Comment: It's kind of hit and miss

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It's kind of hit and miss

I've spoken with people who have water that didn't work so well. Others could use straight tap water. It's kind of a guess. Sounds like you got lucky, like maybe 60% from what I hear. At my house, I have way too high of phosphorus, nitrogen and chlorine coming from the tap. I learned quickly how to aerate the chlorine out of it but not how to change the other mineral levels. Then they sprouted but quickly went dormant right afterward. When I got the bacteria process going to create nitrates from nitrites (from ammonia) and added fish, it killed them in days. It took me almost a year (wanting to give up many times) to figure out what was going on. I ended up using only rainwater (after completely flushing every pipe, ironically with chlorine). So, as a result from talking to many people from this country and a few others, I learned that if you want a 'more' foolproof system that everyone can use, it really is helpful to see those numbers.

EC is electrical conductivity, aka - turbidity. It means the amount of particles in the water. Different plants have different tolerance and some of the other factors can even affect that range. Some people measure it in PPM but that's just the scale (parts per million) of how many particles are in it. I used to automate waste water treatment plants and they have high dollar monitors for turbidity so I knew there were electrodes that could measure these things. That's what led me to try and create a universal controller that could handle it all in one.

If you're interested to see just how complicated this CAN get, check out:
http://youtu.be/ICUB3eZrJD4 and
http://youtu.be/8UgP1ithEFU

Those guys in the Netherlands are so exacting in everything, they monitor 56 parameters for EACH PLANT in all those beds on all those levels, every 30 seconds of it's life. It's a massive computer database you can eat, LOL.

I prefer to do things on a smaller scale but I still wanted the high growth rates and high area density so I started with the concept behind the Omega Garden at http://youtu.be/84zh7XL15n8 . Then I added just enough automation to cover the most troublesome pitfalls without increasing the cost that much over the grow lights.