The gardening scene is beginning to change: with the huge expanse in human populations and a lack of open space to grow, we have decided to turn inwards and brought the gardens indoors. From tiny windowsill boxes to huge New York skyscrapers, the idea of indoor gardening is anything but new. However, most common homeowners still head to the grocery store every week to scavenge the leftover “fresh” fruit and veggies and spend hundreds if not thousands a year on poor quality produce. Having a farm indoors is no longer a fantasy reserved only for the rich and crafty, with this comprehensive guide ANYONE can turn their house into a produce factory!
First, you’ll need a place to create your personal farm! Typically, the best place is in the basement, as long as there isn’t a wood stove. Basements tend to stay right around the same temperature throughout the entire year, making it the easiest place to manage. However, if you happen to have a wood stove or your basement is simply unsuitable for gardening purposes, try to utilize any extra space in your home, such as a spare room or walk-in closet. A basic guideline to follow to ensure your grow room is suitable is to: make sure there is adequate air movement, maintain good daytime and nighttime temperatures (between 65-85 is ideal), and sustain a proper humidity level.
Just like the cool breezes we rely on during the summer, plants rely on consistent air movement to keep themselves strong and healthy. For the indoor grower, this typically means introducing a form of artificial air flow, such as a fan and filter. Consistent re-circulation gives plants the opportunity to create a better foundation earlier in life, leading to stronger stalks, branches, and larger harvest weights. Anyone who’s ever faced a belligerent mold problem will rest easy after placing a Can-Fan + Filter set inside their room. To find out what size would filter your entire room, first you’ll need to do some measuring and find the height, width, and length of the space. Using that information, find the cubic footage (L x W x H). This calculation tells you how many cubic feet per minute the exhaust fan needs to circulate, like a 200 cubic foot room needs a 200 CFM fan at minimum. The filter, however, must be slightly larger than the fan to be efficient, so if you need a 200 CFM fan, you’ll want a 300-400 CFM filter at the least. A huge benefit of these style fans includes the fact that they can be easily connected to any air-cooled light reflector to cool the lights and filter the room at the same time! Then, to simulate a cool and gentle breeze, utilize an oscillating fan that can move the air continuously throughout the room, without having it placed directly on the plants. These breezes trigger the plant’s sensors, alerting it to produce more stalk and root strengthening hormones to counteract the wind. However, too much of a harsh wind directly facing your plants can actually be quite destructive, weakening their structure and stunting their growth. On the contrary, too little air movement could potentially make a prime environment for mold, mildew, and fungi to reproduce and take over your crops.
All throughout the year, we always tend to keep our homes heated or cooled to the most comfortable and efficient temperature. Plants expect the same kind of treatment, they don’t like temperatures that are either too hot or too cold. Generally speaking, plants that grow natively in this region of the US like a cozy 65-85 degrees, anything different and it’ll begin to affect the growth. Extremely cold temperatures can trigger a defense mechanism within the plant telling it to cling on to life rather than focus on vegetative and flowering growth, which can result in dramatic losses during harvest. Sweltering hot temperatures, on the other hand, shut down the plant’s natural processes entirely, stunting the growth and sweating the life right out of your plants. Either way, the plant is left in a form of stasis, where exponential growth is not possible. Investing in a quality mini split system that heats and cools your sealed environment will save you time, money, and frustration further down the road. Temperature quality control can also affect the quality of your final harvest as well; gently stressing the plants out with cooler temperatures, almost like a chilly 50-65 degree autumn day, will force the plants to use more of their stored energy for the fruits. This method creates more vivid flavors, colors, and aromas that many cultivators desire.
CO2, otherwise known as Carbon Dioxide, is the gas that plants absorb for nutrition through a process called photosynthesis. Outside, the normal plant receives roughly 330 ppm (parts per million) of pure CO2 to fuel its growth. However, studies have shown that injecting excess carbon dioxide (roughly 1,200 to 1,500 ppm) into your grow room’s atmosphere will increase the yield of your harvest by at least 20-50%. Introducing an excess of carbon dioxide simply forces the plant to become more efficient at photosynthesis, speeding up all the natural processes to accommodate for the environment. This is where having a mini split system comes incredibly in handy; besides regulating the temperatures, mini splits will not remove any CO2 from the inside of your grow room, unlike most centralized air and in-window systems. With a CO2 injector/regulator and a mini split, you’ll be producing more high quality crops than you’ll know what to do with! (See image below for optimal CO2 garden set up)
Humidity is the measure of moisture present within the air at any given moment. In a grow room, having a well-regulated level of humidity is key to sustaining plant health. Humidity directly controls the rate of transpiration and how the nutrients are received by the plant. The humidity level is almost like a pressure cap on the plant, allowing it to maintain consistent transpiration rates of the available fluids. Just like with humans, when the humidity is too high they’ll “sweat” out the excess moisture to keep themselves cool. When humidity drops too low, the plants transpire at a rate much faster than that of nutrient uptake, generally leading to a concentrated excess of nutrients. On the other hand, when humidity gets much too high, moisture begins to build up on the plants and interior walls, forming deadly colonies of mold, fungus, and mildew. Ideal humidity levels in a grow room range between 40-60% during vegetative growth, and 40-50% for flowering. If your garden is at risk of mold, or is already infected, drop the humidity down even lower for the last few weeks before harvest to create an atmosphere where the spores can no longer grow and reproduce, and be sure to remove any contaminated plant material and isolate the infection.
STEP TWO: What?
Now that you’ve found where you’ll be growing, the next decision is what. Think about your grocery shopping list, and what fruits and veggies would be easy to replace with homegrown alternatives. Once you’ve decided what plants you’ll be growing, the next thing to consider is what you’ll be growing in. Some plants require a particular method of cultivation, while others are more hardy and can be grown anywhere in any environment. Try to find the most efficient and least labor-intensive method of growing for your garden. Think ahead of any problems you may face, such as back problems when bending down to tend to plants on the floor or an inability to keep fresh, sterile water consistently running within the room. Starting off on the wrong foot can lead to inconveniences, unexpected costs further down the road, and potentially a lacking harvest. Always base your estimates on the final harvest size of the intended plants, and maximize the available space without sacrificing plant health and your own ability to harvest the fruits. There are countless methods of growing, and finding the perfect one for you may be difficult at first. To help you get started, here’s a detailed list of the most popular methods of indoor growing:
Soil is typically everyone’s go-to for growing media. It’s easy to find, reliable, and relatively simple to use. However, if misused, soil can become a nightmare to manage. Locating good quality soil for the plant to live its entire life in is key; plants of all ages and phases of growth require different nutrients to maximize efficiency and provide bountiful harvests. For example, young seedlings prefer a gentle soil lacking in nutrients to prevent over-stimulation, while mature plants prefer a balanced, nutrient and hormone rich soil. Be sure to make a mental note of the nutrients already contained within the soil, as many bottled nutrient brands will not take into account the natural elements of the soil itself, leading to a concentration of unneeded nutrients that poison the plants. Under-dosing and studying the results to make adjustments is the most efficient way of ensuring your plants are only getting the nutrients they can absorb, and nothing more. Most growers assume that once they pour their nutrient soup into the pot, the plant’s roots instantly absorb it and bring it into the plant. This is not the case; most nutrients meant for soil come in a form that’s insoluble in water, and needs to be broken down by the microorganisms within the soil first before the roots can absorb it. The harder it gets for the soil to process the nutrients, the more nutrients get wasted and built up within the small confines of the pot, leading to a harsh nutrient burn and possibly death. Typically, organic products without synthetic binders leave the soil more intact, as well as granular and powdered nutrients that can be mixed directly into the soil before planting or during for minimal disturbance. When choosing a pot for your soil, always plan for the mature size of the plant or the transplant necessary to move it into the final container. Overcrowded or root bound plants will lack in size and production, creating smaller harvests and lower quality crops. An incredibly important thing to consider is your method of watering, and how well you can maintain it. It may seem like a small detail to worry about, however, most new gardeners will tend to get overzealous and accidentally compress and suffocate the soil, inadvertently killing their plants. To prevent this, some soil gardeners mix additional fillers such as Vermiculite, Coco Coir, Clay Pebbles, and Perlite into their pots to help aid in the watering, aeration, and nutrient enrichment processes. For further details on on how to properly water a plant, please visit our “Watering Technique Errors” article in the Info Blog section.
Coco coir is a versatile media that is made up of the fibrous husks of coconuts. These husks, once destined to go to a landfill, have proven to be an incredible medium either by itself, or mixed with soil. Coco is excellent at retaining water without sacrificing oxygen, considering many soil growers mix coco fibers right into their soils for maximum aeration. It is also an efficient hydroponic media, as gardeners will grow in straight coco or a coco/perlite or coco/pebble mix. Coco has proven to be a terrible breeding ground for pests as well, leaving more gardens intact with minimal if not zero pest damage. However, like a gentle soil, coco has no inherent nutritional value, meaning you’ll have to supply the proper nutrients and maintain pH right off the bat. Definitely keep an extra bottle of Cal-Mag blend around, as coco tends to need more than other mediums.
Rock wool is a mixture of basalt and chalk that are spun together in a method similar to the weaving of cotton candy. This medium is primarily used as a “seed starter” for soil and hydroponic gardens. Rock wool tends to have a naturally high pH level, meaning that it needs to be conditioned before use. (*PLEASE USE PROTECTIVE FACE-WARE, ROCK WOOL FIBERS ARE TOXIC IF INHALED*) To “condition” your rock wool, purchase a solution that is water soluble with a low pH, such as Rockwool Conditioner. Prepare a large container of water, and balance the pH of the water to around 5.5 and 6.5. Soak the cubes for about an hour to stabilize them, and afterwards they’re ready for use! Typically, plants can be transferred into the final container, whether soil or hydro, once they have three to four sets of leaves and they’re at least 2-3 inches tall.
Hydroponics is the action of replacing the soil in a garden with water, and isolating the plant to ensure maximum growth and almost “perfect” conditions. Water can easily form to any container it’s put in, therefore the most important thing to consider before starting is what container to use. Small plants that like to cluster together, such as strawberries, are best kept in flat trays where they’re all growing in unison, while larger plants, like tomatoes, may require their own larger module. As long as the plant and it’s root zone can fit inside the container, than the size or shape itself doesn’t necessarily matter, as the biggest factor in hydroponics is maintaining clean, oxygenated, and nutrient rich water for the plants to absorb. Sterile, pH balanced water (such as distilled or reverse osmosis water) works perfectly as a base “ingredient” for your hydro soup. Next, the water has to be properly aerated to allow the oxygen to dissolve into a form the plants can absorb; this is best done with air stones and pumps that consistently break the surface tension of the water. Maximum aeration makes nutrient absorption for plants much more efficient, especially in hydroponics. Always maintain a balanced pH (potential Hydrogen) level in your water as well; proper pH can maximize the root’s abilities to process nutrients more efficiently, while incorrect pH ranges can actually inhibit the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients at all. Since there is no soil buffer for the nutrients to be processed in first before they get to the roots, it can head directly for the roots without haste. However, if you’re feeding an incorrect amount of nutrients, this could be your worst nightmare. As always, a general rule of thumb for feeding is to under dose and work your way up based on the results. For additional information on the in’s and out’s of hydroponics, visit our Hydroponics article in the Info Blog section.
CLAY PEBBLES AND GROW STONES
Pebbles and grow stones are hard, porous, stone-like objects that aerate soil or suspend a plant for hydroponic irrigation. Although they hold very little water, the dimpled texture on the surface allows for minuscule air bubbles to cling to the pebbles and help oxygenate the root zone. They can be used exclusively as a hydroponic media, or they can be layered within soil to provide a larger, more aerated zone for the roots to expand. Due to their toughness, these hard little stones tend to create a lot of dust from rubbing and grinding together in the packaging they were sealed in. Considering any gardening set-ups generally require absolute cleanliness for best results, it is always productive to thoroughly rinse the pebbles/stones to ensure that no dust enters your system. On top of that, since this medium can be reused over and over again, at the start of every new grow season it’s highly recommended that you clean all your stones before introducing them into the media or water. If they ever get to the point where the dimples on the stones are fully clogged with algae and salt residue, and no amount of scrubbing and washing will do, it may be best to replace the pebbles all together to avoid a risk of cross contamination.
STEP THREE: How?
When you’ve chosen your room and method of growing, the next step is how on earth to make all of your crops grow. The “how” of growing can be divided into three sections: initial growth/cloning, vegetative, and flowering. Each stage in a plant’s life requires certain attention to ensure maximum happiness and production. This is where lighting, nutrients, water, and the environment are absolutely necessary to manage. After all, what’s the point of growing a garden if it’s too difficult to care for?
It’s almost like magic; cover a little seed in soil and water, and poof! Out comes a perfectly healthy plant, right? Almost. Seeds are almost like turtles; they only pop out of their shell in an environment where they feel comfortable and safe. They prefer a warm temperature, just the right amount of moisture, and darkness to start cracking. If you have plants that are gendered, a good way to guarantee females is to keep the seeds in a lightly cool atmosphere, around 65 degrees and lower while males will almost always appear in an environment around 75 degrees and higher. This is a natural instinct of the seed; during cooler springs where the species is at risk, the seed will be more likely to turn female to help keep the populations alive, while during warmer springs with little risk of a freeze, the seed will want to become a male to spread pollen and work with the already established females to repopulate later during the summer. Other than just placing the seed underneath the soil and watering until a sprout forms, a common method amongst growers is to use a sponge-like vessel dampened with warm water to hold the seed. From this point, the seed requires a decent level of humidity and warmth to trigger growth. This “greenhouse” effect can be easily created by placing the dampened sponge/seed inside a zip lock bag or a clear dome to create a lightly warm, wet atmosphere. After a few days, you should begin to see the first signs of growth, such as one long “tail” of a root poking out of the shell or a little sprout sticking its head of out the dirt. When the “tail” finally grows, transplant it root-down (the tail should be inside the media with only the seed shell visible) and wait a few more days for the rest of the shell to naturally peel off. Seedlings require very little nutrients at this point, they mostly absorb just light and water during this phase. To stimulate growth and mimic the outdoors, keep the seedlings on a light schedule with at least 18 hours of light (some people even use up to 24 hours of light!) and keep the root zone moist with a healthy amount of water. When the seedlings are officially established with their first sets of leaves, that means they’ve successfully made the transition to the vegetative cycle!
If you’re lacking seeds to grow, it’s also possible to start an entire garden from an army of clones. To “clone” a plant, you must remove a small stem off of the designated mother plant and re-root it in a separate environment. That clone will then have DNA identical to its mother, providing an exact copy of the plant. For many commercial farmers, this is an incredible way of guaranteeing consistent product quality and quantity for us to enjoy at our local markets. On the other hand, for local growers this is a fantastic way to keep your garden sustained without having to travel to the store and reorder seeds each grow season. Cloning is a delicate process, however; plants require a sanitary environment, split second timing, and the right tools to be successful. To see detailed images with instructions on how to clone a plant, please visit our “Cloning 101″ article in the Info Blog section.
Once you officially have a plant established, you’re in the vegetative growth cycle! The plant has breathed it’s first breath, and now it’s looking to you for guidance and support. This involves giving it adequate lighting, water, nutrients, and space. During this cycle, the plant will want to focus on its internal structures, such as the stems and roots, to provide the support necessary to sustain the produce. The plant can sense how much it can grow in the environment provided, therefore some indoor growers actually have an advantage over outdoor growers by having the opportunity to provide the optimum growing environment. By providing a “perfect” environment, this triggers an exponential growth curve where the plant’s infrastructure will recognize its ability to support massive amounts of weight. And of course, the more weight a plant is able to support, the larger the harvests are going to be per plant.
You can’t always rely on good ideas to give you light bulbs, sometimes you need to go out and find the perfect one yourself! Especially at a time like this, when small plants require at least 18 hours of light per day (out of 24 hours). However, flicking on a regular light switch for 18 hours every day isn’t going to give you any massive harvests. Plants have a wide variety of senses that allow them to perceive the environment around them; including the lighting. To achieve the best results indoors, you’ll almost want to imitate the great outdoors. During the springtime, plants can sense the natural blue and purple (UV) spectrum waves from the sun and the increase in light hours that tell them it’s time to grow. This is why lights that have a similar blue spectrum, like Ceramic Metal Halides, Flourescents, and LED’s, tend to work much better during this stage in growth. Luckily, compact flourescents and LED bulbs do not put off a substantial amount of heat, so it’s fine to keep the bulbs just a few inches away (not too close to burn the leaves, but not too far either), compared to Ceramic Metal Halides and High Pressure Sodiums which put off a larger quantity of heat and should be kept at least 12 inches from the top of the plant. For more information regarding indoor lighting, please read our “Indoor Lighting 101″ article in the Info Blog section.
Whether you’re in soil, coco, or hydroponics, providing the perfect amount of water for your plant is an absolute necessity. There’s no definitive measurement to tell you exactly how much water each plant will need on any given day, since the environment and crop species varies from garden to garden. However, it is relatively easy to see when you’ve given a plant too much or too little water, since the plant’s natural mechanisms make the signs of stress very visible. At this point in the life cycle of your garden, every day you spend trying to fix an over/under watering problem leads to less days available to the plant to produce the intended crops. Therefore, to prevent yourself a small harvest and headache later on down the road, read our “Watering Technique Errors” article in our Info Blog section.
Plants use nutrients the same way we use our food, to create energy to use later on in life. However, unlike humans, plants are a bit picky about what they will “eat” during each cycle of its life. During vegetative growth, plants are focusing the majority of their energy beefing themselves up to prepare for the massive weight they’ll put on during flowering. And just like body builders, plants will only eat the nutrients that will help them get the biggest and strongest. To them, this means a surplus of soluble nitrogen that will go right to work in their infrastructure. If you look on most nutrient bottles, they’ll show you the measured ratio of natural elements contained within in an N-P-K format. This ratio represents Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, the three major macro nutrients responsible for plant growth. Most bottles meant for vegetative growth will show a high amount of Nitrogen in comparison to the other two elements, simply because most internal growth is fueled by Nitrogen. There are other micro nutrients as well, including Calcium and Magnesium, that help provide additional support during this stage. When choosing a nutrient, keep in mind what growing media you’re using, and whether or not you’d like an all natural nutrient compared to synthetic. However, you’ll also notice that on the side of the bottle there is a general measurement dose for you to use. It is always recommended to start off lower, at around half a dose, to ensure there’s no chance of nutrient burns. Then, as the plant continues to grow, slowly increase the dose until you see signs of an overdose, then pull back slightly. This provides your plant the absolute maximum amount of nutrients it can handle without damage.
After your plant has had some time to build its “skeleton,” it’s ready to transition into early flowering/bloom and bulk up those muscles! This stage is by far the shortest, only lasting from the time vegetative growth has ended and flowering is starting to begin. The main reason it’s called flowering or bloom is because you’ll literally see most plants start to bloom small flowers in the place where the crops will be. At this point, the plant is redirecting its energy away from the internal structure and transferring it all into the tips of the branches, where the eventual harvest will be. Therefore, because the plant’s priority has changed, the nutrients it wants to absorb will change as well. There are even nutrients that help push the transitional stage along faster, allowing the plant to flip into flowering growth in as soon as 5 days compared to upwards of 10. Although, adding nutrients during this phase is a dangerous game; most solutions meant for this time are very weak and diluted since the plant can hardly absorb nutrients in the first place. Unless your nutrients are meant specifically for transitioning, then hold off for a few days at least to start introducing the bloom nutrient injections. A general rule of thumb at this point is to double check that everything is prepared for the next phase, especially the space given for the plant to grow in. If the container seems a little on the smaller side now, then it’s too small for flowering!
This is the time you’ve been waiting for; where each and every day you can visibly see your harvests growing! After all that hard work maintaining your garden, here’s where it finally begins to pay off. However, if you think the hard work’s over, guess again! The bloom phase is where gardener’s can show off their true expertise and create enormous harvests that are worthy of winning a ribbon at the county fair. Just like with vegetative growth, the best way to maximize flowering is to supercharge the environment with the light and air quality, nutrients, and water it desires. Having the ultimate control over your environment means that yet again, you can provide that optimum atmosphere that creates massive exponential growth. However, in comparison to the vegetative stage, flowering is a much different environment.
In this phase, the spectrum and intensity of the light is incredibly important when it comes to guaranteeing quality, flavorful produce. At this point, switch your plants from an 18 hours of light schedule to a 12 hour light schedule to help the bloom phase along. Even though your plant requires less hours of light now, that does not mean that you shouldn’t provide an intense amount during those hours. It’s typically best to simulate the natural late summer/early fall sun, where the red and far red spectrums are much more visible to plants and the sun’s light is slowly starting to fade away earlier and earlier in the night. These red spectrums can be found in High Pressure Sodium bulbs, and even some LED’s and Flourescents. However, if it’s possible, don’t remove all of the lights that produce a blue spectrum. The blue and purple UV rays are still somewhat visible during the normal outdoor bloom stage, and intensifying specifically the reds and the blues now will ensure the best lighting possible for your garden. If possible, combine the incredible power of the Ceramic Metal Halide bulbs with the High Pressure Sodiums so you have a relatively complete spectrum. In fact, the aforementioned UV rays are the missing factor that could potentially complete your grow room’s light spectrum. The plant will search for these UV rays to regulate developmental processes – such as advancing growth in good conditions. This light-mediated development of form and structure is known as photomorphogenesis. It has been proven that UV light influences photomorphogenic responses including gene regulation, flavonoid biosynthesis, leaf and epidermal cell expansion, stomatal density, and increased photosynthetic efficiency. However, too much of these UV rays can be as damaging to plants as it is to humans, that’s technically why plants undertake this mission of growth expansion. They can sense the impending danger of the UV rays, and send every last bit of energy to the crops to bulk them up and increase their resistance to damage. For even more information about lighting and it’s importance, take a stop by our “Indoor Lighting 101″ article in the Info Blog.
BLOOM AIR QUALITY
Much like the vegetative phase, flowering plants require a high level of air quality with consistent recirculation and movement. As long as you provided the ideal environment aforementioned for the vegetative phase, then switching to the bloom will be a breeze. The biggest difference between vegetative and bloom air quality is the humidity; since there is now a risk of mold, mildew, and fungi developing on the crops, especially so in warm, humid weather, it’s best to drop the humidity down to a safe 40-50%. During this phase, many growers have also been known to drop the temperature down as well, simulating an early autumn/winter. This triggers a defense mechanism in the plant that tells it to push all of its remaining energy into the crops and keeping them alive. A little cool weather could potentially stress your plants out just enough to double the harvest size and intensify the flavor! Another trick to intensify crop production is to increase the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) within the grow room, to stimulate growth in the same way as vegetative. Since the average outdoor plant receives a mere 330 ppm of CO2, during bloom an injection of 1200-1500 ppm of CO2 could mean doubling, even tripling your harvest weight! Perfecting the air quality during bloom is more important than many would think; plants and their harvests suffer immensely when the quality of the air around them is poor.
Since all of the energy your plant is creating is going directly to the harvest, it’s best to give them nutrients that help fuel the fruiting processes. In this case, Phosphorus and Potassium are the nutes you’ll need. These elements are essential for photosynthesis, cell division, transpiration, root growth, and water intake, as well as the release of stored energy in carbohydrates, and the movement and production of sugars. All of these processes are what the plant utilizes to create new growth, and a lack of these nutrients means a lack in your harvest. The sugars (glucose) and carbohydrates produced and stored within the plant are the reason why biting into a big, juicy strawberry tastes sweet and not bitter. Anyone looking for potently flavorful harvests should combine the power of Phosphorus and Potassium with the sweetening abilities of natural carbs and sugars, and dose their plants to the max. In addition to basic nutrients, utilizing plant hormones that stimulate the natural flowering processes will also help increase your final harvest. As seen in the image above, each part of the plant requires a certain hormone for a particular function, including Auxins, Gibberellins, Cytokinins, Ethylene, Indoleacetic Acid (IAA), Abscisic Acid (ABA). In general, Auxin is known as the hormone that promotes growth; however, it is also capable of eliciting responses such as apical dominance, root initiation, prevention of leaf abscission, fruit setting, and so on. Gibberellic Acid is also known for promoting growth, but is widely known for its bolting and flowering abilities. Cytokinin directly controls a process known as cytokinesis, a vital part of cell division. Abscisic Acid acts almost as a growth inhibitor, controlling processes such as bud and seed dormancy. Ethylene, which was just recently discovered to be a growth hormone, shows bizarre effects as well as many benefits. It aids in the ripening process of morphogenesis, stimulating the plant into creating a sweeter, larger, and more nutritious fruit. These scientific terms may seem rather intimidating, but many store bought nutrients and hormonal injections actually do contain many of these vital ingredients. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to read the ingredient list and determine which are true benefactors and which are just placebos/fillers. Again, once your plant shows signs of nutrient burns (browning at the tips of the leaves), slowly pull back the dose just a little bit, and that will be the absolute maximum amount of nutrients your plant is able to absorb. However, if instead of seeing a nutrient burn you’re seeing a nutrient deficiency, then utilize a blend of Calcium and Magnesium, two more commonly used elements that your plant could run out of quickly if not provided. If problems continue to exist, then it may be necessary to reevaluate your nutrients, pH, watering techniques, soil/water composition, lighting, air flow, etc.
Since you’ve probably read our article about Watering Technique Errors by now, you should know to give your plants just the water they need. However, you’ve probably noticed that your plant is drinking a lot more than it used to and that it’s thirsty pretty much every day! That’s because plants absorb an incredible amount of water to fuel their internal processes, allowing them to produce the crops you’re drooling over. The perfect watering varies from garden to garden, typically you’ll have a general idea already of how much water the plant absorbs throughout each day or watering cycle, so slowly increase as the plant’s dose just enough to compensate for extra growth. At this time, it’s actually better for the plant to be under watered than over, since it can perk up within a matter of hours with a lack of water, but with an excess, it’ll take days to recover. When it comes to hydroponics, keeping the water level consistently around the bottom inch or so of the roots seems to provide the optimum amount of liquids for the plant to absorb. This method also encourages larger root growth, since they’ll be more likely to stretch in size and width to be able to maximize water absorption.
As the weeks pass by, your harvest draws ever nearer. By now, the fruits of your labor should be ripening right before your eyes, just a few weeks away from completion. Don’t get impatient and go raiding the garden early, the final stage of the bloom phase is where the plant recognizes it’s about to reach the end of its cycle and squeezes every last bit of energy out of its system and into the harvest. Even now your harvest can still double; the final weeks are where most of the weight of your final harvest is actually produced. However, without the proper care, plants will typically maintain their current characteristics or even worse: decline in quality. To some, this may be an indicator that the plant has gone as far as it can go, and that it’s time for harvest. But, there is hope yet! All you need is simple science; it’s been proven that we can keep the growth going further past this “peak growth” barrier with a nice blend of the following elements: Folic Acid, Fulvic Acid, Nitrate, Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, and Ascorbic Acid. These all work together to restart cell replication and expansion specifically contained within the growing tips of the plant, leading to potentially 25% larger harvests. Another, less tested method of late phase production is to gently stress the plant out with light; this good stress is what growers (like you) use during the last few days of ripening to make sure the plant uses up all of its available energy to feed the crops, giving them one last huge surge of power. To do this, turn off your lights entirely (yes, 24 hours of solid darkness) for the last 24 to 72 hours before the final harvest. Even though this method has not been scientifically proven like the predecessor, many local growers have come forward with claims of incredible results and even doubled harvests. Either way, don’t let your garden reach the harvest slums, get the absolute most out of every single plant and kick them into overdrive!