Hydroponic gardening has drawn attention from environmentally conscious gardeners because of its eco-friendly and sustainable attributes. Using hydroponic methods, gardeners can produce higher yields and grow plants in locations of the world that would not be able to support crops (in soil) otherwise. Hydroponics also reduces the need for large amounts of pesticides, which in turn makes water, soil, air and food cleaner. If you’re ready to make your hydroponic setup even greener, try utilizing these eco-friendly hydroponic products.
The green choice: Coco Coir
Coco coir is the clear eco-friendly winner. Coir is a processed from the strong, fibrous outer shell of a coconut. Manufactured where the coconut palm is abundant, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and India as well as other tropical areas, production of coir-based products like rope, brooms, brushes and matting has sustained generations. However, production and export specifically for horticultural applications is a more recent advent, driven by both necessity and demand: necessity to free valuable real estate occupied by large amounts of slowly degrading coir “waste” from the manufacture of other coir commodities, and demand from earth-conscious consumers in search of a more renewable alternative to coir’s closest cousin, peat. Many believe peat gets harvested faster than it can renew naturally.
Nutrients, Fertilizers and Supplements
The green choice: General Organics
General Organics by General Hydroponics is an organic-based nutrient and supplement line that contains no animal derived ingredients, making it not only a green choice, but a vegan choice as well. The line provides gardeners with a complete line of premium biological plant foods and supplements. With a combination of ingredients from traditional agriculture and sustainable and efficient methods of modern cultivation, every product is designed and manufactured with proprietary blends that supply complete plant nutrition, improve soil ecology and plant health. The line also provides essential ingredients to stimulate soil biology that help beneficial microorganisms adapt insoluble ingredients into bioavailable nutrients at the molecular level. By stimulating favorable microbiology, a living system that provides your garden with everything it needs to flourish is created. The line promises to save energy and water while building organic matter to enhance soil quality.
The green choice: HID
While fluorescents are the most energy-efficient bulbs at first glance, HID lights win when you factor in the increased yield that gardeners benefit from using them. The Kind LED Grow light series produces large yields, while consuming approximately half the electricity and producing virtually no heat. They run quiet, cool and efficient. The K5 XL1000 has the equivalent lumen output of a 1000-watt HID lamp at only 650-watts, pulling nearly half the wattage!
The green choice: Drain-to-Waste Drip System
As for the system that conserves the most water, the winner is the drain-to-waste drip system. Despite the name, this system actually produces the least waste compared to most traditional hydroponic methods. This is because only the precise amount of the water and nutrients you need are being used. There is no dumping of old nutrient water with each reservoir change, such as the case with a recirculating system. Only as many drip lines as needed can be used from one reservoir. A lot of water can evaporate from an uncovered reservoir, and if there are multiple reservoirs, this will add up quickly!
Whether you are just starting out in the world of hydroponics or are a seasoned grower, why not consider these green choices for your indoor garden?
Worm’s Way has been helping year-round gardeners succeed since 1985, but we bet there may be some #wormfacts you might not know! Whether its with exclusives for Worm’s Way customers, online features or gardening knowledge, we always strive to give you the best customer service and high quality product offerings! Did you know….
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April showers bring May flowers…and unfortunately, along with the sweet aroma of lilac and honeysuckle, spring also brings us pests and plant diseases, and not just in the outdoor garden. Grow rooms also fall victim to pests. In fact, they are sometimes at a higher risk, due to more plants packed into small spaces. The spread of diseases and insect infestations can be rapid!
Prevention is key! The best thing you can do to prevent pests in your indoor garden is to keep your grow room clean. Some tips to follow to make sure you have a bug free indoor garden are:
- If it is dead, remove it! Any dead plants, dying plats or dead debris around the plants should be removed from the grow room. Not only do pests love decay, diseases thrive on it as well.
- Do not use your indoor garden tools outdoors and vice versa unless thoroughly cleaned between uses. Pests are talented hitchhikers and will bum a ride on garden tools from your outside garden to your grow room. Be sure to clean your garden tools often.
- It may be simple, but be sure to wash your hands before entering your indoor garden, and before switching what yields you are working on. You can carry pests and diseases from one plant to another.
- No smoking please. If you or someone else who is going to be touching your indoor plants is a smoker, washing hands is a necessity! However, washing hands does not secure the prevention of tobacco mosaic virus.
Aside from keeping your grow room clean, having healthy and strong plants is a good act of prevention, due to their being more pest and disease resistant. To ensure your plants succeed, be sure to have the proper growing conditions to prevent pests and promote healthy yields.
- Humidity attracts insects. Keep your grow room’s humidity levels at 50 to 60 percent and no more than 75 degrees.
- Combat stagnant air with fans and filters, which prevent mold and fungi with air movement and ensure proper ventilation.
- Look at the underside of leaves and the top of growing media for any pests. It might be a good idea to have a magnifying glass in your garden tool kit.
- Pick off errant pests and their eggs by hand and crush them or drop them in a container of soapy water.
- Make sure you hydroponic system is in peak condition:
- Check your pH. Is there enough solution in the reservoir?
- Is your equipment all working properly?
What happens if prevention doesn’t work? Let’s look at some common grow room pests and some insect control options you have.
- Spider Mites- A spider mite infestation leaves plants looking dull and dusty, and often causes leaves to curl up. Webbing can also appear on the underside of leaves or by the stems.
- Thrips- Thrips cause heavily infested flowers and leaves to have brown or silver streaks, and growth may begin to look contorted.
- Aphids- Aphids often make the center shoots, or the underside of leaves, their home. When an infestation occurs, leaves curl and Aphids leave a sticky honeydew behind. If your grow room is humid, a black fungus called sooty mold can grow on the honeydew. Have ants? They are attracted to the sticky honeydew!
- Whiteflies- Like aphids, the whiteflies leave sticky honeydew. However, their feeding habits are more dangerous than the honeydew to your plant. They remove nutrients from plants, causing poor growth, reduced yields, defoliation and even death.
To rid your indoor garden of these pests, first, wash your plants. A steady stream of water can dislodge these tiny tyrants and downsize their population.
Next, try using an insecticidal soap, such as Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap. It can be very effective and does not damage the plant.
Another option is horticultural oils. The oil smothers the insects without damaging plants. Most oils are also nontoxic and are less likely to hurt beneficial insects. When spraying in your indoor garden, cover surfaces that could be damaged by oil residue.
Neem based products, such as AzaMax, are also very effective. It’s made from Azadirachtin Technical, a natural derivative of the neem tree and contains Azadirachtin A&B as active ingredients along with more than 100 limonoids. Instead of hard chemical solvents, AzaMax uses food-grade formulation ingredients. It’s also great as an additive to other insecticides, as it makes pests more vulnerable to them.
Be sure to inspect your plants on a regular basis. Controlling pest problems is much easier if caught from the beginning. Isolating recently bought plants for two to three weeks is also preferable, to make sure the plant is not bringing any diseases or insect infestations with it.
For more information on pest control take a look at some of our other articles.
Decomposing Organic Matter … AKA Compost!
Have you decided to start your own compost pile this year or have you been at it for a while? Either way, you most likely know that composting is a great way to reduce waste and improve the environment. Oh, and it will do wonders for your garden!
To keep your compost pile healthy, we’ve put together this brief troubleshooting guide. Follow this guide to discover the reasons behind the problems you may face with your compost and to find solutions on how to fix issues that may arise.
How you pre-treat certain seeds is often just as important as when and how you plant them. Follow these tips to ensure seed-starting success!
Soaking seeds overnight in water or a very mild kelp solution can soften tough seed coats and stimulate germination. Soak seeds for 24 hours and plant immediately after.
Scuffing or nicking the outside of a seed’s hard exterior encourages germination by exposing the seed embryo to oxygen and moisture. This is especially helpful for stubborn seeds such as gourds and morning glories. Very delicately scuff each seed coat with light sandpaper or nick each seed with a small knife.
A surprising number of seeds also benefit from “stratification” – a “cooling off” period in the refrigerator. Mix your seeds with a dampened mixture of perlite, peat or vermiculite. Next, place in a plastic bag and seal. Store the bag of seeds in the refrigerator 4 to 12 weeks before planting.
Seeds that benefit from a cool down:
- Black-eyed Susans
- Butterfly weed
- Bleeding hearts
- Columbine larkspur
- Purple coneflower
Check out the infographic with this post to learn about other way you can get new plants growing successfully!