What are LEC lights ?
– LEC stands for Light Emitting Ceramic, a huge leap forward in Metal Halide technology. The most important change is the ceramic tube which allows the bulb to burn at a higher temperature, creating light that is much closer to natural sunlight. Growers around the world are stunned at the effectiveness of these new features.
– Sun System LEC 315 utilizes cutting edge Light Emitting Ceramic technology, delivering an amazing spectrum unmatched by other types of H.I.D. lighting. A highly efficient agriculturally engineered Phillips CDM-T Elite 315/U/O Agro Lamp comes with the unit. Greatly improved full colour light spectrum out of next generation ceramic lamps.
– Built into the fixture is a high-quality Phillips brand 50/60 Hz low frequency, square wave, highly efficient electronic ballast rated for 50,000 hour life! The LEC 315 driver incorporates built in thermal protection. Very reliable and durable fixture made with the finest quality materials and components available.
– LESS HEAT- LEC bulbs have a lower radiant heat factor which makes them perfect for smaller applications by making it easier to control temperature spikes.
– YIELD PER WATT- low heat means closer to plants, light quality means better plant growth. Bottom line this technology will pay for itself by giving your plants more of what they need.
– SQUARE WAVE BALLAST- Running on a Phillips square wave ballast this technology ensures a more stable beam of light hitting the plants as the square waves mean the energy getting to the bulb never fluctuates.
– SPECTRAL OPTIONS- There is a full spectrum 3100K bulb that comes standard and the opportunity to replace it with a 4200K for dedicated vegetative growth.
1- State-of-the-art Light Emitting Ceramic (LEC) delivers an amazing, full spectrum unmatched by other types of H.I.D. lighting.
2- Highly efficient agriculturally engineered Philips CDM-T Elite 315 Watt Agro Lamp (included)
3- Higher amounts of beneficial UV and far red spectrums increase the lamps growth to plants.
4- Very high 1.95 PPF per second light source.
5- High-quality Philips brand 50/60 Hz low frequency, square wave, highly efficient electronic ballast built into the fixture.
6- Excellent 90% lumen maintenance at 8,000 hours. (bulb should be replaced after 2 years for maximum growth potential).
7- Compact lighting solution for small growing areas or to supplement high pressure sodium (HPS) lighting.
8- Very reliable and durable fixture made with the finest quality materials and components.
9- Reflective is made with 98% reflective German aluminium and 95% reflective textured corner inserts.
What are Hydroponic “Active Systems” ?
– Active Hydroponic Systems use submersible water pumps to deliver fresh water/nutrient solution to the plants so the environment is refreshed by a solution that hasn’t been mined of nutrients and oxygen. Active hydroponic systems include deep water culture (DWC), ebb and flow (flood & drain), drip systems, and aeroponic systems.
– Deep Water Culture (DWC) systems keep the roots bathed in an oxygenated water/nutrient solution. Mesh baskets filled with leca are usually used for this system. The baskets are suspended above the water level and the roots hang down into the oxygenated water. The roots have total access to water, nutrients and oxygen which are dissolved in the water. Large air pumps supply air through air stones in the reservoir keep the solution oxygenated.
– Ebb and Flow systems use a reservoir to hold the water/nutrient solution and a tray to hold the plant containers, or rockwool cubes with the plants in them. Water/nutrient solution is periodically pumped into the tray, and then allowed to drain back into the reservoir. The planting medium holds enough moisture between watering’s to meet the needs of the plants. Oxygenate the reservoir with an air pump and air stone and maintain a temperature of between 68F-73F using a submersible water heater.
– Drip Hydroponic Systems work by delivering water slowly to the planting medium or soil using an emitter or dripper stake. These are installed at the end of the 1/8″ irrigation tubing, which is connected to the 1/2″ hose coming from a submersible pump. The submersible pump delivers water from a reservoir, through the 1/2″ hose , then through the 1/8″ irrigation tube to the emitters or drip stakes, which are positioned above or in the planting medium. Every plant container or rockwool cube is serviced by its own emitter or dripper.
– Aeroponic Systems spray an atomized mist of water/nutrient solution directly on the roots. The tiny droplets of fast moving water are well aerated so they constantly replenish the roots with oxygen. The water/nutrient spray also delivers nutrients in an absorbable form which encourages extremely fast growth. In both cloning machines and plant systems the plants are held in small baskets, usually filled with leca or rockwool. You must use a strong submersible pump in order to get a fine mist. Less powerful pumps result in a coarser spray. Aeroponic systems leave little room for error. If the pump quits or the misters malfunction the plants can go down in a matter of hours. This is why most aeroponic systems are only used in small reliable clone machines.
What are Hydroponic “Passive Systems” ?
– Passive Hydroponic Systems use capillary action to draw water through the planting medium. Systems included in passive hydroponics are reservoir systems, wicking systems, and capillary mat systems.
– In a reservoir system plants are grown in containers containing a combination of growing medium. Fast draining media like leca, or perlite are usually on the bottom of the containers and the top portion is filled with a hydroponic mix such as a vermiculite/perlite mixture, or peat moss mixes (Pro Mix, Sunshine Mix).
– The planted containers are then put into a reservoir. Almost any tray can be used as a reservoir. Tupperware storage bins or kids swimming pools make good and affordable reservoirs.
– Water/nutrient solution is manually poured into the reservoir which contain the plants. This solution is replenished by the gardener as the plants need it. This is a system that requires daily monitoring so as not to let the plants dry out.
– A capillary mat is about 1/4″ thick and are made from coco or soft polyester. This mat has great wicking ability. When containers are placed on the mat it compresses. This indent is below the water level allowing plants to draw up the solution as they need it. Less water is put into the reservoir and daily monitoring is recommended.
– In a wick system the plant container is held above a reservoir. Lengths of wicking material hang from holes in the bottom of the plant container. The other ends of the wicking material hang into a reservoir filled with the water/nutrient solution. Capillary action draws water up the wick to the roots The wick system is self regulating, and the amount of water delivered to the plants depends on the amount of water lost through evaporation and transpiration. As long as the reservoir has water, the plants are being watered.
What is Hydroponics ?
– Hydroponics is the method of gardening in which plants are supplied with nutrients through the water solution. Hydroponic systems vary in their complexity and the amount of care that they require.
– Gardeners have a choice of systems to accomplish this. Deep Water Culture (DWC), Drip Systems, Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain), Nutrient Flow Technique (NFT), Reservoir and Wick Systems are all considered hydroponic gardening.
– Systems fall into one of two categories : Passive Systems or Active Systems.
– Passive Hydroponic Systems use capillary action to draw water through the planting medium. As water is used it creates “tension” which pulls water molecules up. It supplies plants with as much water as they need. Passive systems include reservoir systems, wick systems, and capillary mat systems.
– Active Hydroponic Systems use pumps to move fresh water/nutrient solution to the plants so that the environment is refreshed by a solution on a timed schedule. Active hydroponic systems include deep water culture (DWC), drip systems, ebb and flow systems and aeroponic systems.
What are LED Lights ?
– The latest addition to indoor lighting options is lamps made from Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). LEDs create little heat and are only about 3″-4″ deep, so they work well in closets, or spaces where height is an issue. LEDs are also very efficient, using less hydro than Metal Halide, High Pressure Sodium and even Fluorescents.
– In an LED lighting system each diode emits light in a narrow spectrum. The spectrum is determined by the minerals used to make them. This allows LED’s to be designed to provide the plants with exactly the spectrum that they need for maximum growth. By tailoring the diode spectrums to the plants requirement, LED’s produce more PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) than HID lamps.
– PAR – The light that plants use is known as Photosynthetically Active Radiation. Humans see light best in the yellow-green wavelengths around 550 nm. Plants make most use of light in the red and blue spectrums in the range of 400-700 nm.
– HPS lamps deliver more total light per watt of input, but LEDs are twice as efficient in PAR light per watt. LED fixtures are more expensive than HID lights, but they will save money in the long run.
What are Ballasts ?
– Every metal halide and high pressure sodium lamp has an electrical system that requires conversion to higher voltage than is delivered through the electrical grid. The ballast converts house current to the appropriate voltage.
– Ballasts are connected to a reflector/bulb by a length of 14 gauge electrical cord. This allows the ballast to be stored outside the garden area. The convenience of this is that the heavy ballasts are not hanging from the ceiling, only the much lighter reflector and bulb.
– Ballasts come in either magnetic or digital format.
– Magnetic ballasts use 20% more electricity than the bulb is rated to convert the electricity to an appropriate form. A digital ballast uses about 10% more electricity that the bulb is rated to convert the electricity to an appropriate form.
– Magnetic ballasts contain an iron magnetic core so they are heavy – (1000w HPS weighs between 35-44 lbs.) but a digital ballast weighs about 8-12 lbs. for the same size.
– Magnetic ballasts hum and emit a lot of heat, whereas a digital ballast is quiet and generally run cooler.
– Magnetic ballasts are better suited when using a relay – (ping-pong 2 separate rooms 12hrs/12hrs with 1 ballast) than are digital ballasts.
– Digital ballasts regulate currency more precisely than do magnetic ballasts. The bulb receives a more even electrical flow so it is stressed less. It lasts longer, emits a brighter light, and it doesn’t flicker.
– Digital ballast are more expensive that magnetic ballasts, but they do save electricity, and generally produce more light, resulting in more flowers.
What are High Pressure Sodium Lamps (HPS) ?
– High pressure sodium lamps emit an orange or amber looking light. Their spectrum is heavily concentrated in the yellow, orange, and red spectrums with only minimal amounts of blue spectrum. These type of lamps are commonly used in street lights.
– High pressure sodium lamps are usually used for flowering because they supply more orange and red light than metal halide lamps. Using lamps with increased orange and red spectrum seems to promote more flower production. Some newer HPS lamps emit enhanced levels of blue light, which encourages stout short stems and branches. Manufacturers of these lamps claim that the bulb can be used in both the vegetative and flowering stages.
– High pressure sodium bulbs are available in – 150w, 250w, 400w, 430w, 600w, 750w, and 1000w sizes. The bulb wattage must match the ballast wattage.
– “DON’T” use a smaller wattage bulb in a larger wattage ballast, unless the ballast has adjustable wattages, and you adjust the ballast to the bulb wattage.
What are Metal Halide Lamps (MH) ?
– Metal halide lamps are the type of lamps used to illuminate outdoor sports events because they emit a white light. Metal halide bulbs come in different spectrums – 2,100K, 3,200K, 6,400K, 7,200K, and 10,000K.
– A metal halide bulb with a 6,400K, 7,200K or 10,000K rating is ideal for vegetative growth (18 hrs.) and for the first 2 weeks of flowering (12 hrs.). Using this bulb in early flowering will decrease stretching of the plant during the transition period from veg to bloom.
– Using a 6400K, 7200K, or 10,000K bulb in the last 2 weeks of flowering will supply critical “UVB” light to the garden. Even plants grown under High Pressure Sodium lamps will have increased potency if the lamps are replaced with metal halide bulbs in the last 2 weeks of flowering.
– Metal halide bulbs that are 2,100K and 3,200K are often the only bulb used during the whole life of the plant- vegetative and flowering stages. These bulbs have a mixture of blue, green, yellow, red, and orange spectrums which are sufficient for all phases of growth.
– Metal halide bulbs come in 250w, 400w and 1000w sizes. These bulbs require a ballast to ignite them.
– NOTE – It is unsafe to use a metal halide with a broken outer bulb. Not only does it emit large amounts of harmful UVB rays, it also releases UVC light, which is deadly to most life forms. DO NOT use a broken metal halide lamp.
What are Compact Fluorescent Bulbs – (CFL’s)
– Compact fluorescent lights are often the most convenient lamps to use in small gardens. Unlike fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent bulbs have ballasts built into the bulb assembly so they can screw into a standard incandescent socket.
– The light emitted from a CFL lamp is indirect. Since any light that doesn’t reach the plants is wasted, use reflectors to get the lights to the garden. Use fixtures with bowl-like reflectors to send the light in the right direction.
– To maintain a fast growing garden, a minimum of 30 watts of fluorescent light per square foot is required during vegetative growth. More light, 40-60 watts per square foot will produce even higher quality growth. Compact fluorescent bulbs come in the following wattage – 13w, 26w, 55w, 125w, and 200w. The 125w and 200w bulbs require a mogul socket to screw into, but the 13w, 26w, and 55w bulbs all fit standard light sockets.
– Compact fluorescent bulbs emit the most light when they are positioned with the base up. They emit less light when positioned base down and are least efficient when placed horizontally.
What are Fluorescent Lights ?
– Fluorescent lighting has been used for years in indoor gardens. Fluorescent bulbs are classified according to the size of the tube. T-12 bulbs have a diameter of 1.5″ and are the least efficient. They are being phased out by T-8 bulbs that are 1″ in diameter and T-5 bulbs that are 5/8″ in diameter.
– The T-5 fluorescent bulbs are the most efficient, and because of their smaller diameter they can be spaced closer together allowing higher light intensity necessary to produce high quality plants. These fluorescent bulbs are great for starting seeds, cuttings, and early vegetative growth. However, fluorescents do not create the intensity of light emitted by high pressure sodium (HPS) lamps, so they don’t usually produce large, tight flowers.
– Fluorescents come in various spectral outputs. T-5 bulbs, which are the best to use come in 3 different spectrums. They are available in 10,000K, 6400K, and 2700K. The K is for Kelvins and the high the number, thebluer the bulb is. The 10,000K and 6,400K bulbs are for vegetative growth and the 2,700K bulb is more for flowering.
– T-5 fluorescents fixtures are available in – 24″, 36″, and 48″ lengths. They also come in single light fixtures, 2 light, 4 light, 8 light, and 12 light fixtures.
Why is “chlorine” and/or “chloramine” in the water ?
– Chlorine and/or chloramine is added to municipal water systems to kill infectious agents, but when the water is used for irrigation, the chlorine/chloramine kills some of the beneficial micro-organisms in the “rhizosphere”, the area surrounding the roots. To protect the micro-life in the soil, remove the chlorine/chloramine from the water.
– In the past water was treated with a chlorine compound that had a characteristic odor and taste. This chlorine evaporates when the water sits for a day or two. Now most water systems use “chloramine”, which does not evaporate. The chloramine has to be removed.
– Aquarium hobbyist face the same problem because the chlorine and/or chloramine also affects the fish. They use an additive (available at pet supply stores) that removes not just the chlorine and chloramine but the ammonia which is produced by the chemical reaction. Chloramine can also be removed from water by adding 1 gram of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to 75 gallons of water. Adding the ascorbic acid to the water is safe for both the plants and you.
How important is the water ?
– Not all water is created equal. When we drink different waters, we experience their distinctive qualities as different flavors. The mineral, carbon dioxide, and oxygen content of water vary substantially, and affects your plants.
– Three key measurements of the water composition are its “alkalinity”, its “pH” and its content of “dissolved salts”.
– Alkalinity is the ability of the water to buffer acids. When water contains dissolved solids/minerals the pH is not affected as much by the addition of fertilizer. When water is pure and contains no minerals it is called soft water. This water has little or no buffering ability so its pH is very changeable.
– pH is a measure of acid-alkalinity balance. A pH between 5.3-6.5 is what plants like best. The pH of tap water may change seasonally. Test it regularly. The pH changes when the water company flushes its system.
– Dissolved salts are the mineral content of the water and is usually expressed as parts per million (ppm). This can be measured using electrical conductivity (EC) meters. A reading of 125-150 ppm for your water is a good starting point because it represents some buffering ability , but not to much that large amounts of minerals have to be added to adjust pH.
– NOTE – When you irrigate the plants make sure that you don’t shock the roots with water that is either too cold or too warm. Make sure that the water is in the temperature range of 65-75 F or 18-24 C.
What is pH and is it important?
– The pH is a measure of acid-alkalinity balance. It represents the concentration of hydrogen or hydroxyl ions in a solution. The pH is measures on a scale of 0-14, with “0” the most acid, “7” is neutral (equal concentration of hydrogen and hydroxyl ions), and “14” is pure alkali. This is a logarithmic scale so every one point increase or decrease in pH reflects a 10-fold change in acidity or alkalinity. This means that a pH 5 is 10 times more acidic than pH 6, and a pH 4 is 1000 times more acidic than pH 6.
– Most nutrients the plants use are soluble only in a limited range of acidity, from pH 5.5 to pH 6.5. Should the water or the water-solution in the soil become too acidic or alkaline, the nutrients dissolved in the water precipitate and become unavailable to the plants. When nutrients are locked up, plant growth is slowed.
– A plant growing inan acidic environment with a llow pH is very small and often grow only a few inches in a month. Plants growing in a high pH envoironment lood pale and sickly and have stunted growth.
– Check the pH of nutrient solutions before watering plants in a soilless mix, and check the pH daily in hydroponic reservoirs. This will ensure optimal nutrient intake by the plants.
What are “Micronutrients” ?
– Micronutrients are the nutrients that are used in smaller quantities by the plant.
– They are calcium (Ca), sulfur (S), magnesium (Mn), iron (Fe), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), and boron (B).
What are “macronutrients” ?
– Macronutrients are the nutrients that are used in large quantities by the plant.
– They are nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K)
Nutrients – Zinc (ZN)
– Zinc aids in plant size and maturity, as well as in the production of leaves, stalks, stems, and branches. Zinc is an essential component in many enzymes and in the growth hormone, auxin. Low auxin levels cause stunted leaves and shoots. Zinc is also important in the formation and activity of chlorophyll.
-Zinc deficiency occurs occasionally. Deficiencies are identifiable by spotting, chlorosis, and yellowing between the veins of older leaves. New growth has radically twisted leaf blades. During the flowering stage buds may contort, twist and turn hard. When the deficiency first appear, the spotting can resemble that of an iron (Fe) or manganese (Mn) deficiency but it affects the new growth.
– Using an iron-zinc-manganese micro nutrient mix to help solve the problem. Chelated trace element also contains zinc. Use sparingly if necessary.
Nutrients – Sulfur (S)
– Sulfur is essential during vegetative growth and plays an important role in root growth, chlorophyll supply, and plant proteins.
– Sulfur deficiency is rare. The first signs of sulfur deficiency are yellowing, young leaves. Leaf growth is slow, the leaves become brittle and narrower than usual and are small and mutated. Overall growth is stunted. In severe cases the veins of the growing shoots turn yellow with dead areas at the base of the leaf where the blades join. Stems become hard, thin and may be woody. They increase in length but not in diameter. Sulfur deficiency starts at the back of the leaves and creeps towards the middle.
– Sulfur deficiency is easily solved using Epsom salt (MgSO4). Water the plant with 1-2 teaspoons of Epsom salt to 1 gallon of water. Apply as a foliar spray and to the irrigation water. Adding micronutrients that contain sulfur will also fix a deficiency but remember to mix at recommended strength to avoid nutrient burn.
Nutrients – Silicon (SI)
-Silicon promotes the development of strong leaves, stems and roots. It also increases resistance to fungal and bacterial diseases and insect infestation. It increases photosynthetic activity and overall yield increases. Silicon helps the plant overcome different stresses that occur and helps to protect the plant from pests and diseases. It also aids in growth, development, yield and disease resistance.
– Silicon deficiency is very rare, as it is abundant in nature, but it is not usually included in hydroponic fertilizers, so it should be used as a supplement.
– Diatomaceous earth can be added to the growing media before planting. The silicon is dissolved by acids into a form the roots can absorb. Liquid silicon (potassium silicate ,Rhino-Skin) are also used and the silicon is immediately available to the plants.
Nutrients – Potassium (K)
– Potassium is found in the whole plant. It is necessary for all activities having to-do with water transportation, as well as all stages of growth. Potassium is especially important in the development of buds. It also aids in the development of buds, aids in creating sturdy and thick stems, disease resistance, water respiration, and photosynthesis.
– Plants with potassium deficiency look vigorous but the tips and edges of their bottom leaves die or turn tan/brown and develop necrotic spots. In more severe cases the leaves develop chlorotic spots. Mottled patches of red and yellow appear between the veins, which remain green, accompanied by red stems and petioles. Severe shortages also cause leaves to grow smaller than usual but pants with potassium deficiencies tend to be the tallest.
– Water-soluble fertilizers containing high potassium will help fix the deficiency. Bloom fortifiers ( Monster-Bloom, Overdrive, Final-Drive ) all contain adequate amounts of potassium and are good additives to us in late flowering. Liquefied kelp, and wood ash are commonly used and work quickly. Potassium silicate can be used to supply silicon(SI) and has 3% potassium in it. Granite dust or greensand take more time to be absorbed by the plant and are not generally used to correct deficiencies, but to prevent them.
– Damaged leaves never recover but the plant shows signs of recovery in four to five days with the application of fast acting products.
Nutrients – Phosphorus (P)
– Plants use high amounts of phosphorus during the flowering stage. If they don’t get adequate or even abundant supplies, it results in lower yields. Phosphorus aids in root and stem growth, influences the vigor of the plant, and helps seedlings germinate. Phosphorus is extremely important in the reproductive stages and in flowering. Deficiency during flowering results in lower yields, but over fertilizing can result in “chemical buds” or burn the plant.
– Plants with phosphorus deficiency grow slowly and are usually stunted with small leaves. The older leaves are affected first. The leaves first turn dark green and become weak. The leaves develop dull blue or purple hues. The edges of the leaves turn tan/brown and curl downward as the deficiency works its way inward. Fan leaves turn dark green with a purple or dull blue hue. The lower leaves turn yellow and die.
– Water soluble fertilizers containing high phosphorus will help fix deficiency problems. Bloom boosters (Monster-Bloom, Big-Bud, Heavy-Bud) all contain high amounts of phosphorus. High phosphorus bat guano also provides readily available phosphorus. Rock phosphate and greensand are high in phosphorus but they gradually release the phosphorus so they work well in outdoor gardens.
– The already affected leaves do not show recovery, but no additional growth is affected and new growth appears healthy.
Nutrients – Nitrogen (N)
– Nitrogen is directly responsible for the production of chlorophyll and amino acids, and it is essential to photosynthesis. It is an essential element of tissue; without it growth quickly stops. Without high amounts of nitrogen, especially during the vegetative growth stage, the plants yield is greatly reduced. Plants should never experience a nitrogen deficiency during vegetative growth.
– Nitrogen can travel anywhere on the plant. Usually deficiency starts on the lower part of the plant. The lower leaves first appear pale green. The leaves will then yellow and as the nitrogen travels to support new growth. Eventually the deficiency travels up the plant until only the new growth is green, leaving the lowest leaves to yellow , wither and die.
– Prevent nitrogen deficiency by using base fertilizers with adequate amounts of nitrogen. Any water-soluble fertilizer with a much higher nitrogen content can be used to solve deficiencies quickly. Nutrient supplements containing nitrogen ( Green-Up, Cal-Max )also work well at solving the problem.
– Nitrogen is always necessary in order for the plant to manufacture amino acids, which use nitrogen as an ingredient. This supports flower growth and utilization of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). If there is not enough residual nitrogen available in the flowering stage the plants are not getting the most out of the fertilizer. To prevent the deficiency from getting extreme switch over to bloom nutrients gradually or use a bloom fertilizer that contains nitrogen.
Nutrients – Molybdenum (MO)
– Molybdenum is contained in enzymes that help plants convert nitrates to ammonia, which is required for protein production.
– Molybdenum deficiencies are very rare but it does occurs in colder weather conditions. Generally a molybdenum deficiency occurs when there is a sulfur (S) and phosphorus (P) deficient.
– Usually the middle leaves turn yellow. As the deficiency progresses towards the shoots the new leaves become distorted or twisted. It also causes leaves to have a pale, fringed, and scorched look, along with strange-looking leaf growth. Older leaves experience rolled margins, stunted growth and red tips that move toward the middle of the leaves.
– Molybdenum deficiencies are often mistaken as a nitrogen deficiency. Nitrogen affects the bottom leaves first but a molybdenum deficiency affects the leaves in the middle of the plant first and then moves up to the newer growth.
– Foliar spraying with water soluble fertilizers aids in overcoming the deficiency. Because plants need very little molybdenum a hydroponic micronutrient mix is often the most efficient way of supplying it.
– Excessive intake of molybdenum may cause severe problems in humans so extra precaution should be taken when using or adding molybdenum.
Nutrients – Manganese (MN)
– Manganese helps enzymes break down for chlorophyll and photosynthesis production, and it aids in making nitrates available for protein production.
– Manganese deficiency is generally found in the young leaves. The leaf tissue turn yellow and small area of tan/brown dead tissue appear in the middle of the leaf. The leaf veins usually stay green. The leaf becomes outlined in a ring of dark green along its margins. The plant also shows a lack of vigor. Manganese deficiency is rare and almost always associated with an iron(FE) /zinc(ZN) deficiency.
– For fast relief foliar feed with a water soluble fertilizer high in manganese, or manganese chelate. In soilless mix or outdoor gardens use compost or greensand to add more manganese but they are absorbed more slowly than water solubles.
Nutrients – Magnesium (MG)
– Magnesium helps support healthy veins and maintains leaf production and structure. It’s required for chlorophyll production and enzyme breakdown. Magnesium deficiency is common in both soilless gardens and in hydroponics.
– Magnesium deficiency is one of the easiest nutrient deficiencies to diagnose and cure. It occurs more frequently when using distilled or RO water because of the low ppm of minerals usually found in the water.
– Magnesium deficiency starts in the lower leaves. The veins remain green while the rest of the leaf yellow, exhibiting chlorosis. The leaves eventually curl up and die. The deficiency continues to move from lower leaves to middle leaves then eventually to the upper leaves. The growing shoots will change from a pale green to a white color. At the same time the stems and petioles turn purple.
– Use water soluble nutrients containing magnesium to fix a deficiency. Micronutrient supplements ( Cal-Max, Cal-Mag, Green-Up) all contain magnesium and have fast absorption qualities. In hydroponic and soilless mixes a magnesium deficiency can be fixed using Epsom salts. In hydroponic gardens mix 1 tsp. Epsom salt to 1 gallon of water in the reservoir. In soilless gardens use 1 tsp. Epsom salt to 1 litre of water. After the first treatment, use 1/4 dose with each watering or reservoir change. Epsom salt can also be used as a foliar spray at a rate of 1 tsp. per 1 gallon water.
– Dolomitic lime contains large amounts of magnesium. Use dolomitic lime in outdoor gardens or soilless mixes to add magnesium and to raise the pH of the soil. It takes longer for a plant to absorbed the magnesium when you use dolomitic lime than it does when using liquid supplements.
Nutrients – Iron (FE)
– Iron is necessary for enzymes to function and act as a catalyst for the synthesis of chlorophyll. Young actively growing tissues need iron to thrive.
– Iron deficiencies start in the new leaves, which look like they have a lack of chlorophyll, but show no sign of necrotic spots. This will cause the leaf to turn a bright yellow except for the veins, which remain green. New leaves start to show chlorotic molting, first near the base of the leaflet so the middle of the leaf appears to have a brown mark. The leaf veins will remain dark green.
– An iron deficiency looks similar to a magnesium(MN) deficiency except for the location of the symptoms on the plant. Iron deficiencies affect the new growth but not the lower leaves while magnesium deficiency affects the middle and lower leaves first.
– Iron deficiencies can be treated in several different ways. Adding a micronutrient supplement (Cal-Mag, Cal-Max, Green Up) will help overcome the problem. These products are inexpensive and they also contain calcium and magnesium. Supplements should be added both foliarly and to the planting medium. Adding rusty water is another way of treating iron deficiencies but be careful with home-made remedies if your not really sure about it.
– Finally an iron deficiency may indicate a pH imbalance. Adjust and maintain proper pH levels at all time.
Nutrients – Copper (CU)
– Copper is essential to healthy plant production, reproduction and maturity, and assists in carbohydrate metabolism and oxygen reduction.
– Copper deficiency first appears in young leaves which will show signs of necrosis (dead spots) and a coppery, bluish or gray metallic sheen coloring at the tips and margins. The young leaves turn yellow between the veins. Another symptom is limp leaves that turn under at the edges and they will eventually die. Copper deficiency are rare. Copper deficiency are often confused with over-fertilization.
– If deficiency is a problem foliar feed with copper fungicides such as copper sulphate (CuSO4) or chelated copper to help. Using any hydroponic micronutrient formula containing copper will also help with the problem. If you soak dimes or quarters in water and then use this water to irrigate your plants you will also be supplying copper to your plants. Dimes and quarters contain 92% copper and 8% zinc, (pennies contain mostly zinc, not copper).
Nutrients – Calcium (CA)
– Calcium strengthens plant cell walls and therefore stems, stalks, and branches, and it aids in root growth – mostly the newer root hairs. Calcium travels slowly and tends to concentrate in roots and older growth. Calcium also enhances the uptake of potassium.
– Calcium deficiency stunts plant growth and makes the leaves turn dark green. Large necrotic(dead) blotched of tan, dried tissue appear mostly on new growth, but also on other plants parts along the leaf. Problems travel to the older leaves, which turn brown and dies. Stems and branches are weak, lack flexibility and crack easily. Roots don’t develop properly, leading to bacterial problems that can cause root disease and possible die-off.
– Calcium deficiency can happen in both soilless and hydroponic gardens. Deficiency in soilless mixes might occur if the media has not been supplemented with dolomitic lime, which is composed mostly of calcium. Distilled or RO water lack significant amounts of dissolved calcium. This can lead to a deficiency unless the water is supplemented with calcium.
– Add dolomitic lime to soil and soilless media. It provides calcium and also helps to stabilize pH over a period of time. Both soilless and hydroponic gardens can be treated for a calcium deficiency using a commercially available supplement. Cal-Mag, Cal-Max and Green Up are all calcium supplement products.
– Adding ground eggshells, fish bones and seashells into an outside garden will break down over time and add calcium to the garden.
Nutrients – Boron (B)
– Boron is important in the processes of maturation, pollen germination ,and seed production. It also aids in cell division, protein formation, healthy leaf color, and plant structure formation. Proper amounts keep stems, stalks, and branches strong and help plant cells maintain rigidity.
– The first sign of boron deficiency is the browning or graying of the growing tips followed by their death. Shoots appear sunburned, twisted and bright green in color. The leaves develop small brown necrotic dead spots and are surrounded by an area of dying tissue between leaf veins. Boron deficiency resembles a calcium deficiency, but can be differentiated by the small size of the necrotic areas.
– Boron deficiency is not very common. Boron deficiency only affects newer growth.
-Treat a boron deficiency by adding supplements into the water that contain boron. A solution of 1 tsp of boric acid mixed with 1 gallon of water can be sprayed or watered into the soil also.
Damping Off ( Problems and Solutions )
– Damping off is a condition rather than a specific disease: the rotting of seedlings either underground, at soil level or at the crown. It is caused by seed and soil-born fungi, especially Rhizoctonia and Pythium. Damping off fungi can kill seedlings before they even break through the soil. The fungi rot the stems right at the soil line and overnight the infected seedlings topple over.
– Damping Off occurs in warm, nitrogen rich soil that stays wet for a long time. Hydroponic systems can get Damping Off when the media becomes over saturated for long periods of time.
– The best prevention for Damping Off is to not overwater the soil or rockwool, and to allow the media to dry between watering. Adding perlite or vermiculite into the soil will help excess water to drain faster. Make sure the soil surface is dry before watering. Good air flow and lower humidity will also help in the prevention.
– Beneficial bacteria (Bacillus subtilis) and beneficial fungi (Trichoderma) mixed into the soilless mix will help fight off Damping Off. These beneficial are available in a product called “ZHO”.
– Keep the grow room and tools clean, and keep the plants free of pests. This helps to prevent Damping Off just as it helps against other fungal diseases. Also, make sure to wash garden pots and containers in between crops using hot soapy water, bleach/water solutions or hydrogen peroxide/water mixtures.
Pythium ( Problems and Solutions )
– Every plant must have a healthy root system. Pathogens can attach and damage the roots of one plant, then rapidly infect other plants in the garden. Fusarium, Verticillium and Pythium are common and destructive root aggressors that all growers should be aware of whether in soilless mix or in hydroponics.
– Pythium is a destructive parasitic root fungus. Under favorable conditions Pythium multiplies very rapidly and releases microscopic spores that infect the roots and deprive the plant of food. It attacks mainly seeds and seedlings, which have little resistance to disease. Larger plants can be treated and saved, if they are identified early, although your crop will be stunted.
– Pythium exists everywhere in a plants environment. It is present in your growing area, no matter how clean it is. Sanitation still helps. Pythium is described as a secondary infection, because it attacks plants that have already been weakened by stress, disease, damage, pests, nutrient deficiencies or poor growing conditions. Providing a healthy growing environment helps to prevent infection.
– The best conditions for Pythium development include high moisture levels in the soil, high humidity, and a temperature between 70-85F/20-30C. A lack of oxygen levels in hydroponic reservoir solutions also helps in Pythium development. Pythium generally affects the entire plant, but mainly the roots and foliage. Young plants and seedlings in both soil mixes and hydroponic gardens are most susceptible. Pythium moves through soil or water to the plants roots where it germinates before entering the roots. Once in the roots it spreads through the tissue and produces resting spores, which further germinate and can infect the roots indirectly.
– Look for an overall yellowing of the foliage, sometimes accompanied by browning leaf edges. The plant appears wilted or stunted. The roots become discolored, soft, and watery. As the infection advances the outer part of the roots comes off exposing a stringy inner core.
– The best prevention is to keep plants healthy and free of other pests that might cause damage to the plants allowing the pythium to take hold. Use well draining soilless mix, avoid over fertilizing and avoid over watering. The less stressed a plant is the less likely to have a pythium problem. Bacillus subtilis is a beneficial bacteria and Trichoderma is a benefical fungi that help prevent pythium in soilless mixes. This bacteria and fungi is available in the product “ZHO”, which is a powder that is mixed into the soil every time you transplant.
– Prevention in hydroponics is extremely important because once pythium infects these systems it may quickly spread through the water too quickly to stop. Keep your system as clean as possible to avoid infections. One way is to treat the water with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) at each nutrient solution change. Add 1-2 mls of 25% strength hydrogen peroxide to every gallon of water.
– Try to keep the temperature of reservoirs in hydroponic gardens below 73F or 21C. Pythium can become a problem when the water is to warm. Water will hold more oxygen when it is cooler so this is another reason to keep reservoir temperatures in the 72F/21C range.
– Search on-line for a solution call ” Heisengerg Tea”. This is a homemade tea made by brewing certain organic materials together in order to make a solution the is rich in microbial life. This solution is then added to reservoirs or soilless mix to help combat pythium.
Fusarium ( Problems and Solutions )
– Every plant must have a healthy root system. Pathogens can attach and damage the roots of one plant, then rapidly infect other plants in the garden. Fusarium, Verticillium and Pythium are common and destructive root aggressors that all growers should be aware of whether in soilless mix or in hydroponics.
– Fusarium inhibits the soil. Different fusarium species produce somewhat different diseases in plants. These diseases primarily fusarium wilt and fusarium root rot, present different symptoms but respond to similar prevention and control methods. Fusarium spores can remain dormant in soil for years, and the infected soil is nearly impossible to disinfect.
– Fusarium wilt initially appears as small dark irregular spot on lower leaves which quickly become chlorotic (yellow-brown). Leaf tips curl upward, and wilted leaves dry and hang on plants without falling off. Stems turn yellow, then brown, and finally collapse. In fusarium wilt the roots show no outward symptoms if the plant is pulled up.
– Fusarium root rot begins below the soil line, turning the roots rotten and necrotic and giving them a characteristic red color. The first visible symptom usually appears as the rot works its way up the stem, producing a red-brown discoloration at the soil line. This discoloration may progress to swelling and the stem may split open. The plant soon begins to wilt, then collapses as the decay spreads up the stalk.
– Avoid reusing soilless mix and do not use the same garden space outside if fusarium is a problem in that location. Container gardening is one of the best ways to avoid fusarium, because it gives the gardener complete control over the soil. In order to avoid fusarium infections use sterilized or pasteurized soil mixes and sterilized growing containers.
– Adding mycorrhizae (beneficial fungus) to the soil will help improve the plants disease resistance. A good product to use when transplanting is “ZHO”. This product is full of beneficial mycorrhizae, along with bacillus pumilis and bacillus subtilis.
– The only truly effective control is the removal and destruction of infected plants. After removing any affected plants use hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) to clean all tools that touched those plants before reusing them again.
Grey Mold and Brown Mold ( Problems and Solutions )
– Gray mold (botrytis cinera) is found almost everywhere and can cause disease on most plants when conditions are ideal. It causes damping off , stem canker and bud rot. Grey mold is one of the most the common fungal diseases that indoor gardeners might have to deal with.
– The fungus can germinate only on wet plant tissue when the temperature is between 55-70F or 13-21 C. Once it starts growing it can tolerate a wide range of humidity and temperatures but high humidity and cool temperatures help it thrive. Lowering the humidity often stops it from continuing to grow.
– Gray mold like most other fungi enters and easily infects any part of a plant that is wounded, damaged from pests and pruning, or beginning to die. It is very important to sanitize pruning equipment between cuts. Gray mold does the greatest amount of damage during the flowering stage. It attacks flowering tops, leaves and stalks.
– The mold starts out whitish like powdery mildew, but then darkens to a smoky grey or brown color. It has a fuzzy appearance, and light to dark brown rot forms in the damaged tissue. Leaves and flowers yellow from being suffocated by the mold. In higher humidity the grey mold leaves a brown slimy substance on the leaves and turns the bud to rot, especially when the tissue is dense late in flowering.
– If you see grey mold or stem wounds apply a fungicide. The mold is very difficult to remove from plants. Removing the mold from the plant may do more harm than good unless done carefully. The act of moving the infected area may help transfer the mold to new sites.
– Sulfur sprays (Defender), or sulfur vaporizers and burners will help with slowing down the fungus.
– Potassium bicarbonate and sodium bicarbonate is a possible treatment 0ption, and a spray mixture of 20 mls of 99% isopropyl alcohol to a 1 litre of water is another option.
– Neem based leaf shines and sesame oil will form a barrier between the leaf surface and the mold which will help inhibit mold germination.
– Sterilize all equipment with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide after using to prevent problems.
Powdery Mildew ( Problems and Solutions )
– Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects a wide range of plants, composed of a wide variety of species. Each species of powdery mildew has a very limited host range, but are all characterized by easily recognizable white or gray powdery growth. Mildew spores are found everywhere. Powdery mildew is a common problem in both indoor and outdoor crops, especially when temperature and humidity levels are ideal.
– Powdery mildew spores can remain dormant until triggered by environmental factors, which include a suitable host, adequate humidity, moderate temperatures, low light levels and acidity. Powdery mildew is most likely to attack young leaves, up to 2-3 weeks old. The infection spreads over the plant and spreads to other parts in the garden. It will affect buds, stalks, stems and leaves.
– Plant leaves look like they have been dusted with flour or confectionary sugar. At first sign it might appear on just a small portion of the leaf in an irregular circle pattern. It quickly spreads and soon the entire leaf is covered as if it had been powdered. Powdery mildew hinders photosynthesis, causing your garden to cripple to little or no yield.
– Infected flowers and leaves are NOT acceptable for consumption.
-Quarantine any infected plants in a separate areas so as not to infect other plants.
– Treatment of infected plants depends on the severity of the problem. Sulfur sprays (Defender) is an option as is sulfur burners that are heating elements designed to heat raw sulfur until a gas fills the grow area with sulfur. This is a good way to fumigate the whole grow space (walls, floors, ceilings, and plants) Another product with some sulfur in it is SM 90. This product is mixed with water and foliar sprayed onto in affected areas of the plant.
– Benefical bacteria (Bacillus pumilis or Bacillus subtilis) is another alternative. These bacteria can be found in a product call “Serenade”.
-Another option is using milk. Mix 1 part skim milk with 5 parts water. spray this mixture over affected areas.
– Potassium bicarbonate and sodium bicarbonate mixed with water is an option as is neem based leaf shines.
– A mixture of 20 mls of 99% isopropyl alcohol to 1 litre water is also a possible treatment.
– To prevent and control powdery mildew, exchange the air frequently (preferably not with outside air) and keep the humidity in the 40% range.
Whitefly ( Problems and Solutions )
– Whiteflies resemble tiny moths but are neither moths nor true flies. They are relatives of aphids and scales. They are 1mm long and their soft bodies are covered in a powdery wax which gives them protection and their white color.
-Whiteflies infest the undersides of leaves. If the plant is disturbed they take flight and a mass of tiny white flies can be seen fluttering around the plant. They suck sap from the plants, and are vectors for viruses. The plants release honeydew and this can contribute to mold problems on the plant. The leaves will appear spotty, droopy, and lose their vigor. Whiteflies are pests that quickly build up a large population and suck the life out of plants.
– Females lay about 1oo tiny eggs on the underside of leaves. Eggs hatch in 7-10 days and the larvae drain sap from the leaves. Larvae mature in 2-4 weeks and the adults live for 4-6 weeks after that. The reproductive rate is temperature dependent: most whitefly species do best in a temperature range of 80-90 degrees. Keep the temperature in the grow room below 80 degrees to slow whitefly reproduction. Remove any plant debris quickly from the garden area.
– Yellow sticky strips attract whiteflies and are useful in monitoring the population.
– Shake the plant to dislodge the flies from the plant and then suck them out of the air with a vacuum cleaner.
– Pyrethrum bases pesticides ( eg. Bug-B-Gone, End-All, Doktor Doom Spider Mite Knockout, Doktor Doom Plant Spray, Doktor Doom Total Release Fogger ) can all be used for controlling the infestation. Insecticidal soap can also be used as a control.
– Beneficial insects ( encarsia Formosa, delphastus catalinae, eretmocerus eremicus ) can be released into the garden for a more natural form of control.
– Rule of thumb – If you see one whitefly you already have to man!
Fungus Gnats (Problems and Solutions)
– Fungus gnats are 1/10″-1/12″ in size, dark grayish in color and have a slender build with delicate long legs and long wings. The larvae are clear to creamy-white in color with a shiny black head and can be up to 1/4″long.
– The adult flying stage of fungus gnats do not eat but spend their time breeding and laying eggs wherever there is soil, soil-less mix and in cracks and crevices of rockwool and leca. The larvae feed on the plants roots causing weak, slow growing plants. The larvae prefer to eat decaying organic matter such as dying roots. These root wounds may invite other diseases like wilts, and pythium. The adults can be seen flying just above the soil level and through the lower region of the plant canopy.
– The key to success in controlling fungus gnats is “PREVENTION”.
– Prevent indoor entry of gnats by keeping screens on all open windows.
– Yellow and blue sticky strips help to monitor the fungus gnat population.
– Fungus gnats need moist soil near the surface to reproduce. Let the soil dry between watering as much as the plant can tolerate. A layer of light well-draining soil such as vermiculite, perlite or diatomaceous earth at the top helps with this. This disrupts the larval gnats’ food supply and makes it difficult for an infestation to take hold.
-Nematodes (steinernema feltiae) are natural microscopic carnivorous soil-dwelling worms that enter the fungus gnat larvae and eat them from the inside out can be. Nematodes are available in 10 million and 50 million bags.
– The use of pyrethrins based pesticides ( eg. Bug-B-Gone, End-All, Doktor Doom Spider Mite Knockout, Doktor Doom Plant Spray, Doktor Doom Total Release Fogger ) can be sprayed on the plants to help control the adult gnats.
Thrips (problems and solutions)
– Thrips are tiny (1.5mm) long but can still be seen by the naked eye. Adults have wings but do not fly well, they jump when startled.
– Thrips attack the leaves and are usually found on the top surface of the leaf. They use a saw-like structure to pierce and scrape the flesh until sap begins to flow. They then suck up the juices and leave a surface of patchy white or silvery scrapes. Eventually the leaves look like the chlorophyll has been drained, and then turn white.
– Thrips leave behind greenish black specks of poop on and under leaves. Thrip damage can resemble that of spider mites at first, but more severe cases result in color-stripped leaves.
– Damaged leaves can’t be healed and their ability to absorb light is compromised. If thrips are not controlled the plants die. Thrips also carry pathogens that they can transfer.
– Females lay eggs in plant crevices and leaves. The larvae feed until they enter the pupal stage, after which they fall to the ground. The larvae thrips hatch, pupate, and mature into egg laying adults in 7 to 30 days depending on the conditions.
– When dealing with thrips its best to attack them with both foliar spray insecticides for the adults on the plants, and attacking the larvae in the growing medium.
– Thrips are drawn to the colors yellow and blue. For that reason the use of yellow or blue sticky cards are a good way to monitor the thrip situation in your garden. Sticky strips will not eliminate the thrip problem, only monitor them.
– For the foliar spray attack you can use pyrethrum based pesticides ( End-All or Bug-B-Gone ), or you can use Doktor Doom (Total Release Foggers) to fumigate the room. Doktor Doom (“Go Green” Spider Mite Knockout) or Doktor Doom (“Go Green” Plant Spray) are good chooses for foliar spray. These two products are aerosol cans which will also spray when turned upside down making under the leaf application easier. Both of these products can be used up to 3 days of harvest.
– Beneficial insects ( amblyseius cucumeris, amblyseius degenerans, orius insidiosus ) can be used. It is important for beneficial predators to be introduced early, before any evidence of a thrip problem.
– Thrip pupae live in the soil after they drop from the plant. By placing a barrier around the top of the container, the pupae can’t get to the soil and they die. A layer of diatomaceous earth on top of the soil helps to destroy the thrip population. When growing hydroponically in rockwool or leca pellets a cover of plastic on top of the containers will work as a good barrier also.
– Beneficial Nematodes ( steinernema feltiae ) are released in water and then added into the soil or growing medium. They live 10-60 days infesting 1 larva in their life. Nematodes are available in 10 million and 50 million packs.
Spider Mites (problems and solutions )
– Spider mites are the most common pest found on indoor gardens. Mites burrow from the undersides into the leaf tissue. The adults and nymphs suck juices from cells on the undersides of the leaves. Plants are weakened, the leaves may drop and the fruit and flowers will be stunted. Early damage appears as yellow specked areas, with or without webbing, on the leaf underside. The leaves will then turn bronzed or turn yellow or white with brown edges. Webbing may cover the leaves, stalks, flowers or fruit. A hand-held microscope helps in monitoring these pesky pests.
– Spider mites thrive in dry climates. High humidity slows spider mite development and reproduction. This can be used in vegetative and early flowering stages to slightly slow population increases.
– For infestations of spider mites many growers use pyrethrum based insecticides such as End-All or Bug-Be-Gone. Insecticidal soap is another option to use, as is a mixture of water, hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl alcohol, and wetting agent. Dr. Doom botanical spray can be used late into flowering. Also a daily rinse/mist of water will help suppress the reproduction of the spider mites.
– Predator mites (phytoseiulus persimilis, amblyseius fallacis, stethorus punctillum) can be used at the earliest sign of infestation. Most species reproduce faster than spider mites, but if the mites get a good head start the predator population can never catch up. Even in optimal conditions control with predators is very difficult.
– Mites cannot survive in high concentrations of CO2. Maintaining a level over 5000 ppm in the garden space for 1/2 hour should control much of the population. DO NOT re-enter until CO2 levels return to normal. Plants are not damaged by the extra CO2 enrichment.
– Sulfur has been used to control mites for years. Sulfur candles and burners produce vapors that kill mites and other pests. Its is very effective but should not be used near people.
– Total release spray bombs are fine for mild control but these sprays work better on flying insects like thrips, white flies and fungus gnats.
– For very heavy infestations the entire room may need to be cleaned thoroughly and disinfected with a 5 percent bleach/water mixture after the plants are taken out.
– Start spider mite control early in the plants life to help prevent an infestation later.
– NOTE- It’s best to foliar spray your plants at the end of the light cycle so as not to cause leave burn or unneeded stresses on the plants.
How did I get insects and/or molds into my grow space?
– Spider mites, gnats, thrips, molds, and wilts can sneak their way into a grow room without leaving a trace as to how they got there. They may be introduced by infected plants, by incoming air containing fungus and mold spores or even from your pets or your own clothing. With some due diligence they can be prevented, but if allowed to go unchecked extreme measures may be needed to eradicate the problem before the problem overtakes your crop.
– A few tips that will help greatly and can be applied to any problem. First, cleanliness is particularly important. Most pests prefer to consume organic waste matter, so keep your growing spaces free of debris and used growing medium. Remove any dead or diseased leaves from the plants. Remove garbage bags containing the dead matter from the room. Keeping tools and all equipment clean before and after using them will help insure a better chance of preventing disease and fungus from spreading throughout your plants. Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) works good as an equipment cleaner/sterilizer.
– If a plant gets infected with a mold or insect problem it is best to isolate the plant from the rest of the crop. This will help slow down the spread of the problem. This is why early detection of the problem is needed so keep a close eye on all your plants. The use of hand-held microscopes can help you identify the cause of the problem and allow for an early remedy before its to late.