FAQs

 

Container Gardening

As long as your root ball fits within the cup you are good. The great aspect of using net cups is that they allow the roots to grow outside of the cup which is great for aeration. If you are using net cups for flowering and your plant is going to end up taller than 24”, I’d use a 6” cup or larger.

One method is to use plastic sheet covers. This is an easy solution if you are having an algae problem. The coco coir rolls work great in trays. The coir mats are reusable if you clean them. If you are worried about the algae right now, relax, it does not usually create a huge problem. If you do want to clean it use a tablespoon of 35% hydrogen peroxide in a gallon of water. Fill a spray bottle and spray the tray (its fine if the plants are in it).

Coco coir is a heavy water retaining media. If you use guano top dressing it will create a vapor barrier that will slow the top of the soil from drying out in the pot. You can also use vermiculite and peat moss for the same effect.

Not really. One method of curing this is to use plastic sheet covers; this is an easy solution if you are having an algae problem. The coco coir rolls work great in trays. The coir mats are reusable if you clean them. If you are worried about the algae right now just relax, it does not usually create a huge problem; but if you want to clean it immediately, use a tablespoon of 35% hydrogen peroxide in a gallon of water. Fill a spray bottle with the solution and spray the tray (it’s fine if the plants are in it).

Soap and water is fine. Some people use prefer to use water that has pH down mixed in it. Warm water will dissolve solids more easily.

It changes with system type. NFT and DWC systems are exceptions to the rule since their roots extend and survive beyond the root ball (within the system). Here is the rule. For every 1 foot you expect your plant to be when it is finished growing, you will need about 1 gallon of media. Rockwool needs a bit less area, because the density of the media allows more root growth in the same size container.  Most people start out with a smaller container and transplant up one or two sizes during the growth cycle although it’s best to keep your plant in the same container the whole way through if possible. Less transplanting equals less shock and trauma, and less to go wrong. Also, if the plant is in a large container to begin with, it will actually grow faster because the roots will not bind up as quickly.

Disease, and Pest/Bug Related Questions

For recurring pest and disease problems look at your daily patterns. You could be reintroducing pest/diseases with your with your clothes, your tools, and even your pets. If you have a pet, try to keep them out of the growing environment. If you have multiple growing areas, change your clothes and/or wear and change gloves to ensure you are not carrying the problem back and forth. If you have used a method for curing the pest or mold, and you have multiple growing areas, treat all of the areas whether affected or not. When you are treating an area, try to treat it twice over a week to ensure best results. Here’s a tip with Pests: Hardy pests like spider mites and thrips have a short life span. A mite lives about 35 days and a thrip about 55 days.  They are able to lay eggs within 5-7 days of hatching. If you “bug bomb” it will only kills the pests that are alive, it will not affect the eggs. I call a bug bomb release the “knock down”.  If you spray your plants you might not get every inch of every surface, but if you use a bug bomb in conjunction with the spray, you will be far better off.  Use the bomb first, then the spray. And if you have a severe infestation, try to bug bomb twice, in a 10 day period. This will ensure you have killed the pests that have hatched before they mature to adults and lay more eggs.

Using water filtration allows you more control over the big picture. It gives you a clean base to work from and to build up from with your nutrient. Water filtration eliminates chlorine, bacteria, fungi, mold, rust, and many other negative contaminates from your water system. I say get one! Also, if you’re using beneficial microbes or bacteria and you are on city water, it must be filtered; this is because the chlorine and other chemicals will kill off most of what you want to benefit from.

For animals like deer and raccoons you can use urine as the simplest deterent. You can use your own and/or purchase real or synthetic mountain lion urine. Another great way of deterring these animals is using a motion activated sprinkler, although if your plants are flowering you might not want to get them wet. To keep birds out you can buy netting which will keep them out quite effectively. For gophers you can put a stake in the ground that deters them with sound. You can also dig a trench around the garden and fill it with chicken wire, let them take a bite out of that! JUICY FRUIT GUM actually WORKS! Ball up a piece of gum and toss it in the gopher hole, they cannot resist the gum. The gum will kill them dead. Not only do you eliminate the pest, but you do it cheaply and without toxins.

Yellow spots are usually a sign of over feeding. If you are using a foliar spray it is probably the cause. If you have used a “bug bomb”, it could also be the cause. Stopping over feeding is all you can do. Because plants take 2-3 days to show signs, you might see this continue for a few days, after you have stopped. Flush your plants once to ensure there is no odd build up in the pot.

Using beneficial microbes and or fungi is the way to go! The fastest and best way to see results is to use a tea. If you are using beneficials, you need to be filtering your water. If you are on city water, it is most likely treated with chemicals such as chlorine that kill beneficials. RO filters will prevent this. Be sure to use a sugar product as this is food for beneficial microbes. Enzymes also help in healthy root production (I use Hygrozyme).

If it isn’t the nutrient you are using (coloring the roots) than you most likely have root rot. To cure this problem dilute 1 TBS of 35% hydrogen peroxide/Gallon of water. Rinse or spray the roots with the solution. SM-90 will also work. Using an enzyme product will help the dead roots to breakdown more quickly.

If it is brown mold (in the flower) the humidity is too high. You need more airflow or a dehumidifier. If you are seeing a white powder mold, most types are toxic to inhale so be careful. If you already have it there are a number of organic products to use. Serenade is one I’ve used and it works great, I’d use few applications. If you have powder mold recurring regularly, try increasing your airflow to drop the humidity. Conidia (the mold spores) thrive in temperatures 55-95 F so temperature control is not something you can use to prevent it. In an indoor environment, the best preventative is a sulfur burner. When the sulfur evaporates, the surfaces of the room will be at a pH that the mold cannot grow in. If your plants grow very fast, I recommend giving two dosages. For flowering plants, do not use a sulfur evaporator after the 2nd week. One downside of using a sulphur evaporator is that the smell sticks around for weeks and could taint the smell of your fruit or flowers.

You can use products like SM-90, Hygrozyme, Florashield, or Humboldt’s Mayan Microzyme. You can use any enzyme based product that your current nutrient is compatible with.

For recurring pest and disease problems look at your daily patterns. You could be reintroducing pest/diseases with your clothes, your tools, and even your pets. If you have a pet, try to keep them out of the growing environment. If you have multiple growing areas, change your clothes and/or wear and change gloves to ensure you are not carrying the problem back and forth. If you have used a method for curing the pest or mold, and you have multiple growing areas, treat all of the areas whether affected or not. When you are treating an area, try to treat it twice over a week to ensure best results. Here’s a tip with Pests: Hardy pests like spider mites and thrips have a short life span. A mite lives about 35 days and a thrip about 55 days.  They are able to lay eggs within 5-7 days of hatching. If you “bug bomb” it will only kill the pests that are alive and will not affect the eggs. I think of a bug bomb release as the “knock down”.  If you spray your plants you might not get every inch of every surface; but if you use a bug bomb in conjunction with the spray you will be far better off.  Use the bomb first, then the spray. If you have a severe infestation try to bug bomb twice in a 10 day period. This will ensure you have killed the pests that have hatched before they mature to adults and lay more eggs.

Not really. One method of curing this is to use plastic sheet covers. This is an easy solution if you are having an algae problem. The coco coir roles work great in the tray. Coir mats are reusable if you clean them. If you are worried about the algae right now, relax, it does not usually create a huge problem. But if you want to clean it immediately use a Tablespoon of 35% hydrogen peroxide in a gallon of water. Fill a spray bottle with the solution and spray the tray (its fine if the plants are in it).

You are over watering. There could be root rot due to the over watering. Let the plants’ pots dry out while checking them regularly. If you buy a moisture meter you can begin to properly manage your moisture, and over time you will not need it. If you place you finger all the way in and you see water on your finger when you pull it out, your media is still too wet. Coir holds a lot of water. On your next round, try to cut your media with Perlite for proper aeration and drainage. If you have an automatic watering system, try switching to manually watering for a bit. This can also be caused by an excessive salt build up (although this is not usually the case). Try going without nutrients for a day or two to alleviate this.

If a plant is left sitting in a pool of water, the soil will not drain/shed the water the way it was designed to (until the water in the saucer is depleted). This means less oxygen is held in the soil because of the over saturation (It causes the plant suffocate a bit).

You can easily purchase a Bug Zapper, introduce predators like the praying mantis, or use a mosquito magnet! That’s right, Google it! Getting rid of standing also prevents them from reproducing.

Fan or Blower Related

Clamps work well, but they can occasionally slip off when you raise or lower your hoods. I strongly suggest using duct tape. The best I’ve found is the silver tape that stretches (it usually has black writing all over it). If you use clamps use duct tape as well to ensure long-term effectiveness.

You need to adjust your watering schedule and keep a close eye on your plants. It’s great they are drying quickly because it shows a sign of plant health. You do need to be vigilant on your watering to be a good grower.

The “booster” blower fans are pretty weak. Their CFM rating quickly dwindles as the length of ducting increases. The most efficient and quietest fans are inline fans. You can attach an inline fan directly onto your hood, your filter, or even between sections of ducting (connecting them).

Though most fans can, some cannot. I recommend going to the manufacturer website or contacting the store you had purchased the fan from to find out.

Depends. If you have another fan bringing fresh air into the room with the correct CFM rate then you are fine. If you need your “grow light” fan to keep the air movement optimal, then I suggest running it all of the time. RULE OF THUMB FOR AIR MOVEMENT: If you do not know what CFM rating you need for the correct air exchange use this method: Multiply your room length by the width. Then, multiply by the height of the room. This is your air volume. Divide the air volume of the room by the CFM rating on your fan. You want a complete air exchange over under, every 5 minutes.

Yes, all fans need a cooling period at some point. It is NOT at all common, but I once had a fan catch on fire simply due to it running way too long (2 years straight). Lucky I was in the room when it happened. Therefore I recommend your fans having a 15-30 minute down time once a day to allow the components to cool off.

Foliar Feeding Related

Healthy plants get more benefit from foliar feeding in the “grow/vegetative” stage. You can foliar feed in the bloom/fruit & flowering stage until the second or third week. Foliar feeding past 3 weeks in the bloom/fruit & flowering stage is not recommended and can cause fruit and/or flowers to rot.

When the lights go off or the sun goes down. This ensures all of the nutrient spray has been absorbed before the light is able to react with it. When you spray with the light on, or when your plants are still wet when the lights turn on, there is a negative reaction. The water also acts like a magnifying glass when the light shines through to the leaf. Liquid Light by Dutch Master requests that you spray the solution with the lights on. This product has been engineered for this. Also the product is very light to begin with (it’s hard to burn). But DO NOT use this product outside or inside when using 1000 watt lights. Only 600 watt lights and below for Liquid Light (it too has its limits in the light).

Foliar Feeding with the lights on is like burning ants under a magnifying glass. When the light hits the water, it is magnified and will burn your plants.

You will need to spray on a schedule. If you are spraying your plants right after the light goes off use a headlamp or a flashlight, you’re only changing your dark period by a few minutes. The plants will not react to such a minimal change, but you do not want to do this every day (a few times a week, tops). You might have heard that green light does not disturb your plants. Yes, your plant does not recognize green spectrum light, but ask yourself  “does every green light only put out green spectrum light?”  If it was a cheap green light, there’s most likely other spectrums bleeding through as well (not a whole lot, but enough to want to safeguard plants from too much exposure).

Using a wetting agent will make a big difference. Wetting agents reduce surface tension allowing the foliar spray to saturate the leaves and to be absorbed into the plant tissue instead of just dripping off of the plant.

Feel free to use soapy water (with a very small amount of soap). I would not repeat this method more than twice in a grow cycle because the soap can build up. Be sure to use a mild soap such as Ivory or Castile, but be sure not to use Dawn.

If using beneficial microbes (teas, fungi, bacteria) always use reverse osmosis tap water (it takes out the chemicals that will kill the beneficial flora).  To get fast delivery of the additives and/or beneficial supplements you can foliar feed them (only the label states you can) or mix into a watering can for immediate watering to plants. Even if you have an Ebb & Flow, top feed them, you will see faster results.

Yes. Foliar spraying is the fastest way to get nutrients to your plants.  Be careful not to foliar spray flowering plants past their 3rd or 4th week. I’ve seen up to 20% increases in growth and flower production due to a regular foliar feeding regiment. Be careful with new products. I recommend only using a 50% ratio of the stated dosage, until you feel comfortable with increasing the use of the product. Also know that if you have a burn issue due to foliar feeding,  it can take up to 3 days to see the results of burn.

You will need to spray on a schedule. If you are spraying your plants right after the light goes off use a headlamp or a flashlight, you’re only changing your dark period by a few minutes. The plants will not react to such a minimal change, but you do not want to do this every day (a few times a week, tops). You might have heard that green light does not disturb your plants. Yes, your plant does not recognize green spectrum light, but ask yourself  “does every green light only put out green spectrum light?”  If it was a cheap green light, there’s most likely other spectrums bleeding through as well (not a whole lot, but enough to want to safeguard plants from too much exposure).

General Hydro

If you had two of the same plant (same genetics, same age) and planted one in soil and the other in a hydroponic system, the plant grown in soil will grow slower. This is why: When you are growing using the hydroponic method, you are using inert media. Because you are using inert media, you have full control over everything your plants consume. Basically you can create the perfect regiment to ensure your plant will flourish. Hydroponic Nutrients have been balanced to bring the right mixture of nutrients to your plant in a form that is easy for the plant to intake.  Also, you have the ability to balance the pH to the perfect level to ensure the plant can easily metabolize the nutrients it consumes. One of the other reasons for the slower plant growth is that soil holds more water than typical inert hydroponic media. When growing with inert media, you will have to water more often. More watering equals more feedings. The more dry periods in the soil, the more root-oxygen stimulation. The plants consume more food and oxygen, you should see higher yields. Also, growing without soil can decrease the presence of natural pests/bugs because pest larva incubates in soil.

Category: General Hydro

Hydroponic techniques have been used for centuries, typically in areas that have very little rainfall. Hydroponics can be traced all they way back to the Egyptians. The word, Hydroponics, comes from the Latin word meaning, “working water”. Hydroponics is essentially the act of growing in media other than soil (typically with a water recirculation method). When people think of hydroponics they usually picture DWC (deep water culture) systems or NFT (nutrient film technique). Though these are only two types of systems, they are the most common in hydroponics. What about the simple ones? Flood and drain (Ebb and Flow) & the Drip System. These are easy, cheap, and work great! On a small scale or commercial level flood, drain and drip systems tend to be most common.

Category: General Hydro

Base fertilizers must contain the three major macro nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The difference in hydroponic/regular fertilizers is that they contain a perfect balance of all the essential macro and micro-nutrients which fertilizers intended for use with soil do not have. Hydroponic and Regular fertilizers tend to be extremely refined and balanced so the plant can easily consume them. Organic fertilizers are different. They rely on beneficial microbes and bacteria to break down nutrient molecules for easy plant consumption. Hydroponic and regular soil fertilizers provide nutrients in a simple to uptake form. Due to the incredible growth in the Hydroponic Fertilizer market many of the new organic fertilizers are refined enough to rival inorganic nutrients.

Category: General Hydro

Hydroponic gardening is only as complicated as you want it to be. A new grower walking into a hydroponic store can easily become overwhelmed. Today, more products are being released than ever before. The simplest systems are the drip system or ebb & flow systems. Very simple to manage, the ebb and flow has fewer parts. Both systems have easy clean up and are not too expensive. If you are new, you do not need to completely automate your grow area. Get used to controlling every function of your grow room manually, in order to learn the growing process. Once you have grown to master the variables, you can automate them later. I love Hydroponics. The reason being that you can create whatever you can imagine. The sky is the limit. Once you have mastered a smaller system move onto a larger one.

Category: General Hydro

PH control in VERY important when growing with any type of media (hydroponics or soil). The pH is specific to the type of plant you are growing. 7.0 is generally considered on the basic side and 5.0 is considered acidic. The pH directly effect how efficiently plants can uptake nutrients. Here’s a pH scale for growing: Acidic solutions have a pH between 1 and 6.9 (indoor tomatoes like 5.5-6.5) Alkaline solutions have a pH between 7.1 and 14. Neutral solutions are neither acidic nor alkaline so their pH is 7

Category: General Hydro

The Macro-nutrients, also known as N.P.K, that are required for healthy plant growth are: Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (Potash). These are the driving nutritional building blocks your plant requires for growth. Without these elements your plant will not grow and will eventually die.

Category: General Hydro

Micronutrients, also known as trace elements, required for healthy plant growth are: calcium, magnesium, sulfur, boron, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc.  Deficiencies of the micronutrients will result in the increase of pests, mold, and fungi, as well as disease and possible crop failure. Traditional farming can sometimes strip the soil of trace elements. This is why it is important to replenish the soil with organic material that helps to bring the nutritional balance back.

Category: General Hydro

Growing medium or growing media is the material in which the plants are growing. Common types include Soil, Rockwool, Perlite, Vermiculite, Coco Coir, Hydroton, Rocks, sand and many more.

Category: General Hydro

Lighting Questions

Low intensity light is fine in the very beginning (until the plant grows its second set of leaves). You are not getting the maximum benefit until your plant is in a similar environment to what it will be flowered in. I suggest keeping a light period above 18 hours. For the fastest transition to full growth, I would leave the grow light on 24 hours.

Not everyone needs one, but the more tools you have the better your knowledge and in turn, results. If you buy a light meter always check the lumen output and write it on the box when you buy a new bulb. That way you can take a reading every 6 months to gauge when to replace the bulb for a newer, more efficient one.

Digital lighting has given the indoor gardener a great advantage compared to their old magnetic coil ballast counterparts. The new Digital Ballasts weigh less, run MH and HPS bulbs, use both 120v and 240v, run at cooler temperatures, have a higher lumen output, greater power efficiency, and some models even have dimming functions. The only advantage I’ve seen with the older magnetic ballasts is that the majority of them are still running. If you’re old school, you might even have a Diamond magnetic light still powering a grow.

This helps to ensure the light turns on and off when they are supposed to. You can manually flip your lights on and off, but what if you become sick? Or what if you are away unexpectedly? The light cycle will be interrupted. Light cycle interruptions will adversely affect your plants.

An HID bulb can lose up to 30% of its efficiency over two years; up to 10% after the first year. The spectrum can also change over time, due to the intensity change. A frugal grower might replace their bulbs every two years. A commercial grower will change the bulbs annually. The (type A) overly conscious grower might replace them every 6 months.  (Fluorescent, LED, and Plasma lights, do not apply- these bulbs are good until they burn out.) If you buy a light meter: When you get a new bulb check the lumen output and write it on the box. Then you can take a reading every 6 months to gauge when to replace the bulbs for newer, more efficient ones.

Yes there is! If you are noticing the leaf tips closest to the light are burning then you should raise your light up more although if your room is regularly over 80 degrees, it’s not the light you need to decrease it is the air exchange. Here is a good rule of thumb for light footprints (max lumen benefit). 1000 Watt: 5’x5’ Footprint, 750 Watt: 4’x4’ Footprint, 600 Watt: 3’ x 3’ Footprint, 400 Watt: 2’x 2’ Footprint

Though your hood is made to spread the light footprint, the most intense light is still in the middle.The simplest solution is to move the plants around to help balance the footprint of light. Move the large plants to the outside and the smaller ones to the middle. You can also purchase a light mover. I do not recommend having the light mover move more than 18” in each direction (over 18” in movement and your max benefit of light dwindles).

Different ballasts can have varying temperatures depending on the design. Some of the newer ballasts are air cooled so that they will always run cool. If your ballast is running higher than 150 degrees, you might need better air exchange around the ballast to keep it cool (so that the equipment does not become damaged).

18-24 full hours of light is best for seedlings. You do not need high intensity light until your seedling grows its second set of leaves.

The vibration noise you hear is usually caused by bolts coming loose over time. I would go through and tighten all of the bolts inside and out. The magnetic coil ballasts vibrate during normal operation. You could have loose bolts inside the ballast compartment (holding the capacitor, magnetic coil) or it could just be the hood cover. Magnetic coil ballasts might not be as efficient as the digital lights, but they do last a lot longer.

The maximum light spreading benefit a light mover will bring to you is 12-24”. Anymore movement than 24” and you’re just diluting the light over a longer distance. I believe light movers bring a higher yield (although not a huge difference but enough to notice). Light movers will also safe guard you from hot spots.

The white haze is due to the color of the gas. The metal pieces are residual parts of the MH bulb and are very common. If the bulb lights up with no flicker, you’re fine. If the bulb flickers or cuts out, take it back. Before you take it back (if you can), try to spark the light with another ballast to ensure it is the bulb and not your ballast.

Clean the glass monthly. The glass already decreases the light off the bulb by about 8%. If the glass is dirty the inefficiency becomes much worse. If you have air-cooled hoods with one side of your hood open to the room, try puttin a fabric filter on the open end to keep dust or pests from entering in the hood.

Clamps work well, but they can occasionally slip off when you raise or lower your hoods. I strongly suggest using duct tape. The best I’ve found is the silver tape that stretches (it usually has black writing all over it). If you use clamps, use duct tape as well to ensure long term effectiveness.

Hot spots occur when the light being reflected is unbalanced. This is often caused by the hood being too close to your plants. Some hood types will always create hot spots. I have played with light diffusers, and they do NOT work as well as you might think, at the very best they might decrease hot spots up to 70%. The best solution (other than raising your hood) is to have a fan blowing right over the hot spot to lower the temperature between the plant and the light. A more expensive way to fix a hot spot is to implement a light mover into your system. Light movers work great. The maximum benefit you can get out of a light mover (to keep the maximum light intensity) is a movement of 12”-24”. The ONLY folks that really need Co2 are the ones with a “Closed Room System”. This means you have NO outtake or intake fan. The systems are really only utilized where it is desert HOT. For most of us when we think of Co2, we are really trying to bump up our yield and veg times. But think about this, if your grow room is connected to your living space by the roof; you have a suffocating gas building up where you are.  The one variable that keeps that gas out of your sleeping or hanging area is an outtake fan. What if a bearing fails in the fan, or the motor, or the breaker for some odd reason? I myself have become sick from Co2, just from working inside the room with the lights on. I have seen and read about adverse reactions when there is use of Co2 in warm indoor environments. If you have a room that tends to get warmer than 80 degrees, or if you anticipate your grow room being above 80 degrees when you cut your fans off (to allow the Co2 to build up), be careful! Also, what benefit do you get out of Co2? You will notice more vegetable matter than potency. So if you are growing botanicals think about that. Lastly, Co2 is ultimately a matter of style and desire. Keep in mind it becomes one more variable to monitor and can possibly harm you if not properly managed. If you feel the gain is worth the management, then give it a go!

Think of this: in Alaska, growers have the advantage of a 24 hour natural light for a month or two straight. The growers I know from Alaska love this time because they could take twice as many cuttings as in the late summer when the cycles swing back. So 24 hour light obviously works. But for best results over an extended period of time, giving your mother 2-4 hours of darkness ensures healthy tissue production (which means hardy clones).

A good rule of thumb is a minimum of 18 hours of light to keep your plant in the vegetative growth state. I would strongly suggest using a 24 hour light cycle for the fastest vegetative results.

Here is what you can do to control heat because of your lighting: Are you using air cooled hoods? Not everyone needs them- if you have a 12 foot ceiling you are blessed. In my opinion air cooled hoods are well worth the extra cost. If you want to have the best possible efficiency buy an air cooled hood AND a hood cover. Check out Hydro Innovations Heat Shield Reflector Hood covers. I’ve seen these covers drop the temperature in a room already air cooled (with hood and insulated ducting) by 8 degrees! Is your ducting Insulated? If you have non-insulated ducting (the silver stuff, single layer), and it runs in lengths longer than 5 feet, you are losing most of the heat right off the ducting. You can actually feel the heat that emanates off the non-insulated ducting. If you run ducting at ALL, you must use insulated ducting. Put in the extra dollars, since you are already putting in the effort, and see 75% better efficiency! Is your ducting running efficiently? Every time you add a 45 or 90 degree angle, the air flow is dramatically decreased. Run your ducting in as straight of a line as possible to maximize efficiency.

It depends. If you have another fan bringing fresh air into the room with the correct CFM rate then you will be fine. If you need your “grow light” fan to keep the air movement optimal, then I suggest running it all of the time. HERE IS A RULE OF THUMB FOR AIR MOVEMENT: If you do not know what the CFM rating is, (you need this for the correct air exchange) use this method: Multiply your room length by the width. Then, multiply by the height of the room. This is your air volume. Divide the air volume of the room by the CFM rating on your fan. You want a complete air exchange atleast every 5 minutes.

If a power outage occurs a few times during a cycle it will not cause a dramatic difference. TIP: In your Mother room you never want the lights out for too long. Buy an LED light with an emergency battery backup. Place it high up in the Mother room. If the power goes out the emergency units sense the power interruption and will turn the light on until the power is restored. Some of these emergency power light backups can run for up to 2 days (or until the battery dies). The great thing is that the power is usually not off more than a few hours. Once the power is on the emergency light units will automatically recharge the battery in the unit.

In defining how bright something is, we have two things to consider. 1. How bright it is at the source- where the light is originating. 2. How much light is falling on an object a particular distance away from the light. Foot Candle: Why Candle Foot? Well since we are in the USA, its more patriotic to use the Candle Foot vs. the Lumen (they are both essentially the same thing). Here is a good example. Get a cake candle. Grab a ruler or tape measure. Stick the candle on one end of the ruler. Light the candle. Turn the lights out (so that the room is dark). One foot-candle of light is the amount of light that candle generates one foot away. That’s a useful unit of measurement. Why? Say you have a light bulb. You are told it produces 200 foot candles of light. That means at one foot from the light bulb, you will receive 200 foot candles of light. But here’s where it gets tricky. The further away you move the light from what you want to illuminate, the less bright the light appears! If you measure it at the light, it’s just as bright. But when you measure at the object you want illuminated, there is less light! LUMENS is a unit of measurement of light. It measures light much the same way. RADIANCE is another way of saying how much light radiating from the light itself. The heat is usually measured. ILLUMINANCE is what results from the source of light. ILLUMINANCE, is when you shine a light in a dark space therefore lighting the space up. ILLUMINANCE is a measurement of the total light being seen in the dark space. LUX, is the metric version of ILLUMINANCE. Candlepower is a rating of light output at a bulb source, converting with English measurements. Foot-candles, is a measurement of light on an illuminated object. Lumens is he metric equivalent of a Candle foot. Divide the number of lumens you have, by 12.57 and you get the candlepower equivalent. LUX is the metric version of ILLUMINANCE.

pH Adjusting Questions

It is important to check your pH level every time you water your garden. If you are using a timer to automatically water, you should check it daily. When growing in soil you do not have to adjust pH level as often as when growing hydroponically.  Typically when growing hydroponically you want your pH range to be between 5.5 – 6.5, depending on your crop and/or genetic type. When adding nutrient to your reservoir it is important to test pH AFTER all the nutrients have been added. This is because your nutrients will increase your pH level. If you pH test as the last step, you know and have control over what the pH is.

The TDS meter is another tool that will enable you to dial into your ability as a grower.  It will safeguard you by letting you know if something is building up in your reservoir.  It’s also a great tool to check your tap water to see if you should be using a heavier or lighter recommended feeding chart with your nutrients.

I reccommend a simple one. A lot of meters often confuse new growers with too many functions. The simple meters you can hold in your hand and dip in are all you need. I’ve used an Oakton and only had to replace it twice in the past 10 years.

The majority of growers, especially indoor gardeners, should be adjusting their pH. While you can grow without adjusting pH levels, you will be faced with poor results. In some areas, the tap water is so unbalanced you might have to adjust the pH just to have a decent harvest. Soil is a bit more forgiving than other media types for pH adjustment. The best way to tes pH levels is to obtain a pH reading kit (which will have a strip and a liquid) or a pH meter. Start by testing the water right out of your tap. If it is above 6.5, you should be adjusting your pH level regularly. Once you incorporate pH balancing into your routine you will see the difference! IMPORTANT: When you add nutrients/supplements to your reservoir, your pH levels will RISE. When you are adjusting your final reservoir mixture, pH balance LAST.

Question: “I make a fresh batch of nutrients & adjust my ph to the level I need. A day or two later I check my pH and it is out of acceptable range. What causes this and how do I fix it?” Your pH will fluctuate for a number of reasons. The largest factor is that the nutrient is mixing with outside elements every time you water (your plants, trays, pots).  If pH fluctuation is happening too frequently, you should try a larger size reservoir. Remember as your reservoir water level drops your PPM increases. This is because your nutrient is becoming more concentrated by water loss (your plants do not eat all of the nutrients, during water loss the PPM goes up proportionately). If you have an automatic topping-off float valve, it’s your water causing the fluctuation (the new water topping off will not be pH adjusted). If you tend to have undesirable city or well water to begin with, this could also be the cause. Check the PPM level of the regular tap water at your housel with the TDS meter. This is a good test for water quality when wanting to know if there is a large amount of anything present. Good water will read 0-150 PPM. I’ve seen tap that is as high as 450 PPM, with a super basic level of 8.5! In any case it is good to buy a water filtration system if you experience any regular fluctuation of pH or if you notice there is a high PPM right out of the tap. Try to get a 3 stage RO (reverse osmosis) system for best results.

I would make cleaning a monthly event. Cleaning anything on the regular is always best (meters, equipment, containers, ect.). When cleaning the meter try to use distilled water so that you aren’t contaminating the measurement tool while cleaning. Most meter manufacturers sell cleaning tools and solutions for their equipment. You can do a 1/10 alcohol or bleach solution to clean. Do not over rub the contact on the meter- glass, silicone, and metal probes are delicate!

Plant/Fruit/Vegetable/Flowers Questions

If you are seeing powder mold, most types are toxic to inhale, so be careful. If you already have it, there are a number of organic products to use. Serenade is one I’ve used and it works great, I’d use few applications. If you have powder mold reoccurring regularly, try increasing your airflow to drop the humidity. Conidia thrive in temperatures 55-95 degrees so changing the temperature is not really a solution. In an indoor environment, the best preventative is a sulfur burner. When the sulfur evaporates, surfaces in the environment are at a  pH that the mold cannot grow in. If your plants grow very quickly, I recommend giving two dosages. For flowering plants, do not use a sulfur evaporator after the second week. The sulphur smell tends to stick around for weeks and could taint the smell of your fruit or flowers.

Using beneficial microbes and/or fungi is the way to go. The fastest and best way to see results is to use a tea. If you are using beneficials, you need to be filtering your water. If you are on city water it is most likely treated with chemicals such as chlorine that will kill beneficials. RO filters will keep this from occurring. Also use a sugar product, as this is food for beneficial microbes. Enzymes also help in healthy root production (I use Hygrozyme).

If you overwater your tomato plant, the fruit will crack/split

If using beneficial microbes (teas, fungi, bacteria) always use reverse osmosis tap water (it takes out the chemicals that will kill the beneficial flora).  To get fast delivery of the additives and/or beneficials, you can foliar feed them (if the label states you can) or mix into a watering can for immediate watering to plants. Even if you have an Ebb & Flow, top feed them, you will see faster results.

If it isn’t something like the nutrient coloring the roots, than you can take these steps. Buy 35% hydrogen peroxide, 1 tbs/gallon, and rinse or spray the roots. SM-90 works too. If you use an enzyme product it will help the dead roots to breakdown.

The yellow spots are usually a sign of over feeding. If you are using a foliar spray it is probably this. If you have used a “bug bomb”, it could be this too. Well stop. This is all you can do, no more harm. Because plants take 2-3 days to show signs, you might see this continue for a few days, after you have stopped. Flush your plants once to ensure there is no odd build up in the pot.

Silica improves the cellular structure of the plant making it more heat and drought tolerant.

You are over watering. There could be root rot due to your over watering. Let the plant’s pot dry out, checking them regularly. If you buy a moisture meter you can begin to properly manage your moisture, and over time you will not need it. If you place you finger all the way in and you see water on your finger when you pull it out, your media is still too wet. Coir holds a lot of water. On your next round, try to cut your media with Perlite for proper aeration and drainage. If you have an automatic watering system, try manually watering for a bit. This can also be due to a massive salt build up (not usually the case). Go without nutrients for a day or two to alleviate this.

Yes. The plant stake will not only ensure that you can support your future monster, but will allow the plant to concentrate on growing fruits/flower instead of supporting its own weight.

If a plant is left sitting in a pool of water, the soil will not drain the water the way it was designed to (until the water is depleted) which means less oxygen is held in the soil because of the over saturation. It will cause the plant to suffocate slightly.

Most nutrient manufacturers today want you to use many different types of chemicals to do something simple- flower a plant. Most of these chemicals are non-organic so they don’t naturally purge out (using bio catalyst) which causes the plants to end up packed with trace chemicals. You can start by implementing organic ingredients into your cycle to replace the non-organic ones. If you really don’t want to change the nutrients, than flush 7-10 days with a salt leaching solution. Here’s a Tip: You can try letting your flower dry on the sticks if you are not already doing this. You will most likely see, smell, and taste a difference.

If it is brown mold (in the flower) the humidity is too high. More airflow or a dehumidifier is needed to prevent it. If it is white mold: If you are seeing powder mold, most types are toxic to inhale, so be careful! If it is already present there are a number of organic products to use. Serenade is one I’ve used and it works great. I’d use few applications. If you have powder mold reoccurring regularly, try increasing your airflow to drop the humidity. Conidia thrive in temperatures 55-95 degrees (so it is not a temperature related issue you can usually control). In an indoor environment, the best preventative is a sulfur burner. When the sulfur evaporates, the surfaces in the room are pH’d so that the mold cannot grow. If your plants grow very fast, I recommend giving two dosages. For flowering plants, do not use a sulfur evaporator after the second week. The smell sticks around for weeks and could taint the smell of your fruit or flowers.

It depends on the size you are ending with and the genetics of the plant you are growing. This is one you will have to judge for yourself. A common rule of thumb is: 4×4 Tray: 8-15 Plants. 4×8 Tray: 14-30 Plants

Reflective Material Questions

Spray glue works great for more permanent applications. Pins or staples don’t really work on their own. If you take packaging tape and place two strips (one on the top and one on bottom) then use staples, then tape, it will increase the Mylar strength to hold and not tear.

Some say you cannot. But I disagree because I know many growers who have vertical or stadium style grow setups. I’ve only seen positive reactions when the plant is stimulated by light from below. If it is not natural, why are they making the trays white?

Mylar: It is reflective, but not more than a clean flat white wall. Mylar will become dirty quickly and lose its efficiency. It is difficult to cut, pin up, and keep flat. Light tends to peer through most types. Also, they are usually sold in smaller roll sizes than Panda Plastic, which in my opinion works a bit better.  If you decide to get mylar, get the thickest millimeter you can. Panda Black and White Plastic: Cheap and easy to work with.  It blocks out the light.  This plastic usually comes in roles that span from the ceiling to the floor. I’ve even seen  walls built out of it using zippers for doors.  But it is shiny, so some of the gloss loses the light intensity. (Flat white paint works a bit better). Panda Black and White Plastic: Cheap and easy to work with.  It blocks out the light.  This plastic usually comes in roles that span from the ceiling to the floor. I’ve even seen  walls built out of it using zippers for doors.  But it is shiny, so some of the gloss loses the light intensity. (Flat white paint works a bit better). Dureflect: Is washable and reflects pretty well. It can also hold up over time. It is a better material for reflective properties than Panda Plastic. Ultra reflective : This stuff works a bit better than Dureflect. ORCA Grow Films: The BEST for reflection and a new product to the market is ORCA Grow Film.  This film is 2X as reflective as Mylar and it is light proof! This stuff is tougher too. I would use this film above all others for reflective properties. It also comes with a roll of tape for the seams.

You can span a role of reflective film from the ceiling to the floor using staples on the ceiling and role length of 1”x1” wood or PVC pipe in the bottom and tape it, to hold the film stable. You can also use insulate sheets of foam. You can run a strip of 1”x1” wood on the ceiling and floor, and then tie the sheets to it. If you are trying to build a whole room, look into the grow tents. I recommend using the Secret Jardin’s, Mammoth, or the Grow Lab.

Soil/Hydroponics Growing Medium

If you are using an aeroponic or deep water culture system then you are limited to, Rocks or rocklike media and Rockwool (best with a Perlite mix). If you are using a drip or ebb and flow system or even growing in a garden, soil is king in my opinion (not all soils are created equal). If you are using a drip or ebb and flow system or even growing in a garden, soil is king in my opinion (not all soils are created equal). They all work well once “dialed in”. Soil: Less Nutrients needed, more forgiving to watering and pH. Coco Coir: Holds water well. Leaches more easily than soil. Rockwool: Plants can grow a bit faster than in soil. Rocks/Rockish: Plants grow fastest, you will need to water all the time.

Soilless is another name for hydroponics. Aeroponics, are form of hydroponics was created by NASA.

Even if you are flushing your media (with leaching solution) there will still be residual root matter and most likely trace-chemicals in it. You can use beneficial microbes and enzymes to help breakdown organic matter left from roots that might be infecting or suffocating your new crop’s roots. You can bring in new media.  Cut your soil with new media.

All loose media will pack down a little. If you notice that once the media settles it is no longer light and fluffy then you know oxygen isn’t getting into the root zone. Try using more Perlite on the next round.

Not really. One method of curing this is using plastic sheet covers. This is an easy solution if you are having an algae problem. The coco coir rolls also work great in tray. The coir mats are reusable if you clean them. If you are worried about the algae right now, know that it does not usually create a huge problem. But if you do want to clean it, use a Tablespoon of 35% hydrogen peroxide in a gallon of water. Fill a spray bottle and spray the tray (it’s fine if the plants are in it).

It is great to wet media prior to planting. With soil you can use a drop of soap in a gallon of water to help break the surface tension and wet the soil.  If you are using smaller media like Rockwool and Oasis Cubes, you should pH test and wet the media first.

Fill a cup with warm, distilled water and add a few pinches of the soil. Stir for 30 seconds then dip your meter in it.

Coco Coir is a heavy water retaining media. If you use guano top dressing it will create a vapor barrier that will slow the top of the soil drying out in the pot. You can also use vermiculite and peat moss.

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