BetterGrow Hydro Blog

Deep Water Madness

Deep Water Culture is a very simple Hydroponic system where your root system is submerged in your nutrient solution with an air pump creating oxygen for the root zone.  This was the first system I ever used and although it sounds simple, I was unaware of the many problems this type of system was to present me with. I used organic nutrients mixed with synthetic which was my first mistake.  Anaerobic bacteria was growing my reservoirdue to me mixing a microbial compost tea with a sugar based product. Also reservoir temperature control is a must, if it gets too warm many things can happen such as root rot etc.  In Deep Water Culture Systems it is important to keep the temperature of the nutrient solution low and to use a clean synthetic nutrient regiment.

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Growing With

The plants are steadily approaching the flowering part of their life cycle. I put the 12-inch tall vegetating plants under an HID (high intensity discharge) HPS lamp and was going to grow them under it for another week before I instigated flowering but the plants had other plans. They did not really enjoy being in the flowering room under such intensity. When I came in the following day several of the plants were weepy.  Definitely not a watering problem—the coco in the cups was perfectly moist—so it was either the light intensity or the atmosphere.  I checked the values of my vegetative room (temp and humidity) and tried to replicate that in the flower room. The temps were in the low 80s (79F-82F), so that was the same, but I noticed that the humidity in the vegetative room kept at 50-60% RH (relative humidity) and in the flowering room it would only go as high as 48%RH and sometimes dipped below 30%RH. I was pretty sure this was the cause of the wilting, and was further convinced it was so after reading an article in Urban Garden:

The article is a little technically advanced and jargon filled—don’t let that dismay you, they have a chart that you can reference that tells you what your RH should be based on your temp, all color coded even, just aim for the green. (Probably does not help the readers who are color blind, but they should be able to tell that there’s a shade difference).  Using this chart as a reference, I set out to look for a means of adding humidity to the room. My first purchase was a $40 who-knows-what-brand humidifier. Well, not only did it not really help increase humidity (I think it helped raise it maybe 2-3%RH) but it stopped working after the 4th day. You see, the problem is these smaller humidifiers hold only a gallon or so of water (I used filtered/ Reverse osmosis water to reduce calcium build up—you know, that white crusty build up you get on your showerhead/faucet) and it would run out after a couple of hours on full blast. That is probably how it burned out and why it died. So currently, I am on a mission for a humidifier. In the meantime, I have put the plants back in the vegetative room under my Sunblaze 48 while I get my flower room’s environment under control.

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Vertical versus Horizontal

Hi, my name is Nick; I have been growing hydroponically since 2005. The last couple of years I have been growing in a vertical garden. Today I will be talking about the pros and cons to vertical gardening in The Cage. The Cage consists of a 72 site vertical hydroponic system, which is used as a drain to waste, or a recirculation system.

The pros:

1. A cage has 72 plants within a 16-foot area with 1200 Watts of light. An average flat garden has about 20 plants in a 16-foot area, with 1000 Watts of light.

2. I have also noticed growing vertically that water flows from the top to bottom, so there is no salt build up like traditional flat gardens.

3. Since the majority of flowers have a vertical growth pattern, vertical lighting is the best way to maximize the plants potential for maximum yield. More light penetration equals much more yields.

The cons:

1. You have less root space in my experience in a vertical garden, but not really an issue due to the high yields you get from your plants.

2. You need a bottom fan to circulate air properly throughout your room.

3. In vertical gardens the spacing between your plants are substantially closer to each other, then with a traditional flat bed garden, so it is much harder to work with your plants.

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Being Green – Conserving Water with Hydroponic Gardening

By design alone, hydroponic gardens can use up to ninety percent less water than in traditional soil gardens.

How do we achieve such impressive conservation you ask? Well, my Eco-friendly amigos, the nutrient rich water being supplied to your robust tomato plants, is stored in a reservoir, and while being constantly aerated, it is re-circulated within your garden until the nutrients have been depleted (up to 2 weeks), all of which can later be pumped on to your outside garden or lawn, thereby utilizing every ounce of that precious H20!

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How to – Properly check your room temperature?

Atmosphere is an important variable in hydroponic gardening that needs to be controlled.  Invest in a quality thermometer that has min/max, Hygrometer, and a temperature probe. Place the probe right at the plant canopy when plants have reached desired height, until then it is advisable to keep the probe near the plants base to ensure you are maintaining desired root zone temperature. If you are using CO2, keep your temperature at 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity at 50%-60%. If you are not using CO2, keep your temperature around 75-78 degrees Fahrenheit, and 40%-50% relative humidity.

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Tips & Tricks

Having problems getting the tubing for your hydro system to fit on the barbed elbows and tees? Try this simple solution –Spray down the fitting with a little streakless alcohol based window cleaner (Windex, etc.). The cleaner will act as a natural lubricant and since its alcohol based, it will evaporate quickly, leaving your connection clean and watertight!

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Organic “VS” Synthetic

One of The Benefits of using Synthetic nutrients over Organic nutrients is the ability to measure nutrient solution concentration. With organic nutrients, using  a tds/ppm/ec  meter will give an inaccurate reading due to the fact that tds/ppm/ec is a measurement based upon the electrical conductivity of salts.  Another downside to using organics is that the thickness of the nutrient solution can be a lot different from that of a clean synthetic based mix. All those natural components in your Organic fertilizers can clog pumps, drip emitters, sprayers etc. Synthetic Fertilizers tend to push your plant to perform at its fullest capability, that is one reason I tend to use synthetic based nutrients in my programs, but this also can lead to over fertilization, salt build up and other issues if not used correctly.

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Growing With

I’m starting this blog as a means of not only helping other hobbyist growers, but also as a journal I can use for personal reference. A key ingredient in successfully growing tomatoes is to log down several of the parameters that you are adjusting/monitoring daily. I will keep a log daily of the temperature and humidity (minimums, maximums, and current). I will also keep a log of the pH and the ppm of the nutrient solution I will be using. I will take a reading when I come into the indoor garden and reference it to last night’s final numbers and adjust accordingly. For example, yesterday when I came in the pH had drifted up to 6.7 from 6.2, and the ppm had gone from 960 to 1040. The water level had also gone down a little as well. Notating these daily differences has helped me a lot in keeping track of trends, so that when something goes awry, I can easily reference any changes that may have happened in the last day or two.  This enables me to readily address and fix the problem. This sometimes is not enough. I will be sharing with you my daily observations, tips, trials and tribulations I may come across and hopefully, this will not only be an aid to me but also of some assistance to you.

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Bettergrow is Hiring – Employment Opportunities

Interested in joining the BetterGrow Team? Our Company is expanding and we are in need of experienced Sales Associates and Store Managers with a passion to educate the community and the world about Hydroponic Gardening. We are looking for experienced retail people to help customers achieve their maximum growing experience. We require candidates to have a great attitude and excellent computer and math skills. Our interview process is subject to skills testing and background check. To be considered for the open positions please send your resume with salary history to [email protected]

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