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Gardener's Corner

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Ebb and Flow Systems
Ebb and flow systems are one of the very basic and core systems in hydroponics. Very easy to setup and maintain, it is a great starting system for beginning growers. You may also know the system as Flood and Drain. With this technique, plants are cultivated with an inert growing media such as clay-expanded balls, perlite, rockwool and several others.

On a physical level, growing media serves as an anchor for the plant but gives little to no nutritional value. Without adding nutrients to your water the plants cannot survive in these growing mediums. The ebb and flow works by growing your plants in a chosen grow media within pots which are then placed inside a plastic tray called a grow tray. It is best to use a specialized grow tray specifically designed for indoor gardening. Many of these trays have runoff channels helping drain any excess water and nutrient solution. These trays also fit industry-standard tray stands that are great for putting your crop at an easy to work on level.

Branchier Plants
You can significantly increase your garden’s productivity by minimizing temperature changes that occur between day and night! Simply switch on a heater at night! There are also many other ways to maintain stable growing temperatures.

Another thing to consider is the formation of the plants themselves. Indoor gardeners must take into account the shape of the plant (short and wide or tall and leggy), then adjust lighting accordingly. Growers often find that tall plants are much more difficult to grow indoors because they have to raise grow lights much higher, which then deprives lower foliage of precious photons. Grow lights are nothing like the sun and you want to make sure all areas of your plant receive the energy it needs. It is essential to position your grow lights close to your plants, yet prevent overheating. Leaf temperatures should not go above 82 F or the photosynthesis process will begin to shut down. A great way to adjust you lighting is with light hangers. It is important to place the lights not to close and not to far away!!

Gardening in Raised Beds
There is nothing like being able to grow your own organic foods, foods that you can share and enjoy with family and friends. When gardening space is limited raised beds may be the answer for you. The most important aspect of gardening in raised beds is their foundation. The foundation of the garden is your soil. Starting with a high-grade organic-based soil is a must for growing large healthy organic plants. Having the best possible soil in your raised bed also allows you to squeeze in more plants per square foot than in a regular outdoor ground garden. The best organic soils can be found right here at Greener Hydroponics.

If you plan on using your own soil there are some things to consider. Some plants are sensitive about soil acidity. So in order to determine the acidity of the soil in your area and how it will affect your chosen plants it may be a good idea to invest in a pH meter. This will help ensure your plants will thrive and that your soil will be providing the correct growing conditions. These testers are very inexpensive and can help avoid the headaches of trying plants and not having success. Not testing your soil wastes your valuable time and the money spent on plant seedlings or seed. However, be aware that if you choose to buy organic soil the manufacturer commonly lists the pH levels.

Growing Potatoes in Containers
The requirements for a successful potato grow are very low. You will need the following:

A large container

Organic potting soil

Potatoes for planting

Plenty of sun

The Container: We would recommend using a 10 to 30 gallon fabric grow bag container. These containers are great for their portability, affordability and the excellent effects they have on the plant’s rooting system. Grow bags are designed for optimal aeration of the soil that leads to more a fibrous root systems and large healthy plants. You may also use a normal plastic container but the soil requirements will be slightly different.

How to Germinate Seeds
Spring has finally arrived and it is time to focus on our gardens. Pretty soon nurseries and garden centers will be loaded with plants to sell you, usually at exorbitant prices. Buying plants is one of the most expensive chores that face today’s home gardeners, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Consider buying seeds instead and doing your own germination.

Seed starting is easy, fun and very cost effective. Browse through just about any seed catalog and you will be amazed at the huge variety available, much more than what you will find at your local garden center.

Here are the most important factors you must consider in order to successfully germinate your seeds:

The Proper Containers
Your container must be at least two inches deep, having drainage holes and a clear secure top. They can be any size you want, but something around an 8x12 inch rectangle is easy to manage and you can fill as many as you like.

Metal Halide vs High Pressure Sodium
Today we are going to talk about some of the basic differences between metal halide and high-pressure sodium HID bulbs. These two types of HID grow bulbs are some of the most common in the indoor gardening industry. The first noticeable difference is the size; the metal halide bulb is a more of a wider and fatter looking bulb as compared to the high-pressure sodium. Typically, high-pressure sodium’s have a more elongated or skinnier shape. Size and shape is just a quick and easy way to distinguish the difference between the bulbs if they were sitting on the table.

The metal halide bulbs tend to have more of a blue light spectrum that is good for vegetative growth in plants. The high-pressure sodium gives off more of a red spectrum that is highly effective during the flowering stage.

Starting Tomatoes from Seed
Starting tomatoes from seed is not as difficult as it might seem. If you are planning to start the seeds indoors you will find the following basic steps necessary for success.

Begin by choosing the proper starting soil mix or starting plugs for your seeds. A well-draining soil or plug is the best choice to prevent root rot. Next you will need a tray or container, preferably with a humidity dome to start the propagation process. We would recommend using specialized rooting cubes and a 10x20 humidity tray dome combo to get your seeds off to proper start. Some of these cubes are pre-soaked with rooting solution, providing an instant boost to your seedlings.

Start with the seeds by planting 2 to 3 seeds in each rooting cube or small container. The seeds should be at least a quarter inch down into the growing medium. Squeeze the root cube closed helping block light and limiting air pockets. Moisten the growing medium to help the seed with the germinating process. Place the cube into the growing tray and cover with the dome.

We would also recommend placing a heating mat under the propagation tray to achieve the proper 70 to 75° germination temperature. At this point you do not need to worry about providing light. Check daily making sure to keep the grow media moist. Once you have seen a few sprouts you are ready to move under some grow lights or to a south-facing window.

Setting Up A Titan Controls CO2 Regulator
The following is an outline for setting up a Titan Controls CO2 Regulator (part # 702710). This unit comes with 12 feet of dispensing tubing, plastic washers, six feet of power cord and instructions on flow ratings. These instructions include flow meter settings and a timing chart for the proper PPM reading relative to your gardens size. The Titan Controls CO2 Regulator uses a precision pinwheel adjuster to regulate CO2 flow through the dispensing tube and into your garden.

The Setup: Attach the regulator to the tank by installing the plastic washer and then securely fastening the CO2 regulator to the tank outlet. After verifying that the regulator is secure, you are now ready to move the assembly into your garden. Remember to keep those instructions handy so you can dial in the proper settings. The included CO2 dispensing tube is best placed high in your grow area. Locating it at or near the bottom of your reflector is an optimal place. Attach the CO2 regulator to 24-hour timer like the Titan Apollo 8 or a CO2 monitor controller like the Titan Controls Hyperion 1. Once your timer or monitor is setup properly you are ready to supplement your grow area.

In nature CO2 levels typically range between 300 and 500 ppm but your plants have the ability to handle much more. For flowering gardens it is recommend CO2 settings to be between 1200 ppm and 1500 ppm during daylight hours. By running these enhanced levels of CO2 it has been scientifically proven to improve growth and provide much higher yields.

Four Benefits of Urban Gardening
A lot of different images and words are likely to come to mind when you think of “gardening.” Chances are, “smog,” “concrete,” and “urban jungle” aren’t likely to be among them, however. That being said, it doesn’t have to be impossible, and the benefits really are worth it—here are just four reasons to think about starting a urban garden for yourself.
IT’S SOOTHING
Life in a city like LA or New York is constant activity, and for a lot of people, that’s great. It means a constant buzz, never a dull moment, and being lucky enough to live in one of the true media capitals of the world. It also means never having to wait that long for the latest in fashion and entertainment. That being said, LA and New York aren’t known for being the greenest or quietest places in the world. If you live in an especially hectic enclave, urban gardening can be a great way to bring a little calm, soothing green into your life.
COST SAVINGS
Grow your own fruits and veggies! We know, it sounds crazy, but once upon a time the majority of people lived out in the countryside, and living in a rural area meant getting dinner some other way than buying overpriced kale or ordering absurdly-huge pizzas (that you then feel guilty for ordering in the first place, causing you to think you need a diet, and thus buy the overpriced kale.) Growing your own tomatoes, carrots, or berries in particular can be a great way to get into urban gardening—you save a little on your trip to the grocery store, you have something lush and lovely with which to set off your outdoor décor, and you literally get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Ares CO2 Generators
Following is a quick overview of the Ares series of CO2 generators. They are clean burning, cost-effective and very efficient units from Titan Controls. They ensure that your grow area CO2 levels are maintained at the optimal levels for large and healthy yields. These CO2 burners are built with a durable powder-coated chassis that resists the harshest growing environments. High quality brass burners avoid rusting and dual redundant solenoids reliably control your gas flow. There is also a great safety function built in; the emergency tip over switch protects the grower at all times. In the event your CO2 burner is knocked over inside your grow room this switch will automatically shut off the burners greatly reducing the possibility of a fire. The Ares Series of Generators are designed for growing areas of the following sizes:

Using A Grow Tent
Grow tents are commonly thought to be for small indoor grows but this is not always the case. Grow tents are being more widely accepted for commercial use by growers looking to have a sustainable and transferable grow environment. This ability to control the grow environment and the capability to replicate results is appealing to any grower.

Before the current type of grow tents were widely available, growers had no option but to create more permanent grow rooms. Grow equipment was screwed into walls, hung from ceilings and bolted to the ground. Permanent style mounting may not always be an option for residential based growers. When you use a grow tent it is a self-contained modular setup with options to hang and mount grow equipment.

Creating Clones With Root Cubes
In a previous article we discussed creating clones using an aeroponic cloning machine. Those machines are great for dramatic and ultrafast results but not every grower needs or wants to purchase a machine for creating clones. In this article we do a simple how to for taking a cutting and in turn creating a plant clone with root cubes. These cubes are very inexpensive and some even come with cloning gels. Every plant grown from seed is its own individual even if it’s the same strain or from the same seed pack. You can have short plants, tall plants, small leaves, large leaves, dark colors, lighter colors; no to plants will be exactly alike. But plants grown from cuttings are genetically identical to the mother plant. If grown in the same type of environment every plant grown from cuttings will be just like its mother. Pick out the one special plant that has superior qualities and make that your mother plant.

Using A Cloning Machine
So you have bought a new cloning machine; now what? There are several ways to clone a plant but we are going to be talking about using the aeroponic clone machine method. Remember: Cloning is the process of replicating a healthy plant. The proper preparation of the cloning machine and plants will yield the optimum results. What you will need: Aeroponic cloning machine, healthy mother plant, rooting solution, scalpel, pH tester, pH adjuster (if needed) and purified water.

Transplanting A Clone
So you have successfully cloned one of you mother plants. Now the clone will need to be transplanted. The key here is to be as careful as possible to prevent any damage to the infant plant. Gently remove the clone from the neoprene insets that have been removed from the machine. The roots of the clones are very delicate at this point so it is important to take special care of them. Damage to the roots causes unneeded stress to the young plant and that results in transplant shock and slow growth. For different types of grow media other that what is listed here this process could vary slightly.

Get Started With Composting
Composting is easy as long as you follow a few simple steps. Spending a small amount of time on the process of composting is good for your garden, lawn, plants and your wallet. It helps you reduce the amount of waste your home is producing and that is better for the environment. By making compost you are creating your own natural fertilizer that can be applied to your garden.

Choosing A Nursery Container
Here at greenerhydroponics.com we offer many different styles of pots for all types of growers. With all these options you may be thinking which is right for me? We will attempt to explain how some of these pots are designed and work to help you can make a more informed purchase. Traditional style nursery containers such as Gro Pro Premium and Gro Pro blow-molded pots are by far the most cost effective option for large-scale growers. Plant roots grow rapidly and can reach the outside of the plant container quickly. As they continue to grow they begin to circle the pot looking for an exit. Unfortunately this can lead to a tangled root system ball and possible strangulation of the plant. As a grower if your plan is to grow from seedling to full maturity, you may want to think twice about using this traditional style pot.

Buried Treasure Bat Guano
There is a reason this line of Guano is called Buried Treasure. When choosing any of these products you are receiving one of the finest guanos on the market today. These guanos offer several beneficial nutrient elements that can be used for growing a large variety of different plants. They contain mostly nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, the building blocks of successful plant growth. They also contain a wide variety of micronutrients that plants need for healthy development. Guanos are also known to greatly benefit soil conditions as the high levels of a microbial life enrich the soil. These microbes will increase water holding capacity and soil ferocity by loosening the soil for better aeration. The Buried Treasure line of guano has four different varieties, Peruvian Seabird, Nitro Bat, Phos Bat, and Phos Seabird.

Light Hangers
When using light reflectors it is very important to have the reflector placed at the proper distance from your plants. A stout set of hangers make it easy to adjust the distance your equipment is away from your plants. Many of these hangers come with cabana hooks that can be attached to islets, tent supports, ceilings or walls. An easy-to-use release latch quickly locks and unlocks the rope for fast adjustments. Be sure to read and follow the weight recommendations that come on the hanger packaging. Take into account any equipment that is interconnected, this may add to the weight you are trying to hang.

Water Quality and Hydroponics
The water used in your hydroponics systems can be considered to be much like the foundation for your home. It is the basis on which your nutrient solution is formed. Without a solid foundation the chances of being successful with your hydroponics will be dramatically reduced. Here at Greener Hydroponics we offer systems specifically designed to produce purified water. These systems use a water purification technology called reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis is extremely efficient at turning your hard tap water into purified contaminant free water, the perfect foundation for your nutrient solutions.

Fluorescent Grow Lights—5 Things to Consider
When growing plants under artificial light, the brightness of the illumination is not the only factor that needs to be taken into consideration. Others include the temperature and the period of illumination. Continuous exposure to light will not affect some plants, but will upset others. Research your specific species to find out the best ‘day length’ that suits your plants. Turning on the lights for 12 hours each day is a good starting point. For some plants, up to 16 - 20 hours has been found to be better, but too long can inhibit flowering in certain plants such as chrysanthemums, poinsettias, and orchids. Plants like Christmas cactus must have short ‘days’ to flower. Learn how plants use light enabling you to know about options for indoor lighting fixtures that are correct for plant growth. The sun provides the complete light spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (roy g. biv). Plants use the full spectrum for photosynthesis with red and blue being the most critical. Blue controls growth and red encourages flowering and vegetative development.

Controlling Temps = Max Yields
From frost to burning sun, plants are constantly challenged by ever-changing temperature conditions. As growers, our goal is to stabilize the environment so that plants can thrive in optimum conditions. When calculating the perfect climate for each species of plant, we must take into consideration the surrounding elements; air, soil, growing media etc. Also to be considered are parts of the plant. For instance, what is the temperature of the roots?