Indoor Grower Tips

A grow room is a popular home feature for gardeners who want to grow plants indoors without the use of a greenhouse. While some homes come with sun rooms for growing plants, a grow room typically has no windows. The advantages of such a feature are that the gardener can precisely control the amount of light that the plants are exposed to.

Since grow rooms have no natural light, all light must be supplied artificially by specially constructed electric lights that simulate the lighting color temperatures given off by the sun. LED grow lights require no ballast, produce very little heat, and are very inexpensive to operate. These lights are usually placed on a timer so that the plants receive an optimal amount of light. The 600w 3w LED grow light will offer the best canopy penetration if the lights are hung at a height of approximately 4’. At this height, growers will have over 24 square feet of grow space. Closer is better with LED grow lights for hydroponics, if you don’t need 24 sqft, hang it closer for more intensity. If you are switching out your old school HPS or MH for LEDs, do it slowly by weaning your plants off 30 minutes per day until all you have is LED light coverage. This will help avoid shock in your crop. Some growers add LEDs to a traditional HID to create and effective hybrid system.

In most all indoor plant systems including grow rooms, grow boxes and greenhouses, ventilation is an essential component. Plants can only thrive when kept within a certain minimum and maximum temperature range. In a grow room, the heating system controlled by the rest of the building prevents the temperatures from dipping into ranges that are too cold for the plants to survive, but a grow room requires a ventilation system to remove heat from the grow room if needed. This is not as big an issue when using 600w LED grow lighting since the units don’t produce an inordinate amount of heat. Some form of ventilation includes exhaust and circulation fans and vents. Plants really appreciate a gentle breeze in a grow room. This breeze prevents stale pockets of moisture and heat from building up, while also providing a gentle and stimulating exercise for plant stalks. Really. A gentle breeze will strengthen plants and help them to grow better.

Because many of the grow rooms today are sealed against light and insulated for temperature changes, they require internal air filters. Just as humans can become sick when exposed to old, breathed air, plants can grow poorly when grown in stale greenhouse air. Air filters help to recycle the air by pulling it through carbon filters filled with activated charcoal. These filters remove impurities from the air, including spores, dust and mildew that can harm a plant before returning the air to the grow room.

Carbon Dioxide, known as CO2 is a much needed resource for your plants’ development and overall growth. Plants use CO2 in their respiratory cycle, much like we depend on oxygen. Plants can absorb much more CO2 than that which is available at natural atmospheric pressure levels. In most outdoor environments, CO2 is available at 450 parts per million (ppm). Most plants can use anywhere from 1300 to 1600 ppm. This is roughly up to 4X the amount that is available outside. If you give your plants these elevated levels of CO2, you will immediately notice a vast increase in plant growth, development and fruit/production.

The first thing to decide is what method you want to use to enrich your room. The goal is to fill a room with the desired level of CO2 as quickly as possible.

A CO2 Injection System runs off of CO2 gas, (much like a soda dispenser) and is a good choice for a small room. The drawbacks to this kind of enrichment system is the need to consistently change CO2 tanks, and the fact that it can often take a long time to enrich a room. It’s a great choice for smaller systems.

CO2 generators come in one of two ways. You can choose to run it off of liquid propane tanks or a natural gas line. Liquid propane is fine, but the tanks need to be regularly refilled (this can be a real pain). Natural gas runs off of a natural gas line, which once installed properly, is safe, low maintenance and easy to use.

CO2 emitters do not add any extra heat to a grow room, although CO2 generators do. Depending on the size of generator you choose, you may be adding a considerable amount of heat to you grow room.

There are other DIY methods of creating CO2 including, brewing with yeast and using a fungus cultivation system. Do your research and have fun.

Feeding Fish With Worms

Tubifex, a red mud worm, can be obtained throughout the year in any good pet shop. Unfortunately, Tubifex worms are often contaminated with heavy metals and other poisons that can cause severe illness in aquarium fish. Under no circumstances should Tubifex worms be fed to delicate fish (such as discus fish). Feed them to hardier species only when you cannot get any other live food.

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If you use Tubifex as food, soak the worms thoroughly for a few days prior to using them. Put the Tubifex clusters in a container with flowing water; in stagnant water the worms will die in a few hours. Once a day lift up the cluster of worms and rinse away the dirt that has accumulated. After about three days, the Tubifex can be fed in small portions. They are not rich in vitamins. Shortly before feeding add a few drops of a multivitamin preparation to the water. The Tubifex will then absorb some of the vitamin product. Earthworms can be bought in bait shops or dug up in your yard or garden. Since they are very nutritious, you can feed them to the fish exclusively for a long time without the fish showing any signs of deficiency. Earthworms provide good nourishment for large cichlids, catfish, and other carnivorous fish. The red earthworm (Lumbricus rubellus) is a favorite of most of these fish. Before using earthworms as food, you should keep them for a few days in darkened crates with damp toilet paper (unbleached, uncolored), so that they will shed their outer mucous covering and lose the earth that adheres to their skin.

Earthworms can be bred in a compost heap or in nourishing, loose earth mixed with sawdust. They should multiply when fed a mixture of grass and garden clippings.

White worms such as Enchytraeus alhus and Enchytraeus buchholtzi are relatives of Tubifex and earthworms. After you purchase these (for use as starter cultures), place them in very large plastic or styrofoam containers. These containers must be thoroughly washed, so that they do not smell of plastic or release chemicals. Fill the containers about 2 inches (5 cm) high with damp peat that has been softened for a few days in water and then squeezed dry and finely ground. The containers must have tiny air holes and remain dark.
Enchytraeus albus worms multiply at 50 to 59°F (10 to 15°C) on a diet of oatmeal, brown bread, and powdered milk at a ratio of 1:5. Enchytraeus buchholtzi worms multiply at 68 to 77°F (20 to 25°C) on a diet of oatmeal, brown bread, and powdered milk at a ratio of 3:3:1. All the ingredients are mixed, put on the damp, loose peat surface, and gently tamped down. The peat is sprayed with water, and the containers are covered with thin material such as gauze or dishcloth. Warning: If there is too little air during breeding, the food will begin to ferment and get so hot that the worms will crawl out of the containers. Mold can also form. If the worms are afflicted with mites, they must be washed and put in fresh peat. A breeding setup should be replaced every two months by a new colony. To use the worms as food; press a glass pane gently to the peat surface. The worms will stick to the glass pane; they can then be washed off and used as food. Do not overfeed fish with these worms because they have a high fat content.

Aquarium Lighting Tips

If hobbyists select the wrong type of lighting for a home aquarium, it can result in algae overgrowth, die-off of benthic plants, poor visibility and behavioral problems in fish. Fortunately, the challenge of lighting an aquarium is simple to address when the needs of the aquarium are taken into account. A proper lighting setup can make the difference between an unattractive, imbalanced aquarium and a beautifully aquascaped paradise.

Evaluating Biotope
The most successful aquariums are not hodgepodge “community” tanks; they instead combine fish that require similar water parameters and tank setups. These natural-environment tanks (called biotope aquaria by enthusiasts) mimic the lighting and water chemistry of wild aquatic ecosystems. To select a proper lighting strength, aquarists should research the lighting needs of each resident fish species. Some popular fish, like zebra danios, thrive under very bright lights. Others–including most tetras and cichlids–become shy, sulky and dull-colored in the presence of bright lights. Lighting requirements should suit the biotope of every species in the tank.

Selecting Kelvin Rating
Aquarium lighting fixtures are usually labeled with a Kelvin rating. This rating is a number–usually 5,500, 6,500, 10,000 or 20,000–followed by the letter K. Kelvin ratings indicates the wavelength or color spectrum provided by the lighting fixture. Shorter wavelengths, like 5,500 and 6,500, provide a reddish or yellowish cast, and longer wavelengths are blue-violet in color. Most aquatic plants can thrive under lights with shorter wavelengths, but reddish-toned plants and coral reefs require the ultraviolet rays found in 10,000 to 20,000 K fixtures. Additionally, tall tanks may need higher-Kelvin lighting because longer wavelengths are able to penetrate deeper water.

Timing and Cycling
Most fish and aquatic plants need anywhere from 10 to 14 hours of lighting per day. Too much light can cause fish to develop behavioral problems and may encourage the growth of algae; too little lighting can cause plants to die off. It is critical to set up a regular and predictable lighting schedule. For very sensitive biotopes, it may be necessary to set up a timer. While fish from dark, tree-shaded environments do not require a “night light“, fish native to open-water ecosystems can sometimes benefit from a whitish LED-based fixture that imitates moonlight. Breeders and professional aquarists may also adjust lighting times to mimic seasonal and lunar cycles; this can encourage temperamental fish to breed.

About Hydroponics Gardening

Hydroponic gardening doesn’t just involve growing plants in water; it actually uses a wide variety of organic and inorganic materials. The plant derives its nutrients from the nutrientsolution circulated through the hydroponic system, instead of drawing them through its roots from the soil. This method of growing is often called nutrient-solution culture.

Let us go into the history of hydroponic gardening. Growing terrestrial plants without soil was first discussed in the 1627 book, Sylva Silvarum, after which water culture became a popular research technique. In 1929, a researcher at the University of California publicly began promoting solution culture, which by now was defined as not growing in an inert medium.

In non-aggregate or liquid hydroponics systems, no rigid supporting media are necessary. Such systems are closed, since plant roots are exposed to the nutrient solution without the mediation of a growing medium. The solution can be re-circulated and reused. The most common method of engineering a liquid hydroponics system is the nutrient film technique. The nutrient solution flows through supported polyethylene film liners or PVC piping that contains the plants roots.

A capillary mat in the channel prevents young roots from drying out. The solution is usually monitored for its salt levels. The nutrient film technique calls for a greatly reduced volume of hydroponic solution and temperature adjustments to the system are easily possible.

Aggregate hydroponics systems have an organic or inorganic medium of support which is solid. Hydroponics systems can also be open – where the nutrient solution is delivered to the plant roots and not reused, or closed, where the surplus solution can be recovered, replenished and recycled.

Hydroponics must pay attention to the special needs of every crop. Hydroponics gardening systems are evolving fast, as scientists help create newer organic nutrient formulae that are ecologically sound and sustainable solutions while being able to drive up plant yield significantly. Moreover, hydroponics gardening is a solution for every space – hydroponics is possible even in deserts and space stations!

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How Hydroponics is helping the eco-system

‘Hydroponics’ is the new method of 19th century, also known as aquaculture. It is a method of cultivating plants using liquid nutrient solutions, without soil; yes the soil is not required in this method. Normally, for any terrestrial plant soil acts as a mineral reservoir, but in this method the soil is not required for the growth of a plant. Hydroponics has gained popularity in the global market in last few years.

But, hydroponics should not be confused with soilless culture. There is a slight difference between hydroponics and soilless culture. Soilless culture does not require usage of soils with clay or sediment. Also, hydroponics requires many mineral nutrient solutions, which are not used by soilless culture.

Hydroponics has proved to be a very beneficial in the market place. The most important advantage of hydroponics is, it requires no soil. The other advantages are: the cost is less as the water in the system can be reused; the nutrition level can be controlled, so lower nutrition cost; it is eco-friendly because there is no nutrition pollution released; and because of the container’s mobility there are fewer chances of pests and related diseases.

But of course, all methods have their own limitations. Even hydroponics has few disadvantages like: it creates an environment that stimulates salmonella growth, which can cause abdominal pains and diarrhea in human body; the plants require different fertilizers and containment systems; and, pathogens attacks caused by high moisture levels associated with hydroponics.

The two main types of hydroponics are solution culture and medium culture. Solution culture is further classified into three main categories: static solution culture, continuous flow solution culture and aeroponics. And, medium culture can further be classified in two main types: subirrigation and top irrigation.

It is very important for the farmers, applying hydroponic method, to make a careful decision as to which medium they should use, as different techniques have different medium. Hydroponic farmers can make a choice of mediums, which are as follows:
(1) Diahydro;
(2) Expanded clay;
(3) Rock wool;
(4) Coir;
(5) Perlite;
(6) Vermiculite;
(7) Sand;
(8) Gravel;
(9) Brick Shards;
(10) Polystyrene packing peanuts; and
(11) Wood fiber.

Hydroponics has been the most beneficial and preferred method by people who are fond of vegetable gardening. The method has been successful in providing tasty, nutritious, and good quality vegetables and fruits. Because it is pest free it is most favoured in international markets. No need to worry about the excess water or little water. It is a very consistent method.

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