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Tag: gardening

back to basics hydroponics

Back to Basics: Hydroponics and Indoor Gardening

So what does hydroponics mean anyway? Does hydroponic gardening imply more water consumption than traditional gardening? Is hydroponics only for the purpose of growing controversial crops? These and many other questions arise when uninformed people first consider the idea of indoor gardening and hydroponics.
In simple terms, hydroponics is the growing of plants in a rich, mineral nutrient solution with water and no soil.

hydroponicsHydroponic gardening is a method of growing plants without soil. It is traditionally practiced indoors or in a greenhouse, but many commercial growers are learning to incorporate hydroponic practices in their outdoor crops because of huge gains in reduced water consumption and enhanced control of nutrient delivery. There was a time when we believed that soil was essential for plant growth – today we know that plants do not need soil at all; what they need is the mineral nutrients, amino acids, vitamins, enzymes and beneficial bacteria for plants that exist in healthy top soil (the rhizosphere).

Benefits to Hydroponic Gardening

Hydroponics has many benefits. The first benefit is that while you only use water to grow plants, you still use way less than traditional soil gardening. Hydroponics uses about 10% of the amount of water that would be required for growing in soil. The only water loss in a hydroponics system is from evaporation and occasional changes to your nutrient solution mix. The second benefit is that because you’re delivering precise amounts of nutrients in an efficient way, less fertilizer is required. When you garden in soil, you can lose nutrients to settling or crystallizing in the soil. This does not happen in hydroponics. A third benefit is hydroponics requires less space to grow…up to 50% less land to grow the same amount of food compared to traditional gardening. Imagine 50% of the land used to farm right now being designated as wildlife preserves or natural areas…sounds pretty great! A fourth benefit is reduced fossil fuel consumption because food often travels from far away places to get to cities and ecosystems where food growth is not easy or prevalent. Hydroponics would allow you to have warehouse full of fresh food in the heart of a city center for residents to enjoy. Finally, another great benefit of hydroponics is reduced pesticide use. Is organic hydroponics a thing? Not all of Hydroponics is organic, but since you control the environmental inputs, you never need to use toxic pesticides while growing your plants. It’s an extremely healthy way to grow your food.

traditional farmingIndoor Gardening and Hydroponics requires attention to all the elements of a plant growth environment

Apart from mineral and organic plant nutrients, healthy plants require optimal amounts of water, oxygen, CO2 and abundant light (in the right wavelength and intensity). While working without soil, successful indoor gardening operators have learned to deliver a balance of all these elements while closely controlling the PH and conductivity of the nutrient solution as well as the temperature and relative humidity (RH) of the grow room or greenhouse. They have learned to optimize all the grow elements while reducing garden pests in grow operations. The reward has been spectacular – up to six harvests per year with crop yields that dwarf traditional gardening practices in both size and quality.

Types of Hydroponic Systems for Indoor Gardening

Hydroponic gardening opened the door to a new era of growing. Indoor gardening thrived because of enhanced control of the elements and supercharged nutrient solutions – specially formulated for every stage of a plants growth and flowering. In traditional ebb & flow systems, hydroponic growers deliver precise amounts of nutrient solution while exercising almost complete control of oxygen levels in the grow medium. Other hydroponic systems, such as NFT (Nutrient Film Technique), DWC (deep water culture) and even aeroponics also supply the benefit of enhanced growth element management while maximizing yields in a record-breaking time.

Methods of hydroponics vary depending on whether the plant roots are embedded in a solid inert grow medium (such as expanded clay, rock wool, coco peat, perlite, etc. – medium culture) or just openly exposed to regular doses of nutrient solution and oxygen (solution culture). Methods of medium culture may vary by way of top irrigation and sub-irrigation systems, while approaches include continuous-flow solution culture, static solution culture and aeroponics.

Hydroponic Gardening Systems Offer complete Control of all the Element in the Growing Environmentbluelab

Without getting into the specifics of all these methods, it is important to note that the only clear disadvantage to growing in hydroponics is the absence of the buffering effect that soil supplies in a garden. In hydroponics, plants can outperform any conventional gardening system, but they are completely dependent on growers to supply the right amount of nutrients at precise intervals and with the appropriate PH and conductivity levels. These systems are extremely unforgiving; any failure can lead to rapid death. On the other hand, growers who are attentive to their plants and hydroponic systems – diligent about checking their PH and PPMs and obsessed with maintaining optimal plant lighting, ventilation, nutrient levels and pest control – will benefit from harvests that go way beyond any expectations.

So what are you waiting for? Get growing!

Thanks for reading!

-Web Hydroponics

smart pot abbey road

All You Need Is Smart Pots!

Water is the life of your plant but traditional hard-sided pots can restrict your drainage and heat your roots to dangerous levels if you’re not careful. That’s why soft-sided Smart Pots have become a staple in many indoor gardens.

smart potWhat is a Smart Pot?

A Smart Pot, sometimes referred to as a grow bag, is a soft-sided fabric aeration container for growing plants in any type of gardening setting. The fabric is porous, meaning you can see through it. They are made from a patented geotextile fabric that is stitched to form a grow bag that can be filled with your favorite planting mix. Did you know that (when used accordingly) Smart Pots can last up to 7 years? This unique aeration fabric allows the pot to breath, which allows air to reach the roots much easier. This gives you the biggest, strongest, healthiest plants. Not too mention they are one of the most durable aeration pots available, so you won’t have to worry about the pot not being strong enough to hold your plants.

Great for Roots!

With Smart Pots your plants will grow much more efficiently and with a thick, fibrous root system as they allow your plants to take in more nutrients and water. Not only that, but it allows your roots to stay much cooler because the fabric doesn’t trap heat like a traditional pot.


Over-watering is a common problem in indoor gardening, especially for beginning growers. But unlike a hard-sided container, it is a very difficult to overwater a Smart Pot. That means you can use a denser, heavier mix. A Smart Pot also allows for premium drainage compared to traditional pots. Most hard-sided containers aren’t supplied with sufficient drainage at the bottom, leading to water buildup, mold problems and root problems.


Temperature is a huge factor in indoor gardening and the temperatures of your root zone is something that is often overlooked by beginning growers. Temperature inside a traditional black container can reach over 125 degrees and the heat can suffocate your roots. In a Smart Pot the cloth allows the roots to breathe and flow with the ambient temperature of your environment causing much cooler root zones.

What About Clay or Decorative Pots?

smart potSmart Pots are much more affordable than clay pots, and clay pots are fragile and often have drainage issues. Clay pots usually have no or minimal drainage holes so it’s very easy to overwater. With the very handy ‘Smart Pot with Handles’, these aeration containers are easily portable and can give you added space in a confined area.

Various Sizes
Smart Pots are made in various sizes to fit the needs of growers everywhere, beginning with one gallon up to 98 gallons.

I’ve grown tons of plants indoors and out over the past decade and without a doubt, Smart Pots are the most affordable and reliable aeration container on the market. I currently live in a dense, urban area and instead of taking the time to build raised beds, I simply place Smart Pots around my concrete jungle of a backyard and create a beautiful green space. We can’t recommend them highly enough!

-Web Hydroponics

hps v mh header

High Pressure Sodium vs. Metal Halide: Plant Lighting Uncovered!

Hydroponic gardening is a method of indoor growing that requires the right combination of techniques and equipment to increase growth rate and maximize crop yield for a larger harvest. Adequate plant lighting is one of the most critical elements to consider for maximum plant growth and healthy indoor gardens. In hydroponic gardening there are a variety of light options such as High Pressure Sodium plant lights (HPS), Metal Halide plant lights (MH), incandescent lights and fluorescent plant light to choose from. So, which should you use? We’ll focus on two of the more popular options, High Pressure Sodium (HPS) and Metal Halide (MH) bulbs…

ushio hilux gro super hps 1000 w double ended lampHigh Pressure Sodium Bulbs (HPS)

The High Pressure Sodium Bulb (HPS) is the top choice for a high powered indoor gardening plant light. The 1000W high pressure sodium bulb is able to offer around 24,000 hours of use with an average 140,000 lumen output. Although there is very little color change over time, the HPS bulb is limited because it doesn’t offer optimal PAR output (PAR = ‘Photosynthetically Active Radiation.’ Higher PAR values equal more efficient bulbs). As such, HPS light works in mostly the wrong frequency range for growing plants. The light spectrum that is emitted from the high pressure sodium bulb is mostly within the orange spectrum and emits little blue and red light. Despite its PAR limitations, this bulb is very powerful and the spillover of light emission in the most desirable PAR Spectrum is still more than adequate to supply the plant with enough light to maintain a healthy growth pattern.

Which HPS Bulb to Choose?

When buying HPS bulbs for indoor gardening it is imperative to choose one with output of 430-460 nm blue light and 680-700 nm red light. Bulbs that emit only orange and green spectrums offer little significant impact on the PAR value, and are virtually useless for plant growth.

Metal Halide (MH) Bulbsushio hilux gro 1000 watt amh opti-blue

Metal Halide Bulbs are another popular option for hydroponic indoor gardening. Coated with phosphor the MH bulb delivers a photon blue light output of 430-460nm – ideal for increasing plant growth in the vegetative growth stage. As a metal halide bulb ages, more red light develops. This can be beneficial for plant lighting during the bloom stage of plant growth; since more red light is required. The only drawback is that lumen output also drops-off as aging sets in. Metal Halide bulbs are rated for up to 10,000 hours of light (significantly less than HPS).

More about Metal Halide Bulbs

plantmax 1000 watt mhAlso, metal halide output is approximately 30% less than that of the HPS bulb, although many metal halide bulbs offer more of the valuable 700nm red spectrum light than high pressure sodium bulbs. In comparing HPS and MH, many indoor gardeners tend to favor the HPS bulbs over MH bulbs because of the lumen drop-off and the short life span of the MH bulb. Compromising with one HPS to one MH can provide dual benefits. Choosing lamps with high levels of PAR values such as 460nm, 680nm, and 700nm can help to boost your plant growth, while reducing harvest cycles (by up to 50%).

Overall, combining different types of plant lights in hydroponic gardens can provide a good balance of light intensity with an optimized PAR spectrum and deliver maximum plant growth throughout a plants’ life-cycle. Of course this generally translates into greater yields and more profitable harvests.

-Web Hydroponics

coco coir

Coco Coir: The Ultimate Grow Media for Hydroponic Gardening

coco coirImagine a grow medium that can hold 8 to 9 times its own weight in water and holds 22% air while completely saturated; a natural, environmentally-friendly and completely renewable grow medium with a consistent pH of 6.0 – 6.7; a medium with strong anti-fungal properties that inhibit the presence of root-zone pathogens like pythium and phytopthora. Add to the list: lightweight, outstanding drainage, superb air porosity and excellent cation exchange capacity. Imagine that this 100% renewable resource is easily rehydrated, never shrinks or cracks and the top-layer always remains dry (thus discouraging the growth of fungal infections and fungus gnats.) No need to imagine – I am writing about Coco Coir: the ultimate grow media for hydroponic gardening.

Coco Coir is Replacing Peat and Rockwool as the ideal medium for Hydroponic GardeningCoco Coir

When a hydroponic grower is accustomed to achieving outstanding results growing with peat, Rockwool, or any effective soil-less medium, it is very difficult to convince them that there is something better. Despite this resistance, ever since the late 80’s innovative hydroponic growers have been catching on to the idea that the advantages of indoor growing with coco coir far outweigh the challenges involved. First of all, the outstanding porosity of this medium holds more than double the amount of air held by Rockwool. At only 10% air porosity, beginners using Rockwool run the risk of oversaturating the media and oxygen depriving plants in the root zone. This risk is minimized in coco because of its exceptional air retention ratio (22%).

Coco Coir Possesses Antifungal and Root Stimulant properties that are not available in any other Hydroponic Gardening Medium

Coco coirAside from its amazing air retention properties, coco coir possesses powerful antifungal and root-stimulant properties. These natural antifungal properties ensure that plants are resistant to many soil-borne diseases and pathogens such as pythium and phytopthora. Bearing in mind that coconuts can spend long periods of time floating in the ocean before landing on an island and developing into a full blown coconut tree; it is obvious that coconuts must have an incredibly tough physical resistance to salt, humidity, microbes and pathogens as well as the force of the ocean. These unique properties are available to you as a hydroponic grower when you learn to work with this miraculous medium.

In case you remain unconvinced, consider the fact that coco coir is an organic 100% renewable and environmentally friendly resource. The same cannot be said for peat or Rockwool.

If you need a proven nutrient regiment to use for the coco coir medium, we highly recommend Nutri-Plus Coco Plus Grow/Bloom. It is a nutrient-rich solution that helps users obtain high yields. It is user-friendly, doesn’t contain any residues and it is not harmful for the environment. Directly absorbable, it is a complete solution to obtain fantastic growing.

-Web Hydroponics

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