Cleanliness does not mean to remove the dirt. It also involves some disinfection and sterilization to remove all the harmful microorganisms as well. Hydroponics and aeroponics units are considered the most hygienic gardening methods. Even these methods can also succumb to infections. The infection may affect the roots, leaves or the entire plant.
The question now arises, why the hydroponics and aeroponics systems need to be more hygienic. The reason is that they are closed system that can create moisture and make way for all sorts of pathogens. A slight ignorance or a delay in cleaning out the system may prove costly.
How to sterilize and disinfect the systems?
Sterilizing means, to rid of the pathogens, by cleaning with the appropriate media or substance. There are many products available that can do the job easily but on a longer run may be harmful for the plants. Here is a simple and easy DIY disinfectant that is powerful enough and safe to use in hydro/aeroponics.
- Hydrogen peroxide 35% available at hydro stores
- 99% isopropyl alcohol
- Hot water
These items, hot water and hydrogen peroxide is the easiest and safest disinfectant. To increase the powers use some pure alcohol. These ingredients can kill the virus, fungi and bacteria by coming in contact.
The hydrogen peroxide is anti-microbial. It is soluble in water and the disinfecting power remains for 1-4 hrs and after that it gets degraded into the water, making to harm to the plants or humans. The degradation into water takes place within 24 hrs. There are hardly any bacteria or fungus that can escape the web created by the pure alcohol. This makes a deadly combination for sterilizing the hydroponics system and its equipment’s.
Using the disinfectants
This chosen disinfectant can be used as it is and there is no need to dilute. Use the amount that is required. For the hydroponics tool such as pH meter, TDS meter and the likes, dip in any of these disinfectants, preferably hydrogen peroxide solution, or the alcohol, to remove any trace of micro organism stuck to it. Use the dipped and rinsed tools into the nutrient solution for testing.
For the reading meters, only a portion of it would be sterilized so insert only that portion to do the tests, otherwise the while process would be in vain. Dip the meter in the disinfectant every time for each water reservoir, in a large hydroponics unit. Use strong hydrogen peroxide for maximum effects for the tools.
For cleaning the reservoir, use the solution in needed quantity to clean and wipe the inner surfaces and the outer surfaces. Use it with every water change in the reservoir, also on the pumps and the tubes with the sterilizing agent.
When a new batch of plants is being planted, sterilize the entire system right from the pumps to the net cups to welcome the new set of plants to their lives. Pre wash the system parts to remove any plant residue before inserting it for sterilization.
Run the system with hot water hydrogen peroxide mix for a few hours before draining it. Keep it open to dry and do not plant the next set until it is completely dry and has no smell of the disinfectant.
Using the hydrogen peroxide in small quantity in the nutrient solution will provide enough oxygen to the growing roots. Unlike other chemicals this will not undergo chemical reactions that make troubles; instead it gives the beneficial oxygen.