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HELP NEEDED With PH and TDS readings

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Grandma M

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I bought A Ph meter (pocket size by Hanna), and a TDS meter (essential by SunLeaves).

I don't know if my readings are good or bad. PH well water--7.6
TDS Well water 456 from well - -514 after 1/4 strength MSU fertilizer.

Can anyone tell me if it is good or bad ,and if I need to correct anything, how do I do it?
 
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gore42

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Thats a tricky question.... and it all depends on what you're growing. If you're mostly growing lithophytic Paphs, the pH of the well water is probably just fine. It's a bit high for Phrags and some other species, but if you add fertilizer, it will drop it down quite a bit and should be fine.

The TDS is another story... it depends on what minerals make up that 450 ppm. (you may need a report from your local water department). I wouldn't use it on my Disas or Phrags. For comparison, my tap water has a TDS of 62 PPM today. I wouldn't worry about that TDS for my Paphs, though, as a general rule.

The most common way to correct a high TDS is to use a reverse osmosis/DI filter. They're not too expensive, but waste a lot of water as a general rule. Some people buy distilled water or collect rain or river water.

- Matt
 
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Grandma M

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Thanks Matt

Buying distilled water is out of the question for me because I have about 450 plants, most of them are paphs and phrags. I have a few phals, oncidium alliance, Zygos, a few catts, and a couple of vandas. My vandas don't do well for me but I believe it is partly because because they hang at the end of where my HPS goes on a light mover. Only one has re-bloomed for me. I use both HPS and either T5 or T8 4ft-4 bulb units.

I have been using this arrangement for about 3 years, 2 years with MSU fert. I finally decided I need to check out my water. I have been having good luck, especially with my phrags, but if there is something I can do to better my growing conditions, I want to do it. Almost all of these plants are in S/H, either hydroton or PA.

All my watering goes through a small Dosatron injector so I use the same for everything.

I don't have a greenhouse, I grow in my home. I would like to have my water adjusted to the correct condition. I will be happy to use any suggestions you can give me. I want to do it right.
 

NYEric

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Hi. Re: Vandas, Eric M. recommended for home growing to not grow them in slat baskets or w/ the roots hanging free, rather to use a solid bottom pot to keep moisture in.
 

Candace

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Your well water is high in tds. Have you considered buying an R.O. system? They're not that expensive and your plants will thank you.
 
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Bob Wellenstein

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You need to add one more piece of data to even start to think about this - what is the pH with the fertilizer added?

I have lectured on water and fertilizer quality for at least 15 years, advocating high quality water for Paphs. Way back it was tough, as there were no good fertilizers to complement pure water. Now there are, and it is easier. However, as much as an advocate I am of good quality water, and there is no doubt in my mind that you could see much happier plants within weeks based on the figures you gave, I caution you about changing. You sound pretty happy with the way your plants are doing. Changing to pure water requires doing it right with fertilizer and pH, and even with improved fertilizers and potassium bicarbonate available for pH control, it takes some tweaking to get it right. To not get it right can be disastrous for your collection. If you are happy with how things are growing, and you don't plan on trying some of the very tricky species particularly in section Barbata, you just may want to leave things alone.
 
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Bob Wellenstein

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I would add to my above comments that if you do decide to go the full control route, even though it requires care there are resources to help you along the way, including several people on this forum that can help with the questions that may come up, so don't let me scare you away.
 

Heather

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Bob, your advice is very useful all around, if you ask me.

I sometimes have time to analyze my water and sometimes I just have time to water. I really appreciated your "what to do if you don't have that time" suggestion. It is nice to have a fall back, though I realize that is likely not the optimal situation!

I have moved a LOT in the last year and my water has changed each time. So, it has seemed as though when I just got my first two years down to a science last February, I then moved in April, August, September, and again this March. It is all I can do sometimes to sustain my water worries, let alone using the correct methods and ratios! Once I get it down, it changes. That is not even thinking about mentioning major lighting changes!

FWIW, I am surprised at how many of my Paphs are in spike - they are all relatives of philippinense if that makes a difference. Three of the four have spiked regulary, one is a first bloom for me but I've had it for 3 years now. 2 spikes, plus 3 mature growths.

Your basic ideas in your last post really help to give a guideline (tho I will state that people in my society who are paph growers tend towards maintaining a higher nitrogen level. Might you be willing to comment on that? Thank you in advance!)

I often feel as though I am way over my head.

Thank you for all you contribute here! You have no idea how much it is appreciated.
 
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Ernie

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I'd recommend http://www.h2ofilter.net for your RO needs if you decide to go for it Grandma M. Overdo your gallon per day estimate (GPD) because most home plumbing doesn't meet the psi and temp specs of the units, so your output will be somewhere between 60-80% of what they claim. It will even vary by season- we get better output in winter because they are rated with cold water. NOTE: many home RO units waste about 3-5x the water they create. http://www.h2ofilter.net offers under the sink units with a handy storage tank and faucet or "raw" units that can be plumbed to a larger reservoir and activated with a toilet tank-like float valve. Anyone else have any preferred water purification vendors???

-Ernie
 
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Grandma M

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Bob Wellenstein said:
You need to add one more piece of data to even start to think about this - what is the pH with the fertilizer added?.
Bob
My PH without fert is 7.64
with MSU fert 7.18
Does that sound reasonable?
 

NYEric

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Ernie said:
NOTE: many home RO units waste about 3-5x the water they create.
-Ernie
I wish my unit was that efficient. Luckily in NYC the cost of water is included in our taxes. I also recommend an R.O. filter, if there's a hydroponic place near you, they can probably provide units and filters to meet your needs.
 

Scooby5757

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I just got an RO filter about two weeks ago. To compliment that I got, what I believe, a good TDS meter...Michigan brand or something like that. So I calibrated it. Checked my tap water ~117 TDS. Checked the RO water 0 TDS. Im watering now with a fertilizer for RO water, and Im gonna have to check on what the pH is with the fertilzer when i go home.

So here's my concern. I don't get that much waste water. I got the Kent Marine Maxxima 60 gpd. It's got two "out" tubes. The blue for the good water and the orange for the waste. The water flows quickly from the blue tube but trickles from the orange. Like I said the water coming out of the blue tube is reading 0 TDS. Is this lack of abundant waste water because the filter is new?

PS - Hey Grandma!
 

Candace

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Scooby, I assume you have at least a couple gallon storage tank? The R.O. is stored there and will come out at a good flow until near the end of the tank. The waste water coming out just means the tank is filling up again. You shouldn't see any waste water when your storage tank is full and your not using any R.O. Make sense?
 
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Bob Wellenstein

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G-M, your pH is a bit high, IMO, for those Paphs that are not calcicolous - probably right on for the calcicolous ones. For your Phrags it is probably a bit high except for kovachii and xerophyticum. One thing that shouldn't throw things too far out of whack, depending on where in MI you are, would be to collect some rainwater and mix this with your tap water, you could work out a ratio using your pH meter to drop that pH a bit for the plants that want a bit more acid. Go slow, try a few plants and don't go below 6.5 for a while and observe if you see improvement in the foliage. If you do then maybe drop it a bit further to around 6.0. I know there are a few other questions somewhere on this forum directed specifically towards me. I'll be offline a couple of days but come back, and if someone else hasn't covered them I'll find them and respond. Also, a shout out to Dave Halla, Lynn really enjoyed your talk, thanks!
 

Heather

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Bob Wellenstein said:
I know there are a few other questions somewhere on this forum directed specifically towards me. I'll be offline a couple of days but come back, and if someone else hasn't covered them I'll find them and respond. Also, a shout out to Dave Halla, Lynn really enjoyed your talk, thanks!
Thanks Bob, we appreciate you sticking around here, you know...:)
 

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