LED Grow Lights Helpful Hints for Medical Marijuana Growers

  • LED’s produce low amounts of heat so they will not burn your plants. You can choose to move the lights closer to the plants. Closer lights means more light getting to your plants at a higher intensity.
  • Low Heat means less heat stress for your plants which ensure maximum fruit, flower and bud production.
  • Low heat produced by the LED lights also means less ventilation and lower air conditioning bills. Watch and adjust your room temperatures as you start using LED lamps.
  • LED’s produce the exact bandwidths plants need to grow, flower and produce fruit. Three colors are key to growth which are blue, orange and red at a ratio of 1:1:7 respectively. This technology was originally developed by NASA for use on space missions so the Astronauts could efficiently grow food.
  • LED grow lights provide your garden the same amount of usable light and use about a third of the electricity. A 600 watt commercial series LED grow light is equal to about 1600 to 1800 watts of HID lighting. This same light only uses 5 amps to produce that amount of light. A 1000 HID light in comparison uses 15 amps of electricity.
  • If you are feeding your plants on a regular schedule with a high quality fertilizer be prepared to tweak fertilizer levels because of the lower stress and heat levels. Plants will use less nutrients for better results.

 

Being knowledgeable about your LED Grow Light.

  • Hang your light in a safe fashion. Use quality hooks and parts to attached into building structure.
  • Do not get your light wet. Similar to all other lights water is not your friend.
  • Read the instructions and send in your warranty card (or do it online).
  • Use a quality light timer rated correctly for the size light(s) you are using.
  • Use a surge protector on your light. Rare surges in power lines can happen.
  • LED’s can be used for shorter photo periods in some cases. Plants need darkness and rest to grow the next day.
  • Do not obstruct ventilation openings on the LED Grow Light. Let it breathe.
  • Keep your light(s) clean and occasionally check your fans for dust. Canned air is helpful.

Plants in the Hydroponic System Water Q&A

Rix Dobbs shows the roots of a lettuce plant g...

Image via Wikipedia

Q: I have a NFT hydroponic system. I can’t seem to find away to stop the plug (in which I started the seed off in) from sitting in the flow of water. Please can you help?

A: Some moisture in the transplant plug is usually desirable to prevent the roots in the plug from dying. However, some plants do not like to be fully submerged in standing water. Depending on how deep the nutrient solution is in the channels of your hydroponic system, you have a few different possible solutions.

One idea is to use very small netted pots. The strategy here is to place a seed (or clone) into the transplant plug, then to place the plug directly into a netted pot just big enough to hold the transplant plug. You want to do all of this before your seed (or clone) grows any roots. Once you see the first sign of roots, you want to place the netted pots into your hydroponic system. Ideally, the very bottom of the plug come into contact with the nutrient solution just a little bit. This allows the plug to “wick up” the moisture it needs until it can grow roots down into the bottom of your channels.

Another strategy is similar to above, except the plugs are suspended an inch or more above the nutrient solution (usually because of the design of the system). In this case, you may want to consider adding a drip system. This will provide enough moisture to each transplant plug until your plants have the opportunity to grow roots down into your system.

If the nutrient solution is shallow (about 1/2- 1 inch deep) you may want to consider anchoring your transplant plugs into 3″ netted pots with a few clay pellets, then sitting the netted pots down into the channels of your hydroponic system. In this strategy, the netted pots sit right down on the bottom, but the re-circulating water is very shallow and therefore stays well oxygenated. The pots also can wick up the moisture they need until they can grow roots down into the system. With a little modification to your system, the netted pots can even be lifted out of the standing water and suspended above the nutrient solution once there is significant root growth.

Lastly, many plants will tolerate being grown straight in standing water. Even plants that prefer fast draining soil will grow well in these conditions, as long as an effort is made to keep the nutrient solution well oxygenated and to keep the temperature of the nutrient solution between 68 and 72 degrees. This is true with my most successful hydroponic system. The whole strategy can be found at the link above, and the system works very well with tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, herbs, spinach, and many other plants. I hope this helps you out, and Happy Growing!

Hydroponic Gardening Tips and Tricks

We have seen many people try hydroponic gardening once or twice and fail, never to try again. The reason usually falls into one of three categories…

  • lack of knowledge– you don’t know how things should be or what you need to do
  • lack of discipline– you know how things should be and you know what needs to be done, but you don’t take the time or put forth the effort
  • lack of ability– you know how things should be, you know what needs to be done, and you are eager to put forth the time and effort… but you do not have necessary hydroponic gardening equipment or supplies

The tips list/explain below will help you identify (and eliminate) problems in your hydroponic garden. Even after reading advice like this myself, it took two years of making mistakes and learning things the hard way before I changed my approach and took these lessons to heart. As a result, I had the most successful garden I ever had. So, follow the tips below to shave years off of your learning curve and skip right to excellent results!

Tips and Tricks – The Short List

  • Know what equipment you need and why
  • Know the nutritional requirements of your plants
  • Know the light/photoperiod requirements of your plants
  • Use a professional three part hydroponic nutrients product
  • Do not use additional nutrient additives your first time
  • Have a written plan/feeding schedule before you start
  • Have all necessary equipment and nutrients before you start
  • Garden indoors when it is 55*F or less outdoors (or use AC)
  • Keep the ballast for your lights in a different room
  • Check and adjust your nutrient reservoir solution every day
  • Minimize light exposure to your nutrient solution
  • Have an extra reservoir of plain water waiting for your next nutrient change
  • Change your water and nutrients completely every two weeks
  • Use a digital timer to control your dark period
  • Keep your dark period completely dark and uninterrupted
  • Clean and sterilize your system between crops
  • Quarantine new plants for two weeks before adding to your garden
  • Do not visit your garden after visiting another garden or being outdoors
  • Do not allow pets in your garden
  • Visit your garden after a shower and a fresh change of clothes
  • Make any visitors to your garden follow these same rules
  • Put a screen or filter over your air intake and exhaust (if outdoors)

Having a Plan

Hydroponic gardening success begins with having a solid plan. Having a plan means knowing your plants nutritional requirements and photoperiod requirements and having the supplies and equipment necessary to meet those needs. Actually having a written week by week feeding schedule, complete with nutrient strengths and nutrient changes, would also be very helpful.

Feeding/Nutrients

Know the nutritional requirements of your plants before you start. Know how strong the nutrients should be each week of your plant’s life, and know what the nutrients should consist of each week. Many plants need more Nitrogen at first, than switch to needing more Phosphorus to produce fruit or flowers.

Do not try to mix up your own plant food. Instead, start with a professional hydroponic nutrients product. These are usually three part systems and are complete (and easy to use). My favorite is BC Nutrients. Once your hydroponic gardening system is up and running and producing excellent results, than you can try mixing up your own special plant food if you like. At least than you will know exactly what the problem is if things don’t work out!

The same is true for using nutrient additives. Don’t try to improve your results by adding a bunch of extra things to your nutrient reservoir (at least not at first). Start by feeding just the basic three part nutrients until your hydroponic gardening system is working smoothly and producing excellent results. Than if you like you can try adding vitamin B1, liquid seaweed, or silica (or all three).

Finally, you need to check and maintain your nutrient reservoir every day. After using the same nutrients for two weeks, you need to start over with fresh water and fresh nutrients. The most beneficial way to do this is to have two nutrient reservoirs, one with nutrient solution for your hydroponic gardening system and one with plain water for your next nutrient solution change. I can’t stress how important this tip is! The second reservoir allows the water to dechlorinate and come to room temperature, both protecting your roots.

Root Health

If roots become damaged, they cannot take up nutrients to feed the plants. Any damage below ground will result in damage above ground as dead leaves and sick plants. Protect your roots by maintaining your nutrient solution properly, by using two hydroponic nutrient reservoirs (one with plain water for your next nutrient change), and by minimizing the amount of light that comes in contact with your nutrient solution. This will prevent algae, which will prevent fungus gnats, which will prevent root damage.

Adequate Lighting

There are very few shortcuts when it comes to lighting an indoor garden. You need a minimum of 40 watts/sq.ft., but 60 watts/sq.ft. would be better. Either high pressure sodium lights or metal halide lights will do a very fine job and are the most popular choices. For various reasons I recommend a 600 watt LED grow light 3w, check out How to choose the correct lighting arrangement for hydroponic gardening.

Controling Temperature

HID lights put out a lot of heat, making temperature an issue in an indoor garden. Placing the ballast for your light outside the grow room will help, but it is not enough. A centrifugal fans or squirrel cage fans are an absolute must, but if you use LED grow light, don’t need to buy an extra fans.

Photoperiod

Many crops require shorter daylight periods to trigger flowering/fruiting. Two keys to success here: First, the lights need to be turned off and back on at exactly the same time each day (tip- use a digital timer!). Second, the plants should be kept in absolute complete UNINTERRUPTED darkness during the dark period. Plants can be extremely sensitive to this, so don’t try to skirt around this. For more info, check out my flower forcing page.

The Right Equipment/Tools

Don’t start your garden unless you have all your bases covered from the beginning. You will need a completely dark area, a high powered fan, an adequate light, a hydroponic gardening system, hydroponic nutrients, an oscillating fan, a TDS meter (or EC meter), a pH test kit, and possibly an air conditioner. Minimum. A thermometer and a digital timer would come in handy too.

What are Lumens and Lux

One of the most commonly used terms when referring to the power of a given grow light is the word lumens.  For years, it has been the standard measurement of the growing capability of metal halide and high pressure sodium grow lights.  The problem is that this term has been used incorrectly for over 30 years.  In this article, we will explore the real meaning and correct use of lumens and further describe what you should be looking for when it comes to choosing LED grow lights that pack the most growing-power for your dollar.

What are Lumens and Lux

Lumens and lux are both measurements popular with grow light manufacturers – both HID and LED – to give potential customer a reference point for the relative brightness of various lights. In some jurisdictions, a lamp’s lumen output rating must be on the label as required by law. What we are told (and have been for years) is that the higher the lumen rating of a given light, the better, faster, bigger, etc. your plants will grow.

But there is one MAJOR problem with using Lumens as a reference point for growing plants.

By definition, a lumen is a measurement of how bright (the power) a light is perceived by the human eye. The term lux is very similar to lumen in that it measures the intensity of light, however, it also takes into account the total area covered by a given number of lumens. For now, don’t get bogged down by the technical side, just know that lux and lumen both measure the intensity of light to the human eye.

So what’s the big deal? A bright light is good, right? The sun does a pretty good job at growing things and it’s really bright. Don’t we want to mimic the sun?

Well, yes and no . . .

Lumen & Lux Are Irrelevant To Plant Growth

Unless the plants under your grow lights have eyes, lumens & lux make zero difference in how well your plants grow. Plants respond most efficiently to light that is beyond what humans can perceive so it does not necessarily matter how bright your light is. As a matter of fact, 80% or more of the light emitted by either the sun or from HID lights, goes unused by plants for photosynthesis.  It is that portion of light that we humans see with our eyes and can register as being bright.

Planning your Medical Marijuana Grow Room

You will need to think about the following equipment to get a grow room up and going.

  • Growing medium;
  • Reservoir tank and water;
  • Grow systems;
  • Final plant size – how big do you want these ladies to be?
  • Lighting, type and distance between the lights and the plants;
  • Fans and air control including ventilation;
  • Power outlets, timers, and meters (temperature, EC and pH);
  • Room to work around the growth.

Spend some time planning your marijuana grow room in advance. A well planned grow room will be easier to work in and leaves less room for costly mistakes and accidents. Any space that can be made into an enclosed, lightproof environment will be suitable; from a whole garage or attic, down to a cupboard or even a tented off area of your room. But remember that you will need ventilation and space around the plants to tend to them.

Ideally, you should have at least 6ft (1.83cm) of headroom and easy access to power sockets. You can grow in smaller spaces but you will need to train your plants downwards on wires on a daily basis as they grow quickly under lights.

Think about discretion. Fans, bright lights(ie 600w LED) and pumps can sometimes attract unwanted attention and so should be kept away from neighbours or living accommodation where they may prove a nuisance. It is also important to think about odours. You’re burgeoning crop may begin to smell quite strongly, even from outside your house or flat. More information on eliminating odours can be found here.

Safety is a crucial consideration when planning the growing environment. Electricity and water don’t mix. Keep all electric appliances away from water and up off the floor in case of flooding. Before starting to grow, double check all timers, pipes, leads and electrical connections. It is usually a good idea to buy new gear but well inspected used gear can save you a lot of money. We would always buy new LED grow lights though as they do have a longer life expectancy and old traditional grow lights can offer poor results.

Give the whole system a dummy run first to be sure that there have been no errors in setting up. Watch that reservoir systems do not overfill on to the floor, that light does not escape the room and that the temperature does not fluctuate or get too hot or cold in the air and the reservoir. Remember to keep a fire extinguisher to hand in the grow room. I am not joking.

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