Which Kind of Hydroponic Light is Best

When deciding on the kind of hydroponic light most suitable for your system, you should always make sure you pick the right light for your specific situation. Not all grow lights can be used in similar environments which is why there are different varieties available at different strengths to meet every kind of situation. It is essential to do your homework on this subject and know exactly which light will meet your needs best.

Below, you will find a list of the most popular grow lights and detailed information on them allowing you to make an informed decision when choosing your hydroponic lights.

Fluorescent Lights
Fluorescent lights produce a full spectrum light. This kind of lighting is very energy efficient to operate especially when compared to other kinds of grow lights. Fluorescent grow lights usually work best when placed very close to the plants due to their short range capacity. They are also usually used for plants in their seedling stage and work brilliantly for clones, too.

Metal Halide
Metal halide bulbs emit light in the blue and violet spectrum which is the type of light usually present in summertime. Metal halide lights are commonly used in the vegetative stage of plant life, and with high success. Because of the type of light emitted, this bulb is commonly favored by professional growers. By simulating the sun’s natural springtime light, metal halide lights encourage root growth and also prolific foliage growth. This type of lighting does, however, produce a great deal of heat and should never be used in a closed area, but instead in an open room with adequate ventilation.

High Pressure Sodium
This grow light is intended to simulate autumn sunlight in the orange and red field. This light is best used for the flowering stage of plant life, but can also be used for the duration of a plant’s complete life. A huge advantage of this type of hydroponic lighting is that, with just one bulb, you can cover a huge growing area, thus maximizing your growing space. They do need to be kept in an open air garden at least two to three feet above your plants, but they can be easily raised without any effect on your garden. Another huge advantage of high pressure sodium bulbs is that their life span is very impressive; most bulbs can last two years under constant use. It is wise, however, to only use these bulbs if you are growing in a grow room and not in a grow closet or box as they get very hot and could cause some safety issues.

LED Grow Lights
LED grow lights are ultra-efficient but, at the same time, produce tremendous results. LEDs do not produce any heat and can be incorporated into almost any kind of growing operation – big or small. There is a downside to this kind of hydroponic light system, however. They can be very expensive. But, in the long run, they will pay for themselves with the money you will be saving on energy costs.

When to Change Reservoir Water

All hydroponic systems need some kind of reservoir to hold the water/nutrient solution, and they all need to have the reservoir water changed out and refilled on a regular basis. Since a hydroponic garden has no soil to get its nutrients and minerals from, it is always very important to keep your reservoir water clean and balanced. By keeping this in check, your plants will stay healthy and generally have fewer problems in the future.

When to change the reservoir water is really up to the individual grower and your specific preference. You generally want to change the water every two to three weeks, but your reservoir tank really needs to be checked every day for any problems or concerns.

In a hydroponic garden, the water levels decrease for two main reasons – the water from the tank slowly evaporates into the air and the plants absorb some of it, too. This causes the water levels to drop a little every day. If the water level goes down too much, then the roots will eventually stop receiving the required nutrient solution – if this happens, you will have big problems. It also causes the nutrients in the water to get more and more concentrated causing the solution to eventually “burn” the roots because of the nutrient intensity. If the water level drops too much before it is time to change it, then fill up the tank with straight water until the desired level has been achieved.
One suggestion would be to keep a constant record of how much water you actually add to “top off” the tank and when you did this. When the water you’ve been adding reaches the volume of half the tank’s capacity, then change all the water out with fresh water and add in a fresh amount of the required nutrient solution, always paying specific attention to the correct quantity.

By following this suggestion for changing your reservoir, you will ensure a clean and healthy hydroponic garden. It is also a great starting point for keeping your system clean. You will eventually develop your own tips and tricks making the whole process simpler and more automated.

Here are some common symptoms which could indicate that the water needs to be changed:

Nitrogen Deficiency
Symptoms:
• The whole plant turns a light shade of green
• The lower growth/leaves turn yellow
• You may notice that plant growth is stunted

Solution:
Change the water

Too Little Phosphorus
Symptom:
A plant turns a bluish green, or red and purple
Solution:
Check the water and all other aspect of your water solution

Not Enough Nutrients in the Water
Symptoms:
• The plant looks malnourished and slightly drooping
• The plant is pale green in color
• The stems and branches are not so still

Solution:
Change out the water in your hydroponic garden often – it is better to change the water out sooner rather than later if this symptom is occurring.

What is Hydroponics

Some of us may wonder – What is hydroponics? Hydroponic gardening is an up-and-coming alternative to growing plants the old fashioned way in soil. Hydroponic systems cultivate plants using water enriched with nutrients instead of growing with soil and getting the nutrients from the soil itself. This form of growing has been proven to grow fruits and vegetables faster and bigger allowing them to mature more quickly giving an increased yield and size. While most people were hesitant about growing with hydroponics in the past, the more recent strides in hydroponic farming have made using this method easier than ever.

The key of hydroponics is being able to directly feed the root system with water and nutrients more quickly and thoroughly than by growing in soil. The water in hydroponic systems is infused with the right balance of nutrients to promote healthy and rapid root growth. The other benefit to using this type of system (when not nourishing the roots with nutrient rich water), the roots are exposed to an abundance of oxygen thus allowing them to be able to absorb nutrients more efficiently. Being able to give the root system a balance of both nutrient rich water and oxygen leads them to maturing more quickly and bearing more produce at a rate rarely seen by soil growing.

With the benefits of producing fruits and vegetables at an astounding rate, hydroponic growing is also environmental friendly. No matter what kind of hydroponic system you are using, the water being used is constantly being recycled and reused meaning you use significantly less water to maintain your hydroponic garden when compared to traditional gardening. Another environmental benefit is that hydroponic systems are relatively free from chemicals and pesticides. This is mainly because most indoor pests breed in soil – you won’t find them in hydroponic systems.

There are various techniques which can be used with hydroponic systems to deliver nutrient-rich water to the root system. Growing with plants which are self-contained usually requires the use of an irrigation system that drips nutrient-laden water to the root system. Another way of delivery within a self-contained system is to use an emitter which sprays the water directly onto the roots. A further method which can be used is by growing a tray of plants in a row within a trough of sorts which is watered from below. They tray is filled with water and allowed to sit for a short amount of time and later all the excess water is drained – this method is called the ebb and flood system. These are a few of the types of hydroponic systems available but the specific type depends on the grower’s needs.

So now when you ask yourself “What is hydroponics?”, you now have a general knowledge and basic concept of the subject and when you go to select a hydroponic system for yourself, you can find the right kind to fit your needs best. Not all systems are designed for the average grower and some may be a little more complicated to operate then others, but if you have common sense and a willingness to learn, then every system available could work wonders for you.

What is Aquaponics

Aquaponics is a very distinctive growing method which allows you to grow plants and fish together in a single reservoir – fish and plants are cultivated in one system. In aquaponics, the fish supplies the nutrients through the root system and, in turn, the plants “clean” the water the fish live in. This way of growing is somewhat like hydroponics, but in some ways a lot better. For one thing, you are doing away with the manual introduction of nutrients and plant food. The fish produce all the nutrients the plants need for healthy growth. Not having to constantly deal with nutrient solutions will save you a lot of hassle, and expense, in the future.

When growing with aquaponics, you will not only be cultivating your favorite plants but also growing fish. Cultivating fish can be very rewarding, just as much so as growing your own plants. Fish are a very valuable commodity and, if growing for commercial reasons, then having an aquaponics system or two would definitely be a great idea.

The concept of aquaponics is nothing new. In fact, for hundreds of years, people have been growing their plants in water where certain fish were present and noticed a huge difference when growing those same plants in soil. In the centuries since, the art of aquaponics has been mastered. You can now buy pre-made kits with everything you need to get started, including the fish.

Aquaponics offers so many benefits and here are just a few examples of why aquaponics is so superior to other methods of growing:

– Larger yields
– Faster growth
– Drastically lower water consumption as the water is constantly cleaned and recycled
– No need to buy fertilizers as the fish do the work
– Drastically reduces pests due to the absence of soil
– No need for pesticides to harm your plants
– Environmental friendly, as the water is recycled and water usage is massively reduced

Aquaponics is a great way to grow, not to mention very intriguing to watch fish and plants growing in harmony as one. Many people are now flocking to this exciting way to grow because of its efficiency in its recycling abilities and uniqueness of the fish.

The aquaponics method of growing usually consists of a reservoir (or tank) with certain varieties of fish from around the world. The grow beds rest on the top of the water with the roots submerged in the water. This way of growing is truly amazing and also self-sustaining. Once the cycle of fish and plants starts, the water will stay clean and the plants will stay well-fed with nutrients. This will essentially go on throughout the fish and plants’ life. This is the single most reason why so many people are fascinated with this technique of growing. The only time you would really have to clean your system is between harvests. Cleaning an aquaponics system is a lot less of a hassle then most people think. All you really need is a bleach/water solution and something to wipe it down with, and that’s it.22

Too Much or Too Little Hydroponic Nutrients

Hydroponic nutrients are the foundation of any hydroponic system. Without nutrients, the plants simply can’t stay alive. This being said, there are always going to be mistakes and miscalculations, and either one can add too many or too few nutrients to the system.

With a little information, you should be able to spot some of the more obvious signs and be able to pinpoint the specific deficiency. After growing with hydroponics for a little while (and some trial and error), you should be able to quickly master your garden and be able to spot and eliminate any problems which may arise. Once you have spotted the correct deficiency, you can then add certain solutions to counteract the issues at hand.

It is essential to provide your plants with a well-balanced and pre-measured amount of hydroponic nutrients every time they are added. Under (and over) use can lead to some deficiencies one way or another and they will have to be dealt with accordingly. Some deficiencies are minor and do not really pose a problem, but most can be devastating to your plants and can often cause them to become stunted for life.

Growers can easily learn to identify the signs of hydroponic nutrient deficiencies and deal with them accordingly. Below you will find a list of the signs and symptoms for the most common minerals found in hydroponic nutrients:

Nitrogen
Plant leaves are a pale yellow color and the undersides of the leaves and stems turn a purplish color.

Phosphorus
This causes plant to become stunted and turn dark green in color. The symptoms normally effect old growth first and they often cause plants to delay their flowering period.

Potassium
The leaves start to turn yellow and will be scattered with brown spots everywhere. This will quickly lead to plant tissue damage and, if the deficiency is left unchecked, the leaves will start to curl up.

Magnesium
Magnesium deficiencies are often found in tomatoes due to their low tolerance to this. You can spot this deficiency when the older leaves start to turn yellow between the veins while the remainder of the leaves stay green.

Calcium
A Calcium deficiency usually affects the younger growth rather than the old, and these will display themselves as distorted and massively curled. You will also see small little holes on the foliage.

Iron
This deficiency shows as a distinctive yellowing on the center of the leaves which slowly spread outwards. If this is left unchecked, your leaves will start to take on tissue damage and die off.

Magnesium
This kind of deficiency depends on the plant type, but if it is present, you will start to see brownish dry areas and the leaves will certainly drop a bit.

Boron
Plant stature is reduced somewhat, and often leads a plant’s growth being stunted. Also you will see the tips of the plants roots turning brown.

PC Grow Box

A PC grow box is basically just a self-contained growing environment in a very small space. PC grow boxes are fully enclosed, and contain their own lighting, ventilation and hydroponic system (hydroponics being the obvious choice for this kind of growing). What makes this type of growing system so unique is that it allows growers to fully (and easily) customize the growing environment to achieve optimal growth. Another reason why so many people favor this method is that it allows people living in urban areas to grow their favorite plants without the need for patches of land, or a yard with soil.

Pre-made PC grow boxes are available to buy from most hydroponic stores. Alternatively, you can build your own for a fraction of the cost, and it is very simple and easy to construct. Here we will go through a simple guide showing the basics of building your own PC grow box which can be done with little DIY skills.

Materials
– PC case
– Two PC fans (or similarly-sized fans)
– CFL bulbs
– Bulb socket adapter (which can be plugged into a standard household outlet)
– Small hydroponic system (either bought or homemade)
– Reflective material such as Mylar
– Power strip
– Glue gun
– Plastic ties
– Black permanent marker
– Metal cutters

Construction
1. The first item required is an adequately sized PC case or tower to work with. If possible, try to obtain a large one and, if possible, one with two or more fans already installed.
2. Unscrew and open it and remove everything inside the case except for any fans and the internal wiring.
3. Once complete, install your fans in their designated places – these need to be on the same side of the case, one on top and one on the bottom. Some PC cases are already configured this way but, if not, you will need to do this yourself.
4. Measure the diameter of your fans and outline this onto the case with your permanent marker. Take a pair of metal cutters (or similar) and cut out the holes accordingly.
5. You then need to install the fans making sure that one fan is blowing inwards and one outwards. When doing this, make sure the wires from the fan are running inside the case and are secured onto the walls using super glue or plastic ties.
6. Take your reflective material and measure it to fit onto all inside surfaces of the case leaving just the fans exposed. You can easily secure this reflective material using a glue gun.
7. Glue the power strip directly onto the top of the PC case – make sure that all electrical items plug in perfectly without any excess wires.
8. Take the CFL bulbs and connect the adapters to the power strip. It’s always good to have at least two CFL bulbs inside the case, if not more, but this really depends on how many plants you will be working with. CFL bulbs almost never get hot and run super efficiently so there is no need to worry about it getting too hot inside the case.
9. Place your hydroponic system, or other medium, inside the case insuring that it fits properly.
10. Now that the system is nearly complete, plug everything into the power strip and secure all wiring to the walls using plastic ties or a glue gun.
11. Add your plants, close the case back up and that’s it – you’re done. It is probably best if you keep the front of the case secured rather loosely as you will need easy access to your plants. Once you get the hang of using your PC grow box, it is very simple to “add on” more PC cases to expand your grow box if you feel the need to go bigger.

Making Money From Your Indoor Garden

Having an indoor garden is not only a great hobby and a lovely way to grow your fruits and vegetables, but it also can be very profitable, too. Indoor-grown hydroponic foods are in huge demand as foods grown hydroponically are always superior to soil-grown. Foods grown hydroponically are proven to be healthier than traditionally grown foods. This is because foods grown with hydroponics have more nutrients locked in which also means they taste much better.

Among all the different kinds of plants which could be considered as cash crops, herbs have got to be the most popular and most successful. The best way to get started in growing herbs for profit is to do a lot of research in order to find out which variety is currently in demand. This information can be gained from your local garden nursery, plant store, or even an agricultural department at a university may be able to help. After you’ve done your research to find out what is in demand, you then need to find out what the going rate is. Once you have this information, you can now focus on the future task at hand of obtaining the seeds and/or cuttings and getting started.

Here are some of the more popular herbs:
Basil
Basil can grow to approximately two feet tall and has very shiny leaves. It is a hearty herb which goes very well with tomato-based dishes.

Bay
Bay grows well in almost any condition and is generally cooked with sauce dishes and pasta.

Chives
This is probably the most popularly grown herb around. Chives grow very small at around six to nine inches in height and the leaves look grass-like in texture. This wonderful herb is normally used in salads, and also with potatoes.

Garlic
Everyone knows what garlic is and they buy it regularly. It is also a perfect herb for people just getting into the herb business.

Mint
Mint can grow to over 20 inches tall. Its growth is very vigorous and spreads very quickly. This herb should be situated with enough room for its substantial growth.

Parsley
This variety can be found in most people’s kitchens and is essential for countless dishes. The leaves are very green and can reach up to two feet tall.

Chervil
Chervil grows to approximately 1½ feet tall and has a distinctive peppery kind of taste. This is a very resilient plant which allows for colder conditions.

Dill
Growing to approximately three feet in height, dill has yellow flowers which makes this herb very decorative as well as delicious.

Sage
Sage comes in various different varieties all of which grow to be very strong. This herb requires occasional pruning for optimal cultivation.

Selling indoor garden herbs is a relatively new idea but it can be very lucrative, even for novices of indoor growing and veteran growers alike.

After you’ve properly grown and prepared your herbs, then it is time to sell. Try to reach out to farmer markets around your area, and grocery stores often will always gladly buy foods which have come from an indoor garden.

LED Hydroponic Lights

LED grow lights are an up-and-coming means of lighting your indoor hydroponic garden. Although LED hydroponic lights are just gaining ground, they are more efficient and effective far beyond any other kind of grow lighting currently available. LED lights actually produce eight times more useable light for your plants, thus promoting an increased creation of chlorophyll and healthier growth.

LED hydroponic lights are also able incredibly cheaper to run when compared to HPS (high pressure sodium) and MH (metal halide) systems. By using LED lights, you could same 77%-85% on energy costs compared to traditional grow lights. Standard LED hydroponic lights last around 50,000 hours which is 7 to 10 years so you shouldn’t have to replace them for a very long time.

LED hydroponic lights have revolutionized the gardening world. No matter if you are a regular indoor gardener, or grow indoors for commercial purposes, LEDs are always the smart choice. You will notice higher yields and save an abundant amount of cash.

These kind of hydroponic grow lights consume substantially less power than conventional HID grow lights, or any kind of grow lights, for that matter. They simply do not produce any heat which means that you can drastically minimize your venting system, thus saving even more money. Most people working with small grow spaces should pay special attention to this kind of grow lighting.

They can be installed just about anywhere: close to the tops of the plants, on the sides, or even put an LED panel on the ground facing up giving light to the undergrowth where light does not usually penetrate. LED panels can be installed no matter what kind of grow space you may have. They are also fantastic used as supplemental lighting together with any preexisting lighting system. Placing in areas of a grow room where the regular grow lamps light don`t reach gives an ample amount of light to all sides of your crop.
LED grow lights are also very small in size and can be situated and configured in ways any other lighting system simply can`t. Most people have to accommodate their plants to where the lighting can be placed, but with LED’s, you bring the light to where the plants are. With the recent advances in the LED industry, you can now get even more powerful LED’s in a small size allowing you to further increase your yields.

Here are some great advantages which LED grow lights have over other lighting options:
• LED’s are super-efficient with regards to electricity, almost creating no electricity at all
• They do not produce any heat thus enabling you to move plants very close to the lights
• LED lights pay themselves off very quickly
• LED’s have the unique ability to run multiple colors of the spectrum allowing for maximum growth
• They are very small allowing you to situate your garden any way you wish and even add more plants at any time
• Being cool to the touch and the superior energy saving aspect, these benefits allow some plants to grow 24 hours a day, getting the most out of your garden

Now you have the knowledge of the importance of LED hydroponic lights and the benefits making it time to put them to use. Start growing with LED’s today.

What is a High Pressure Sodium Lamp

High pressure sodium (HPS) lamps have been in use for many years, mostly for outdoor lighting systems like parking lots, buildings perimeters, etc. HPS is the leading provider of hydroponic lighting around the world and the benefits of these lamps are numerous compared to other hydroponic lighting sources. These lamps, due to their color spectrum, have the very unique ability of enhancing the flowering or fruiting process. This is mostly evident due to the fact that HPS lamps giver off an orange and red light spectrum, thus simulating autumn sunlight which generally produces a larger harvest and a much higher quality of fruits and/or vegetables.

Some of the benefits of using HPS lamps are as follows:
• The bulbs have an extraordinary life span, most come with a two-year life span which saves you a bundle of money in replacement bulbs.
• This type of hydroponic lighting is king when it comes to the sheer light output for your plants and they actually producing six times (or more) light than any other kind of hydroponic lighting.
• Many people running a successful greenhouse love HPS lighting as a secondary source of light, besides the sun. The sun’s rays produce more than enough light in the blue spectrum, and by adding some supplemental HPS lighting giving off light in the red and orange spectrum, it maximizes plant growth to a whole other level.

Another great method of hydroponic lighting is to combine the usage of both HPS lamps and metal halide lighting. Use the metal halide lighting for the vegetative stage of plant life and, when they go into the flowering stage, switch to HPS lighting. Using this method will drastically increase the amount of fruit produced as well as the size of the fruit produced.
You can still run HPS lamps throughout the complete life span of any plant, but by using a metal halide lamp in conjunction with an HPS lamp will only maximize your growth by simulating the light given by the sun for the appropriate season. I would highly recommend using this combined lighting scheme, if possible, you will see at least a 10 to 20% growth rate and size when using this method -metal halide for the vegetative stage and HPS for the flowering stage.

When using HPS lamps for your hydroponic lighting, there are a few important things to keep in mind for safety reasons for both you and your plants:
• For one, never touch the lamp when in use – they get extremely hot and could give you severe burns.
• Always have the lamp at an appropriate distance from the crop. Having them too close can quickly “burn” the tops of the plants.
• If the bulb breaks, the first thing you need to do is to properly ventilate the room due to the chemical composition in the lamp. You also need to wear protective gloves when handling the broken bulb and try not to inhale the chemicals coming from inside the bulb.

Indoor Gardening

Growing plants indoors can be a lot of fun as well as extremely rewarding. Indoor gardening is getting more and more popular especially with hydroponics systems becoming easier to obtain and operate. Growing indoors is also very convenient for people with limited space with their only option being to grow indoors. However, this is not the only reason why people love to grow indoors – other reasons include the benefits of being easily accessible, free of weeds and outdoor pests and the ability to be able grow fruits and vegetables year round.
What most people love about indoor growing is that your plants are free of the type of pests which you would usually see in an outdoor garden – this means that your indoor plants can be 100% free from chemicals and pesticides. When growing indoors, you can control the plants’ environment allowing you to be positive that your plants are being grown organically and will be as healthy as can be.

Within the past few years, more people than ever have chosen to grow indoors, and with good reason. When an indoor garden is set up correctly (which would include a good hydroponic system, an abundant light source, and a good nutrient solution), your indoor crop could excel far beyond anything you could produce outdoors.
Here are some benefits from growing indoors which are worth mentioning:

• Growing indoors allows privacy when growing your plants meaning no more worries about nosey neighbors or people just passing by wanting to check out your garden.
• All plants which are meant for human consumption and which are grown inside (or hydroponically) have been proven to contain far more vitamins and mineral than by growing them the traditional way in soil. It has also been proven that they taste much better.
• Growing indoors has the unique benefit of being able to grow every day of the year giving you an unlimited amount of time to harvest and harvest again.
• Indoor growing, especially when using hydroponics, greatly reduces the risk of diseases in your plants, if not eliminating them all together.
• A large amount of plants can be grown in a very small space which is mainly due to the plants being able to be spaced closer together which is very different to growing the traditional way.
• Water usage is drastically reduced when compared to growing outdoors and, when using a hydroponic system, the water usage is basically non-existent because most systems are set up to recycle and re-use the water.
• There is no hard manual work involved such as weeding, tilling, constantly watering and other strenuous jobs which would be found in an outdoor garden.

So many improvements in indoor gardening have been achieved recently, and mostly due to the improved quality of systems from the manufacturers who make the equipment associated with indoor gardening. Manufacturers are now striving to improve the life expectancy and quality of their products due to the extremely stiff competition. What does this mean for the average indoor gardener? For starters, it will mean the availability of cheaper and better quality hydroponic systems, lighting, nutrients and other growing supplies.

So no matter where you may live or what you may grow, indoor gardening is always going to have far more benefits than traditional outdoor growing methods. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and grow…indoors.