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HomeDon't MissGardening - Understanding Hydroponics by TechBlog.SoftwareTechIT

Gardening – Understanding Hydroponics by TechBlog.SoftwareTechIT


Hydroponics The Science

Understanding the science that is necessary in hydroponics is a must to become a great hydroponics farmer, whether that be a hobby of indoor gardening or its to be your livelihood as a major horticulturist. The science required to understand hydroponics involves the systems in use, the methods of which these systems allow the user, the air required both in and out, the plants cycles from birth to finish, the lighting your crop will require to flourish to its maximum and finally the feed.

Hydroponics Systems

Today we are given a large choice of which hydroponics system we want to employ in our growing environment and many offer the user a choice of which method to employ. This will firstly determine the end result as some systems offer greater taste over others, faster growth but less impressive yielding and vise versa, or even shorter cycles to bring your crops in faster. Working out which is best suited to your environment and requirements is a must as the purchase of the hydroponics system is deemed the most important decision.

Hydroponics Growing Method

Before purchasing your system decide upon which growing method you are to employ, some systems decide this for you however today we are given a choice with many systems. Many will use NFT, (nutrient film technique) as this is what all growers result to using after time due its low use of media’s and high yielding abilities. NFT requires more attention than that of other methods at first but will reward you greater for this time. With experience, as with all methods the science soon becomes second nature. Further growing methods such as Ebb & Flow, Flood & Drain, Drip & Drain, Dripper, Pot Culture and Aeroponics also bear high yields with each having their own benefit greater than others such as Aeroponics systems are better for growth due to the rootzone having a higher oxygen content present.

Oxygen Air In & Air Out

If your air source is poor your plants will suffer. Plants like ourselves require a high C02 content, this is supplied to the grow room using natural air from outdoors and / or cannistered C02. The first being the choice of many and the simpliest to employ. Fans and carbon filters carry this air along flexible ducting from outside and ejects into the grow room or grow tent. To remove the stale air, again fans, carbon filters and ducting are used. It is common practice to use a size larger fan and filter for the air exhausting from the room than that of bringing the air in. This is to ensure all odours / odors are not present in the grow room, resulting in good quality present for the plants to inhale. The use of carbon filters is to remove any odours / odors resulting in a cleaner air supply, bug free. C02 requires more time and effort along with the equipment required to release the C02 at timed intervals. Failure to get this correct will affect the plants well being and more so the end result, the yield. Further more, offering C02 to your plants at an early stage, such as before heavy rooting in the system or pot has taken hold, your plants will die for sure. Exhausting air using this method is more complicated resulting in the fans and filters being operational at timed intervals resulting in a higher odour / odor content in the growing environment.

Plants Life Cycle

All plants life cycles differ. Research the plants you are intending to grow is necessary to understand at which critical timings to supply which elements and minerals. From day one either as a seedling or a clone your plant requires help to flourish into a high yielding success. There are many stages you will need to highlight from mass rooting, growth phsycological times, flower introduction, flower enhancement, ripening and finalizing its life time. The control of growth or flower is simple with the grower managing the light being given to the plants. A 15 to 18 hour light period will signal to the plants they are to grow, shortening of this time to 10 to 12 hours will signal to switch to flowering mode. Failure to give your plants what they require at their critical times will result in your plant becoming confused, this can result in seeds becoming visible on / in the fruits or flowers.

Grow Lights Horticulture Lighting

Grow Lights or horticulture lighting firstly determines the growth or flowering stage of your plants life however grow lights play a much larger part. Firstly I need to stress that plants only need a light signal for them to grow or flower, however poor light, or low strength grow lights will not produce greatly either in flowers or growth. Grow Lights emit lumens to your plants, the stronger these lumens the greater the result. However supplying lumens too strong at too soon a stage can be detrimental to the plants health resulting in stunning the plants growth. This is easily controlled by the highering and lowering of your grow lights above the plants heads. Further more, plants require different spectrums of light to enhance either their growth or flowering stage, these are managed by purpose made lamps for growth and flowering. In growth Metal Halide (M/H) are used and changed in flowering to High Pressure Sodium (HPS). LED lights are currently being introduced due to the ability the user has to supply the correct spectrum of colour, these do not produce lumens however the colour’s emitted enhance the cycles. LED as of yet do not produce yields as great as HPS lamps do when fruiting and flowering. Be sure to use the correct strength lamp to produce the best yield possible. If your plants are growing too slowly its possible your lights are not strong enough for the job in hand. As with the more plants present in your grow room the more lighting required. You can not expect plants grown in poor lighting to produce well in flowering / fruiting.

Feeds Minerals, Nutrients, Additives, Fertilisers, Growth Media’s

The correct feeds are essential at critical timings, as explained in a plants life cycle with different stages require different elements and minerals. The minerals are supplied using liquid feeds and growth media’s / medium’s. Growth media is the choice of substrate the plants root mass will grow. All methods require media’s with exception to NFT however some growers will use media’s such as rockwool cubes and plugs in NFT to house the plants stem and first roots. This is not required with NFT as you can propagate clones using rubber discs to hold the stem. More often today clay pebbles are the choice of many due to the ease of use and reducing mess that occurs with fertilisers, soils and soils substitutes such as CoCo or Terra. Clay pebbles retain the liquid feed and oxygen and release these slowly into the roots. A good quality of oxygen is retained in the rootzone resulting in better growth and an all round healthier plant. Liquid feeds containing the minerals required are available widely and each with an additive to suit the critical timings such as root protection feeds which protect and enhance the rootmass, enzymes encourage growth further and flower enhancers mimic flowering genes to force the plant to produce larger flowers. Whilst ripening additives are used to clean the substrate of unwanted minerals and nutrients they also signal to the plant to end its cycle forcing it to ripen its fruits and flowers. Ripening additives are also used if a problem has occurred with your crop that can not be rectified and to save what has been produced it can be ripened to harvest earlier than you would of.


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