I woke up this morning and started running rabbit trails for some reason...done got all scratched up with briars and everything...mosquito bites, ticks crawling, and probably have chiggers camping in my drawers by in the morning. So, I thought I'd stick my briar-studded nose into this old stump hole and see what runs out. And remember, I'm "OCD-Me"!
Anyhow, I've been mulling over the idea of investigating the water and grow mixes that I'm using. My rain water is usually less than 5ppm, and most of the time between 1-2 ppm if I let the roof rinse well before catching or if it rains for an extended period of time. Most of the drain water from my pots shows their TDS to be between 50-75ppm. But, it seems that nearly all of my young seedlings struggle after germination...sarrs, sundews, and flytraps. Leaf-cuttings seem to do well. Most seed germination is done with a peat moss based mix whereas most of my leaf-cuttings are started on live sphagnum or a mix of live and dried sphagnum. That may be a big part of the difference right there. I dunno, the biggest problem I have is probably between my ears.
But, I'm thinking of getting something to test little deeper into my cultivation practices. The chinese-built pH meters look nice and handy, basically identical-looking to TDS meters of the same origin. I've seen reviews from "great" to "terrible". In the past I've seen where pH meters need to have their probes "wet" all the time and maintenance is required or they get out of kilter fast.
I'm not a really organized person nor do I wash my car weekly, so paying close attention to a pH meter might not be for me...though I do shake off and dry my TDS meter off with my T-shirt if that counts for something.
Test strips seem like they would be more up my alley...rabbit trail...whatever. They come in matchbook form or in sealed plastic containers. I think I'd prefer the plastic container for longevity/storage purposes.
I referenced the cheap pH meters up above but after reading Panman's comments about carbonate levels and doing some reading down that trail I'm beginning to think that the carbonate testing might be the route to take.
Over the last couple of years what have ya'll come to a conclusion on (and I know there will be different conclusions) other than measuring TDS what tests are good for water and grow mixes?