Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks

Growing Tips & Tricks

Hydroponic gardening can be an excellent way to grow a large amount of fruits, vegetables and herbs in a limited area. However, it’s much more than just growing plants in a water-nutrient system without soil. There are many variables, all of which depend on the space available, your budget and how much time is available to spend on maintenance. There then are some tips that will help to make your hydroponic experience pleasant and productive.

Get Tour Plants Off to a Good Start

In hydroponic gardening, plants get started in a growing medium, which can be any number of things. The best choices are composted bark, expanded clay, gravel, peat moss or sand. Rockwool, oasis and perlite are less desirable; vermiculite should be avoided at all costs, as it is often contaminated with asbestos fibers that can have grave consequences for one’s respiratory health.

Ideal temperatures and humidity levels can vary with different plant species. Most growers aim for temperatures in the upper 70’s and humidity around 50%. Higher humidity is used for cuttings and seedlings.

The Right Light

As mentioned above, different plants have different requirements – and a single plant has different light needs at different stages. In general, a plant that is in the growth stage needs more blue spectrum light, whereas a plant that is flowering or fruiting uses more of the red spectrum.

Metal halide (MH) lights are good for the former, while High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights work better during the latter stage. T5 fluorescent lights can be used for vegetative growth. LED technology has proven effective for growing, but only the most high-end units actually perform. Most LED systems on the market will give you weak results, if you even make it to harvest.

 

Proper Nutrients

All plants require some sixteen different mineral nutrients in order to reach their full potential. These fall into the category of either micronutrients or micronutrients. Important macronutrients include nitrogen (N), which aids in the growth of new leaves; phosphorus (P), needed for root growth and bloom; potassium (K) for biomass and disease resistance; calcium (Ca), which promotes plant strength; and magnesium (Mg), the ions of which are an important component of chlorophyll, the substance that aids in photosynthesis. Minerals such as boron (B), copper (cu), cobalt (Co), iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn) are micronutrients that are necessary in trace amounts.

 

Prevent Disease and Warding off Pests

Just as with traditional gardening, hydroponics means battling unwanted insects and plant diseases. The best ways to avoid these problems consist of maintaining a clean growing environment, selecting hearty, disease-resistant plants, proper ventilation and temperature control, and constant monitoring for problems. The latter is especially important; most problems are easily cured if caught in their initial stages.

When using sprays to fight bugs and disease, always choose organic products. They are both safe and effective!

Keeping it Pruned

Discolored, insect-eaten or unhealthy leaves and diseased roots should be removed with a pair of sharp scissors. Judicious pruning of your hydroponics gardens will also help your plants to grow fuller and allow it to concentrate its energy on more productive shoots.

Also, when using grow lights, lower leaves and shoots should be removed if they are not able to receive light. The tops of the plants will have increased growth with the pruning of lower shoots.

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