Posts published on May 2010

Organic Fertilizers

Gardening

nitro_humic_acidOrganic fertilizers are naturally-occurring fertilizers (e.g. peat moss or green manure), or naturally occurring mineral deposits (e.g. saltpeter).

Naturally occurring organic fertilizers include manure, slurry, worm castings, peat, seaweed, humic acid, brassin and guano.

Processed organic fertilizers include compost, bloodmeal, bone meal, humic acid, amino acids, brassin and seaweed extracts.

Other examples are natural enzyme digested proteins, fish meal, and feather meal. Decomposing crop residue from prior years is another source of fertility.

Advantages

Although the density of nutrients in organic material is comparatively modest, they have many advantages. The majority of nitrogen supplying organic fertilizers contain insoluble nitrogen and act as a slow-release fertilizer. By their nature, organic fertilizers increase physical and biological nutrient storage mechanisms in soils, mitigating risks of over-fertilization. Organic fertilizer nutrient content, solubility, and nutrient release rates are typically much lower than mineral (inorganic) fertilizers.

They re-emphasize the role of humus and other organic components of soil, which are believed to play several important roles:

* Mobilizing existing soil nutrients, so that good growth is achieved with lower nutrient densities while wasting less

* Releasing nutrients at a slower, more consistent rate, helping to avoid a boom-and-bust pattern

* Helping to retain soil moisture, reducing the stress due to temporary moisture stress

* Improving the soil structure

* Helping to prevent topsoil erosion

For more indoor,outdoor, and hydroponics information, please visit San Diego Hydroponics & Organics website.

Ventilation Explained

Gardening
Can Fan 125
Can Filter 125

Ever wonder why the wind blows or even more importantly:

What would happen if it didn’t?

The effect can be seen in a garden lacking proper ventilation. Stale air, humidity issues, disease, heat…should I keep going? Proper ventilation is so important in horticulture and is the key to growing quality plants indoors or via a green house. First let us discuss humidity and temperature.

Humidity is a balance between the water vapor present and the amount actually supported at that given temperature. As the air gets colder the humidity climbs and inversely as the air heats up the humidity decreases. This occurs because at colder temperatures the ability to retain water vapor in the ambient atmosphere of your garden decreases. At 100% humidity the water vapor condenses and releases excess moisture. Indoor gardens and green houses most often function best between 40 and 60% humidity levels.

Temperature is also a very important part of your indoor garden or green house.

Most indoor gardens and green houses thrive from 68 to 85 Fahrenheit. At hotter temperatures plants use less fertilizer and drink more water due to moisture loss. CO2 levels should also be raised to 1500ppms, especially if the temperature is above 78 F or fresh air is not continuously vented in. The use of air or water cooled light reflectors, exhaust fans, the integration of CO2 and if needed, an air conditioner can significantly improve any garden by narrowing the temperature to the plant’s ideal level.

To combat temperature or humidity level problems a variety of atmospheric controllers are available to link air conditioners, dehumidifiers, humidifiers, heaters, co2 devices, exhaust fans and oscillating fans together into one fully functional grow room. Devices are available to control from as little as just an exhaust fan up to lights, hydroponic pumps, fans and the above mentioned equipment.

A lack of proper ventilation leads to warm stale air inside your garden creating the perfect breeding ground for diseases and pest problems.

Oscillating fans should run 24 hours a day ensuring that air is disturbed preventing the chance for diseases to build up on leaves. Air can be constantly or periodically purged from your room via ventilation fans. Special care should be placed on intakes into your garden as to not bring in diseases and pests from outside. Carbon filters are excellent tools, cleaning the outside air and removing toxic air born chemicals and pathogens before allowing it into your room.

For more indoor,outdoor, and hydroponics information, please visit San Diego Hydroponics & Organics website.

Powdery Mildew

Gardening

powdery_mildewHow to treat powdery mildew

The first step in how to treat powdery mildew is to remove the conditions in which powdery mildew flourishes.

1. Plant susceptible plants in full sun – Full sun will help keep powdery mildew fungus off plants that are prone to the mildew.

2. Water from below – Use drip lines or hoses to water your plants. Watering from above with sprinklers makes can encourage powdery mildew to grow.

3. Increase air circulation – Try removing some of the vegetation on the plant to increase air flow around the plant. This will help keep powdery mildew at bay.

The following is a list of fungicides that can treat powdery mildew:

* Triadimefon

* Thiophanate-methyl

* Propiconazole

* Sulfur

* Potassium bicarbonate

The above list will treat powdery mildew but not all are acceptable for plants you plan to eat.

Combine both environment and chemicals for a powdery mildew cure.

For a complete powdery mildew cure, combine addressing the conditions that cause powdery mildew and use the chemicals that are a cure for powdery mildew. This will take the powdery mildew out of your garden and keep it out for good.

For more indoor,outdoor, and hydroponics information, please visit San Diego Hydroponics & Organics website.

Fertilizer Burn

Gardening

fertilizer-burnFertilizer Burn

Every gardener knows for a fact that for plants, crop fertilizers are as important as water is for them. Fertilizers provide them with the necessary supplements that are important for their healthy growth and survival. They also protect them from other factors like weed control and diseases that might cut into their nutritional values. But, too much of something can never be good news, and the same rule applies in gardening as well, when you put in too much of fertilizers. The result of overfeeding your plants with fertilizer is that it can cause your plants to have fertilizer burn. What is fertilizer burn, you ask? To explain in greater detail, fertilizer burn is when your plant gets dehydrated. The fertilizer that is added, contains huge amounts of salt. And therefore when you add a lot of chemicals, it leads to a salt buildup. This salt buildup will in turn curb the plant from absorbing any water.

Here are some guidelines on how to avoid fertilizer burn.

It is extremely important to choose the right fertilizer. Never settle for cheap fertilizer, as this may have fillers in it, which are detrimental to the soil and hydroponics. Always buy good quality fertilizers. So also, it is important to know what kind of a fertilizer your plants require. If there are high amounts of a particular nutrient in your soil, then adding that is not necessary. Similarly, you may have to add a combination of perhaps, 2-3 nutrients that are necessary, instead of a complete mix of fertilizer. In fact, adding a mix which has all the nutrients may be more detrimental to the plant. Make sure that the fertilizer has a combination of slow-release and fast release nitrogen in it.

Time is the Essence

Knowing when to add the fertilizer is key in avoiding fertilizer burn.

Study Soil Quality

Make sure that you study the quality of the soil regularly. You can do this by using various soil testing methods to know your garden’s soil pH levels.This is important because it will help to determine what the soil deficiencies are. It will also help one to know what nutrients need to be added along with the fertilizers. Sometimes, the excess usage of fertilizers and the deficiency of some other nutrients will lead to severe burn. Having a soil quality check will help you to avoid fertilizer burn. Be sure to check your pH after you add fertilizer to your water.

For more indoor,outdoor, and hydroponics information, please visit San Diego Hydroponics & Organics website.

Flushing Your Plants Before Harvest

Gardening

Drip Clean House and gardenFlush your plants before harvest.

It is advised that you stop using your flowering fertilizer 2 weeks before harvest time to ensure that all chemicals are out of the plant. If chemicals are in the plant when you harvest, the fruit will be very harsh. To prevent harshness, flush the plants heavily with fresh water 1-2 weeks prior to harvesting them. Ensure you flush at least 3 times the capacity of you container. So a 4 gallon pot would be flushed with 16 gallons of fresh water. From that point water your plants with pure water, absolutely NO additives should be given to the plant. This is especially important if you have been using chemical fertilizers.

Another option would be to use a product such as

Drip Clean, which is an extremely useful agent for anyone working with a drip system or soil containers. Drip Clean works as a magnet, removing dirt particles at every nutrient feeding so that the piping remains clean. Drip Clean futhermore gives plants a boost, improving their greenness and vitality.

Drip Clean is a 100% safe agent for your plants provided it is used in the right proportion.

Drip Clean contains potassium and phosphorus compounds, two very powerful and useful elements in the nutritional plan of the plant. These engineered compounds; one particle has been removed from their structure. The incomplete element thus works as a magnet. As molecules always seek a complete structure, Drip Clean attracts dirt particles with every nutrient feeding keeping the drip system clean. Drip Clean never fails and is a very effective agent against clogged drip systems and piping.

Directions for use:

Drip Clean can be added to the nutrient container during the entire growth. A very small amount of Drip Clean will ensure that your drip system stays clean and much less prone to clogging.

It is recommended that you use Drip Clean from the outset of your vegetative cycle to prevent clogging of your drip system.

An additional benefit is that Drip Clean gives your plants an extra boost as it contains processed nutrients. This is reflected in the color of the leaves (greener) and the firmness of the plants.

pH Explained

Gardening

acids_01pH is a very important factor to the horticulture world because plants depend on the proper pH in order to uptake nutrients correctly.

pH measures the acidity or basicity of the feed water, soil or medium. pH is also a measure of the concentration of hydrogen atoms in a liquid solution. The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14, 7 being neutral; the lower the pH the more acidic the solution or nutrient is.

As the number of hydrogen ions decrease from a solution, pH climbs to a base level. Inversely, when the quantity of hydrogen ions increases in solution, pH drops indicating an increase in acidity. Each point change in pH, for example 6 to 7, is a ten-fold change in the pH of the solution.

Each nutrient manufacturer usually has a recommended pH value to feed nutrients at. As pH varies, so does the availability in the quantity of nutrients in a solution. This means at different levels of pH, a chemical like nitrogen can be too readily available to the plant creating a potentially toxic level of nitrogen. This effect occurs on all macro and micro nutrients, thus the importance of obtaining and maintaining a proper pH.

A pH of 6.5 allows all nutrients to be appropriately available for plants to absorb.

Low pH

  • decreases availability of nitrogen, potassium, sulfate, calcium, magnesium, pHospHorus, molybednum, copper, boron.
  • increases the availablility of Iron and manganese zinc

High pH

  • restricts availability of iron and manganese, copper, and zinc.
  • increases availability to possible toxic levels of calcium, magnesium molybendum

For more indoor,outdoor, and hydroponics information, please visit San Diego Hydroponics & Organics website.

Foliar Feeding?

Gardening

Magic_greenFoliar feeding is essential, if you want maximum yield.

The most common method of providing nutrients to plants is through the roots. This is done by placing nutrients in the soil at the base of the plant. Foliar feeding, an alternate method, provides nutrients through the foliage or leaves of a plant.

Foliar applied fertilizers are three to five times more effective than root nutrition and can successfully reduce the nutritional stress situations of plants.

Foliar applied nutrients can also make elements, such as iron, available to plants when they are not available in the soil, water or hydroponic nutrient solution.

Dispersed along the plant’s leaf surface are small pores called stomata. These pores are channels that gases and liquids pass through. They may occur on either side or both sides of leaves, but most plants have a larger number on the underside of their leaves.

You simply cannot find a better source of all the essential elements of a plant nutrition or a better delivery system.

We recommend Magic Green by House & Garden.

Magic Green

Magic Green is a boost for mother plants, rooted and unrooted cuttings and growing plants. Magic Green is administered by means of sprays with a plant pump or a back-pack sprayer. It is absorbed directly bt the leaves and gives plants back their dark green color and vitality. Magic Green is a gentle plant agent and works within two days.

House & Garden Magic Green is a 100% biological plant booster that not only provides nutrients for the leaves, but also protects the plant against external threats from insects and mold.

With every spray, Magic Green forms a kind of wax film on the leaves to prevent insects and mold from damaging the plant. Magic Green also enhances the plants natural balance. As Magic Green contains all main and trace elements, it may provide a temporary solution when the substrate is disturbed so that the plant cannot absorb nutrients though its root system. This makes it an excellent solution to help the plant through a difficult period.

For more indoor,outdoor, and hydroponics information, please visit San Diego Hydroponics & Organics website.

EC and TDS Explained

Gardening
Combo pH, EC & TDS Guage
Combo pH, EC & TDS Guage

EC stands for electrical conductivity and measures the ability to conduct electricity through water and measures in microsiemens per centimeter (uS/cm).

The EC of a solution increases as salt is added to the fluid; horticulture nutrients are composed of salts. A typical EC for cuttings or small plants is about .5-1.0 and at peak fruiting/flowering/maturation of plant should be around 1.5-2.0 depending on sensitivity of plant.

TDS stands for total dissolved solids or the amount of mobile charged ions in a body of water. TDS measures in parts per million (ppm) or mg/L. TDS looks for minerals, salts or metals dissolved in water. A typical TDS reading for small plants or cuttings is 200ppm-500ppm. At peak of flowering / fruiting / maturation plant levels should read 1200-1600ppm.

Of course each plant has its own ability to uptake nutrients, so monitoring leaf development is key to ensuring proper feeding. If your nutrient schedule is calling for an increase in feed strength but your plant looks burnt or over fertilized its time to flush and reduce your nutrient strength.

For more indoor,outdoor, and hydroponics information, please visit San Diego Hydroponics & Organics website.

High Pressure Sodium Bulbs For Healthy Indoor Gardens

Gardening

growlightsWhile it’s true that HPS bulbs and metal halide bulbs are both high intensity discharge lights, HPS lights produce a more efficient light that has a more ideal light spectrum for growing.

10 percent more efficient than metal halide lights, HPS lights focus a very bright reddish yellow light and completely omit blue or violet light, creating ideal growing light for growing and flowering.

In fact, HPS bulbs are 10 to 15 percent more efficient than a metal halide light.

They also produce a higher amount of lumens per bulb, which measures the amount of light used against how much electricity you are using. Typically, HPS lights produce a yellow-orange light that has 97 to 150 lumens per watt. Metal halide lights typically produce 67 to 97 lumens per watt.

That added percentage adds up to more beautiful plants and a healthier harvest of vegetables from each plant. It also makes HPS lights more environmentally beneficial by providing better lighting for your plant with less electricity. The extra electrical savings are good not only for your wallet, but are also beneficial to the earth itself, leaving less of a carbon footprint. The impact of these lights is undetectable.

Keep in mind that High Pressure Sodium lamps need to be changed every year or so as they dramatically lose their performance after a growing season or two, resulting in less efficiency and more energy use.

Older lights grow less healthy plants that produce lower yields.

High Pressure Sodium bulbs can also run considerably hot, so it’s always good to keep them a decent distance away from plants to avoid scorching them.

Don’t move the lights too far from the plants, however. The amount of light weakens two fold as lights are placed away from plants. A light placed far away from a plant will give the plant considerably less light the farther away it is. It’s always best to keep plants as close as the light can get without scorching or damaging the plants. Good fans and adequate ventilation can keep plants cool and healthy.

High Pressure Sodium can be used to produce a healthy indoor garden, making year round fresh vegetables a reality.

They are considerably less expensive than LED lights. While less efficient than LED, they work a little better than metal halide. With a little practice, you can learn the exact amount of light your plants need to grow and bloom beautifully, reaping a healthier harvest as your thumb grows greener.

It is also important to not put the HID light source to close to your plant. Since HID systems put off more heat than fluorescent lighting and LEDs. This could cause the plant to get burnt. Lower wattages should be placed 2-3 ft above the plant. Higher wattages (400W-1000W) should be place 4 to 6 feet from your gardening area.

HPS is optimal in the flowering and budding stages. They need to be supplemented by a light source to will help in the “growth phase” Metal Halide and Fluorescent work extremely well. If not, your plants will tend to get “leggy” and appear unhealthy.

For more indoor,outdoor, and hydroponics information, please visit San Diego Hydroponics & Organics website.

Indoor Gardening Basics

Gardening

Grow_room_1You will need an appropriate container, rich and well-drained growth medium, fertilizer, and the heart for routine maintenance procedures.

There are different types of containers available for indoor container gardening. There are clay, plastic, wooden, and even ceramic containers that you can choose from for your container garden. Make sure that every container is well-drained. There should be a ½ inch to ¾ inch hole per square foot. When placing the container in a solid surface, raise it 1 to 2 inches from the floor to regulate drainage.

As gardeners say, container size is determined by plant size.

For those planning to grow herbs for their indoor container gardening project, herb garden kits are usually already equipped with appropriate-sized containers for the whole set. For those trying things on their own, remember that shallow-rooted plants need a container with a diameter of at least 6 inches and with enough depth to take in 8 inches of soil.

Plastic bags and smart pots are an excellent choice for indoor container gardening.

A rich and well-drained material for growth is also needed in indoor container gardening. Peat moss is the most recommended. When selecting from commercially prepared soils, choose one that contains perlite, peat, or vermiculite. If you want to make your own, compost would be your best bet. Do not use clay soil or soil taken straight from the garden since it is usually too heavy.

For more indoor,outdoor, and hydroponics information, please visit San Diego Hydroponics & Organics website.