Your grow lights are one of the most important pieces of your indoor garden and they determine the health and size of your plants. That is why it is important that you have the perfect levels of light.
In order to be precise, use a light meter to check relative light values over time and in different areas of your garden. Alex would recommend the Hydrofarm Light Meter for this purpose.
The Hydrofarm Light Meter is a precision instrument used to measure luminance (footcandles). The meter is fully cosine corrected for the angular incidence of light, meaning that if you are not holding the sensor perfectly perpendicular to the light source, the sensor will still read the light correctly.
The sensor is stable and made of a long-life silicon photo diode. The digital light meter accurately measures to 40,000 FC. The meter’s built-in low battery indicator means you’ll never be caught by surprise by a low-power product.
To learn more about the Hydrofarm Light Meter or add it to your cart, click here.
So you’ve decided to take the plunge into hydroponic gardening. Your tired of the slow growth of soil based gardens and want to take advantage of the increased oxygen availability to roots, achieve the fastest growth rates and experience the biggest yields. Since hydroponic gardening is growing in the absence of soil, you are faced with the choice of which medium to replace it with. The answer should be Rockwool!
Rockwool isn’t the most popular hydroponic medium by accident. Savvy gardeners and greenhouse professionals alike have been using rockwool for decades to achieve some of the most productive gardens on the planet. Rockwool has been carefully designed to provide a near-perfect air to water ratio, far surpassing the oxygen and water retention capabilities of regular garden soil. These ideal root conditions combined with dramatically reduced weight, volume and mess also make rockwool a pleasure to work with. When compared to the equal volume of garden soil, rockwool media will support considerably larger root systems and therefore proportionately larger plants making it a sure winner in the garden.
Rockwool is inert which enables 100% control of the nutrients available to the plants. Rockwool is also extremely versatile, working well with a wide variety of plants. The nutrient solution can be applied manually by hand feeding for small applications,or drip irrigated for larger scale gardens. The reduced volume of rockwool also makes it an ideal medium for flood and drain applications – probably the most simple and reliable method of hydroponic gardening. Due to rockwool’s porous structure it is also very easy to flush excess nutrients out of the media.
Now that we know rockwool is the ideal media for clean and highly productive gardens, lets take a look at its environmental impact. Rockwool is sustainability produced from basalt rock, one of the most common types of rock on the planet. Some larger forms of rockwool media such as slabs are able to be reused for more than one growth cycle. Rockwool that can not be reused can be up cycled as an ideal soil amendment. Although it is a stone product and it will never decompose, it has the ability to improve all soil conditions as it is truly the ideal growth media. Clay soils will benefit from added oxygen retention and drainage, while sandy soils will benefit from added water retention.
Whether you are a novice gardener, or a professional, the exceptional performance of rockwool is well suited to you. Take advantage of this high performance, user friendly and sustainable medium to take your garden, and most importantly your yields, to the next level!
Making a commitment to healthy eating is a great start towards a healthy and long life. Beyond eating more fruits, vegetables, there is the question of food safety, nutrition, and sustainability. How foods are grown can impact both your health and the environment. This brings up a few questions:
What is the difference between organic foods and non organic foods?
Foods certified as organic in Canada must meet certain requirements found in the Canadian Organic Standards Document. These standards are geared around sustainable crop production with minimal impact on the environment. To summarize these requirements food must be produced in a way which protects the environment, minimizes soil degradation and erosion, decreases pollution, optimize biological productivity and promotes a sound state of health. This means crops must not be genetically modified organisms, or treated with pesticides which way harm the environment or consumer. They must also be grown in a way which recycles materials and resources to the greatest extent possible.
Is “organic” more healthful, or worth the added expense?
While is great to purchase foods which are grown by methods which protect the environment and conserve resources, it is important to note that certified organic foods are not necessarily more healthful than their non-certified counterparts. The Canadian Organic Standards document specifically states “Neither this standard nor organic products in accordance with this standard represent specific claims about the health, safety and nutrition of such organic products.” This means that the quality of food grown organically does not necessarily surpass the quality of non-organically certified foods.
Can non-certified organic foods be just as healthful as certified organic products?
Yes! Assuming the food was not treated with pesticides or grown from GMO genetics, it should be just as healthful as food produced according to the organic standards listed above. It is worth noting that organic fertilizers such as manure and guanos are not available to plants as a food source until they are broken down via the soil food web. Once this process has been completed, the organic inputs are chemically identical to the synthetically derived nutrients often used in non organic gardening. In soil based gardens synthetically derived nutrients can affect long-term soil fertility by impacting conditions for biological activity within the soil. However, in a hydroponic application these nutrients are recycled, therefore never making their way into the ground or affecting the quality of ground water.
Can you grow organic food hydroponically?
Yes! Hydroponic gardens can produce non GMO food by using organically derived nutrients with the absence of pesticides while recycling and conserving water and thus having a minimal impact on the environment. Hydroponically produced food can be grown with 1/5 the water and can also many times more productive per square foot of garden space without the risk of leaching nutrients into ground water sources.
This means the home gardener should focus not on labels but on growing quality proven genetics, through sustainable gardening methods while avoiding the use of pesticides. When growing outdoors in the ground, organically derived nutrients can be used to minimize soil degradation. When hydroponically the home gardener has the flexibility to use either organically or synthetically derived nutrients to produce high quality food in their hydroponic gardens.
By Alex Dymon
Winter is still upon us, but this has no bearing on your ability to grow delicious hot peppers in the comfort of your own home. Whether you are growing indoors from sprout to harvest, or simply starting off your seeds for the outdoor season, both can be accomplished with great success.
In part one of this series I will discuss the best methods used for sprouting your pepper seeds. Although it is possible to sprout your seeds in soil, we will be focusing on the hydroponic methods in order to take advantage of the many benefits of hydroponic growing. These benefits include increased growth rates, faster maturity and fruit production as well as increased yields.
What you will need:
Lets get started:
The first step in sprouting pepper seeds is to give them a presoak. This means you should soak your seeds in water overnight to kick start the germination process. A shot glass or similar device works well for this practice. Remember to separate seeds based on variety in order to be able to identify which plant is which down the road.
The next step is to prepare your growing medium. Jiffy 7 propagation plugs are best suited to soil or soilless growing as they have fine particles which can become loose and clog or soil active hydroponic systems. Rockwool starter plugs can be easily transplanted to either soil, soilless or hydroponic gardens making them the most versatile. Both of these types of growing media require a presoak before they are ready to receive the seed. Using your pH tester and your pH Down, set the pH of your water to 6.5 for the Jiffy 7 method or 5.5 for the Rockwool method. Do this by first testing the pH of your water and then adding a few drops of pH down and retesting until your pH is in the correct range. Be sure to stir the solution well before taking your adjusted pH readings. Once your pH is set to the correct level, it is time to soak your media. 10 seconds is sufficient for Rockwool and the Jiffy 7’s will require more time to expand since they come in compressed form. Once your media is soaked it can be transferred to your propagation tray. The Jiffy 7’s will require some shaping and removal of excess water before they are placed in your propagation tray. Propagation media should be moist but not soggy or else your seeds may rot.
Now that your tray is full of propagation media, it’s time to insert your presoaked seeds. Best practice is to place three seeds per propagation plug. If your seeds are far more valuable than the cost of the propagation media, you may elect to plant only one seed per plug. Seeds should be planted at a depth of 1/4″ and tamped gently to ensure coverage. Sometimes it is necessary to tear off a small piece of Rockwool from the edge of the cube to cover the seed. Once seeds are planted and tamped, they are ready to be sealed in their propagation dome to establish a warm humid environment to aid in germination. A Seedling Heat Mat can help speed up the germination process, however, be sure that the media does not dry out due to the added heat (ideal seed temperature for germination is 80-85 Degrees Fahrenheit).Ensure that there is no standing water in the bottom of your tray and then the propagation tray/dome can now be placed in a sunny location or under a grow lamp to speed up the propagation process.
A general rule of thumb is that a single T5grow lamp can be sufficient to sprout seeds, however, multiple lamps will produce better growth once germination has occurred.
Suggestion: Coloured small paper clips make for excellent plant identifiers. Other low cost items can be used as well, just be sure that they do not absorb moisture such as wood or paper or they will be prone to grow mould while sealed in your propagation dome.
Note: some pepper seeds can take up to 4+ weeks to germinate.
Once your peppers sprout and begin to grow, the strongest of the three seeds should be left to live, and the weaker plants culled from each propagation plug. This can be achieved by simply clipping the weaker plants with a pair of scissors at the base. It is not recommended to grow more than one plant per plug as they will compete for resources for the rest of their lives. Also at the time of germination, the vents on the propagation dome should be progressively opened each day to slowly expose the seedlings to the less humid atmosphere. Once the first set of true leaves appear (not the first set of rounded leaves called cotyledons) it is time to apply your fertilizer at 1/4 strength. For DNF Gro this means 1.5 ml of part A and 1.5 ml of Part B to one litre of H2O. Only water once plugs become dry and light weight, however do not wait too long for your delicate sprouts to wilt or the damage may be irreversible.
Congratulations, if you made it this far then you are well on your way to producing a healthy pepper harvest!
Stay tuned for the next installment which will focus on the lighting and growth methods available to grow these sprouts to the size required for an abundant harvest!
If you require additional information on seeds and germination click the links below: