfeeding. The dosage suggested for week one on most hydroponic nutrient feeding charts is far too high for growers who choose to grow from seed.
I would suggest to grow the seedling for approx. 3-4 weeks using a weak nutrient solution and adding a root booster in conjunction to stimulate the roots, this will help the seedling develop a nice root structure far quicker and set it up for full strength food. This is known as the foundational phase of growing that many growers ignore which will reduce overall yield.
To assist in chlorophyll production, we can feed small amounts of magnesium & nitrogen. Personally I use an all-in-one additive that also contains calcium and iron, this is approach is mostly preventative. By doing this you will have extremely healthy seedlings! This is a great hydroponic nutrient to keep your plants looking great, some hydroponic shops call these products growth boosters, cal mag or root boosters, check with your local hydro shop and see what they recommend their advice is usually coming from good experience.
There are EC/PPM meters that growers should purchase, this helps the grower understand the strength of their nutrient solution. They are critical tools for most growers.
EC REQUIREMENTS FOR SEEDLINGS & PLANTS:
Seedlings: 0.3 - 0.6 EC for approx. 2-4 weeks
For a seedling/clone that is 4 weeks or older: 0.6 - 1.6 EC for approx. 2-4 weeks
Flowering Plants: 1.6 - 2.4 EC for approx. 6-12 weeks
Maturation: 0.0-0.4 EC (0-300 PPM) 5-10 days (Flushing period)
So to cap it off, if you're growing from a clone you can feed hydroponic nutrients from week one as soon as the clone has roots.
If you're growing from seed, you'll want to grow the seedling using low dose feeding (this is roughly 50% less than the week 1 dosages) for approx. 3-4 weeks before you commence week 1 feeding.