Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.
Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Masterblend Complete Fertilizer Combo Pack. You can get this in various sizes from 2.5 to 62 pounds. The weight is the combined weight of the three main ingredients which are
- MasterBlend 4-18-38 Tomato & Vegetable Fertilizer
- Power Grow Calcium Nitrate 15.5-0-0 Fertilizer
- Power Grow Epsom Salt
You can buy each of them individually but you will do better cost wise with the combo pack and unless you are using other sources of some nutrients you need all three anyway. While there are some custom formulas most people use one of two different recipes for hydroponic growing.
- Vegetative Growth – 2 Grams each of MasterBlend and Calcium Nitrate and 1 Gram of Epsom Salt per gallon
- Flowering and Fruiting Plants – 3 Grams each of MasterBlend and Calcium Nitrate and 2 Gram of Epsom Salt per gallon
The kits are designed with these ratios in mind so say you get a 25 pound kit, you are going to get a ten pound bag of MasterBlend and CalNitrate and one 5 lb bag or Epsom Salt. This lets easily calculate the cost per gallon of fertilizer because we know a pound of kit makes us 90 gallons of vegetative growth fluid and 56 gallons of fruiting/flowering fluid. With that we can calculate the following…
- A 2.5 pound kit yeilds a price of 10 cents a gallon for vegetative growth and 16 cents a gallon for fruiting plants.
- A 5 pound kit drops the price of vegetative growth to 6 cents a gallon and fruiting down to 10 cents
- A 25 pound kit, my preferred option will take the cost all the way down to 2.5 cents a gallon for veg growth and 3 cents fruiting
- The huge 62.5 gallon kit will only take off a fractional cent from the 25 pound kit, so unless you just want more the 25 pounder is your price break sweet spot.
Note a 25 pound kit will make a whopping 2250 gallons of fluid, at home scale that is a couple years of growing for salads and what have you. My indoor vertical farm takes about 34 gallons at start up, then about 8 gallons a week is added to top up the sump. I then change out just under 50% of the fluid 16 gallons once a month. This has worked well so far. Not counting start up that equals 40 gallons a month, fertilizer cost ongoing then is 1 dollar a month.
So if I am only doing leaf crops a 25 pound kit will run my vertical farm for about 36 months. I know there are some concerns about the environmental impact of hydroponics. It is way over blown, yes these are “mined minerals” you know what else in your home is a mined mineral, well salt is, so are many of the minerals in your multi vitamin. If this really concerns you, check out this video I made on that subject. I consider hydro far from perfect but it is a net gain for the environment.
From this point on though I am speaking as a prepper. No skill I have developed so far has given my family greater ability to feed itself then hydroponics. The fact that I can turn seed into food in 28-35 days is something that should make every prepper consider at least some level of hydroponics as part of their preps. For a couple hundred bucks you can build half of my vertical farm and grow food for 3 years with 55 bucks worth of fertilizer.
One thing I have found is lots of people struggle with getting the Calcium Nitrate to dissolve. Their solution is to make two mixes, one with the Cal-Nitrate at 2x strength and one with the Masterblend and Epsom Salt at 2x, then combine them. My solution is simply to make up 4 gallons at a time, mix in the Cal-Nitrate first, then the other two and it works for me. To do this I use a 5 gallon bucket filled to 4 gallons and a mortar mixer in a drill on the lower speed. This link goes to a 30 minute video but it jumps directly to the part where I do the mixing.
Also this stuff has worked fantastically for kratky but you do get some settling out of nutrient without a pump. If you want more on kratky vs. pump driven hydro tune in today to the podcast. Just know there are some real advantages to a pump driven system and both methods have a place. If you prefer a liquid one step product that is also partially organic, I recommend this one called Texas Tomato Food. It works great but can’t compete with the cost and storability of MasterBlend.
Again as a prepper I am almost embarrassed that it took me 12 years to give hydro a shot. What can I say I fell victim to the anti hydro propaganda which I break down into four categories…
- Lack of knowledge (ignorance)
- Intentional misinformation (lies)
- Long distance producers (crappy varieties)
- Overselling by zealots (bullshit)
Again if you want to know more tune in today to hear more about hydro in one of today’s segments. I will simply close with the following. Having now grown hydroponically for about 3 months I am totally sold on the advantages. I still grow a lot in ground and honestly from April to Nov. that is where most of my production will come from. Still being able to grow indoors, 24/7/365 is an incredible advantage for a prepper. Hydro in a green house or on a deck is awesome as well. I am convinced many on small suburban holdings would benefit hugely from hydro, etc.
I also really tried to be as “organic” as possible but when it comes to long term sustainability 55 bucks gives me 3 freaking years with MasterBlend. It is also the easy button and when you learn a new skill, start with the easy button. We know it works, we know exactly how much to use, mix, dump grow. Master your skill then try variations. So if you want to get started I recommend you give the MasterBlend 3 Part Combo a shot. Even if you branch out to other options later, it is a great starting point and will store almost definitively if properly stored in a cool dry environment. Again for my on hydro tune in to today’s podcast and if you want to see my vertical farm the entire playlist on it so far is here.
Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com
P.S. – Learn from my mistakes and DON’T SCREW UP LIKE I DID! Seriously this stuff is super hydroscopic. That is a fancy way to say it loves and takes up water like crazy especially the Masterblend and the Epsom Salt. It must be stored in an air tight container, taping up the bag will not cut it. I now store it labeled in ball jars. The salt and nitrate will turn into a brick, at least you can break this up and use it. The Masterblend will seep liquid out the bottom and become unusable.
“They say ‘experience is the best teacher’. I say when it comes to things that hurt or cost money, someone else’s experience is the best teacher.” ~ Jack Spirko