FAQs – Soil
- Q. How Can I sterilize my Hydroton Grow rocks so I can safely use them again?
A. To clean and sterilize the rocks soak them in a bath oh h202 and water at a ratio of 1liter – 100 liters of water and leave sit over night. Then rinse the rocks off with hot water very thoroughly. If you really want to make sure there sterilized you can bake them at 250 F but this is a real pain in the ass. The best recommendation is buy more clay rocks. They are cheap and it’s easy to replace so it’s not worth the hassle to bake them.
- Q. Does using liquid seaweed kelp actually help plant growth?
A. Kelp contains over 70 minerals and trace elements and is an excellent source of micronutrients. It is excellent in an organic garden where synthetic chelates cannot be used. It contains many different amounts of hormones, such as cytokinins. Kelp contains high levels of sodium so if your plants are sodium sensitive such as lettuce then use in moderation. Kelp is often used as a foliar spray and is very effective as a foliar spray.
- Q. What is the purpose of adding dolomite lime to my medium?
A. It is used as a PH stabilizer. It has a neutral PH of 7 and will never rise beyond 7. It is a compound of magnesium and calcium mixed well in the medium. Before planting mix in well. Follow the manufacturer’s suggested rate of application.
- Q. What is soiless mix? Why no soil?
A. It is a popular growing medium used by many people and very popular amongst commercial greenhouses and nurseries. It is usually a high porosity mixture of sphagnum moss, prelate, wetting agent, pumice, vermiculite, coco fiber and dolomite lime. It is very easy to work with and a favorite amongst gardeners worldwide.
- Q. What should my soil temperature be?
A. Soil temperature should range from 65 -75 F for optimal growth rate.
- Q. Can I put cuttings that are started in rock wool into a soiless mix?
A. Yes, absolutely, plants respond just fine with this style of transplant. Rock wool is nice to start the cuttings in and they transplant well into soiless mix. Rock wool transplants well into most mediums.
- Q. What style of container should I use? Long and deep or short and squat?
A. Since plants roots tend to branch downward and penetrate deep rather than out the side. Sort and squat often do not go deep enough and end up just wasting more medium than actually benefiting the plant.
- Q. What size of container should I use for my 3 foot high tomato plant?
A. I would recommend a 3 gallon container. An easy way to remember when transplanting is approximately 1 gallon for every foot you plan on your plant getting, so in this case a 3 gallon container. This is just an approximate but you can be the judge based on the plants size and dimensions.
- Q. Can I reuse my soiless mix after harvesting a crop?
A. You can but the possibilities of fungal attack, soil born disease, pythium, and nutrient build up are too high to risk. The soiless medium is so cheap and easy to replace so I definitely recommend not reusing the soil less mix. Spend the 25 $ and buy a new bale. Your plants will love you for it.
- Q. If my plants are in a soil less mix when should I water them in the early day or later in the light cycle?
A. Always water early in the light cycle. This allows the plant to draw up some of the moisture. Soaking them before the lights go out can be an open invitation to fungal attacks and root rot. Moisture meters work great and are great for indicating when the plant is in need of water or not. These are usually inexpensive, around the $15 range and worth every penny.
- Q. Is it possible to over water my plants?
A. Yes this is a common problem amongst indoor beginner gardeners. Too much water suffocates the plants root system and deprives it of oxygen.
- Q. Does adding a wetting agent to my nutrient solution help?
A. Yes wetting agent decreases surface tension making the water more adhesive. Basically making water wetter. This allows the water to penetrate through the soil right down to the plant’s root system. It is also extremely effective as a foliar spray additive and works excellent with products such as neem oil.
- Q. What is the difference between mobile and immobile nutrients?
A. Mobile nutrients are nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Zinc and magnesium. These nutrients are able to move themselves within the plant to go where they are needed most. Immobile nutrients are boron(B), calcium(CA), chlorine(cl), copper(cu), Cobalt(co), silicon(SI), sulfur(S) and molybdenum(mb) are not able to move themselves within the plant. They stay in their place of origin in the older leaves causing the newer leaves to show signs of deficiency.
- Q. What is the difference between Macro and Micro nutrients?
A. Macro nutrients are the elements needed by the plant the most. That is nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). They are the basic building block of plant growth. The micro nutrients are often referred to as trace elements. They are required in trace amounts.
- Q. What do the 3 numbers stand for in a fertilizer mix fore example 20-20-20?
A. These numbers represent the percentage of nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). These are the 3 main elements in plant fertilizer.
- Q. How does N-P-K affect plant growth?
A. Nitrogen (N) is required in high amounts during the vegetative stage of growth and not so much during the bloom stage. Nitrogen flushes away easily and is always in need of replenishing during the vegetative period. It is also very important for leaf and stem growth. Nitrogen is very active amongst young leave, bud shoots and shoots. Plants show signs of nitrogen deficiency with symptoms like slower growth, yellowing occurs amongst young leaves between the veins eventually progressing to yellow the whole leaf, eventually leading it to completely die and fall off. Phosphorus (P) is used in high amounts in germination, cuttings, seedlings, and bloom stage. Phosphorus is very important for vigor and seed production. It is very active in new growth and root tips growth, small dark blotchy leaves with stems and veins turning a reddish color. Seed yield is drastically affected as well. Potassium (K) is an element used in all stages of plant growth. Potassium will increase a plants resistance to drought, disease, and mold. Potassium is very important to a plant. It performs many functions such as regulating the stomata opening for the plant to intake C02. It helps in root growth and increases chlorophyll in the leaves. It is very important in production of starch and sugars. Potassium deficiency often appear as weak and brittle stems, older leaves die off at the tips, plants become weal and often burdened with disease. Unfortunately potassium locks up easily in soil with a high salt content.
- Q. I’ve read about mixing my own fertilizer and would like to try, do you recommend this or should I just purchase the pre mixed fertilizer?
A. Unless you have an educated background in this field I would suggest no. There are so many high quality fertilizers on the market that have paid a lot of money to do research into their product and they usually have PhD’s working for them so I would say it is safe to assume the probably know what they are doing and will probably get the recipe down a lot better than the average Joe. But if you really want to then why not, give it a try. If it is just a hobby you have nothing to lose. You probably can download a good recipe off of the internet based on what type of crop you intend to grow and you might just do fine so if you really want to give it a try! If you are on a large scale commercial operation you can hire a consultant that will help you set up a feeding program that you will be able to blend your self. This will be much more economical, but for the average home hobbyist would recommend just buying a pre mixed fertilizer. It is much simpler and they work amazing.
- Q. How much dolomite lime do I add to my soil to stabilize PH?
A. When planting, add one cup of dolomite lime to each cubic foot of planting medium to stabilize the PH and provide calcium and magnesium.
- Q. What is Mushroom compost?
A. Mushroom Compost is an inexpensive potting soil and soil amendment that is packed with organic goodies. Mushroom Compost is sterilized to provide a clean medium for mushroom growth. After serving its purpose as a mushroom growing medium it is discarded. After lying fallow for 2 years, mushroom compost is very fertile and packed with beneficial organisms. The high powered compost could also foster anti-fungicidal and anti-bacterial properties in foliage and below the soil line, which helps guard against disease. It is packed with bifacial bacteria that speed up nutrient uptake.
- Q. How can I control my soil temperature?
A. Ideally the soil temperature should be between 65-75 degrees fro the most chemical activity. Warm the soil with heating cables or soil heat mats. Seedling heat mats are ideal for this and can be purchased in our online store.
- Q. What is coconut fiber and how does it work for growing?
A. Coconut fiber is also called palm peat, coco peat, and coir. Coir is coconut pith, the fibery part just under the heavy husk. Pith is soaked up in water up to nine months to remove salts, natural resins and gums in process called “retting”. Next they beat the straw brown coir to extract the husk. Coir is biodegradable and an excellent medium for propagation through flowering and fruit growth. Coir holds lots of water while maintaining structure. It is durable, rot resistant and a good insulator.
- Q. When is the best time to water my plants? Day or night?
A. Water early in the day so excess water can evaporate from soil surface and leaves. Leaving foliage and soil wet overnight invites fungal attack
- Q. Should I allow any runoff when watering my plants?
A. when you water your plants you should have at least 25% runoff during each watering.
- Q. What is a “Mobile Nutrient”?
A. Mobile nutrients re-translocate within a plant. They move to the specific part of the plant where they are needed causing older leaves to show deficiencies first.
- Q. What is an “Immobile Nutrient”?
A. Immobile nutrients stay deposited in their original destination causing new young leaves to show deficiencies first.
- Q. What are “Macro Nutrients”?
A. Macro Nutrients are the elements plants use the most. Fertilizers show the NPK percentage in big numbers on the packaging. These nutrients must be in an available form to supply plants with the building blocks for rapid growth.
- Q. What is the purpose of Nitrogen?
A. Plants love nitrogen and require high amounts of it during the vegetative stage of growth and lower levels during the balance of life. Nitrogen is easily flushed away and must be replaced regularly, especially during vegetative stage of growth. Nitrogen regulates the plants ability to make proteins essential for new protoplasm in the cells. It is essential for the production of amino acids, enzymes, nucleic acid and chlorophyll and alkaloids. This important nutrient is mainly responsible for leaf and stem growth as well as size and vigor.
- Q. How can I tell if my plants have a nitrogen deficiency?
A. Nitrogen is the most common deficiency. Symptoms include slower growth; lower leaves cannot provide chlorophyll and become yellow between the veins while veins remain green. Yellowing progresses through the entire leaf, eventually causing it to die and drop off. Stems and undersides may turn reddish purple, but this could also be a sign of a phosphorus deficiency. Nitrogen is very mobile and dissipates into the environment quickly and must be added regularly to sustain fast growing gardens.
- Q. What will happen if I do not have enough light in my room for the amount of plants I have growing?
A. When Light intensity is too low plants will stretch for it. Low intensity can come from weak bulbs, light being too far or poor reflectors. Dim light causes sparse foliage and spindly branches with long internodal spacing. You can increase your yield by giving growing area uniform light distribution. Uneven light distribution causes strong branch tips to grow toward the light. Foliage in dimly lit areas is shaded when light distribution is uneven.
- Q. I AM NEW TO HYDROPONICS. WHAT DO I NEED TO START?
A. Hydroponics is a fun and satisfying hobby that you will keep adding to your list of items. To start you will need a hydroponic system, hydroponic nutrients, an inert hydroponic media (may be dependant on type of hydroponic system), a light source (natural or artificial), time and plants.
- Q. HOW DO I USE RAPID ROOTER PLUGS FOR CUTTINGS?
A. Rapid Rooters work best when in a 50-cell tray. Place a cutting in the small hole on the top of the Rapid Rooter plug enough where the cutting will stand upright on its own. Place the tray under proper lighting, then once multiple roots pop out the cutting can then be transplanted into a hydroponic system or directly into soil.
- Q. WHAT ARE COCOTEK PRODUCTS MADE FROM?
A. CocoTek products are made from all organic sources. Coconut fibers are spun together with natural tree rubber to form the popular CocoTek products.
- Q. What Is IBA or rooting Hormone?
A. Indole Butyric Acid is the leading plant hormone used topromote growth of root formations in plant growth aswell as generate new root growth on cuttings and seedlings.
- Q. WHAT ARE EXPANDED CLAY PEBBLES?
A. Expanded clay pebbles are used in hydroponics as a medium to support the plant. They are chemically inert, do not affect pH and provide excellent drainage. They are made from a special type of clay, which is heated to a high temperature causing it to pop like popcorn.
- Q. WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO CALIBRATE A TDS OR EC METER?
A. Standard reference solutions are used. The bottles are marked with the conductivity (EC) value in micro Siemens/cm and the corresponding ppm values for sodium chloride (NaCl) and potassium chloride (KCl) solutions, and sometimes for a “442” reference mixture. The conductivity of sodium chloride solutions is close to that of hydroponic mineral nutrients, so a “1000-ppm NaCl” standard is most frequently used when calibrating the meter for hydroponic solutions. You should follow the calibration instructions in the manual, which the manufacturer of your meter provided.
- Q. WHAT DOES A TDS OR EC METER MEASURE?
A. The electrical conductivity (EC) of your nutrient results from motion of mineral ions when the meter applies an electrical voltage. The ppM value of a sodium chloride solution happens to be very close to half of its conductivity value (in microSiemens/cm), so many meters display the conductivity as an equivalent NaCl amount
- Q. HOW DO I CONVERT BETWEEN TDS AND EC READINGS?
A. To obtain an approximate sodium chloride TDS value, multiply the EC reading (in micro Siemens/cm) by 1000 and divide by 2. To get an EC value, multiply the ppm reading by 2 and divide by 1000. Thus, if your EC is 1: 1*1000/2= 500 ppm. And if your ppm is 500: 500*2/1000= 1 EC
- Q. HOW DOES THE TASTE OF HYDRPONIC PRODUCE COMPARE WITH SOIL GROWN PRODUCE?
A. Hydroponic produce frequently exceeds soil grown produce in terms of flavor and nutrition. This is because all of the nutrients required by the plant are immediately available when the plant needs them.
- Q. WHY IS GROWING HYDROPONICLY BETTER THAN GROWING IN SOIL?
A. Hydroponic produce is cleaner than its soil grown counterpart, and the grower has the ability to adjust the nutrient feed for maximal growth and yield in the shortest time.
- Q. IS FLORANOVA SERIES ORGANIC?
A. FloraNova Grow and Bloom contain 3-5% organic substances creating the marriage between mineral and organic gardening.
- Q. CAN I FOLIAR FEED WITH GH NUTRIENTS?
A. Of course. Make sure you use a weaker nutrient solution than you would for root feeding. Avoid foliar feeding in the heat of the day and under excessive sunlight. Generally, the best times to foliar feed are in the early morning and late afternoon. Make sure you spray the undersides of the leaves. This is where the stomata or “lungs of the plant” are located, and where maximum absorption occurs.
- Q. CAN GH NUTRIENTS BE USED IN SOIL?
A. Absolutely! All of our nutrient blends contain the necessary elements for plant growth. Start with the formula ratios identified on the label for the specific plant or crop you are growing, and then adjust and experiment until you find the right formula for your specific need.
- Q. DO I USE FLORANOVA GROW AND FLORANOVA BLOOM AT THE SAME TIME?
A. Yes and no. The FloraNova series is designed to use one part at a time, but in a time of transition it may be beneficial to mix the two at half strength each (makes a full strength nutrient solution). Use FloraNova Grow in the vegetative stage and FloraNova Bloom in the fruiting/flowering stage. Note: If your plant is not fruiting or flowering plant, FloraNova Grow is all that you will need to use.
- Q. DO I USE MAXIGROW AND MAXIBLOOM AT THE SAME TIME?
A. Yes and no. The Maxi series is designed to use one part at a time, but in a time of transition it may be beneficial to mix the two at half strength each (makes a full strength nutrient solution). Use MaxiGro in the vegetative stage and MaxiBloom in the fruiting/flowering stage. Note: If your plant is not fruiting or flowering plant, MaxiGro is all that you will need to use.
- Q. What is better for a carbon filter? A Can Filter or ODORSOK ?
A. With Carbon filters you are getting what you pay for. Can Filters will last alot longer then an ODORSOK but cost alot more. ODORSOK’s work excellent but will not last aslong as CanFilter. Both work excellent but CanFilter will last longer so in the long run will be your best bet, if your on a tight budget and need a quick reliable fix to odor problems then the ODORSOK is an excellent choice.
- Q. CAN-FILTERS- Do I need to replace the pre-filter?
A. It is a good idea to replace the pre-filter when they become dirty because the pre filter is blocking larger dirt and dust particles from getting into the pore structure of the carbon, a dirty pre filter increases the pressure, which will decrease the flow through the filter.
- Q. CAN-FILTERS – What is the Maximum Temperature/Humidity I can run my filter at?
A. The maximum recommended temperature that you can run your filter at is 80 Degrees Centigrade, and as soon as your start rising above 70% humidity, the water molecules in the air start to get stuck in the carbon pore structure and slowly diminish the life of the filter.