Best Hydroponics 101

This book reveals the secrets behind growing plants Hydroponically using various systems. Hydroponics is the art of growing plants in water dissolved with nutrients – without soil.

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Best Hydroponics 101

How to Start Seedlings in Hydroponics

Now that you have made the right decision to grow with hydroponics, the first thing you need to do is get some seedlings started. Just remember that you should always start your seeds in a hydroponic medium and nothing organic. This will ensure that there will be no complications with your hydroponic plants later on. Keep everything as sterile as possible when it comes to your hydroponic system, even when transplanting and adding seedlings.

• Start by selecting a growing medium. Rockwool cubes tend to do best as they can be easily transplanted into any hydroponic system.
• Press the seeds into the rockwool and ensure they are moist
• It is a good idea to keep the rockwool cubes in a grow tray so that you can easily fill the tray with water and then drain, as required.

Germination of a seed takes place when the proper amount of moisture, air and heat are present. A seed can crack and start germinating anywhere from a day to two weeks – it just depends on the specific plant you are cultivating. When placing the rockwool cubes into the tray, make sure that the rockwool is spaced apart in order to ensure proper air exchange for the seedlings.

Whenever growing with hydroponics, it is always a great idea to always have a germination box/humidity dome for starting seedlings, to encourage germination, and to create clones. You could start your seedlings directly in your hydroponic system, but the failure rate for germination will be drastically increased compared to starting them in a humidity dome. So do yourself a favor and get a humidity dome for germination (or with a little effort, you can even build one yourself) – it will last longer than you think.
For the next one to three weeks, it is critical to keep the moisture level high and, for the first few days at least, at a rate of 70%, if possible. A high moisture level in the air is always going to be important for healthy growth since there is no root system to support the seedlings. Keep the seedling in a constant state of moisture, even if you have to take a spray bottle and lightly mist them a few times a day.

After a few weeks, it is time to transplant your seedlings into your hydroponic system. First make sure that there is proper root structure coming from the bottom of the rockwool – if the roots are too small, they will not be able to reach the nutrient solution. When placing in your hydroponic system, be extra careful with the roots as they are delicate and can break very easily. Once the seedlings are in place, just keep them lightly misted every so often for a few days after transplanting.
For the next week or so, keep a close eye on your newly transplanted seedlings because, as a result of the transplant, they will now be taking in a nutrient solution. Some types of plants handle this better than others. If you see your seedlings getting dying off, then try to reduce the amount of nutrients in your water reservoir for a week, then refill and put your hydroponic plants back in place.

How to Keep Pests Off Hydroponic Plants

Pests are a common problem with home gardening and this is always the case with hydroponic plants. True, plants grown with hydroponics tend to have fewer pests than those grown in a garden, but this doesn’t mean that pests are gone altogether. As long as there is vegetation present, different pests will automatically sense the vegetation and be drawn to it.

It is always essential to be prepared and to take certain steps in order to prevent a pest problem to start with. Taking the necessary precautions beforehand will save you a lot of hassle in the future, not to mention, saving your hydroponic plants from being infested.

There are all kinds of methods for preventing pests and killing them and some work better than others. Here are a few of the best simple solutions to fix your pest problem:

Insecticide Sprays
Insecticide sprays come in many different varieties but are basically in two groups: organic and non organic. Non organic pesticides tend to have more of an effect on pests but can be harmful to some plants. This type of solution to your pest problem is only recommended if all other options have been exhausted as it is much healthier for your plants to be treated with organic methods.

Sticky Fly Paper
This method of pest control is intended mainly for implementation with other types of pest control. Using sticky fly traps work a lot better than most people think and, when used in conjunction with other methods of pest control, they will virtually clean up your pest problem. Hang these both above and within your garden as close to your plants as possible without touching them – this will help you to achieve maximum effect. Try this and I guarantee that by the end of the first day or so, you will instantly get results.

Neem Oil
Neem oil is a natural pesticide and a highly effective method for use against all pests that may invade your hydroponic plants and is highly recommended. Neem oil is non-toxic and 100% organic, derived from the seeds of the Neem tree found in India. Mix one liter of water with about eight milliliters of pressed Neem oil and shake very well. Thoroughly mist this solution onto your hydroponic plants for maximum effect. Be very careful to get the ratio correct and not to mix in too much Neem oil, or you might ed up with an oily shine to your leaves.

Dish Soap
This is an old home remedy that works wonders. All you need to do is mix a dab of regular, non fragrance dish soap with straight water in a spray bottle. Spray the entire plant, especially underneath the leaves as this is where pests can usually be found. Now let this soapy solution sit on your hydroponic plants for about an hour and a half to two hours and then thoroughly rinse with plain water. After this rinse, shake your plants a little just to get off any extra moisture. You can then let your indoor garden fans take care of any remaining moisture

How to Clone Hydroponic Plants and Transplant

Cloning your plants, or what is commonly referred to as cuttings, is an amazing way to take a “cutting” off a plant and to then be able to grow the cutting. Done properly, you could take this cutting and grow a fully mature copy of the plant it was taken from. This is an extraordinary method to use when growing hydroponically allowing you to take a small batch of one of your top quality crops and clone it which, in turn, could grow to double or more than what you started with.

Taking cuttings from plants can be a little complicated when first attempting it, and it takes very special care to get the clone up and going once cut.
When hydroponic farming, making clones could be the key to your success, and here we will give you some general tips on clones and beyond.

The first thing you should do is some research and find out where the best place is to take a cutting for cloning for your particular plant. Different plants clone best from different places, but cuttings are usually always taken near the plant nodes or branches.

1. With a thoroughly cleaned (or new) razor blade, or even very sharp scissors, make a cut at an angle.

2. Then quickly place the cutting in a starter growing medium such as rockwool cubes.

3. Put the clone in a humidity dome, or germination box. At this point, don’t put it directly into your hydroponic system as there are no roots to be fed and thus will die pretty quickly. The goal here is to get the surrounding environment for the clones very high in humidity as this moisture in the air will be their only source of water for a few days or so.

4. The next seven days will be critical and the cutting must be kept properly moist at all times in order to stay healthy until the root develops.

5. After seven to ten days, you should start to see root development and increased growth – this is a good sign.

6. Keep them where they are for another three to four days until there is prolific root growth coming from the bottom.

7. Transplant into your hydroponic farming system.

8. Carefully place the clone into the growing medium used in your hydroponic system, if using rockwool, this can easily be transplanted into any system.

9. Once you got all your clones in place, it is good idea to mist them with water a few times a day, just for a few more days.

Here are just a few things to keep in mind when taking clones:
• Always use a sterile blade or scissors – if a dirty blade is used, the chances for survival are cut drastically as the open wound on the plant will allow disease to spread.
• From the time you take the cutting to approximately two weeks later (i.e. 10 to 13 days), it is very important to keep the cuttings moist at all times. If the clone is allowed to get too dry, it will quickly start to die as its only source of water and nutrients is the amount you give it.
• When transplanting to a hydroponic farming system, always makes sure the roots are big enough for them to properly receive the nutrient solution in the system. If the roots are too short, then wait an additional few days for the roots to develop more.

How to Clean a Hydroponic System

Cleaning your hydroponic system at regular intervals is imperative for your plants to keep on growing strong and healthy. It takes some work to keep your hydroponic system clean, but the benefits are tremendous with a properly cleaned system. A hydroponic system which has not been thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis will start to develop algae, fungus and other diseases which could then start to spread to the rest of your plants. It is also important to keep an eye on any nutrient solution build up as, if left unchecked, it can eventually clog your system when it then becomes extremely hard to fix.

The best way to clean your hydroponic system is with bleach – it is sterile and kills all germs and bacteria. Bleach is the most effect cleaning solution when it comes to cleaning hydroponic systems due to its disinfecting power. Another plus in using bleach is that most people already have it in their laundry room, immediately saving time and money.
A thorough cleaning should be done every three to four weeks. If you take your time and do things right, you will always have a clean and healthy hydroponic garden. If an active hydroponic system is not cleaned regularly, it only gets more difficult to clean the next time around, so it’s always better to lightly (and even better, thoroughly) clean your system now than to have to really clean hard to accomplish the same results.

Maintaining an active hydroponic system takes work and dedication and, when it is time to clean your system, the work part comes in. Most people put this off and procrastinate forever and never end up getting it done which is a critical mistake most people make and is one of the main reasons why a hydroponic garden goes bad – due to improper maintenance.
• Start by removing all plants from your system and put them aside.

• Add one to two tablespoons of bleach to your system and let it run though for about an hour or so.
• Drain all the water from the reservoir and wipe off any algae or other substances from the sides.
• Make sure there is no build up of any kind in or around the irrigation openings or within the tubing. If there is build up, simply run some bleach solution through it until it is removed.
• Connect all the irrigation tubes and everything else back together, connect up your air stones, replace anything which needs replacing and put your system back together.
• Refill the reservoir and add the required nutrients (in the correct amount) and plug everything in.
• Run the newly added water/nutrient solution throughout your system for another hour or two before adding your plants.
• Add your plants back to your hydroponic system.’

By performing this cleaning regime every few weeks, you can maximize your plant’s health and growth by keeping the water clean and clear. This regime helps to ensure that you will have a clean, sanitized and super-efficient running system at all times. When a hydroponic system is properly clean, you can definitely notice the difference in the way your system runs, and your plants will notice, too.

hydroponics

How to Care for Hydroponic Roots

With roots being so important to a hydroponic plant’s health, it is critical to do everything you can to ensure they stay healthy and happy. Roots are, hands down, the most important part of the plant, and should be treated as such. Roots are made of very tough tissue and can take quite a beating. However, they are not invincible.
A healthy root area is where the root mass is constantly growing and where old root parts die off and give way for new growth. If your roots are an off-white color, or even tan, then you know your roots are happy. But if they are brown or darker, then you probably have root rot.

There are some simple steps you can take to ensure your plants have strong healthy roots:

• Always make sure you hydroponic system’s reservoir water solution is properly balanced in both pH and PPM. If these levels are not balanced, then they could lead to root damage. It is always good to check the levels in your water daily.
• Clean your system on regular basic. Most root problems in a hydroponic system are caused by not cleaning out the system often enough. It is recommended to do this approximately every three to four weeks. When cleaning your system, make sure you clean out the irrigation tubing as well. Disease spores can be found in tiny cracks so all components must be cleaned carefully and thoroughly.
• You could also rinse your roots with straight water every three to five weeks. Doing this will knock off any nutrient build up and also give them a fresh feeding without adding any extra hydroponic nutrients.

Another way to ensure a healthy environment for your roots is to take care of the reservoir water as best you can. Check for any light leaks into your reservoir where your roots are. Light leaks can cause algae and other ailments to develop in your reservoir and can quickly infest your roots becoming a big problem. Fix any light leaks accordingly with reflective tape or any other product suitable for sealing them up. It doesn’t really matter how you stop the leak as long as it is stopped.

Proper air exchange throughout your root system is also imperative to maintaining nice, healthy roots. In a hydroponic grow, air is supplied to the roots in one way or another. For instance, a deep water culture system has an air stone which produces air bubbles which, in turn, deliver the oxygen to the roots. Always make sure that oxygen is reaching the roots at an appropriate rate and amount, even if you have to add an extra air stone to achieve this. Sometimes, some hydroponic systems only barely meet the requirements for a healthy oxygen exchange – make sure your plants have an adequate supply.

In a hydroponic grow, there is no more important part of the plant than the roots and, with this information, you are now in a great position to keep them white, healthy and happy.

How to Build A Grow Box

How to Build A Grow Box

A grow box system is ideal for most people because it allows you to have total control over your growing environment and other aspects such as lighting, watering, pest control, nutrient intake, ventilation and air control.
Building your own grow box and what size it should be is totally up to the individual and his or her specific needs such as what kind of crop size you are looking to grow, space consumption and other variables. Here is a basic guide on how to build a simple grow box easily using some basic plans for a 4’ x 4’ grow box – you can add or subtract lumber dimensions to your specific needs.

Materials

- Six 4’ x 4’ plywood sheets, ½“ thick
- Wood screws
- Drill or screwdriver
- Saw
- Two standard door hinges for cabinets
- Wood glue or caulking
- Two 6” ventilation fans (standard fans or computer fans)
- White paint, mylar or other reflective material

Construction

Start off by placing a plywood sheet on the ground and stand another sheet next to it lining them up straight. Drill some screws into the wood securing it firmly to the other piece. Do the same thing on the opposite side of the plywood placed on floor and, once complete, add on the two remaining plywood walls. You should now have five sides of your box complete with one wall left. Place the final plywood sheet on the top, line it up perfectly with all the other sides, take the hinges and screw both of them in on the same side of the sheet, each one about ½” to ¾” away from the corners. After this is done, open and close the plywood sheet making sure it fits tight when closed and that it also opens properly – this will be the door for your box. It is also wise to use 3 to 4 screws per side of the plywood for a more solid grow box.
Now that your grow box is complete, seal the inside with caulking or wood glue making sure every side and corner on the inside is sealed really well (excluding the sides of the plywood sheet with hinges that opens, of course). Then let the glue set until it is completely dry.

Ventilation

A successful grow box would not be complete without adequate ventilation – a healthy growing environment requires a constant flow of fresh air into the box and the spent air and heat being extracted out of the box.
For this part of the process, you’re going to need to saw or drill two 6” holes into the box, one preferably in the middle of one of the side walls of the box and another on the opposite wall somewhere a couple of inches from the “roof” of the box (more or less) depending on where you will be positioning your light. Install the highest fan first into the hole making sure that the fan will be blowing the air out of your box as this will be the air outtake fan. Now install the next one with the fan blowing into your box – this will be your air intake. Once installed, check for any light coming into your box via these holes – if you can see light, then use some caulking or glue to seal the fans in.

Lighting

The installation of your lighting is entirely based on the type of lighting, but more often than not you can follow these instructions for most lighting types assuming that you already have your lighting system.
Drill two small holes on each side of the top of the box, making the holes the same size (or smaller) as the hanging chains or ropes which will be used. Try to match up the holes with the length of the fixture to be used and where the hanging chains or ropes will be attached. Pull the hanging chains through the holes and pull them tight so that the light is about ¼” from the ceiling. While still holding the chains tight, attach them to the plywood using your screws and tighten until they are only just firmly in the wood but not going all the way through. You can also tie the chains together on the outside so that they won`t come loose, but don`t secure them too tightly because you may need to raise or lower your lighting during the course of growing your crops
Once the lighting fixture has been attached, remove the light temporarily in order to apply your reflective material for the walls. The two main materials you could use for this is either to paint the entire inside surface with a white paint, or use Mylar or another type of reflective film and cover as much of the inside surface space as possible in order to get the most out of your light.

Plant(s) Arrangement

This depends on your personal growing situation and if you are growing hydroponically, in soil or another medium. For now, however, all you have to do is place your plants inside the box. One tip is to try and use square pots as they are more space efficient than round ones.
After everything has been completed, perform a final spot check, turn all your fans on to make the air is flowing properly and check your lighting. You can now start cultivating in your new grow box.

How Does Aeroponics Work

Aeroponics is essentially the process of cultivating plants without the use of soil; instead the plants are thriving in an air environment. When comparing hydroponics and aeroponics, some of the basic principles are similar but one thing is distinctive, aeroponics does not use a growing medium. This is mainly due to the fact that an aeroponics system uses water to distribute the nutrients. This method of growing usually consists of a type of hydroponics, and in some ways, it is.

The main principle behind how aeroponics works is that it grows plants which are suspended in a partly closed/fully enclosed system. With the roots being suspended, a nutrient-rich water solution is sprayed or misted onto the roots. This kind of nutrient delivery is 60% more efficient than standard hydroponics systems as it allows for optimal oxygen saturation in the roots as well as receiving an abundant supply of nutrients. For any plant to grow to its full potential, it is absolutely imperative that the root system receives a well-balanced amount of oxygen and water/nutrient solution. The reason why aeroponics and hydroponic systems work so well over soil-based systems is that the water is allowed to sit in the soil for a while before drying up and receiving oxygen to the roots. With aeroponics and hydroponics, the watering that is distributed is precisely how much the plant needs and an abundance of oxygen is supplied. This kind of water/nutrient and oxygen plant feeding is far superior to growing with soil as you can see.

Generally, when growing with aeroponics, your garden will be free of pests and harmful diseases which are often present in a traditional garden. However, depending on the location of your aeroponics system, pests and diseases may still pose a threat – it is -very important to do a thorough spot inspection of your system just to make sure. The roots systems in these systems are often very delicate, and could be fatal to your plants if something were to go wrong with your system. It is suggested to always have a backup hydroponic system just in case something goes wrong. When growing with aeroponics, you need to have everything down to a “T”, one of two miscalculations can stunt your plant growth, so it is critical to know your system, all of it components and to know what to do in case of an emergency.

What makes this type of growing system so amazing, though, is the method of oxygen delivery and nutrients. The combination of air circulation in the roots as well as receiving mini droplets of water will grow any plant to levels most people wouldn’t think possible with a growing system. It is no surprise that many growers are now switching to aeroponics due to the unique ability to saturate and aerate the roots thereby promoting amazing growth rate and yields.

Aeroponics is an amazing method of cultivation and is scientifically proven to get better results than any other method of growing.

Herb Indoor Garden

An indoor herb garden can be an extremely rewarding and convenient way of growing delicious herbs. Having an indoor herb garden is hassle-free with little maintenance and will continuously provide you with herbs as well as fill your house with the sweet smell of fresh herbs.
In order to start a successful indoor herb garden, buy your seeds from your local greenhouse or wherever you normally buy your herbs. Make sure you check the expiration date, package damage, etc.. It is also a good idea to buy extras seeds as they are very inexpensive and, more often than not, come in handy in the future when you decide to grow more herbs.
Here is a quick list of the more popular herbs which are commonly grown indoors:
• Mint
• Rosemary
• Chamomile
• Basil
• Oregano
• Lavender
• Lemongrass
• Chives
• Parsley

Herbs are very easy to grow and only require very little effort in maintaining them. Growing herbs indoors under the right conditions (i.e. with proper lighting, air circulation, and preferably in a hydroponic system), they will grow without any assistance at all. Most herbs have a reputation of surviving the most strenuous conditions that even the toughest plants cannot survive. But all of this does not suggest that you can completely leave them alone altogether. Growing herbs doesn’t require nutrients or fertilizers but they do require a watering schedule and sometimes a loving touch. Give your herbs those things and you can be sure to get successful yields throughout the year.
With hydroponics becoming more and more popular for indoor gardens, this is by far the best way to grow your herbs indoors. The growth rate is significantly faster than growing in soil never mind the mess and hassle which soil creates when growing indoors. Studies have shown that growing with a hydroponic system increases the size and yield up to 60% and, in some, cases more. Another big benefit of planting your herbs in a hydroponic system is that the plants will have far less problems with pests, fungus and diseases, leading a more healthy and vigorous growth.

Here are some advantages of growing an indoor herb garden:

• Easily accessible and convenient for picking herbs as needed
• Can be grown all year around
• No more outdoor pests, mold or fungus
• The herbs produce oxygen making the air in your home cleaner and healthier
• Plants are protected from weather damage
• No need for weeding or constant caring as is required with outdoor growing

Another huge advantage of growing your own herbs in your indoor garden is that home-grown herbs are always better tasting than store bought ones and, in most cases, far healthier. This is because growing your own herbs indoors does not require you to use any chemical or pesticides. The only thing required for a successful herb garden is water, light and a little love and attention. Having these alone will ensure a healthy and abundant herb garden every day out the year.

Find the Best Hydroponic Supplies

If you want to find the best hydroponic supplies, then the first thing you will need to do is educate yourself on exactly what you need. The most important and essential supplies are nutrients, growing medium, and pest control products. There are a number of little odds and ends as well, but these are the most important hydroponic supplies needed.

Nutrients
Because soil is not present within a hydroponics system, nutrient solutions are required to provide what the plants would normally have in a soil-based system. Nutrients come in a wide range of products such as organic, non-organic, sea-based plant food and many more. Hydroponic nutrients are specifically designed to give the plant exactly what it needs to grow to its full potential – no more and no less. There are nutrients available for the many different stages of plant life and a secondary nutrient can be given in conjunction with your regular nutrient. Secondary nutrients include grow big nutrients, bloom enhancer nutrients and so on. When growing with hydroponics, you always want to have at least one kind of nutrient for the vegetative stage and another for the flowering stage of plant life. I would recommend that you thoroughly understand the nature of any supplemental nutrients you wish to use before applying. Mixing the wrong kind of nutrients together or using the wrong amount could devastate the plants which you have worked so hard to grow.

Growing Medium
This is what your plants are going to be growing in, and it is always a good idea to keep extra on hand. Growth mediums come in so many varieties that you find it hard to decide which one is right for you. Personally, I would recommend getting the medium which is most recommended for your specific system. However, don’t worry that you have to stick to just one kind of medium – it is actually quite common for hydroponic growers to have multiple growing mediums on hand. Here are some of the most popular growing mediums available:
• Rockwool
• Perlite
• Expandable clay pellets
• Oasis cubes
• Vermiculite
• Sand
• Sphagnum moss
• Coconut fiber

Pest Control
Even when growing through hydroponics, and not having any soil present, you could still end up with a bit of a pest problem within a hydroponic garden. The most effective type of store-bought pest control products are foliar sprays. There are also organic sprays available as well as non-organic ones. Going organic is never a bad idea and organic sprays work just as well as the sprays containing chemicals. You can buy these pest control produces at any garden store or online. This hydroponic supply should always be in anyone’s indoor garden, even if you’ve never had a pest problem, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

There is also a solution for widespread infestation if sprays don’t work which requires “bombing” the grow room. This actually fumigates the entire room. Bombing a room is ONLY recommended when all other options and hydroponic supplies have been exhausted.

There are a number of products which can be called hydroponic supplies, but the ones listed here are among the most critical and should be sought after first and foremost.

Build a Grow Box for Germination

A germination grow box is a good idea for anyone growing with hydroponics, or anyone growing indoors, for that matter. When growing with hydroponics, it is much easier and you will have far more success if your plants are properly germinated and then transplanted into the desired hydroponic setup. A germination box is essentially an enclosed system which allows for increased humidity. This is always paramount for seeds to germinate and develop into seedlings. It provides a healthy start for roots.
Here we have an easy guide showing you how to make a simple germination grow box.

Materials
- 18 to 25-gallon tote container with lid
- Four T5 fluorescent bulbs (with housing unit)
- Two 6”fans (computer fans work great)
- 3” or 4” deep propagation tray
- Rockwool cubes
- Thermostat
- Hydrometer
- Zip ties (large and small)
- Screws for mounting lighting
- Drill
- Flat white paint
- Box cutter
- Marker
- Ruler or tape measure

Construction
1. With your materials ready, it’s time to start construction. Start by laying the lid on the floor and placing the fluorescent lighting unit in the middle of the lid, on the inside.
2. Using screws, secure the lighting to the inside of the lid. Make sure that it is well secured.
3. Take a box cutter and cut a small ½” – 1” hole in the side of the lid to be used for any power cords.
4. Measure the fans and, using those measurements, outline the diameter of the fans on the tote container – one on the lid and another centered on one of the sides.
5. Take your box cutter and cut the outline out, carefully. When this is done, place a fan in the hole and make sure it fits nice and snug and then remove – we will install the fans later.
6. Once the fan holes are complete, you can start applying the paint. Paint the entire inside of the container, and let it dry completely before continuing.
7. Install both fans in the holes you just made. The fan on the lid should be blowing outwards, and the other inwards – this needs to be correct for your system to work correctly.
8. Make two very small holes on either side of the fans and, using some zip ties, tightly secure the fans in place as an extra precaution for the fans’ stability.
9. In order to install your thermometer and hydrometer to the grow box make a place for both of them, preferably together on one of the far sides. Make two small holes for each instrument for the zip ties which will be used to secure them in place.
10. Now place your thermometer and hydrometer in the middle of the holes and secure.
11. Place your rockwool cubes inside of the propagation tray and place the tray into the bottom of the grow box.

That’s it – you’re done! All you really have to do now is plant some seeds or cuttings into the cubes and water the tray regularly. This is a very effective germination grow box and no hydroponic grower should go without one.



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