11Jul/12Off

Shed a little light on the matter – Part 1

When it comes to setting up your first hydroponic system, there’s an awful lot to consider – from merely what plants you want to raise to what pumps you need and what solutions will work best – and it’s easy to overlook something as seemingly standard as lighting.  After all, a light’s a light... isn’t it?

That’s where you’d be wrong, but fortunately the BIG Shop is here to help out!  The world of hydroponic lighting is, like many other ‘technical’ realms, awash with terminology that makes little sense to the new or otherwise inexperienced indoor grower.  Here’s where we step in to help with a few key terms you’ll encounter in your search for the right light.

First off, although you may set out just to buy a standalone ‘light’, you may not be aware that it’s best to buy individual components first and put together your own personalised kit.  Not only is it easier to adapt a DIY assembly for a different hydroponic system if you decide to change something after you’ve started, but there’s nothing quite like the “I did that” effect when you step back to admire your finished piece.  So what exactly do you need to get your hands on to set up the perfectly customisable hydroponic lighting system?

Constructed basically from a ballast, a reflector and a bulb (with a timer being an optional and infinitely useful addition), your setup should be planned around your hydroponic system – after all, the light is quite possibly the most important part!

The ballast is essentially your power unit, used to keep your lamp safely lit and moderate the power input.  It’s best to keep this unit off the floor for safety purposes – you don’t want it getting wet if you have any hydroponic mishaps!  Pay attention to the wattage of your ballast too, you’ll need to match this to your bulb’s – for small scale systems a 400w setup should be sufficient, but if you’re thinking of leaving room for expansion do consider a 600w.

A regular light will spill energy in all directions – and any energy lost to the surrounding area is energy wasted!  That’s why reflectors are essential in order to focus and direct the output of your bulbs to make the most of how much energy will be taken in by your plants.  Especially if you’re growing to sell, it’s a good idea to keep overhead costs to a minimum and getting the most of your energy usage like this is a necessity.

Your bulb is arguably the most important feature of your lighting though – and these come in two major varieties.  Stay tuned to the next BIG Shop blog for more details on this frankly illuminating subject!

26Mar/12Off

Control the environment of your growroom – Lighting

The main purpose of almost every growing system is the crop yield gained as a result.  Anyone creating a hydroponic system or modifying an existing one has a wide variety of factors to take into consideration that can directly affect this yield, such as;

  • Temperature
  • Smell
  • PH Levels
  • Water treatment
  • Nutrients

Several blog posts over the past few weeks have been dedicated to these topics and more before now – however, today we’re focusing on the world of:

Lighting

It may be an obvious thing to point out, but the lighting in a hydroponic system is probably the most important part.  Photosynthesis is the process of absorbing sunlight and, using water and carbon dioxide, creating glucose (food) and oxygen.

The process of photosynthesis is the main influence on a plant’s growth and yield, so the importance of a lighting system cannot be understated.

A grow light has three essential components – the lamp itself to produce light, a ballast to regulate the power input of your lamps and a reflector to best direct the output of the lamps.  The interaction between these three parts is essential in the assembly of a functional and effective lighting system.

High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps come in three varieties for different growing periods, each with different light outputs optimized for specific stages in a plant’s development.  Metal Halide lamps, for instance, emit more blue spectrum light, which is more effective on plants in the early, vegetative stages of development, while High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps produce more red spectrum light specifically for flowering periods.  Some types of lamp, such as Grolux or Sunmaster Dual Spectrum lamps, emit light from both the blue and red spectrums and can, as a result, be used for growing throughout the cycle.

Ballasts come in two major types – magnetic and digital.  Magnetic ballasts work by using a copper coil that becomes electromagnetic as power is drawn through it and into the lamp.  This magnetism reduces the amount of power that can be drawn through the coil, thus regulating what goes into the lamp.  Therefore, the bigger the coil, the higher wattage lamp can be safely powered.  Digital systems use a circuit board instead of an electromagnetic coil, losing far less energy through heat and noise than their magnetic counterparts.

Lamps don’t focus light on their own; that’s the job of a reflector.  Reflectors take all the light energy put out by a lamp and reduce wastage by focusing as much as possible at your crops.  This process means that your plants can absorb the same amount of light with less energy expense on your behalf, and is important in making sure your system is economical.

One more thing to remember is that all lamps produce heat – excess heat isn’t good news for your plants at all, as you can read in our blog entry here.  Don’t forget, you can always ask our experts at The BIG Shop for advice relating to this or any other growing topics.

10Jan/12Off

Planning your growing room part two

In last week’s blog, we looked at planning out our growing rooms in order to make sure that our growing efforts and crops are as successful as they can be. We took the time to focus on the specifics of tanks, tents and lighting choices for your plants. This time, we’re looking at plant nutrition choices and growing items that will give you the ultimate yield from the crops you’re nurturing.

Our growing rooms are personal to us. We take our plants into our house, so we want to get the most out of their time with us. We want full, healthy plants or thriving crops for us to enjoy time after time, so we need to think  about every aspect of our growing rooms in order to achieve this same level of quality each time without fail.

Nutrients for hungry indoor plants

Nutrition for your plants may look confusing or overwhelming, but it’s really a simple step in getting your plants everything that they need to grow. Plants need a broad variety of ingredients to maintain healthy growth within an indoor garden.

Liquid fertiliser comes in all sorts of varieties. If you want fast growth and don’t mind synthetic ingredients, there are chemical fertilisers that will provide both macro and micro-nutrients to your crops. These will give you impressive results in the growth of the roots and the plant itself.

Of course, some people are much more selective when it comes to growing their plants. They want to grow them in the most natural way possible without any chemical fertilisers or pesticides making their way into the growing room. There are bio-fertilisers to choose from with some weird and wonderful ingredients. These options are completely organic in order to provide your plant with natural nutrients during its life-cycle indoors. The organic option yields a higher quality crop and gives you the satisfaction of knowing that your crop is naturally and lovingly grown.

Growing aids

We all want our crops and plants to thrive indoors, so planning our growing rooms has to give some consideration to the benefits of growing aids. There are plenty of enriched ‘super-soils’ available to give your plants a super-boost when they’re growing up.

Organic soils will give a natural boost to crops with natural additives, nutrients and even weird and wonderful things like worm manure, garden peat and peat moss.

The BIG Shop is able to give you expert advice on the right nutrients and growing aids for your crops. Our experience in indoor gardening has given us the ability to guide our customers on the right sort of growing room and accessories for their needs without cluttering up the conversation with sales-speak. We want to help you to nurture your crops and grow them successfully every time, using only the best and most appropriate equipment.

 

1Jan/12Off

Planning your growing room

Planning your growing room part one: tanks and lighting

When planning your growing room, it’s important to start to think about the kinds of crops or plants you wish to buy. Once you know the varieties, you can plan out your growing room accordingly and take steps towards cultivating a strong, healthy growing room with crops that flourish instead floundering. This first part of our ‘planning your growing room’ blogs looks at the

Crops and plants need as much care and attention to thrive as owning a pet does. You care for them from seed all the way through to cultivation; and because you have decided to take steps towards indoor gardening, you have the added personal touch of growing them within your own home from beginning to end. Outdoor gardening has a more detached sensibility because the plants or crops remain separate from the home itself. Indoor gardening allows you to be more directly involved in the life-cycle of the crop because you are the primary caregiver, rather than allowing nature to do most of the work.

Choose your growing environment

Depending on which plants or crops you’re going to grow, you need to make the choice between growing tanks and growing tents. Both have their strengths and the choice will depend entirely on what you need to grow.

Growing tents provide a vertical, light-proof and portable solution for your growing room. If you grow different varieties and like to regularly harvest and re-grow, the grow tent is your best option for maximum customisation.

Growing tanks lie flat on the floor and represent a more compact growing environment. If your chosen plants/crops grow upwards and outwards, the growing tank is probably not right for your growing room. Nutrient Film Technique allows a film of nutrients to circulate past the roots of your plants. This simple, nourishing solution swims over the roots consistently to keep your plants healthy all the time.

Shine a light on your growing room

Light is one of the most essential elements to keep your plants healthy and, most importantly, alive. Planning out your growing room has to give serious consideration to the basics of lighting in order to maximise the productivity and life of the plants.

In order to simulate the best that the sun has to offer, there are blue spectrum and red spectrum lights to encourage the growth. Red spectrum lights make for the best choice if you want to grow flowering plants or fruit in your growing room. Red is good for encouraging the hormonal changes in your plants, which in turn improves yields. Blue spectrum lighting is better for growing vegetables.

The BIG Shop can advise you on planning out your growing room and we can offer our expertise on hydroponic indoor gardening in order to give you the best results with the right equipment for the crops that you wish to grow. Please get in touch for more information.