F.A.Q. General

There are numerous benefits to gardening using hydroponics. Hydroponic systems use less water than traditional gardens. They are also cleaner, since you are not bringing soil into your home. Hydroponic systems are less likely to host destructive insects, and you can grow indoors year-round.

The biggest advantage hydroponics has over traditional gardening is significantly larger yields in less time. That means more crop rotations per year, and more money in the pockets of commercial growers. This is because hydroponic plants are able to use twice the nutrients that plants in traditional gardens can.

Almost any type of plant can be grown using hydroponics some are just more delicate than others. Usually if you can produce ideal environmental conditions the hydroponic plants will be far superior to plants from the same stock grown in soil.

This can be accomplished by presoaking your seeds. Fill a shot glass with distilled water and place your seeds in it. After 24 hours the viable seeds should have sunk to the bottom. Those still floating are most likely not viable and will not germinate.

Yes, you can all you need to do is wash the roots of the plant by dipping in water and try to remove as much of the soil matter as possible. Be very careful with the delicate roots so the plant doesn’t go into too much transplant shock. After the roots are somewhat clean go ahead and pot the plant in any of your favorite hydroponic media and begin a standard watering regimen with a touch of B-1 in the solution for a week or so to aid in the recovery from transplanting.

Quite often this is the case because the plants grown utilizing hydroponics have all the essential nutrients readily available to the plant. In soil the important micro nutrients are often locked away in the soil where the plants cannot take full advantage of these minerals. That is why hydroponics is superior because the grower has complete control over what minerals the plants are feeding on and in what quantities. This advantage over soil often produces produce that is far superior in taste, color, size, and nutritional value.

There is a very simple definition of the difference between these two methods of growing. Aeroponic systems have plants which roots dangle in the air and the roots are sprayed with nutrient water. In an Aero-Hydroponic system there are roots that dangle but half of the roots dangle directly into water and the other half are sprayed with nutrient water. The spraying action keeps the standing water moving and circulating at all times which works excellent to get oxygen infused water to the roots. This Aero-Hydroponic method has proven to work incredibly for rooting cuttings and all other stages of growth as well.

First of all the common names of those two fittings are a fill/drain fitting and an overflow fitting. The fill/drain fitting is a fitting that is attached to the pump and serves as the inlet for the water filling the tray and also serves as the outlet for the water to drain back into the reservoir. The overflow fitting consists of a number of different plumbing parts and acts as a watering level regulator. The concept is quite simple… you have a tray that is suspended somehow, or sitting on top of, a reservoir. Now the pump turns on and begins pumping water into the tray and the pump will stay on as long as the grower has determined the watering cycle should be (usually 30 min.). As the water level rises in the tray it reaches the top of the overflow fitting which then allows the water to spill back down into the reservoir. So you have now filled the tray with water and you are maintaining that watering level by means of the overflow fitting, which does not allow the water level to rise any higher. Now when the pump is turned off the water begins draining by means of gravity back down through the fill/drain fitting, and through the pump, into the reservoir. The height of the overflow is decided by the containers or growing media being used. You only want the water level to rise and submerge about 50% to 75% of the medium or containers. This is to keep the medium or containers from floating and/or tipping over.

The ideal growroom temperature varies depending on what types of plants you are growing. Tropical plants like orchids and plants like succulents do well at 80°F and up. Plants such as kale and broccoli do best at cooler temperatures in the

60- 65°F range. Plants like tomatoes do well in the 68-75°F range. Temperature is important for more reasons than plant growth. When the temperature surpasses 80°F, insects can multiply much faster than at cooler temperatures. Soil and soilless mediums will dry out more quickly, increasing water consumption, and soil will become toxic with concentrated nutrients. The higher temperatures also reduce the amount of oxygen available in the nutrient solution.

EC is a unit of measure to gauge the Electrical Conductivity of a solution. An EC meter applies an electrical voltage to the solution and reads the conductivity that is produced from the motion of mineral Ions.

The difference between these two types of HID (High Intensity Discharge) lights is the colour spectrum that is emitted from each. The High Pressure Sodium bulb emits light that is concentrated in the red to yellow side of the spectrum and are weak in the blue-violet end. While the Metal Halide bulb emits light that is very balanced and contains all the energy peaks at wavelengths of the visible spectrum. Visually the Sodium bulbs will appear very yellow-orange and the Halide bulbs will appear more blue-white in colour.

The Halide lights have a very balanced spectrum and are excellent for vegetative growth or leafy plants like lettuce and basil. The Halide lights produce between 65-115 lumens per watt which is a measure of the efficiency of the bulb, or how much light you are producing for the amount of electricity you are using. The Sodium lights produce light that is very bright and concentrated on the yellow to red side of the colour spectrum. This colour is not as balanced as the Halide but makes up for the lacking of a balanced spectrum in the amount of light given off by the bulb. The Sodium bulbs produce between 97 to 150 lumens per watt which is much higher than the Halide bulbs. The Sodium bulbs are superior in life expectancy and efficiency while the Halides a superior in spectral distribution so your decision will be based on what is more important to you.

Many people switch between bulbs for different stages of growth for a couple of reasons. First of all, Sodium bulbs have been known to make some plants grow leggy and stretched out because of the yellow to red spectrum that they give off. Metal Halides tend to keep these plants tighter with less space between internodes. So some growers use the Metal Halide lights during vegetative growth to keep the structural growth of the plant nice and tight. But they switch to Sodium lights when the plants begin to flower because the Sodium lights produce so much more light than the Halides. Even though the Sodium’s do not have as good a spectrum as the Halides the intense light that is put off by the Sodium’s aids in flower development and fruit set. Do not be fooled though, you can use either light throughout the life of a plant and get excellent results.

The first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of square footage you are dealing with. Do not just figure for the whole room figure out what the plant area is that you need to cover and multiply length x width to get the square footage. Now, you will want to try and achieve at least 30 watts per square foot. So if you have a 4 x 4 area which is 16 square feet and you multiply by 30 watts, you get 480 watts. So for a 4 x 4 area you will need to use at least a 430 watt light. Remember though that the amount of light required will depend on the plants because some plants like lots of light and some like low levels of light.

Yes. A ballast is required to start the lamp and to increase the voltage required to run the lamp. The ballast is responsible for starting the lamps by providing a high, fast charge of electricity. After the bulb lights, the range of voltage and current are controlled by the transformer which is why the bulbs operate so efficiently.

Yes, very efficient compared to standard incandescent bulbs found in your house. For example one 1000 watt sodium bulb produces as much light as about 87 standard 100 watt incandescent bulbs.

HID light bulbs come in a variety of spectrums and strengths to meet the needs of indoor gardeners. The lumens and PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) levels drop quickly. You can check this for yourself by measuring your yields with new bulbs versus bulbs that are 8-12 months old.

The newer bulbs in the same environment should offer noticeably larger yields over the old ones. After 8-12 months of continuous use, the bulb should be replaced.

There is no energy savings from running your lights at 240 volts. That is a misconception that many people have. The main advantage is the fact that you can run more lights on one electrical circuit. For example if you run a 20 amp 120 volt circuit, you can only run two 1000 watt lights on that circuit. If you were to wire the circuit up for 240 volts you can run four 1000 watt lights on that circuit. This makes for a lot less wiring but does not save you on your electricity bill because each light still uses the same amount of watts.

More often than not the main difference between high end lights bulbs and cheaper ones is just the reflector.  High end reflectors are designed to create more of a spread for both its light output and heat while budget reflectors typically don’t do as good of a job at dispersing light and heat.

No. You should never interchange bulbs between systems unless they are specifically made to do so. Lots of people ask if they can use a 250 watt bulb in a 400 watt system and the answer is definitely not. You could put yourself at risk by doing something like this because the bulb could become unstable and explode. You should also never put Halide bulbs in a High Pressure Sodium system because the ballast’s are only meant to run the type of bulb they are rated for and a Halide bulb in a Sodium system could overheat and explode also. There are conversion bulbs manufactured that are High Pressure Sodium bulbs that are meant to run off of a Halide ballast. But once again only put the bulb in a system it is rated for.

Reservoirs should be emptied and the nutrient solution replaced at least every 5-7 days. People often use their EC/TDS meters to measure nutrient levels and top up their nutrient solution when levels get low. EC/TDS meters only measure overall salt levels, not the levels of specific nutrients. This means nutrients not completely used by your plants will begin to build up to potentially toxic levels. Emptying your reservoir and replacing your nutrient solution with a quality fertilizer is the only way to ensure nutrient levels are consistently in the ideal range for plant growth.

There are many supplements that will increase flower size. Most common are bloom boosters that are concentrated in powder form and are high in phosphorus. Bat guano supplements also increase flower growth and I also really like foliar spraying with folic acid, often labeled gold. This will increase the number of flower sites and act as a chelating agent, helping your plants absorb macronutrients more efficiently.

That scummy, sludgy buildup in your reservoir could be algae, bacteria or fungi. These organisms rob your reservoir of oxygen and nutrients, leaving nothing for your plants. They clog pumps and drippers, causing nightmares in the growroom. Regardless of what it is, it is usually caused by light entering your reservoir combined with higher reservoir temperatures.

Keeping your reservoir cooler, either with a reservoir chiller or by keeping your room cool, will make a huge difference. Covering your reservoir with either a lid or black and white plastic, white side facing up, will keep the light out.

You can also add hydrogen peroxide to your nutrient solution at each reservoir change to help eliminate the sludge. Cleaning your reservoir between crops is important to keep the sludge from returning. You can use a diluted bleach solution of one part bleach to five parts water, or there are many food-grade industrial cleaners available that will do the trick.

A measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution, numerically equal to 7 for neutral solutions, increasing with increasing alkalinity and decreasing with increasing acidity. We recommend that you keep your solution at about 6.5 because that is the point at which the nutrients are the most soluble.

PPM is very easily defined as Parts Per Million and can be used as the measurement of a number of different things. More commonly in the hydroponics world, this measurement is used to measure the amount of Total Dissolved Solids in your nutrient solution or how much CO2 is in your atmosphere.

Powdery mildew is a fungal infection on plant leaves caused by high humidity and poor ventilation. Preventing powdery mildew is as simple as keeping your growroom’s humidity level below 65% and providing ample air circulation. Air circulation can be improved by venting your room more often. Including ceiling fans or oscillating fans in your room can make a big difference.

Spraying your leaves with the lights out can invite powdery mildew onto your plants. There are a couple ways to treat powdery mildew. Spraying or dusting your plants with sulphur will kill the powdery mildew.

Neem oil and pine tree oil foliar sprays also work at removing and preventing powdery mildew. For large-scale removal, the best choice is a sulphur burner. This will vaporize sulphur pellets, filling your room with a sulphur mist, killing the powdery mildew.

There are numerous reasons why your leaves may be yellowing. The most common problem is a yellowing of the older, lower leaves on the plant. This is caused by a nitrogen deficiency. There is not enough nitrogen available for your fast-growing plants, causing them to take nitrogen from the older leaves and send it to the new shoots. This can usually be corrected by adding some more nitrogen to your feeding schedule.

Adding worm castings and pine tree oil are two safe ways to get more nitrogen to your plants. If the yellowing is occurring in the newer leaves, it is likely caused by a micronutrient lockout. The usual cause of this is a toxicity of either phosphorus or potassium, or high or low pH levels.

Flush your growing medium with pH-balanced water and begin watering with a quality nutrient solution. Heat from your lamps can also cause some of the leaves closest to the bulb to turn yellow or even dark brown.

Simply position your bulbs further from the canopy. Finally, overwatering can turn leaves yellow. The lack of oxygen available in the root zone will starve the plant and affect chlorophyll production.

Spider mites are the bane of every indoor gardener’s existence. These miniscule insects feed on your plant’s juices and can decimate crops. Spider mites are hard to detect, mainly because they are so small, and once you realize you have them, it is often too late.

You may notice stunted growth initially, then on closer inspection, there may be some webbing in your plants. The damage will show up as dried-out silvery spots on the younger, more vulnerable leaves, which will die and drop. Affected plants can be treated in a variety of ways.

Many people resort to insecticides. You can also spray plants with neem oil or homemade insecticidal soap (water, dish soap, garlic and cayenne pepper). These two remedies will coat the body of the spider mite, preventing molting and reproduction. Make sure you spray the undersides of the leaves, as this is where many adults and eggs are hiding. Another solution is predatory insects.

Predator mites and ladybugs make great natural spider mite controls, but do not use beneficial insects along with any pesticides or sprays because they will kill the good bugs as well as the bad ones. The best way to deal with spider mites is to prevent them from getting into your indoor garden in the first place. Always be clean and wash up before entering your growroom.

Avoid touching your plants to prevent bug transfer, and keep pets away from your plants. Keeping your growroom temperature below 75°F will also help keep spider mite populations down, as the higher the room temperature, the faster the spider mites can reproduce.

If your leaves are curling up it may be a sign that your plants are trying to reduce their surface area in an attempt to retain water.  Two possible problems may be either your lights are too close and are frying your tender plants or your fan may be blowing to strongly and drying out your plants.  Try moving your lights a little further away and redirecting your fan so its not blowing directly at your plants.

If your leaves are curling down it may be a sign that your nutrient solution is too strong.

If your plant is lit with a top light this may be an indication that not enough light is reaching the lower levels of your plant.  This is quite normal and you shouldn’t be alarmed as the top leaves should capture enough light for your plant to continue to thrive.  If you’d like you can provide supplemental light from the side to ensure your bottom leaves are getting enough light as well.