Archive for April, 2008

Hydroponic Gardening – HID lighting

Hydroponic gardeners often find it necessary to supplement the available light in their growing area.  This is especially true when the growing area is inside the home.  Greenhouses offer more light, but this is not always enough to produce healthy fruits, vegetables or flowers.  Grow lights take care of this need for added light.  It can be difficult for hydroponic gardeners to decide between the many options available in the way of grow lights.  Let’s explore HID lights here and see what they have to offer.

The letters HID stands for “high intensity discharge”.  These lights operate with a properly matched transformer, capacitor and lamp, which consist of an inner arc tube possessing a chemical mixture.  Working together, these elements help provide a very long-lasting grow light for any hydroponic garden.  There are two kinds of HID lights that I’d like to talk about today.  These are sodium and metal halide.  These two offer different benefits to the hydroponic gardener.

Metal halide HID lights emit a wider spectrum of light and include more of the blue and violet rays needed by plants that do not get enough sunlight.  These lights are most useful during the vegetative stage of growth.  Plants grown under metal halide HID lights tend to grow shorter and stockier, this makes for a stronger plant.  Metal halide lights are also used more frequently in foliage-only growing.  An added advantage of the wider light spectrum is that gardeners growing crops such as flowers are more likely to use metal halide lights because the resulting colors of the flowers appear more natural in the less harsh light.

Sodium HID lights emit more red, orange and yellow rays, which, when used alone can cause plants to grow tall and spindly.  These lights are used mainly when there is enough natural sunlight present to produce the necessary blue and violet rays needed by plants.  Many hydroponic gardeners do prefer sodium lamps to metal halide because sodium lights are more energy efficient and often last longer.

Many growers use Metal Halide (MH) for vegetative growth, and High Pressure Sodium (HPS) for budding and flowering. Only rich growers can afford to run the two systems with their own shades and ballasts, independently. Most growers use conversion bulbs, which very conveniently use the corresponding system’s fixtures. So if you have a Metal Halide system, use it for vegging, then put in HPS conversion bulbs into the same system, for flowering.

What often works best in regards to healthier fruits, vegetables and flowers is to use some combination of metal halide and sodium HID lights.  The combination provides adequate amounts of both red and blue spectrum colors, both of which are needed for healthy plant growth.  Using a combination of the two will provide your hydroponic garden with the best that both have to over. This will translate into healthier plants and a more productive growing season.

Lights alone won’t guarantee bumper crops, but work in conjunction with factors such as temperature and nutrition.  With this in mind, you should check out the seven best-kept secrets of hydroponics and subscribe to the Advanced Nutrients newsletter at http://www.advancednutrients.com/newsletter/. Advanced Nutrients is the world’s foremost supplier of hydroponic nutrients to discriminating growers everywhere.

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Hydroponic Gardening – LED lighting

As much as we’d like to depend completely on the sun to provide all the necessary light for our hydroponic gardens, that is not possible.  The majority of hydroponic gardens are inside, whether inside a greenhouse or our homes.  Greenhouses offer more light than having your hydroponic garden in your home, but this is often still not enough to produce adequate light for growing fruits, vegetables and flowers.  This lack of natural sunlight makes it necessary to supplement with grow lights.  There are many types of grow lights available to hydroponic gardeners, but let’s focus on LED lights for now.

LED stands for Light-Emitting Diode.  This is one of the most popular types of grow lights.  The heat given off by these is not as intense as with other types of grow lights.  There is also the ability to provide different color of lights with LED lighting, which is helpful for increasing growth at various stages of a plant’s life.  Younger seedlings do better with blue light.  More mature plants prefer red or orange.

With LED lighting, it is easy to change the light color to accommodate whichever growing stage your garden plants are currently in.  Additional benefits of LED grow lights are the decrease in power consumption, less heat is produced and bulbs often last longer than other types of grow lights.  In addition, light can be focused on a smaller area because of the reduced heat.  This allows gardeners to provide extra light where it may be needed without producing too much light for other plants in the area.

LED lights require an increased initial investment, but they are less expensive in the long run.  LED lights are energy efficient, using less power to run than standard bulbs.  These bulbs also tend to last for a longer period of time, making it unnecessary to replace the bulbs as frequently as other types of grow lights.  The added length of time can amount to seven to ten years under the right circumstances.

If you are switching to LED grow lights from another method, you may need to make some adjustments in other factors of your growing environment.  The lower heat output of these lights makes it unnecessary to use air-cooling equipment as much as other lights.  In addition, the cooler environment will cause less evaporation and will lower the amount of water and hydroponic nutrient you require.  This in itself will help lower production costs.

Finally, to help insure your plants get the best chance to grow to their maximum potential, you should check out the seven best-kept secrets of hydroponics and subscribe to the Advanced Nutrients newsletter at http://www.advancednutrients.com/newsletter/. Advanced Nutrients is the world’s foremost supplier of hydroponic nutrients to discriminating growers everywhere.

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Hydroponic Gardening – Systems – Air Cooling

While many plants thrive in high temperatures, there is a limit to the amount of heat any particular plant can tolerate before it begins to wilt and die. The very nature of hydroponic gardening, from grow lights to enclosed greenhouses, makes it necessary to provide a system of air-cooling for your fruits, vegetables or flowers. Let’s explore what can raise the temperatures in your growing area and how to effectively initiate air-cooling.

The very structure of a greenhouse allows for heat to build up. The sun coming through glass or plastic can heat an enclosed area quickly. By providing vents throughout the greenhouse, and fans that blow the heat toward the vents, you can help cool the air inside. Warm air rises, so having vents placed near the roof on either end of the greenhouse will
Help alleviate excessive heat.

The use of CO2 can increase both the heat and the humidity within the greenhouse. The best way to help combat this is to set up vent fans. Placing these on a timer will enable the hydroponic gardener to periodically blow out hot, humid air, allowing fresh, cooler air to take its place. Adding a dehumidifier to the growing area will additionally help with the high humidity that often accompanies the use of CO2.

The biggest heat creators, by far, are grow lights. The heat given off by the grow lights can cause damage to plants if it is not decreased considerably. Many lights used in hydroponic gardening come with a fan system meant for air-cooling already incorporated in their design. If you are using a lighting system that does not come with such fans, it is advisable to set up some fans to help keep the air around the plants circulating and cooler. One powerful enough to cause the plants to move slightly is preferable, as this will also help prevent light landing only on one spot of the plant leaves, causing them to burn.

There are many systems available solely for the purpose of air-cooling in your hydroponic growing area. Some of these consist of fans and vents; others include a cooling pad and baffles. Baffles are installed to help keep cooler air at plant level. These are not essential, but are nice to have to help keep your fruits, vegetables and flowers cool and happy.

Once you have taken care that your plants are cool enough to grow well, you will want to do all you can to keep your hydroponic garden healthy. Feeding them Advanced Nutrients products will accomplish this task.

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Hydroponic Gardening – Systems – CO2 generation

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is necessary for plants to enable photosynthesis. Without CO2, or without enough, plants will not be able to thrive. Many hydroponic gardeners find it helps plant growth to provide an extra amount of CO2. This can be done in a variety of different ways. The two most common ways to increase the amount of CO2 in your hydroponic garden is by utilizing bottled CO2 or by purchasing a CO2 generator.

The most popular method of introducing added CO2 is the bottled CO2 method. This involves a system that includes a CO2 tank, a flow meter, a pressure gauge and a valve. The tank itself holds the CO2 gas. This gas is released through the valve, which must have some type of timer attached to it to help regulate the use of the CO2. Both the flow meter and pressure gauges help the hydroponic gardener judge whether the level of CO2 is appropriate for his or her needs. It is important to note here that, while increasing CO2 levels can help plants grow, allowing too much CO2 into the growing environment will have the opposite effect and your plants will perish. Hydroponic gardeners need to research in advance to see what level of CO2 is recommended for the crop being grown.

Using a CO2 generator is more cost effective and somewhat easier. However, this method also has the added element of increased heat that will need to be taken into account and compensated for by including an air-cooling system of some type in your growing environment. CO2 generators work to produce CO2 by burning either propane or natural gas. Most systems are placed on a timer that releases the burned fuel at a regulated time. The biggest hazard possible with a CO2 generator is that it is essential you keep it in perfect working order. Defective units will produce carbon monoxide instead of CO2 if they are not working properly. This will not only kill your plants, but may very well kill any humans who enter the growing environment.

One more expensive way of producing additional carbon dioxide in your greenhouse is by the use of dry ice. Dry ice is actually a solid form of CO2. When allowed to “melt” it returns to its gaseous state. This method should really only be used in a pinch. There is almost no control over the amount of gas released into the air or at what rate the dry ice will become gas. There is a lot of room for potential danger to plants using this method.

Adding extra CO2 will not, however, help increase plant growth unless light and temperature are also at optimum levels. Proper nutrition and water are also essential factors in optimal growth. All these factors must be strong and be working together for best results. To help ensure your plants get the best nutrition possible, you should check out the seven best-kept secrets of hydroponics and subscribe to the Advanced Nutrients newsletter at http://www.advancednutrients.com/newsletter/. Advanced Nutrients is the world’s foremost supplier of hydroponic nutrients to discriminating growers everywhere.

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Hydroponic Gardening – Zucchini

Hydroponic gardeners will find that growing zucchini is virtually identical to growing squash. Zucchini is more popular in that it is often used not only as a vegetable, but also to make pickles, breads and other baked goods. By setting up a greenhouse, you have the opportunity to harvest young zucchini year-round. Each plant will produce as many as forty fruit each time it blooms. To prepare your greenhouse for your hydroponic zucchini plants, you will need to stock up on peat, vermiculite, and a pre-formulated hydroponic nutrient formula. You can find most of the things you need at a hydroponic supply store. Some type of grow lights will need to be purchased and a system to keep vines in check should be in place. Let’s explore the details.

Zucchini grow best in temperatures around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike many other plants, this temperature need not be lowered at night. Zucchini require fourteen hours of light per day for optimum growth. This makes it necessary to have grow lights. While they can get by with less, your crops will be smaller and individual fruits will not grow as large with less light. Lighting is more important with zucchini than with many other vegetables.

To stabilize the roots of the plants, it is preferred that zucchini be planted in a mixture of peat and vermiculite. The ideal mixture is sixty percent peat to forty percent vermiculite. This combination makes it possible to retain moisture needed by the plant roots. It is not necessary to irrigate your crops daily, but it is advisable to do so every other day to make sure your zucchini is getting enough hydroponic nutrients. Hydroponic supply places sell pre-formulated hydroponic nutrients that have been researched and proven to provide exactly what your garden needs. This saves having to take the time to try and mix your own formulas. The best of these is made by a Canadian company, Advanced Nutrients.

To help keep plants from wandering in every direction, hydroponic gardeners set up a system of securing a wire horizontally from one end of the row to another. Each plant is then attached with a twist-tie to a line that is anchored on the horizontal line. As the vines grow they are wrapped around the vertical line and tied with twist ties. This not only helps save space, but also allows the lower parts of the plant to receive more light.

It is never recommended that commercial pesticides be used in a hydroponic garden. The greenhouse environment eliminates many of the pests associated with zucchini. If you do find pests to be an issue, there are special pest control products formulated to do a thorough job of eliminating the pests without damaging plants. These are found at hydroponic supply stores. Try Advanced Nutrients Scorpion Juice and Barricade, in order to prevent infestations by boosting the immune systems of your plants.

Zucchini has many uses and adding it to your hydroponic garden will not create much work once you have all the elements in place. You will need to help your zucchini with pollination. Manually swabbing the center of the flowers with a paintbrush will help this along. Finally, if you want to harvest robust, abundant fruits and vegetables you should check out the seven best-kept secrets of hydroponics at http://www.advancednutrients.com/freereport/
Advanced Nutrients is the world’s foremost supplier of hydroponic nutrients to discriminating growers everywhere.

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Hydroponic Gardening – Tomatoes

For those just venturing into the world of hydroponic gardening, tomatoes make an excellent first choice. Tomatoes grow well in a greenhouse when the three most important elements are present. Let’s explore the ideal environmental conditions, nutrition and pest control factors that will enable you to grow a successful crop of tomatoes.

The correct balance of light, nutrients and humidity are essential components in hydroponic vegetable gardening. Natural light for indoor gardening can’t always be relied upon to provide adequate photosynthesis. Lacking enough light, tomato plants do not produce enough sugar. By positioning both the greenhouse and the plants so that the natural light flows north and south, the plants can be evenly lit. In addition, the use of grow lights within the greenhouse can provide the extra light necessary for optimal growth. Unless you’re in a glass greenhouse, by covering floors and walls with white paint, hydroponic growers can help increase the reflection of light onto the tomatoes. For tomatoes, the perfect humidity level in the greenhouse should be between 65 and 70 percent. Temperatures should not vary too much, although tomatoes do well when the nighttime temperature is ten degrees below that of the daytime Ideally, temperatures should be seventy-three degrees during the day and sixty-three during the night.

Proper nutrition is essential for optimum growth of your tomatoes. Unlike soil-grown vegetables, those grown by the hydroponic method have a great advantage in that the ideal nutritional needs of the plants can be met easily. Many commercial formulas are available. These hydroponic nutrients have been formulated after a great deal of research to provide your fruits, vegetables and flowers with the exact combination they require. By simply following the directions included, your tomato plants’ nutritional needs will be met.

Pest control is much easier when dealing with hydroponics. The elimination of the soil helps to get rid of quite a number of threats. It is not recommended that commercial insecticides be used on hydroponically grown tomatoes. These products can damage the plant. For some infestations, adding a natural predator to your greenhouse is ideal. These, however, have short life spans and have to be replaced often. If there are no such natural predators, or you prefer not to go this route, there are specially formulated pest control formulas, such as Scorpion Juice and Barricade made by Advanced Nutrients that can provide the protection from pests without harming your tomatoes.

Once you have provided the ideal growing environment, proper nutrition and effective pest control, you should soon find yourself with some of the healthiest tomatoes there are. Indoors gardening the hydroponics way will soon become your preferred method of growing all your fruits and vegetables. Finally, if you want to harvest robust, abundant fruits and vegetables you should check out the seven best-kept secrets of hydroponics at this link. Advanced Nutrients is the world’s foremost supplier of hydroponic nutrients to discriminating growers everywhere.

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Hydroponic Gardening – Sweet Peppers

Sweet peppers (also known as Capsicums) come in a variety of colors. This variety makes them appealing to many hydroponic gardeners. Sweet peppers are more difficult to grow than tomatoes, but with attention to their special requirement, greenhouse production can be very successful. Other than correct hydroponic nutrients, which are essential in all hydroponic gardening, light and temperature play a large part in the success or failure of your crop. Pollination and pest control follow closely behind. A final, yet extremely important factor in success requires knowing how much fruit each plant can produce without over-taxing it. Let’s look at the physical environment first.

Temperatures in the greenhouse where you have planted your hydroponic garden need to stay between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the growing stages of the sweet peppers. Higher temperatures will see your peppers growing faster, but the fruit will be smaller and of poorer quality. Anything lower can result in losing flowers before they have had a chance to mature. Sweet peppers love light. This is a crop where good quality grow lights are almost essential. Depending on natural lighting will see your crops failing while attempting indoor gardening. Air humidity should remain below eighty percent.

Some hydroponic vegetable gardening sees plants self-pollinating. This is not the case with sweet peppers. It is possible to manually pollinate your plants using a small paintbrush or cotton swab and gently rubbing it across the center of each flower. Commercial pesticides are never recommended for hydroponic gardens. If the need arises, however, relying on products found at hydroponic supply places such as
will be safer for both your plants and you.

It is tempting to allow your sweet peppers to produce as much fruit as they will, but this can result in poor quality fruit and unhealthy plants. The first flower on each plant needs to be removed. This creates stronger fruit in successive blooms. Often the plant itself will shed this flower, but manual removal may be necessary. When a plant is expected to support too many fruits, the roots can begin to rot and leave the plants susceptible to disease. For this reason, it is necessary to prune excess fruit as it starts to grow. Younger plants can’t handle as much fruit as older ones. A suggested rule of thumb in hydroponics is to limit the fruit on each plant to between twelve and twenty on young plants and no more than forty on older ones. The earlier the hydroponic gardener removes the excess fruit, the healthier the plant will remain.

By taking the time to stock your greenhouse with the correct hydroponic nutrients, an adequate number of grow lights and proper pollination, you will help your indoor garden of sweet peppers succeed. It is well worth the effort and will make your hydroponic vegetable gardening a pleasurable experience. Finally, if you want to harvest robust, abundant fruits and vegetables you should check out the seven best-kept secrets of hydroponics at this link. Advanced Nutrients is the world’s foremost supplier of hydroponic nutrients to discriminating growers everywhere.

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