Leaves are where photosynthesis and sunlight combines with CO2 and water and then is taken up by the roots to manufacture food (carbohydrates). Plants regulate small openings on the under side of the leaf to allow CO2 (carbon-dioxide) to enter and O2 (Oxygen) to exit. Roots anchor the plant in the soil and absorb water nutrients and air. Plants have five basic needs and each one accounts for 20% of a plants ability to grow to its maximum potential. If two or more of these needs are not met, growth slows quickly.
Our goal is to provide you with the light, heat, temperature and humidity in each model. You must provide the rest for the successful growing. This is why we included this section in our Web Site to give you valuable growing tips.
Plants grow by the process if photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is vital for photosynthesis. Plants can only absorb certain light spectrums, mostly Red and Blue, which produce chlorophyll A and B which are important for normal growth.
Plants can only thrive when normal growing temperatures are maintained. Normal growing temperatures would be 65* TO 85* max. Plants flourish when the relative humidity is between 40 and 70%. Seedlings will thrive in humidity levels of 60 and 100%. By maintaining temperature and humidity plants will absorb carbon dioxide CO2 better, which combined with proper lighting will increase chlorophyll production at an even faster rate.
We recommend buying good top soil that is disease free but first putting a layer of pea gravel in a grow tub for drainage, pack dirt firmly and put some live earth worms in soil. This will give more oxygen to root systems and create the soil. Another great way to add nutrients to your soil and help feed your worms, is to add high-quality compost to your soil mix. If you'd like to learn more about compost and also receive five free compost e-booklets, visit our friend, Dave, who is addicted to everything compost.
As far as fertilizer for soil medium, you can use whatever fertilizer you may choose, but be careful not to over use because it will burn your plants. Do not use when starting seeds. Rabbit manure is the best natural fertilizer for organic growers. Do not over water, as our models help hold humidity, which is moisture. If your plants are wilting, they are probably thirsty. Also, faucet water has a lot of chlorine so, for organic growing, distilled or spring water is recommended. Also use a spray bottle to mist leaves daily.
Whether you plan to grow hydroponically or in soil, there are many different methods that you could choose. Among them include: Ebb & Flow system’s flood and drain a tray of plants with a nutrient solution.
A drip garden provides nutrients to the plant through tubes & emitters at the base of each stem. Aeroponics are a more advanced technique that mists an oxygenated nutrient solution directly on the roots of a plant. NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) gardens create a slow-moving nutrient solution -'film'- that flows through tubing over the roots of the plants.
The water you use for your plants is a key factor in determining how well your plants will grow, regardless of what nutrients you add. The salts in a solution are measured in PPM (parts per million) or EC (electrical conductivity). Low PPM or EC is ideal for starting off, specific nutrients can then be added. Reverse Osmosis (RO) is the preferred method of reducing PPM.
pH - It's Important!
pH (potential hydrogen) measures the acidity or alkalinity of your solution on a scale of 0 – 14. The most important thing to remember about pH is to avoid extremes. In soil, optimum pH is between 6.5 and 7. Hydroponic solutions perform best with pH slightly more acidic than for soil, ideally from 5.8 to 6.8. Within these ranges’ plants can absorb nutrients most efficiently. If the pH is too low (acidic), acid salts chemically bind nutrients; pH that is too high (basic) causes nutrients to become unavailable. Another problem created by an imbalance of pH is the build up of toxic salts, which prevents roots from absorbing water.
Every full-point change in pH indicates a tenfold increase or decrease in acidity or alkalinity. For example, water with a pH of six is ten times more acidic than water or soil with a pH of seven. Water with a pH of six is one hundred times more acidic than water with a pH of eight. Because this scale is so sensitive, it is important to have an accurate way of measuring pH. Measure your pH levels with a soil test kit, litmus paper, or electronic pH tester.
Growing mediums provide the foundation of a plant root system. Some add nutritional value to your plants while others simply give the roots something to hold on to. Mediums include but are not limited to: soil, soil-less mixes, coco, hydro-ton, and rock wool. Every grower has his own preference. Coco is made from the husks of a coconut, and it is very pH stable. It provides good moisture retention and natural aeration. Hydro-ton is used primarily for hydroponic applications and is made of pH neutral clay pebbles.
These tend to hold water well and have great oxygen to water ratios. With proper sterilization techniques, hydro-ton can be reused. Rock wool is made from stone that is heated then spun into fibers. It is then compressed into starter cubes, grow blocks, or slabs. This medium has excellent oxygen to water ratio. Rock-wool tends to have a higher pH, so flushing with 5.5-5.8 pH balanced water or a rock-wool conditioning solution is recommended. Rock-wool works best in ebb & flow and drip systems.
All plants require proper nutrients to grow. Nutrients are available in organic and synthetic varieties and come in both liquid and dry form. Nutrients can be separated into two categories, macro and micro nutrients. The macronutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulfur. The micronutrients or trace nutrients include iron, manganese, boron, zinc, copper, molybdenum and chlorine. It is important to follow the nutrient schedule carefully to avoid over or under fertilization. Nutrient regiments are available through all the major nutrient suppliers. Most nutrients/fertilizers will have an N-P-K (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) label on the front of the bottle. In the vegetative or growth stage, the "N" will typically be higher. In the flowering or bloom stage, the "P" will be higher. You may also consider introducing additives/ supplements into your nutrient mix. Additives/supplements can improve microbial activity at the root zone, increase size, flavor and aroma. When used properly, nutrients and supplements will help you achieve maximum results.