Options in Hydroponic Gardening Systems

When you think of hydroponic gardening you may think of a particular type of system. The older methods were rather limited.

The main option was suspending plants over nutrient filled water. Today, though, the hydroponic gardening benefits from hydroponic growing systems have evolved. You know have options.

Modern Hydroponics Growing System

Choosing the right hydroponic grow system to meet your needs involves learning a bit more about your options.

Wick System
A wick system is fairly simple. It is easy to build and easy to maintain since it includes no complex construction. Basically a wick system uses a wick or string that draws the water from a reservoir to the plants. All you do is fill the reservoir and your maintenance of the system is complete.

Water Culture System
A water culture system is the more traditional system that may immediately come to mind when you think of hydroponic gardening. This system involves suspending plants above water so they can drink up the nutrient filled water.

Drip and Ebb and Flow Systems
The ebb and flow system and the drip system all work with the same basic idea. It is set up much like a water culture system except that the water is pumped in, the plants absorb what they need and the remaining water is drained to be reused later.

Nutrient Film Technique System
The nutrient film technique or NFT is a constant flow system. It feeds and washes the plants’ roots on a consistent basis. It has low maintenance costs and uses no growth medium. It works a little like the ebb and flow system where it will fill the reservoir with the water and then drain the excess to recycle. This system is a bit different, though. There has been some concern that maintaining a good pH balance is difficult with an NFT system.

Choosing your Hydroponics Growing System

As you can see these systems all use the same basic principles of hydroponic gardening. Each type of system, though, has a different set up. It is really important before you make your final choice on a hydroponic gardening system that you take a look at the individual set ups. You want to be sure that you have the space and the proper things for the type of system you want to use.

You should also check more deeply into the system you choose as some types of systems can have disadvantages that may pop up.

Woman Prepares Garden Soil

You can find out from people who have used each type of system as to how it worked for them and what challenges they may have faced. You may also be able to find some great tips on how to get the best results. Doing your research can really pay off when it comes to finding the right hydroponic gardening system.

In the end your goal should be to find the hydroponic grow system that is right for you. You want to be sure that you completely understand how the system works and how to set it up. This will help to ensure that you get the most from your hydroponic gardening experience.

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Greenhouse Gardening Humidity Tips

Greenhouse Garden Humidity Advice

Humidity in a greenhouse is very difficult to control. In fact it will be your biggest challenge in growing in your greenhouse. The levels of humidity vary with the change in air temperature and the moisture that plants can give off too. Even with all the automation of the systems today you still need a working knowledge of humidity and how it affects the plants to grow things effectively.

What is Green House Humidity?

Humidity is a term used for how much water vapor is contained in the air. It is mostly talked about as relative humidity, which is the ratio of water vapor to the air compared to the saturation point. An example of this is that at 30% relative humidity there is 30% of the water vapor as the air can actually hold.

What Part Humidity Plays in the Greenhouse Growing Environment

The leaves adjust to humidity by opening and closing their stomata. The stomata open when humidity goes up and closes if humidity gets too low. When the stomata closes it causes the rate of CO2 exchange to decrease and it can upset the normal photosynthesis the plants do. This is why it is so important to not let the humidity go too low in the greenhouse.

Plant Growth

Many of the plants cultivated in a greenhouse environment thrive when the relative humidity is higher. But several problems can occur when the humidity is too high for the plants. They can have trouble absorbing the minerals they need, the plants roots do not grow as large of root systems and diseases can happen to mention just a few of the problems. Remember, all plants do not like the exact same humidity levels. There are some problems that can also occur if the humidity gets too low. Wilting, small leaves and leaf curl are just a few of the problems.

Inner Humidity Levels

Harvest Hobby Greenhouse KitGreenhouse Gardening Humidity Tips

In a greenhouse you want good humidity but no so high that it goes to the dew point. This is too high. Humidity this high promotes diseases happening to the plants. Even with careful control and monitoring sometimes the dew point can still be reached. So it is quite tricky to get the right humidity levels. This is where the ventilation system comes in to bring in drier air from the outside and swap it out for the moister air in the greenhouse. Also the heating of the air plays an important role in lowering the relative humidity too.

Now if humidity levels drop too low then measures need to be taken to raise them. This can be done through foggers, sprinklers or misters. Venting should be done on some level when humidifying the greenhouse to avoid too high of humidity being reached.

As you can see it is a bit of work to maintain the correct humidity in the greenhouse. However, when you succeed your plants thrive!

This increases the size and health of your harvest. So learn all you can about controlling and maintaining the humidity level in your greenhouse for the sake of your plants.

    Recommended Websites:
  1. EPA Climate Change for Kids Gardening Club – http://epa.gov/climatechange/kids/links.html
  2. Complete Building Plans to Build A 32′ x 10′ x 10′ Greenhouse – http://www.floridagardener.com/greenhouse/greenhouseillustration1.htm
  3. The Hobby Greenhouse Building Guide from Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Fact Sheets – http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-2271/HLA-6705web.pdf
  4. Greenhouse Tomato Handbook – http://msucares.com/pubs/publications/p1828.pdf
  5. Controlling the Environment in Greenhouses Used for Tomato Production – http://www.utextension.utk.edu/publications/wfiles/W017.pdf
  6. Organic Greenhouse Tomato Production – http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/ghtomato.html
  7. Dealing with the High Cost of Energy for Greenhouse Operations – http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/430/430-101/430-101.html

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What All Can You Compost?

What types of things can be composted in a soil compost bin, bucket, or tumbler?

What Can I Compost?

Spinning Compost Bin Barrel

Spinning Compost Bin Tumbler Barrel about what to put in compost piles in order to feed the micro-organisms and keep the pile composting smoothly. Gardeners suggest having a healthy balance of “brown” compost materials and “green” compost materials. Brown composting materials, such as dead leaves, are high in carbon. Green composting materials, such as grass clippings and vegetable peels, are high in nitrogen.

Yard waste belongs in your composter rather than in the trash. If you notice your neighbors throwing away a large amount of yard waste, you should ask if you can have it to compost instead. Leaves, grass clippings, weeds, and wood chips are all great things to compost. However, you should exercise caution when composting weeds, as if you compost any seeds along with them, the seeds may sprout when you decide to fertilize your garden with the compost, giving you an instant weed problem! Some weed seeds may even begin to sprout while inside your compost heap.

Kitchen waste is a great source of composting material. Vegetable peels and uneaten food are great sources of nitrogen for you compost pile. You should be careful about composting meat, fatty food, and bones, however, since they can attract pests. In fact, it is often against city ordinances to compost such materials since it lures pests into the city. Fatty foods do not compost well anyway, as the fat hinders the bacteria in the compost pile from doing its job.

    Some gardeners are proponents of composting human feces as well as pet feces, but in general you shouldn’t compost fecal matter unless you monitor the temperature of your compost pile very closely and can know with certainty that all microbes and parasites in the fecal matter have been killed.

  • Composting fecal matter can be incredibly dangerous due to the risk of contamination.
  • Obviously things that are not biodegradable should not be composted. This includes plastic, glass, and metal.
  • While they probably won’t hurt your compost pile, they will never compost and will just block airflow to the rest of your pile.
  • You should never put pressure treated wood in your compost pile or build your compost bin out of pressure treated wood.

The process for pressure treating wood involves injecting a pesticide chromated copper arsenate (CCA) into it at a high pressure. When this wood composts, it will leave toxic amounts of arsenic inside your compost pile. Pressure treated wood usually has a greenish tint due to the CCA, but not always. If you are unsure whether wood has been treated with CCA or not, you should have it tested. Thankfully, pressure treated wood has become more and more rare in the past few years since people have become aware of the risks.

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Indoor Hydroponics Gardening Tips

Gardening Advice for Indoors Hydroponics Equipment

Many gardening enthusiasts are now choosing to grow inside their homes rather than outside. Setting up a hydroponic operation inside your home means you will have to purchase a lighting setup and will increase your home’s electricity bill. However, it brings a number of advantages to the table. Firstly, growing inside your home in a closed environment means you will be mostly protected from pests, weeds, and fungi that may damage your plants. For those who grow outdoors, having months of hard work ruined by pests can be very frustrating. Outside variables are much less of a concern for those who grow indoors, and gardeners who grow indoors have much more fine-grained control over their plants. Gardeners with less experience may find it easier to grow indoors, as they will have to deal less with the random occurrences of nature.

    >AeroGrow AeroGarden Deluxe Hydroponics Growing SystemYou can minimize the cost of your indoor hydroponic growing systems setup with a little planning.
  • The main cost associated with indoor gardening is the lighting setup that you will use.
  • There are many different kinds of lights available for gardeners to choose from, ranging from ones you might be familiar with, such as incandescent lights and fluorescent lights, to ones that you might not be so familiar with, such as high pressure sodium lamps and metal halide lights.
  • Important factors in choosing a type of light for your hydroponic setup include initial cost, power efficiency, space required, heat generated, quantity of light produced, and spectrum of light produced.
  • Incandescent bulbs are the cheapest, but are inefficient and have a very compact spectrum of light, making them a poor choice for hydroponic gardening equipment.

Different plants grow best under different spectra of light – each plant is different. As an example, lettuce, which is a commonly grown hydroponic plant, grows best when it has a lot of light on the blue spectrum hitting it. Metal halide lights are a good choice for lettuce, since it is possible to purchase metal halide lights that mostly emit light in the blue spectrum.

Fluorescent Lighting Tips

Fluorescent Hydroponics System Replacement Light Bulbs

Fluorescent lights are a good initial choice for people looking to try out growing indoors, as they have a low initial cost and have been getting more efficient over the years with recent developments in fluorescent lighting technology. High pressure sodium lamps are by far the most energy efficient, but will be overkill for small indoor gardening setups, since they emit large amounts of light and heat. In addition, they will require a ballast setup for your garden, further raising the cost of starting up your indoor garden.

Adequate Vent Systems

An adequate ventilation system is important if you are going to go with high pressure sodium lamps, as you will need to dissipate the heat generated by the bulbs. In order to maximize your energy efficiency, you may also consider using reflectors in your indoor gardening setup to reduce the amount of light that escapes and goes unabsorbed by your plants, which can both increase the speed at which your plants grow and decrease your energy costs as you will not have to run your lights for as long each day.

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Tips for Building A Compost Bin

Building a Soil Composting Bin

With increasing interest in green living, more and more companies are selling already-made compost bins. However, building a compost bin at home is easier and much cheaper than most people think, and can be a great way to reduce your impact on the environment or to obtain fertilizer for use in farming. Whichever method you choose, it’s important to keep in mind that you will want to turn your compost every once in a while to keep the micro-organisms doing their job eating away at the compost. There are many ways to build compost bins, some quite complicated involving rotating cylinders for easy turning, but the two following compost bins are inexpensive and easy to build.

One of the easiest ways to build a compost bin is to make a cylinder out of galvanized chicken wire. Besides being inexpensive, wire compost bins are well-aerated and easy to turn. It’s also easy to incorporate more trash into the compost bin as it is produced. In order to make a wire compost bin, first purchase about ten feet of galvanized chicken wire from a hardware store.

It should be about three feet in height so that the wire compost bin remains easy to turn. Next, fold the edges of the chicken wire back at the ends so that nobody gets poked while maintaining the compost bin, and just form it into a cylindrical shape. The two ends of the chicken wire should be tied together with heavy wire and a pair of pliers. Optionally, you can drive wooden posts into the ground and attach the chicken wire to the wooden posts using the heavy wire in order to make it sturdier. This may be a good idea in windy conditions, as it will prevent an empty wire compost bin from blowing away or becoming deformed.

Another easy method of building a compost bin at home is to use a four wooden posts and a picket fence.

The fence should ideally be around three feet high, high enough to contain a substantial amount of compost but low enough that more garbage can easily be added to the bin. For a bin with a volume of 27 cubic feet (i.e., a 3x3x3 compost bin), you should purchase about twelve feet of fencing. Drive the wooden posts into the ground using a sledgehammer and attach the fencing using whatever method you desire.

The same heavy wire and pliers used for building a wire compost bin can also be used to attach the fencing to the wooden posts here. This method of building composters makes your compost bin look more attractive to the neighborhood and can help keep pests and vermin away, but unfortunately it makes your compost bin much harder to turn and can increase the time it takes for your garbage to compost due to the decreased aeration as compared to the wire compost bin.

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