Hard water on bulb containers in greenhouse.

Albert Huntington balberth@yahoo.com
Fri, 02 Oct 2009 13:40:09 PDT

  I have some experience dealing with hard water when I was on municipal 
well water in San Jose, CA.  Since I was growing some plants which were
very sensitive to pretty much ANY minerals in the water, I ended up
going with a solution that worked, but was fairly expensive both in terms
of dollars and waste water.

  What I did was install a reverse osmosis filter - this type of filter uses water
pressure to force water through a membrane which filters out pretty much 
everything, including minerals.  The flow rate through this type of filters is quite
low ( measured in gallons per day ), so it is usually used in combination with
a holding tank of some sort.  The filter also wastes a lot of water - for every
gallon of purified water it generates, it also generates a larger amount of
waste water which is not purified.  Most hardware stores, some big box stores, 
and stores catering to orchid growers and aquarium owners would carry a 
system of this type, and you can find all sorts of information on this through a
quick web search.

  Water softeners simply replace one ion for another - basically substituting sodium
compounds for calcium compounds, which changes the hardness of the water,
but does not actually purify it.  There are also de-ionization filters sold which adsorb 
calcium ions from water passing through them, but must be replaced and/or recharged 
very often when you're dealing with hard well water, and are probably uneconomical in
your case.

  What a lot of people do to prevent mineral build-up while on well water is to 
simply pot in well draining substrates and completely flush the pots on a regular
basis.  Unfortunately, this method seems to work better for plants which can 
stand a constantly wet root system, as the minerals won't flush out as well if 
they don't stay in solution.

-- Albert Huntington
Sunnyvale, CA
Where just a few things are starting to think it's finally Autumn.


----- Original Message ----
From: Marguerite English <meenglis@meenglis.cts.com>
To: Pacific Bulb Society <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Fri, October 2, 2009 12:53:34 PM
Subject: [pbs] Hard water on bulb containers in greenhouse.

I need some advice about hard water from my well.

California well water is often laden with minerals that cause some 
plants to sicken or die. I am considering adding a filter or ??? to my 
greenhouse waterline.

What kinds of devices will work to filter out the minerals? I have 
always read that the water softeners commonly used on houses will kill 
plants. Have some of you experienced this problem? What kind of filter 
systems might be used instead? Has anyone installed a filter system and 
if so, what brand name did you use. I am also considering the use of 
water saved during my rainy season, but I have no idea how much water I 
use in the greenhouse over a year. Have any of you attempted any of 
these solutions, and how did you go about it. Thanks for your discussion 
on this.

Marguerite English

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