Hydroponic gardening is a popular method of indoor gardening that can be used in everything from large commercial greenhouses to apartments. There is certain equipment necessary for hydroponic gardening, which usually includes some type of reservoir to hold the nutrient solution, an aerating pump to keep the fluid moving around and oxygenated, and a means for holding the plant crowns above the solution. Another major component are appropriate indoor grow lights. There are a wide variety of hydroponic lights available to help your plants to photosynthesize, grow and mature.
The Light Spectrum And What It Means To Indoor Plants
When plants are grown outdoors, they rely on sunlight to provide them with a full light spectrum range. Because there is not enough sunlight available indoors, hydroponic lights are used to imitate what the sun’s light spectrum can do for plants.
Seedlings need light in the blue spectrum in order to grow properly. Mature plants that are ready to reproduce and form flowers and fruits require light in the red and orange spectrum. There are certain spectrums that a plant cannot use, such as the green light spectrum, so light bulbs with that spectrum are wasted on plants. Both of these spectrums, plus others, are readily available in sunlight. With hydroponic lights, though, this is not always the case. Many indoor grow lights are created with a focus in one particular spectrum, usually either red or blue, while others are full-spectrum grow lamps appropriate for all stages of plant growth. What this means is that if you are growing seedlings on to maturity, you may need to have different hydroponic lights on hand in order to give them the appropriate light spectrum they need when they need it.
•MH Lights: MH stands for metal halide. These grow lights put out a lot of light for their compact size, which makes them powerful and efficient. Because of this high output, however, they do require special fixtures for their proper function. MH lights will often have a boosted red spectrum, but are also available as full spectrum and blue spectrum bulbs.
•HPS Light: These grow lights are very effective at producing the red light spectrum. They also boast a long life of up to two years of use. Like the MH bulbs, the HPS light also produces a very bright light. These bulbs burn hot, and thus air-cooled reflectors and ducting are needed to keep them from overheating.
•LED Grow Lights: Although usually more expensive on the initial purchase price, these grow lights offer many benefits and superior lighting to the other lights. They are very lightweight, a factor when lights are hung overhead, and they produce a brighter light than the other grow lights. LED grow lights cost less to run because they use much less electricity than other grow lamps, and they offer both the red and blue light spectrums in the same bulb.
Any of these hydroponic lights could be an appropriate choice for your hydroponic system, depending on plant growth stages and budget.
Have you ever considered greenhouse gardening? Growing plants in a greenhouse can expand your gardening horizons far beyond the limits of your geographical bounds. With a backyard greenhouse, the growing season lasts year round.
Is it mid-winter in your backyard, with snow piled deep on the ground and an arctic nip in the air? Not in your greenhouse, where it’s a delightful, sunny 72.
Do outside conditions make it impossible for you to grow the plants you love right now? Are you months away from enjoying homegrown, summer savory tomatoes? Not if you have a backyard greenhouse. You could be serving your very own homegrown summer veggies with Christmas dinner – picked Christmas morning.
Greenhouse gardening will give you the freedom to grow almost anything you want, anytime you want, without waiting for a by-your-leave from Mother Nature.
Isn’t Greenhouse Gardening a Frighteningly Expensive Pastime?
To be sure, you can spend lots of money on a garden greenhouse if that’s what you want to do.
There are some beautifully elegant backyard greenhouses available that would complement the finest of mansions in appearance and aesthetics.
But there are also some surprisingly cheap greenhouse kits that you can purchase and assemble to create your own fully functional greenhouse. Or you can build your own greenhouse from scratch, and really save some money.
Thanks to modern greenhouse technology and space age materials, virtually anyone who wants a greenhouse can have one, no matter how humble or majestic it may be.
What Can You Grow in a Greenhouse?
What do you want to grow? That’s the more appropriate question, because you could grow virtually anything you want in your greenhouse.
Sure, there are exceptions. Not every plant on Earth is a candidate for greenhouse growing. But when you’re deciding what to grow in your greenhouse, you’ll find that there really aren’t many limitations.
And for the most part, the limitations you face will be of your own choosing. If you choose not to heat your greenhouseduring winter, for example, the list of plants that will be candidates for your greenhouse will be shorter. Or if you decide not to use artificial lighting to extend the day length during the short, dreary days of winter, that will be a limiting factor.
But the magic of a greenhouse is that you can create almost any environment you choose. And with that power you can make yourgreenhouse a happy home for most any type of plant, whether ornamental or edible.
You Can Grow Food of Unparalleled Quality in a Greenhouse
I’ve been involved in greenhouse gardening on a commercial scale for many years. My primary crop has been greenhouse tomatoes.
But though I’m always delighted, I’m no longer surprised when a customer tells me that my tomatoes are the best that he or she has ever eaten. I’ve heard that many times.
And they don’t say: “Your tomatoes are the best I’ve had except for summertime tomatoes.” Nor do they say: “Your tomatoes are the best I’ve had except for the homegrown tomatoes I grow in my own garden.” They just say: “Your tomatoes are the best I’ve ever had!”
Why are our greenhouse tomatoes so good?
It’s pretty simple, really. We grow them in a controlled environment, where the pampered plants receive exactly what they need to produce perfect tomatoes. That’s the advantage of greenhouse growing.
And it applies to everything you’ll grow in your greenhouse, not just tomatoes. (But trust me – you’re going to love yourgreenhouse tomatoes!)
By the way, the sheltered environment of your greenhouse will allow you to grow the most cosmetically perfect plants and produce you’ve ever seen. Think about it: Your plants won’t get rained on, wind blown, dust stormed, hail battered, frosted or sun-scorched.
The result will be exotically lush plants producing food that is off-the-charts delicious and nutritious – and beautiful to boot!
No, Your Greenhouse Won’t Be the Garden of Eden
I don’t want to get carried away and paint too positive a picture. Greenhouse gardening isn’t a perfect panacea for eliminating all of those gardening thorns-in-the-side. You can have pest problems in a greenhouse. You can have disease problems, too.
But I don’t know of any potential negative that isn’t more easily prevented or controlled within the protected environment of a greenhouse.
An example: My greenhouse tomatoes that I was so shamelessly bragging on a few paragraphs up? They are grown without any form of pesticide. We can control insect pests in our greenhouse without ever spraying insecticides, and we can control fungal diseases without ever spraying fungicides.
From season’s beginning to season’s end, not a single drop of pesticide enters the doors of our greenhouse.
Greenhouse Gardening Puts You In Control
If you’ve been gardening for a while, you’re accustomed to nature dictating the terms of your relationship. Try planting too early in the season or grasping for a few extra precious days late in the season, and nature is liable to slap you down hard. It’s happened to all of us.
But in your backyard greenhouse, you’ll set the terms.
First frost date – last frost date? Meaningless. Shortest day of the year? So what?
In your small greenhouse, the temperature can be what you want it to be. The day length can be whatever you need it to be. What you’ll be able to grow will be dictated by what you want to grow.
If you’re accustomed to playing by nature’s rules, you’ll find that greenhouse gardening offers an exhilarating sense of freedom – and lots of gardening fun.
And by the way: Though I’ve admitted above that a greenhouse isn’t a Garden of Eden, it’s easy to believe otherwise when I step inside one of my greenhouses on a bitter cold winter’s day.
I can remove my coat, and comfortably work among my plants in shirtsleeves. Though winter rages outside, it’s magically held at bay by only a few thousands of an inch thickness of plastic.
As I work, my breath provides a bit of extra carbon dioxide for my plants, and they enrich the atmosphere with oxygen for me. And we all enjoy the virtual springtime oasis created by the snug and cozy greenhouse.
No, it’s not the Garden of Eden. But it can’t be far off.
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With the release of hard-hitting documentaries such as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and Leonardo DiCaprio’s The 11th Hour energy consumption and its relationship to global climate change has become a prominent issue. What people often fail to understand is that the best solutions are not great actions on the part of a few, but rather small actions taken by the many. For example, if everyone in the U.S. were to replace incandescent lights with fluorescent ones, it could eliminate the need for Middle East oil.
LED Grow lights are another example of a small thing that can make a great difference. If you are growing your own food in a hydroponics garden, you’re already taking a step toward saving the planet. The use of LED Grow Lights allows you to take the next step in reducing your footprint on the planet. Not only to they operate at a fraction of the voltage of conventional bulbs (less than 20 VAC as opposed to 120), but they are free of mercury – a highly toxic metal used in metallic vapor and fluorescent lights.
LED Grow Lights are efficient and economical in other ways as well. Unlike the more general purpose fluorescent bulbs, LED Grow Lights require no electric or digital ballast,that can eventually burn out. They also emit “targeted light;” whereas most standard grow lights emit a broad spectrum of light that includes light wavelength that is useless to plant life, LED Grow Lights emit only that part of the spectrum actually used for photosynthesis. This also means far less waste heat, which requires extra ventilation to carry away. It also means less glare; while this useful light is very bright to plants, humans perceive such light as relatively dim. This also eliminates the need for troublesome shades and reflectors.
Although they can represent a greater upfront investment, LED Grow Light cost substantially less in the long run. In the first place, they are not nearly as fragile as conventional bulbs and fluorescents. Best of all, they are extremely durable – the average lifespan of an LED Grow Light is 100,000 hours – which is as much as fifty times as long as that of conventional bulbs. This adds up to nearly twelve years under normal conditions.
Because LED Grow Lights are environmentally friendly, they will result in healthier, more productive plants. Because they emit very little in the way of heat, LED Grow Lights allow your plants to keep cooler. Plants thrive at room temperature, receiving all the light they require without growth-stunting excess heat. In addition, your plants will suffer less from heat-related root damage that can occur when hot conventional grow lights heat the soil.
With LED Grow Lights, your plants will also require less watering.
Across the board, LED Grow Lights allow you to grow more economically and in a more environmentally-friendly way.
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Apart from water and nutrients, proper amounts of lighting are just as important. This is because, as most of us know, plants also take in nutrients by a process known as photosynthesis. Without light, it is very difficult for it to flourish. Not only that, plants also require light with distinct wavelengths in order to grow and mature properly. This includes plants grown for flowers as well as fruits. There are several different options when it comes to proper lighting. The following part of the article will deal with LED or light emitting diode grow lamps.
Out of all the different lighting options available for hydroponics, LED grow lamps are the newest addition to the family. The engineering behind these bulbs has improved greatly over the years. It quickly gained acceptance with growers because of its effectiveness. The main reason for this is because these lamps emit a broad spectrum in wave length and produce small amounts of heat, in relation to the amount of light produced. Not only that, LED lamps are very durable and will last a long time. The only complaint about them is the higher initial purchase cost. But this cost is more than made up by its efficiency and durability.
LED lights are some of the most efficient lights available in the market today. Compared to older incandescent bulbs, they are approximately seventy percent more efficient. This means you will be able to replace a 60-70 watt bulb with an LED that is only around 8-10 watts. As far as coloring of the light goes, LED lamps can easily match color with any of the other alternatives. Ultimately lighting needs depends on the plant. Some plants require more light than others. LED’s come in several levels of wattage based on your needs.
The bottom line is that, plants basically need 2 different wave lenghts for growth. Photosynthesis is needed to provide healthy growth of the stems and leaves. This in turn needs red-orange light. To stimulate flowering and fruit production, the plant needs violet-blue light. All that you, the grower, need to understand is that LED grow lights can be engineered to meet both of these needs. As mentioned before they produce a minimum amount of heat, which means you will not have install cooling systems. With some of the other lighting options a cooling system is a must, other wise there is always the chance of leaves withering.
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Having your own coral reef is a dream shared by many aquarists. For a long time, it used to be very difficult to grow and maintain coral reefs in aquariums because of the lack of knowledge about them and their needs to survive in a saltwater aquarium.
A coral reef system is complex and requires the right components and proper maintenance. The good thing is that even though some corals are still very difficult to grow and maintain, a wide range of corals are now easy to grow even for beginners.
If you’re a beginner or average aquarist, when picking corals for your saltwater aquarium, you might want to go with soft corals because they are easier to take care of.
Below are 6 different types of soft corals:
Cladiella Corals: Cauliflower, Finger Leather and Colt Coral. They adapt very well and do best with moderate lightening and water movement.
Palythoa Corals: Button Polyps and Sea Mat. Can grow very fast under bright lightening (might overgrow your other corals). Prefer rapid water movement. Warning: Handle them with gloves to protect yourself from their toxin (the palytoxin).
Sarcophyton Corals: Leather, Mushroom Leather, Toadstool, Toadstool Mushroom and Trough Coral. Adapt to all lightening levels. Moderate water movement is prefered to prevent parasites on their surface.
Discosoma Corals: Disc Anemones, Mushroom and Mushroom Corals. Low light is preferable. Active feeders (small fishes but also detritus and uneaten food).
Zoanthus Corals: Button Polyps, Zoanthid and Sea Mat. Bright light is prefered as they feed on zooxanthellae along with algae, D.O.C.’s andbacteria. Warning: Use gloves to handle them (because of the palytoxin).
As you see, many different corals can grow in your saltwater aquarium. This is just a short selection so what you have to do is research the specific needs of the different corals you’re interested in and make sure they can grow in the same aquarium. With the right light, water movement and nutriments, you’ll have a beautiful coral reef system!
Every hobbyists, either advanced or beginners want the best components in their aquarium to grow and maintain their corals in the best environment possible. That is why having a very high quality saltwater aquarium can make a difference. But the hard part about purchasing an aquarium to grow corals is that many different components are needed and selecting and installing them can be daunting task.
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