Indoor Gardening Tips

An indoor garden can be lots of fun and also very healthy for you. When maintaining an indoor garden, any extra help, tips and tricks along the way are always useful. Here we’ll go through some very helpful tips on how to care for your indoor garden:

• Make always sure you have the correct amount of lighting for the crop size of your garden. Having inadequate light coverage causes plants to “reach” towards the light which causes nodes to space themselves an unhealthy distance apart. It can also cause very slow growth and eventually lead to the plants not producing fruit. Having said that, too much light is only a problem if you do not have the correct amount of ventilation and air exchange in your grow room.

• When growing different varieties of plants, some require different light cycles than others. This can get a little confusing, so when starting an indoor garden and selecting seeds, double check that they all require the same lighting cycle, if at all possible.

• Watering you plants correctly will maximize their growth and also eliminate most of your common plant problems. Many people either overwater or underwater without even realizing it. An easy to remember rule of thumb is to stick your finger into the soil about two inches – if it is moist or wet, then wait to water; if it is dry, then water. You basically want to water your plants when the soil is mostly dry as this is when the roots receive most of their oxygen. It is always better to underwater than overwater.

• Proper soil drainage is the most important aspect to a healthy root system. When growing in pots, always make sure that there are enough (or more than enough) drainage holes. If a pot has inadequate drainage, water will not drain out of the soil properly, root rot will develop and this can be fatal to your plants.

• Mist your plants every two to three days with a spray bottle. Plants love to get their foliage fed as it makes their leaves stronger and more productive. This is because the plants waste less energy circulating water from the soil to the leaves. However, make sure you don’t over mist – moisture which is allowed to sit on the leaves for too long leads to mold development which can eventually lead to problems. After misting, wait an hour or so and then check the leaves – if you see that they are still wet, just shake the plant a little to remove the excess water.

• A great air exchange in an indoor garden is very important as you always will need a constant supply of fresh air coming into (and circulating around) your garden. You also need to exhaust the spent and hot air out of the room. For this purpose, it is necessary to always have a minimum of two fans in your indoor garden, but I would recommend having three or more, depending on your garden size. If you do decide on three, it is imperative that you always have one fan circulating air in, another circulating air out and a third oscillating air around the room for even distribution of air.

Indoor Garden Benefits

Gardening is a hobby which millions of people around the world practice, and with obvious reasons. There is nothing better than eating fruits and vegetable which you’ve grown yourself and the fact that they are far healthier than store bought. But how many gardeners can say that they have a garden that produces all year round? That’s indoor gardening, folks. If you love to grow fruits and vegetables outdoors, then do yourself a favor and bring them indoors. The benefits of growing indoors far surpass the outdoor benefits, so for someone whose passion is gardening, it’s a no-brainer:

• You can have a constant supply of any fruit or vegetable of your choice
• You will never have to spend your hard-earned money for second rate fruits and vegetables at your local market
• You can have your own top-quality, delicious foods, for free!

There are countless benefits of having an indoor garden, and below you will find a few of the biggest benefits:

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Year Round
By growing indoors and away from the elements, you are able to have multiple harvests any month of the year. You can even set up a growing schedule where you can harvest every few weeks.

Very Healthy for You
By growing indoors, you are able to give your plants exactly what they love, how often and how much, maximizing their true potential. In addition, the need for harmful pesticides and chemicals are non existent thus keeping your indoor garden healthier than ever. If you are growing using hydroponics, then this has been proven to keep essential nutrients and minerals locked in unlike conventional soil based growing.

Good for Your Wallet
By having an indoor garden, you will no longer have to waste your money on fruits and vegetables from the market again and the difference on your wallet will be very noticeable.

Less Work Involved
No longer will you have to till, weed, and watch out for pests or have the huge hassle of watering. With the application of hydroponic systems in your indoor garden, you can have all you’re watering and growing done automatically. In addition, grow lighting is usually set to a timer which even turns the lights and/equipment off.

Perfect Hobby
Many people who growing indoors often cultivate vegetables as more of a hobby than anything else. It is fun and also provides you in return.

Keeps Your Home’s Air Cleaner
By having plants in your home, oxygen will be continually released therefore enriching the quality of the air you breathe. By having an indoor garden in an open area, you will definitely notice a difference in the air quality.

So as you can see, there are overwhelming benefits to having an indoor garden. So even if you’re already growing outdoors, or a newcomer to growing at home, then it’s never too late to take cover and do your growing on the inside.

Hydroponic Systems

There are a few different types of hydroponic systems out there to choose from and each system delivers water and air differently. But which hydroponic system is right for you? Which system works the best? The answer is simple – all of them with the only difference coming down to performance. Ease of use, is what helps the grower to make the choice best suited to them.

Here we are going to list the various different types of hydroponic systems available, the basics on how they work. With this information to hand, you will know which hydroponic system fits your growing needs when it comes time to choose one.

Deep Water Culture
The water culture system (also known as deep water culture) is probably the simplest and easiest active hydroponic system to understand. A tray or platform (usually made of hollow plastic or Styrofoam) contains the plants and is floated directly on top of the nutrient-enriched water with the roots dangling in the water. As the plants float on top, an air stone (which is supplied air by an air pump) sits on the bottom of the system and the air stone bubbles deliver oxygen directly to the root system. The only drawback to this type of system, which is a very minor one at that, is that this system is not ideal for larger plants as the roots tend to get too large to be submerged fully.

Ebb & Flow (Flood and Drain)
This type of system works very well and efficiently by temporarily flooding growing trays with nutrient water. This water is then drained back into the reservoir for re-use later. With most Ebb & Flow systems, this process of flooding and draining is usually initiated by a timer which is connected to a pump which has been submerged in the reservoir. The timer performs this action a couple of times a day, more or less, depending on variables like the size and type of the plants as well as any temperature and humidity levels.
This type of system is very adaptable as a grower can fill the entire tray(s) using a wide variety of growing mediums such as perlite, gravel, small rockwool granular or grow rocks. Many people also like to use separate pots for each plant and fill each pot with a growing medium of their choice.

Drip System
A drip system is one of the more popular and widely used of all hydroponic systems and is highly recommended for beginners in hydroponic growing. The process and basic operation of this system is very simple – there is a timer set up which activates a pump on a regular basis to drip nutrient/water solution on the base of the plant by way of a tube drip line. There are two types of drip system – recovery and non-recovery. In a recovery system, the extra water/nutrient solution run off is gathered and put back into the reservoir to be re-used. In a non-recovery system, the extra solution run off is not collected but drained away.

So, as you can see there are a multitude of different types and functions of hydroponic systems, and choosing the right one takes a bit of understanding of each system compared with your personal preference. This guide should give you a general idea on which one may suit your needs best.

Hydroponic Supplies

When operating a hydroponic system, whether you’ve built your own or purchased one, you are going to need a variety of hydroponic supplies to keep your system running smoothly and without fail. Hydroponic supplies can be anything from miscellaneous tools to items which will eventually need to be replaced. Having the right supplies in your hydroponic system can make all the difference in whether or not you have a successful garden.

Another thing to keep in mind when purchasing supplies is that the cost can quickly mount up and for those growers on a limited budget, this could turn into a big problem. It is wise to get your essential supplies first and then build up the remainder of what you require over time.

Now we are going to go over some essential supplies you will need and some that may not be as essential but will certainly be beneficial.

Nutrients
Nutrients are a must-have for all hydroponic systems. It is your plants’ food and, without nutrients, they would not do so well or die all together. There are countless different varieties of nutrients and brands but, as long as you have a general nutrient product for the vegetative stage and flowering or bloom stage, you will be just fine.

Lighting
It is always good to have at least one extra bulb in stock of whatever kind of lighting you are using in case of a blow out of your bulb. The absence of light for too long a period of time could be disastrous to a crop so make sure you always have an extra bulb.

Pest Control Products
Even when growing indoors in a hydroponic system free of soil, you still may get an insect problem within your garden. The types of pest control come in many different forms bu the one you choose really depends on what you require. These types range from sticky traps and aerosol sprays to predatory insects placed within the garden to ward off harmful insects.

Growing Medium
Whatever growing medium you choose to use in your hydroponic system, it is always a good idea to have some extra on hand in case you decide to add more plants at a later time. You may also find that some plants may need a little extra medium for further stability.

Spare Hydroponic System Parts
This basically refers to any parts pertaining to the hydroponic system itself which may need replacing in the future. These could be any of the following: irrigation tubes, air stones, floatable trays, air pumps or anything else which will eventually need to be replaced. However, at this point, it isn’t worth purchasing an extra air or water pump as these tend to last for a very long time and rarely need to be changed.

Thermometer and Hydrometer
These items are very important when maintaining an indoor garden and, with some hydroponic systems, the temperature and humidity can have a direct effect on how often the water pumps should be activated. You can get both of these items very cheap from most vendors but purchasing them is a must and should be one of the first things on a hydroponic grower’s supply list.

PH PPM EC Meters/Testers
Each of these meters or testers gives you specific readings of different levels in your system. They are non-essential but, if you want your plants to reach their maximum potential, then they can play a very important part in your hydroponic system.

There are many other minor supplies which will be needed throughout a hydroponic garden’s lifetime, but these are just the basics of what supplies should come first.

Hydroponic Nutrients

Hydroponic nutrients are basically liquid solutions (occasionally available in powder form) which are added to your system’s water supply at a predetermined amount. Without nutrients added to the water in your hydroponic system, your plants’ health will steadily decline and eventually die. Plants require differing amounts and types of nutrients during the vegetative and flowering stages of their life and most hydroponic nutrients are sold either as “grow” or “bloom” formulas – “grow” being for the vegetative stage and “bloom” for the flowering stage.
Something most people don’t know is that over 20 minerals and elements are needed for a plant to be able to grow. Oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon are taken in through the air and water. The remaining elements are found in the nutrient solution with the primary ones being nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium as these are the minerals which the plants use the most.
Here is brief summary of the more important minerals or elements which plants need most and can be found in almost all hydroponic nutrient products.

Nitrogen (N)
Nitrogen is probably the most important mineral to plant growth. Plants absorb nitrogen in order to produce the proteins necessary for new cell growth. This mineral is used mainly in a plant’s leaf and stem growth as well as the plant’s overall stature. Nitrogen is a truly amazing mineral for plants travelling easily throughout a plant to the buds to activate, even to the shoots and old leaves which can be much more difficult to reach.

Phosphorus (P)
Phosphorus is mostly beneficial for photosynthesis and also acts as a mechanism for conveying energy through the plant. Phosphorus also promotes a strong and healthy root system and is vital for the flowering stage in order to keep producing healthy seeds. You will usually see high levels of phosphorus during the germination phase and flowering phase.

Potassium (K)
This mineral is mainly used for encouraging increased chlorophyll production in foliage and helps to normalize stomata openings so that plants can take in light and air more efficiently. Potassium also promotes strong root growth and mass, water intake and distribution. Another benefit of potassium is that it activates enzymes in the plant to fight disease, something most growers fail to know.

Okay so now that the most important minerals found in hydroponic nutrients have been covered, here are a few which are not quite as important as the ones already mentioned but are still great minerals which definitely should not be overlooked when deciding on which hydroponic nutrients are right for you.

Magnesium (Mg)
Magnesium basically aids in the deployment of nutrients and, at the same time, neutralizes any toxic compounds and acids produced by the plants.

Calcium (Ca)
Calcium is a good multiplier for proper cell growth and production. However, it can also lead to root problems as it tends to move slowly inside the plant and eventually starts to concentrate in the roots, leading to complications later on, if not properly treated.

As you can see, hydroponic nutrients are vast in minerals and can get a little complicated at times. These mineral descriptions and functions should help you on your way in finding the perfect hydroponic nutrients which will suit your plants best.

Hydroponic Medium

Hydroponic mediums come in countless different shapes and sizes and are classified as basically anything in which a plant can grow. Each and every hydroponic medium is distinctive in its own way, and should be chosen carefully for your specific hydroponic system.
Here is a summary of some of the most popular and effective growth mediums available together with a brief description of each so that you can be well informed and know exactly what your needs are when it comes to choosing a medium best suited for your system.

Rockwool Cubes
Rockwool is the most widely used and popular hydroponic medium out there. Rockwool is a completely non-degradable and sterile medium which provides plenty of root support for a plant’s entire life span. Rockwool has the capability to hold an abundant amount of water as well as air for a healthy root system. The roots are able to extract nearly all of the water which is stored in the cube making this medium one of the best available.

Perlite
Perlite has been around for a long time and is mainly used as an additive for soil to increase aeration thus promoting a thriving root system with a good balance of oxygen exchange and water being able to adequately drain. Perlite has the consistency and appearance of small pieces of Styrofoam, however it is actually volcanic glass which has been heated very rapidly. This medium can be used as a standalone medium or it can be mixed with other mediums to create a superior growth medium. Whether to use this medium as a standalone medium or mixed with others really depends on the hydroponic setup and the grower’s preference.

Oasis Cubes
These are pre-formed cubes which are lightweight and mainly used for the propagation stage in plant life. Oasis cubes are very popular and successful when growing from seeds and/or cuttings. This type of medium is intended as a starting point for when plants are at their beginning stage and can be easily transplanted into any hydroponic system with all types of hydroponic mediums.

Coconut Fiber
Coconut fiber is an awesome medium which is totally organic and offers high performance when used with hydroponic systems. There are scores of advantages which coconut fiber has to offer. It has the ability to hold much more water and oxygen then mediums like rockwool, which is a huge advantage when growing in hydroponic systems that use alternating watering cycles.

Clay Pellets
This form of hydroponic medium is a man-made medium and is often referred to as grow rock. It is an up and coming top choice of growing medium with hydroponic growers. These clay pellets are made from baking clay for a specific amount of time and then cooled. This process allows the inside of the clay pellets to becomes full of tiny air pockets which makes this medium very light and able to effectively store water and oxygen.

Clay pellets are also often mixed with other growing mediums in order to encourage maximum oxygen preservation within the growing medium for a more abundant distribution of oxygen to the root system.

This form of hydroponic medium is often expensive but is highly reusable and can be used for a very long time making this a great choice with almost any kind of hydroponic system.

Hydroponic Lighting

When it comes to hydroponic lighting, there are many different types of grow lights to choose from which one you choose will ultimately depend on the crop size and space you will be working with. Choosing a grow light for your hydroponic setup is probably the most important decision you will have to make when setting up your grow space. This guide should give you a basic starting point when deciding on which kind of lighting to consider for your hydroponic system.
First, the most critical thing to consider is the amount of light coverage your plants will need as insufficient lighting will lead to small, underdeveloped plants which will have a hard time producing fruit when the time comes. When choosing your lighting, make sure you have enough (or more than enough) lighting. Cutting corners when purchasing your lighting system will only end up wasting your time, energy and hard-earned money.

When picking out your hydroponic lighting, you need to keep in mind that each light covers a certain area in relation to the wattage output of the light – this is known as square-footage. This rule of thumb should be the key when planning your garden and the lighting you will need.

Here is a simple list of the most common wattage output of most grow lights and their expected areas of coverage:
– 100Watts = 2’ x 2’
– 250Watts = 3’ x 3’
– 400Watts = 4’ x 4’
– 600Watts = 5’ x 5’
– 1000Watts = 6’ x 6’
There are many types or growing lights out there, but the main three are HPS (high pressure sodium), metal halide and fluorescent. Each type for different growing needs size of crop and space.

HPS (High Pressure Sodium)
HPS bulbs have the longest life span of any other grow light and are, by far, the most efficient, producing brighter light than any other indoor light. The reason why this type of light is so effective is that plants only use specific colors in the sun’s light spectrum: red/orange and blue. This particular kind of grow light produces a high amount of red and yellow spectrum which also mimics the Autumn sun making this kind of grow light ideal for larger hydroponic gardens and for plants in their flowering stage.

Metal Halide
A metal halide light is somewhat similar to HPS lighting as it puts out a very bright light, but it also has a distinct advantage over HPS bulbs as it produces light in the full spectrum, simulating summer sun. Most hydroponic growers use this kind of light in the vegetative stage for prolific leaf growth, but for flowering it tends to be a little inadequate. You could use this kind of light for flowering (and it would do an adequate enough job), but most growers switch to an HPS light during the flowering stage for maximum growth and effectiveness.

Fluorescent & Compact Fluorescent
Fluorescent bulbs are not very efficient and definitely will not produce as much light as the HPS or metal halide grow lights mentioned previously. However, this kind of hydroponic lighting is ideal for small grows such as in grow boxes, grow cabinets or any other kind of grow in a small space. They produce very low to no heat and are very cost effective using very little electricity to operate. This type of hydroponic light is only recommended for small grows in small spaces keeping the light(s) very close to the plants.

Hydroponic Grow Tent

A hydroponic grow tent is hugely popular with indoor hydroponic growers everywhere. This is mainly due to the fact that the environment can be completely controlled allowing you to regulate the conditions in which the plants are growing. Using a grow tent makes a lot of sense as you can also easily control the humidity level, temperature levels, and light cycles. This means that you can insure that no light source outside of your set temperature levels are allowed to disrupt your plants’ growth. A grow tent also allows you to do away with all the clutter of growing equipment as everything is nicely contained within the tent.

When purchasing a grow tent you want to look for some specific details just to make sure you are getting a quality tent. Some of the most important things you want in a grow tent are: reflective interior walls for maximum light reflectivity, a heavy, thick material so it will last, ventilation holes for running exhaust fans in and out and also, just as important, you always want to have more than enough space to meet your growing needs.

Lighting in a grow tent is a major factor to consider when buying one – you can put multiple grow lights inside without rays escaping out which would normally make the room you grow in uncomfortably bright. Most plants also need at least some amount of dark hours to rest while promoting root development. When in an open room, this dark light cycle absolutely cannot be disrupted or you risk the plant growth being stunted. However, when growing in a tent, you can easily keep unwanted light out so as to not disturb the sleep time of your plants which, in turn, would have them confused over the lighting cycles, slowing their growth and, in some cases, ruining them altogether.

Grow tents are an excellent option for people just getting started in growing indoors and who want to be able to easily control the environment. It is also equally suitable for seasoned growers who just want to upgrade their indoor garden. Grow tents usually come with everything you will need, so there is no need to buy extra supplies in relation to the tent itself.
Grow tents come in many sizes and features but the main thing you need to bear in mind when selecting one is the space you are going to need together with any extra features which may or may not be of use to you, and the price –some can get very expensive but most are very reasonably priced.
Benefits and advantages of a hydroponic grow tent:

• Tents are made of heavy duty materials able to withstand the test of time
• Most tents come with at least 90% or more reflective material lined on the inside
• Waterproof
• Most tents now come with multiple vents for easy installation of exhaust fans and/or wiring
• Setup only takes minutes
• Grow tents, in combination with good lighting and hydroponics, are able to give enormous yields due to the highly efficient environment created inside

A hydroponic grow tent is a great idea for anyone growing at home who wants to maximize their yields with little effort due to the enclosed, controlled environment.

Hydroponic Grow Room Advice

An indoor grow room can be just about anywhere, from a small closet or box to a full bedroom or garage. Even though you may have found the “perfect” spot for your hydroponic garden, there are some things that need to be taken into consideration before (and during) the construction of an indoor grow room. Among the most important things to keep in mind are the aspects surrounding the temperature and humidity, air exchange, grow lights and pest control.

Temperature and humidity
Temperature is critical when considering how a grow room should be set up. The best place for a grow room is generally on a ground floor next to a basement. Temperature and humidity is relatively easy to control – if temperatures rise too high, all you have to do is add extra ventilation fans and the temperature will lower. If you want to increase the humidity levels in the room, just fill up a few 5 gallon buckets of water and place near your hydroponic garden and the humidity will quickly rise. If you need to lower your humidity, just increase the air flow through the room.

Air exchange
The atmosphere in your hydroponic grow room is very important when cultivating indoors. In order for healthy growth, you must have fresh air coming in and spent, hot air drawn out of the room. It is always a great idea to have more than two fans, possibly three to five. In addition to the in/out ventilation fans, one or more fans should be blowing directly onto the plants so that you can always see the foliage moving a little. This will allow for maximum oxygen intake and it also toughens up the stalk and branch of each plant for an overall larger stature.

Grow lights
Grow lights have to be the single most important aspect of running a hydroponic garden – without the lighting there is nothing. You generally want the lighting to be placed well below a celling in order to allow for proper heath distribution and prevent any heat issue that may arise. However, a lot of people also wonder, “How close do I put my grow lights to my plants”? The answer is simple – hold your hand under the lamp where the plants will be located, and if your hand gets uncomfortably hot, then it is probably too hot for your plants and should be moved farther away.

Pest Control
Pests can quickly become a problem in a hydroponic garden if left unchecked. It is very important to thoroughly clean your growing room/area regularly. Make sure the floors are especially clean as this is how a lot of pests creep into your garden. You don’t always have to spray pesticides on your plants to prevent or take care of the problem. Another great idea is to purchase sticky fly traps and hang them around your grow room. Doing something this minimal can have a huge effect on a pest problem and its prevention.

How to Stop and Prevent Root Rot

Root rot is a constant problem when gardening indoors, and most of the time, it can be hard to spot until it is too late. Root rot is a waterborne disease which forms on the roots and causes them to “rot” and eventually die off.

This serious disease can spread to other plants if the roots are too close to each other. This can drastically reduce yields and cause crop failure. When gardening indoors, especially in hydroponic systems, root rot spreads very quickly and because a hydroponics system is enclosed, the disease spores will concentrate themselves on and around any roots which may be in the systems.

Root rot is 100% preventable and can be treated if already present, but treatment does not always work. It is firmly suggested that you take the necessary steps to keep your roots clean and healthy.

Root Rot Source of Infection
• Unclean tools and/or objects and equipment which has been introduced to the plants’ source of water
• Water that is unfiltered or of poor quality
• Waterborne diseases which can cause root rot to develop

Infection Symptoms
• Yellow, drooping, and “soft” leaves
• Leaves curled over – this is directly related to the roots being unable to take in nutrients at normal strength due to the infection (root rot) causing damage to your root system
• pH levels are acidic – the pH level will rise rapidly at some point
• Roots becoming “burnt” at the ends (turning brown in color)
• Plants consuming drastically less water than normal
• Roots becoming smelly and slimy and is usually at the point when the roots are brown in color (a healthy root system should be off-white or a little tan in color)
• Swollen root collar

Treatment
If root rot is present, then your best bet is to simply start over with a new crop.
1. If indoor gardening with hydroponics, you want to start by disassembling the system.
2. Scrub the entire reservoir with a bleach solution, making sure you get in every corner and crevice.
3. Then rinse with tap water.
4. Run the bleach solution through the irrigation tubing and rinse with water again (you could also disinfect your water by mixing half of an H2O2 solution with half water, filling your reservoir and then letting it sit for an hour or so).
5. Drain, then refill with your normal water solution.
6. Make sure you clean all of your irrigation tubing and other components within the system as failure to completely clean the system could cause root rot to return.

Prevention
• Closely monitor the plant and root mass often, at least once a day. You generally want to look for brown, smelly roots.
• Make sure you always have adequate aeration, having an open air exchange around your roots will drastically cut your chances of root rot in half.
• Transplant only healthy plants and/or clones to your indoor garden. Disease-infected plants introduced to your garden can also introduce root rot to your crop.
• Always maintain a clean system and make sure you change the reservoirs in your indoor garden regularly and give your system a thorough cleaning every three to four weeks.