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Choosing your Light!

Choosing your Light! 0

You will find numerous plant lighting systems on the market, each one with their own positive and negative aspects to consider. Choosing the right light for your application is the most important part to effectively growing indoors.


Type of Lights:

 

         

Incandescent Lamp

Incandescent lamps are standard household light bulbs. These lamps have an efficiency rate around 5% and the spectrum of light produced is not ideal for growing plants and also produce a large amount of heat which will increase your electricity and cooling costs.


        

Fluorescent Lamp

Fluorescent lamps are a great choice for indoor plant growth. They are 3-7 times more efficient than incandescent, meaning you will use less electricity while producing more light. Fluorescent lamps are available in a wide range of spectrum's, with bulbs in the 6500k range being ideal for growing.

Another kind of fluorescent lamp is the Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) and let me tell you something, these lamps are an efficient alternative to incandescent bulbs. Why? CFL’s use less power and have a longer life than incandescent bulbs.       

If you are a newbe, this is the light you need to start with because they don’t require a ballast or fancy wiring; These lamps simply screw into a standard mogul socket. However, is these are the lamps you are going to use, you better use a reflector. The CFL distribute light in all directions so you could find yourself wasting light, energy, and time.


         

HID Lamps

HID or High Intensity Discharge Lamps are the top choice among growers. Types of HID lamps include high pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halide (MH) bulbs. Today, these lamps are a great choice among growers because they have a very high light output and are 4 to 8 times more efficient than incandescent lamps.

HID lamps utilize a special bulb in conjunction with a mechanical or electronic ballast. The purpose of the ballast is to start and maintain the arc through the bulb. To put it simply, a ballast is needed to turn the bulb on and provide a regulated voltage to the lamp.

To make your life simple, I would recommend the Electronic ballasts, why? Because they are quiet and efficient plus they are typically compatible with multiple bulb types and will help you save more money on electricity and equipment in the long run.

Keep in mind that HID lamps produce a large amount of heat, so extra ventilation and proper reflector height should be taken into consideration.

In addition, you should hang your lights about 2 feet from the top of your plants. A good way to check the height of your lights is to hold your hand just above the plant - If the heat from the light is too hot for your hand, then its too hot for your plant.


          

LED Lights

Using LED’s will save you money on electricity because these lamps use much less Watts compared to all other light sources.

LED’s last for a long time, most will last around 50,000 hours. The only problem with the LED’s is the high cost associated with setting up a LED system.

Of course, there are huge benefits using LED’s such as, electricity savings, specific light spectrum for photosynthesis, and less heat which may further lower your bill by reducing your cooling load.   


         

                            

Now that we know the basics, let's bother ourselves with a few cool questions:

Let's see!  How much light should I use in my hydroponic system?

As a general guide, we should use a power light source of 600 – 1000 watts per square meter of your growing area. Remember, 1% of increase in light, 1% of increase in growth up to the light saturation point. 

Light saturation: the amount of light when the plant stops growing; mostly due to overheat.

What is the best light to use?

There are many factors to consider when purchasing a grow light. The most important factors that you will need to consider are your budget, enclosure type & size, plant type, and ventilation.

If you are a newbe, fluorescent tubes are not a bad idea, usually a size T5. Small-scale growers will be better off with compact fluorescent bulbs.

If you have more experience, a larger budget, and a larger grow area, then you should go with a High Intensity Discharge (HID) light system.

Now, if you are a pro-like grower, you probably don’t need any recommendation but we will be very happy to argue between LED,s and different uses of High pressure Sodium Vs Metal Halide. For example: LED's are all-in-one for large crops setups. However, when you have HPS & MH, HPS gives a marginally better yield when used for the bloom phase, and MH performs better during growth. Therefore, combining these two lights, growers can achieve better results over their yields. 

Wait a minute! How can we know that our hydroponic system has the right amount light?

Well, remember the “light saturation point?” We have to provide light to our plants so they can grow faster and stronger; this means, 1% more light, 1% more growth, but if you have your lamps too close to your plants, the heat depleted can affect them really bad. The same rule is applied on the contrary, if the light is too far, then your plants won’t grow properly.

Nice! and how high above the plants should I put the lamps?

You can adjust your lamps between 2 feet (300mm to 600mm) away from the tops. Just make sure that when you put your hands over the top of your plants, the heat doesn’t burn your hands. If you burn yourself that probably would happen to your plant.

OK! what if I have plenty of light but my plants are still growing like crazy during the flowering                    period?

Good question! This could be due to excessively long light exposure during the flowering stage. In this case, you should drop the light for a period between 8 to10 hours and have an Electrical Conductivity around 2.5-2.8 E.C. while using high quality potash such as Complete Hydroponics PK 13-14. If light is not your case, then the nutrients you are using during flowering are loaded with high concentration of nitrogen. I told you! Use Complete Hydroponics! If this is not the case, then your plant might come from from another dimension and congratulation, you have a new kind of strain :)

I hope these article has been useful for you. The objective is to guide you in one of the most common things that growers go through in this incredible hydroponic world. If you have more questions, please don't hesitate in contacting us. We would be happy to help you.

  • Radiel Dominguez
Learn Hydroponics!

Learn Hydroponics! 0

The global population recently reached 7.5 billion and is projected to pass 9 billion by 2050. Millions of people live in cities without producing their own food. At the same time, we have to face significant threats such as, climate change, increasing droughts, soil depletion, disease, excess fertilization, phosphorus scarcity, water pollution, chemical overloads, pollinator destruction, biodiversity loss, and GMO.

More than 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance. As a consequence, the use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 16 times since GMOs were introduced. Genetically Modified crops are also responsible for the emergence of herbicide resistant “super weeds” and “super bugs,” which can only be killed with more toxic poisons like 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange) 7,8. GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture and are developed and sold by the world’s biggest chemical companies. The long-term impacts of GMOs are unknown, and once released into the environment, these novel organisms cannot be recalled.

The answer is Hydroponics and Aquaponics. Both aquaponics and hydroponics are agricultural technologies that can help feed the cities of the future while meeting customer demands and ensuring the health of ecological systems that sustain a livable world.

Today farmers are increasing the use of these technologies. In the same way, many researchers are looking more closely at how it could solve food problems in the long run, but now, we have to make a step forward and learn how to sustain ourselves.

You have to Learn Hydroponics!

There 6 types of hydroponics systems:

Drip Systems:

Recognized as the most common system in the market, drip systems are simple, a timer controls a submersed pump. The timer turns the pump on and nutrient solution is dripped onto the base of each plant by a small drip line. In a Recovery Drip System the excess nutrient solution that runs off is collected back in the reservoir for re-use.

                                             

There are, however, two types of drip systems to choose from; a recovery drip system and a non-recovery drip system.

EBB and Flow System

The Ebb and Flow system works by temporarily flooding the grow tray with nutrient solution and then draining the solution back into the reservoir. This action is normally done with a submerged pump that is connected to a timer.

When the timer turns the pump on nutrient solution is pumped into the grow tray. When the timer shuts the pump off the nutrient solution flows back into the reservoir. The Timer is set to come on several times a day, depending on the size and type of plants, temperature and humidity and the type of growing medium used.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

N.F.T. systems have a constant flow of nutrient solution so no timer is required for the submersible pump. The nutrient solution is pumped into the growing tray and flows over the roots of the plants, and then drains back into the reservoir.

                                           

There is usually no growing medium used other than air, which saves the expense of replacing the growing medium after every crop. Normally the plant is supported in a small plastic basket with the roots dangling into the nutrient solution.

Aeroponics System

The aeroponic system is probably the most high-tech type of hydroponic gardening. Like the N.F.T. system above the growing medium is primarily air. The roots hang in the air and are misted with nutrient solution. The misting are usually done every few minutes. Because the roots are exposed to the air like the N.F.T. system, the roots will dry out rapidly if the misting cycles are interrupted.

                                      

Deep Water Culture (DWC)

This is the easiest hydroponics system by far would be the DWC.

With just a tank of water and nutrient solution, a platform with cut out holes, and a method of oxygenation, you have yourself the base for this hydroponic system! This system does not require any pumps, timers, or tubes. Instead of a reservoir, the plant sits in the water solution absorbing the nutrients.

With no moving water though, you will need air stone to provide oxygen to your plants. You are also better off growing plants that will not mind being continuously submerged in water.

                                

Aquaponics

This symbiotic ecosystem helps filter the water in a fish tank with fish inside and feeds your plants vital nutrients it needs to grow. Once the plants have filtered the water, the water runs back into the fish tank, clean and ammonia free. 

                       

As we have shown above, these are the most common techniques used in Hydroponics. Try the the simplest one and learn all the processes involved such as, temperature, humidity, pH, nutrients, and much more. The more you understand the better the results you are going to get.

Nutrient Burn!

Nutrient Burn! 0

There are 3 basic variables that will follow every hydroponic grower during his entire cultivation process, and these are the following: nutrient solution’s reservoir level, electrical conductivity, and pH.

If you want to prevent serious problems in the future, we recommend you check these variables every 2 days until you get some experience and you have reached a stable nutrient solution level. For example: If you have a background conductivity of E.C 1.0 and your product suggest you have a nutrient solution at E.C 2.0, you should add enough product to get a total nutrient solution of 2.0 (1.0 + 1.0= 2.0 / NOT 1.0 + 2.0=3.0). This is very important because if you fail in this measurement, by the time you have to add the additives, your B.C would be so high that would be impossible to add something else without burning your plants.

“Keep your eyes open all the time so you can learn, understand, and apply”

Many of our clients ask about how often they should change the nutrient solution in the reservoir. We know that no matter how experienced we are in the field, there is always a way to get the job done even better.                                                           

So, in order to understand this, it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • The quality of the water
  • The size of the reservoir and,
  • The size of the plant

If these conditions are poor or uncertain, then you must be careful and check your set up more often so you can be able to maintain the system in balance. 

Now, if the conditions are great, changing your water every 2 to 3 weeks is more than acceptable if your plants have at least 3 or 4 weeks old. Remember! As your plants get bigger, a weekly change would be fine.

          “If you are following these steps and still have issues, go to your nearest hydroponic store and ask for help”                                                                                         

Another important thing that make newbies freak out most of the time is always related to the temperature. Look, temperature is a key factor and you should keep it in a range between 68.6 F and 76.8 F. Hey! I know the “.6” and “.8” looks kind of crazy, but to be honest, our best harvests came out using these exact same numbers most of the time. Of course, fluctuation will occur and you will be fine, just avoid too high or too low temperatures.

              “If the temperature is low, growth is slow, and if the temperature is high, the oxygen is going to fly”                                       

A nice trick used by growers to play around with temperature balance is ventilation. Did you know that when the water is warm, it starts to lose more oxygen than when the water is cool? Well, now you know. Ventilation is very useful because it helps you to keep the temperature under control and also keeps a continuous air flow index which is a powerful plant’s grow stimulator.

     “Ventilation regulates temperature and it’s a great plant’s growth stimulator”                 

Finally, the 1 million dollar question, how much nutrient should we give to our plants?

Well, that will depend on many things such as, humidity, temperature, growing medium, electrical conductivity, water supply, light source, and plant size.

“In few words, every company has its own ratio”

It looks a little bit complicated, right? Yes, it is. Every company that produces fertilizers has its own formula which is obtained after extensive research, analysis, time and effort, the quality of their resources, and of course the effectiveness of its results. Companies like Complete Hydroponics have already decoded these variables one by one to make a stable nutrient that can fulfill all growers’ needs. The products we make are designed with the best growing standards known in the field. There is no room for failure.

“Go to our feed chart and you will find how much nutrient should be used in your hydroponic system”

Garden Pests!

Garden Pests! 0

Every time you see a tiny insect crawling and webbing in your plant, it’s time for troubles. We are talking about one of the most infamous little creatures known to growers, the spider mite.

Yes! That’s right! This is a serious pest and when the webbing is already spread all over your plant; well, you are facing an advanced stage of infestation.        

Spider mites are very small to be seen, they can pass into your gardens without notice, and remember, no matter how few, each survives by sucking material from plant cells.

         

Large infestations cause visible damage such as:

  • Irregular patterns of tiny spots
  • Change in color
  • Eminent curl and fall off

The mites’ activity is visible in the tight webs that are formed under leaves and along stems.

Damage control:

  • Neem oil
  • Horticultural Oil
  • Dormant oil
  • Prune plant’s leaves

What are these pear-shaped little monsters that are all over my plant?

Aphids

Aphids are tiny (under ¼-inch), and often invisible to the naked eye. Various species can appear white, black, brown, gray, yellow, light green, and pink. They can be found clustered in the upper part of your plant’s steam and on the leaves. Hey! Don’t be alarmed, this little dudes are not that nasty, they will cause a problem for sure but rarely will kill your plant.

         

Damage Control:

  • Dust the plant with flour
  • Spry with cold water to dislodge them
  • Prune the leaves
  • Garlic Oil
  • Neem Oil
  • Horticultural Oil

There is a lot of black weird flies on my plant, what’s going on?

Fungus Gnats

Adults are delicate, grayish black, mosquito-like flies (1/8 inch long) with long legs and one pair of clear wings. They are not strong fliers and emerge from potted plants, especially when watering. However, when they are in a young larval stage, they don’t have time for love. This creatures are a very sophisticated eating machine that will eat everything on their paths.

         

Larvae or maggots (1/4 inch) have an intimidating shiny black head and an elongated, whitish to yellowish transparent body. They are most abundant in damp, rich soils and feed on root hairs, fungi and other organic materials.

Control Damage:

  • You can use a combination of peppermint, cinnamon and sesame oils, is a non-toxic spray that will get rid of gnats and other insects that gather around windows.
  • Use biological weapons such as Nematodes to destroy the larvae stage. Nematodes are microscopic round worms that penetrate fungus gnat larvae, as well as harmful lawn and garden grubs, fleas, and other soil-borne pests (they do not harm earthworms), then release a bacterium that consumes the pest from the inside out.
  • Allow the soil to dry

My plants have white spots, what the heck is that?

Mildew

Mildew is a surface fungi that can easily be identified as a patch of gray or even white fungus that is lying on the surface of a moist area. They can get access to your plant through ventilation systems, opened doors, or any other possible way. It can be everywhere but fortunately this kind of pest can be controlled at any time.

         

Damage control:

Mildew is easily treated with a store bought cleaner and a scrubbing brush.

OMG, my roots are getting brown, is this the end?

No! You probably have a serious root disease called Pythium. You don’t want that in your plant, seriously!

Symptoms are browning and softening of the roots, dead feeder roots, and hard lesions on larger roots. Advanced infections can cause the plant to wilt or die, this is a root cancer. Pythium is known as the mould of water, and of course, this disease will thrive in a very wet environment.

Pythium love hydroponic systems and if your roots are poorly oxygenated and also have been attacked by another pest like the sciarid fly, Pythium will rise like Zombies from hell.

        

Damage control:

  • Avoid contaminated waters, extraneous dirt in the system, bad dust, and any other external contaminant.
  • Provide good air circulation
  • Control your pH
  • Avoid excessive nitrogen rates
  • Mowing practices can help

If the problem persist, don’t panic! Use brutal force. Fungicides are a good way to fight back and many of them are used to control or manage Pythium. Some of them contain: mefenoxam, pyraclostrobin, cyazofamid, propamocarb, azoxystrobin, fluoxystrobin, Aluminum tris, as well as other chemistries labeled against Pythium diseases for home or commercial use.

“Pests are a problem, but there is always a solution”

It is important to understand that Plants have their own defense system and is very effective under favorable circumstances. However, when you are growing in both hydroponics and conventional systems, you are the one who is responsible to provide the right conditions so your plants can have a healthy development. 

Vitamins are one the best ways to increase your plants' immune system and also it helps to improve its capacity to resist harsh environments. For this reason, we developed a very powerful vitamin, we call it "B+" and we definitely encourage you to use it during your entire growing process.