Frequently Asked Questions
Here you will find all ouf our frequently asked questions. If you have a question that isn't answered in this section, please do not hestitate to contact us!
What kind of nutrients should I use?
Picking the right nutrients for your garden can be difficult but we can help! Some nutrients may perform better in certain situations, so depending on your garden, environment, and production goals there may be a product or nutrient line better suited to your needs.
What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics is the process of using water to carry dissolved nutrients to the plants root base, as opposed to keeping them rooted in soil. Hydroponic systems can be set up in a variety of ways, using several different techniques, including deep water culture, nutrient film technique, ebb and flow, and drain to waste to name a few. Each technique has advantages and disadvantages and many growers may use several techniques in their operation.
What is the difference between the different types of hydroponics?
Deep water culture, or DWC, is when the plants are suspended in a net cup or basket filled with inert clay media and suspended over a reservoir of oxygenated water with nutrients. This method can produce very large plants and is a preferred method for larger fruiting plants like peppers and tomatoes.
Nutrient film technique, or NFT, is a growing method similar to DWC but instead of the roots being suspended over a reservoir, they are in a shallow channel with a slow stream of water passing over. This method helps to reduce the total water needed to grow a crop, but is typically not suited for larger plants. This is most commonly used for propagation and production of leafy crops.
Ebb and Flow growing systems can vary from a single container to very large flood tables. The specifics of the containers or grow can change, but the system components are all essentially the same. The system usually contains two pumps ran by a controller, and several times a day one pump will pump water from a reservoir into the growing containers. After several minutes a second pump is activated and pumps the water from the growing containers back into the reservoir. These systems can be low maintenance and are easy to get dialed in.
Drain to Waste involves watering the plants or media directly with a nutrient solution, catching the runoff water and disposing of it. Some growers use flood tables and plumb drainage but any method of removing the water would be sufficient.
What are the environmental requirements to grow plants indoors?
For most plants, thee typical indoor garden has a temperature between 70-80°F with a humidity between 40-60%, depending on the stage of growth. Some species and varieties thrive under different environmental conditions so it is important to try different things and figure out what works for you and your plants.
What are the different types of supplemental lighting?
Fluorescent lights are low-powered and ideal for seedlings and cloning. These lights do not project so it is important to get the proper sized fixture for your growing area. The bulbs can be kept just a few inches from the plants and do great for producing leafy greens.
High Intensity Lighting, or HID, is the most common lighting used in greenhouses and larger grows. There are several variants including metal halide (MH), high pressure sodium (HPS), double ended fixtures (DE), ceramic metal halide (CMH) and many others, but we will focus on MH and HPS here. Single-ended MH and HPS lights are popular due to their low cost of set up, but do require more energy to operate. MH bulbs are typically used for growth stages because the blue light simulates the early season. HPS bulbs are used for bloom because the red light can help stimulate flower production. Usually a 400w light will be used to cover a 3’x3’ area, a 600w light can cover a 4’x4’ area, and a 1000w will cover a 5’x5’.
Double ended lighting, also referred to as DE, is a twist on the HID lighting with more efficiency than a standard single ended bulb. The bulbs are redesigned with an electrode at each end that does not produce a shadow where the socket would usually be on a single ended bulb.
In the last several years, LED technology has come a long way. These lights can range from small wattages used for cloning and seedlings, to a replacement for HID fixtures. The high powered fixtures meant to replace traditional HPS lights are more expensive, but can pay for themselves by not needing bulb replacements and using lower electricity.
Ceramic metal halide (CMH)/LECs are a rework of an older technology that was not used widely in the horticulture field. These lights have a better spectrum that is closer to sunlight than either HPS or MH lighting. A 315 light covers a 3’x3’ growing area.
How important is accurate pH?
Maintaining proper pH is important for every growing style. Some systems like container gardening with soil are much more forgiving to incorrect pH then systems like DWC and NFT. When the pH is wrong plants may lose access to certain ions in the nutrient solution. In fully hydroponic setups this can quickly cause nutrient deficiencies and slow growth.
How important is water quality?
Water quality is an important part of indoor gardening. If your water is coming from a drinkable source it is most likely ok to use on plants. You can always get a measurement of the EC, or PPM to make sure it does not exceed .5 or 500 depending on the scale.
If the starting water is too salty, it may become toxic to plants when you add extra fertilizer. If your EC is over .5 it is highly recommended that you use a reverse osmosis filter, or RO filter to reduce the salt content. This will leave you with pure water with plenty of room for fertilizer.
How can I supplement CO2?
Supplementing CO2 in your garden or grow room is a great way to help your plants deal with excess heat and produce higher yields. CO2 is a gas that is required for photosynthesis. When all other conditions for the plants growth are maximized, the amount of CO2 in the air typically becomes the limiting factor for your plants growth.
Adding CO2 can be done in several ways. The first way is by using a tank of compressed gas and a regulator on a timer or a controller. When the regulator is turned on, gas will flow into your garden. These systems are nice for smaller gardens but become hard to use in larger areas. Burners are usually recommended for larger areas with greater CO2 needs. A burner takes either propane or natural gas and burns it the room. This high temperature flame produces CO2, H2O and heat as a byproduct.