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HOME + GROW INFORMATION + GROW SCIENCE INFORMATION

INFORMATION: GROW SCIENCE

ADVANCED GROWING METHODS
HIERARCHY OF FACTORS CONTRIBUTE TO A LARGER YIELD
Reduce THE CONCENTRATION OF ADDITIVES
A HEALTHY RESERVOIR SHOULD BRING THE TDS DOWN EVERY DAY
NUTRIENT FEEDING CHART/GRAPH
CREATING A SEASONAL SHIFT DURING LATE BLOOM
LOWER DAY/NIGHT ROOM TEMPERATURES DURING LAST 3 WEEKS
USE A WATER CHILLER TO CREATE A LATE BLOOM "FROST"
USING FINISHING AGENTS TO AID IN FINAL TRANSITION
TEMPERATURE, HUMIDITY, AND C02 SCHEDULE FOR BLOOM STAGE
WE RECOMMEND A TRELLIS NET AS THE BEST WAY TO GROW

plant hormones
Auxins
cytokinins
Gibberellins
Abscic Acid
ethylene

BEST OVERALL SYSTEM INTEGRATION
AERATION TO THE ROOT ZONE
ROOTS EXCELURATOR
WATER CHILLER
BENEFICIAL MICROBES
ENZYME SOLUTIONS
DRIP SYSTEM SETUP
DRAIN TO WASTE
STERILE EQUIPMENT
RO WATER WITH UV STERLIZER
APPLYING ADDITIVES

RESERVOiR AND WATER MANAGEMENT ORDER OF OPERATIONS
CHANGING THE RESERVOiR
CLEANING AND STERLIZING EQUIPMENT
WATER TEMPERATURE
REVERSE OSMOSIS "PURIFIED" WATER
USING BENEFICIAL BIOLOGY TO PREVENT ROOT ROT
ENZYME SOLUTIONS
THE OTHER ROUTE-KEEPING A RESERVOIR STERILE
IRRIGATION PUMP
FLOAT VALVE OR FLOAT SWITCH
MORE AERATION AT THE ROOT ZONE
DRAINING A RESERVOIR WITH THE HELP OF A "DRAIN PUMP"
KEEPING YOUR RESERVOiR TEMPERATURES COOL

ADVANCED GROWING METHODS
The advanced grower can employ certain methods which will greatly increase yield and quality. Indoor gardening is ALL about emulating the perfect outdoor environment, day and night, for the plants. Light will ALWAYS be the limiting factor indoors, since it does not come from a 360° source and is not as bright or as “nutritious” for plants as the sun is. The spectrum produced by grow lights pales in comparison to natural sunlight. Therefore the indoor gardener needs to dial in all other variables to a precise degree. Not only can the factors needed for the ideal day be created and maintained, but the ideal season can be created as well. This info sheet on Advanced Growing will address all these factors below. Please refer to “Best Overall System,” “Why Run Drain to Waste,” “Reservoir Management,” and “Maintaining a Healthy Root Zone” for a more complete picture of how to run an ideal system. We also suggest you ask for an updated “Nutrient Recipe” (for your nutrient of choice) and “Nutrient Schedule” as well.

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HIERARCHY OF FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO A LARGER YIELD
There are many environmental factors that contribute to healthy plant growth. In general if you take care of your garden and dial in your environment and your nutrient scheduling, your plants will flourish. And if your plants flourish and remain healthy throughout their entire life cycle, your yield will surely rise and eventually soar. This section is concerned with yield, not so much with other more aesthetic attributes or plant / fruit / flower quality. Here is a list of factors in order from most important to least important that contribute to final yield of fruit / flowers:

  • Light - Directly proportional to final yield. More light = more yield (up to a point of obvious burning).
  • Aeration to the root zone - the more air (O2) to the roots the better. It is almost impossible to provide too much.
  • Carbon Dioxide - CO2 can be used at up to 4x the amount found at normal atmospheric levels - 1500 ppm is ideal.
  • Temperature - Keeping the temperature at 76°F - 78°F (with 1500 ppms CO2 at 86°F is optimum)
    See below for more exact temperature measurements for each phase of growth.
  • Humidity - Keep it between 45-65%. 65% humidity in Vegetative Phase and 45-55% in Bloom Phase.
  • Nutrients - most people think this is the most important thing. It isn’t. Keep nutrient TDS (ppm) levels in check. Make sure to NOT overdose additives. There are so many to choose from these days, and it’s easy to get confused.

As you can see, nutrients / additives are at the bottom of this list, and we don’t want you to get the idea that “all nutrients are created equal” (see our info sheet on Nutrients or Chelators, etc.) or that no additives will greatly increase your yield or fragrance, because that would be far from the truth. What we are trying to say is that NO amount of nutrient or additives will make up for a lack of oxygen at the root system or a poorly-designed grow space that runs too hot or doesn’t exchange the air often enough. Many inexperienced growers skimp on the basics and then try and make up for it with the latest “magic bullet” additive on the market.

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REDUCE THE CONCENTRATION OF ADDITIVES
With so many additives available today, and so many additives coming to the market place every month, it is extremely tempting to use an ever-growing amount of them. This can be extremely catastrophic to your plants’ root systems as well as your plants’ overall health and vigor. There are so many products out there from different companies touting the fact that they “increase the plants metabolism” or “help with nutrient uptake,” that it is increasingly easier to add two of the same product (from different manufacturers). If both products are applied at their full strengths or even ½ strengths each plants can be “stressed” or worse still “burned” or even straight up killed. Make sure you research what you are adding and have at least a cursory understanding of what you are giving your babies.

We Suggest: Add additives at ¼ strength to be safe at first then increase the dosage by ¼ the next week until you have a good understanding and feeling of what this additive is doing.

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A HEALTHY RESERVOIR SHOULD BRING THE TDS DOWN EVERY DAY
The total concentration of nutrient should always be relatively stable within your reservoir. Ideally plants should take up an even amount of nutrient and water. In reality, this rarely actually happens. Plants will take up either more nutrient or more water and will leave the reservoir solution out of balance. This being said, a sophisticated grower can tell alot from his reservoir solution and its fluctuations. If the ppms of the solution have gone up this means that there is less water in solution. The water has either evaporated or the plants have taken up more water than nutrient since the last time the reservoir was checked - or both - water has evaporated and the plants have taken up more water than nutrient. If the reverse has happended and the ppms of the solution have fallen, than it is easy to glean that the plants have taken up more nutrient than water from the reservoir. What we do NOT want is major fluctuations in either direction. If a reservoir’s ppms go up slightly it is usually because the concentration of nutrients in solution (T.D.S. ) are too high. This is not always a bad thing. During weeks 4-6 we are trying to push as much food (nutrients and additives) into the plants as possible and if the ppms go up slightly (every day) this indicates to us that we are pushing them as hard as possible. In general though we want the ppms to lower. . .slightly. . .Indicating to us that the plants have all that they need and are content to drink slightly more water than nutrient. Ideally, we are looking for the reservoir solution to sway no more than 25-50 ppms every day.

CHANGING NUTRIENT SOLUTION REGULARLY AND MAKING SURE TO FLUSH
It is important to change out your nutrient solution on a weekly basis. This will ensure that it stays fresh and few if any precipitates have a chance to form. It is also important to flush on a regular basis (especially if you are growing in Coco, Rockwool, or Soil). Please check our Info Sheets on “Flushing” and “Reservoir Maintenance”for more details.

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NUTRIENT FEEDING CHART/GRAPH
Learning to read one of these graphs is a very important step towards becoming a successful grower. Not only are the overall TDS numbers for each week of the Bloom phase (and Veg. phase - depending on what graph you are looking at) indicated on this chart below, but one can take in more information that that. It is easy to see as the weeks go on the TDS values slowly rise. But how fast are they rising? Well, on the chart below they are going up 100ppms every week. A good grower can take the ppms up by 2-300 ppms per week! You can also see that this chart started the Bloom Phase at 1200 ppms which is to some pretty high. To us it is just “average”. Some Bloom Feeding schedules have growers starting the Bloom Phase at 13-1400 ppms. You can also see that at week 5-6 we have peaked out on our TDS (ppms). After this point, for week 7 and then week 8 (on the graph) the ppms are going down dramatically. This adds to the factors (listed on the next page) that indicate to the plant it tis time to finish (ripen). It also allows for a healthy Flushing of all minerals.

Nutrient Feeding Chart/Graph
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CREATING A SEASONAL SHIFT DURING LATE BLOOM
This shift will help plants understand that their time is coming to an end. Your plants will move all remaining sugars from all other parts of the plant to the fruit / flowers that they have been working on creating. They will ripen all fruit amd create more oil / sugar / resin. Plants that are fully finished will have more overall weight in their fruit and flowers as well. As Plants finish up, it is natural and expected to see “fall colors” come out in leaves. During the last 2-3 weeks we are looking for reds, yellows, and purples - this is not to be mistaken for a “bad thing”. It is a sign that all is working as planned.

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USING A WATER CHILLER TO CREATE A LATE BLOOM "FROST" AT THE ROOT ZONE
The last three weeks should have a pronounced effect on your plants. Plants communicate through hormones and other signal proteins. In order for them to create these crucial chemical signals indicating to the fuit and flowers to ripen, Plants need to receive environmental cues. These cues tell them the season and let them know that it is time to finish up. By following the guides indicating in this Info Sheet, we are creating an onslaught of cues letting them know that it is “that” time and that they need to let the hormones fly.

Three weeks before finishing (the beginning of week 6 on an eight week Fruit / Flower cycle) Day teperatures should drop 4-5 deg. F. from where they have been. Night-time differential should be 10 deg. F. 2 weeks before finishing wee want the Day time Temps to be another 4-5 degrees less than week 6. Night time Differential should be 15 deg. (Around 55-60 deg. F. if possilble.) For the final week. we want Day time temperature to be 70 deg. F. and Night time temperature to be as close to 50 deg. as possible. This will help force the plants to ripen - changing colors whenever possible, and maximizing flavor and aroma.

RAISE LIGHTS DURING THE LAST TWO WEEKS
Again, to help make this seaonsal shift a reality for your plants, you should raise your lights up 4-6 inches (4” for a 600 watt and 6” for a 1000 watt,) every week for the last two weeks. This will help create more compact and dens fruit clusters while further increasing the ripening process.

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USING FINISHING AGENTS TO AID IN FINAL TRANSITION
Grand Finale, Briximus Maximus, and Purple Maxx will make for a more pronounced transition into the late Fall-early Winter period that we are looking for. Grand Finale uses tons of high brix sugars coupled with magnesium sulfate to bring out more flavor in your final 2 weeks. Grand Finale was designed to be used in conjunction with a second additive. Briximus Maximus(through two proprietary natural/organic compounds) will remove all available nitrogen from your leaves. This will remove any residual chlorophyll from the taste of your fruits (chlorophyll is responsible for creating a grassy fragrance and taste residue). Purple Maxx will help bring out way more oil / sugar / resin, and if the plant has it in its genetic composition will bring out purple colors as well.

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TEMPERATURE,HUMIDITY, AND CO2 SCHEDULE FOR BLOOM STAGE OF PLANT GROWTH
This assumes that you have an eight week “Fruiting” plant such as most strains of tomatoes, cucumbers, or peppers - as well as many other of your favorite plants.

Weeks 1-5 of Bloom (Fruit / Flower Stage)
Day Temp - 76°F - 78° (86°F with CO2 @ 1500PPMs)
Night Temp - 70°F (79°F with CO2 @ 1500 PPMs)
Humidity - 50-55% (unless plant type likes it higher)
CO2 Levels - 1500 PPMs

Week 6 of Bloom
Day Temp - 72°F-75°F (74-75°F with CO2 @ 700PPMs)
Night Temp - 65°F
Humidity - 50% humidity
CO2 levels - 700 PPMs

Week 7 of Bloom
Day Temp - 70°F - 73°F (72°F - 74°F with CO2 @ 500-700 PPMs)
Night Temp - 60°F (even 55°F if you can go this low)
Humidity - 50% (unless fear of mildew / mold - then lower to 40-45% esp. at night)
CO2 Levels - 500-700 PPMs

Week 8 of Bloom (Final Week)
Day Temp - 70°F - 72°F (70°F - 72°F with CO2 @ 500 PPMs or TURN CO2 OFF!)
Night Temp - 50°F (if you can go that low)
Humidity - 50% (unless fear of mildew / mold - then lower to 40-45% especially at night)
CO2 Levels - 500 PPMs

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WE RECOMMEND A TRELLIS NET AS THE BEST WAY TO GROW
We believe a Trellis Net is the best way to grow. As opposed to bamboo stakes or plastic cages, the trellis can easily provide support for branches and main stalks while providing for an easy way to bend and weave the growth of larger plants, providing an equal amount of light to all fruiting / flowering zones.

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Primer on Plant Hormones
Hormones - Some Theories
by Erik Biksa

Growers can manipulate or take advantage of the environment to produce responses in plants. These include rooting, vegetative growth, branching, flowering, setting seed or fruit, and dormancy. Hormones in plants influence these reactions. They can be produced within the plant as a result of environment. In some instances, they are supplied to the plant by the grower. There is some debate as to the roles of hormones in plants, and some debate as to whether or not additional hormones have been documented.

There are five generally accepted types of hormones that influence plant growth and development. They are: auxins, cytokinins, gibberellins, abscic acid, and ethylene. It is not one hormone that directly influences by sheer quantity, but rather the balance and ratios of hormones present helps to influence plant reactions. The hormonal balance possibly regulates enzymatic reactions in the plant by amplifying them, leading to the results the grower wants to see. Following is a brief description of the role of hormones in plant responses:

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Auxins:
Auxins are produced in significant quantities in the upper growth regions of plants, promoting cell elongation. Auxins travel from the shoot tips to the base when the plant is actively growing, playing a role in the formation of plant roots.

IAA is an auxin in its natural state. Synthetic rooting hormones contain compounds such as IBA typically range in concentration from 1000-10,000 ppm. When cuttings are taken, and dipped for rooting, here's part of what happens: The plant stops growing stem tissue. The cells that have been developing but have not yet been dedicated to any specific type of growth (i.e. stem development) are stimulated by the auxin such as IBA to become roots. These cells are now set to grow roots, and will further multiply and develop to produce a healthy root system, which will develop hormones that influence the upper development of the plant. Synthetic auxins sprayed on tomato vines will allow fruit to develop without pollination. Auxin that is usually produced by the seeds has been replaced, so no seeds will develop.

An overdose of auxin will actually inhibit cell elongation, because the plant will produce another hormone to try and balance the act. When applied to seeds, auxins also help to promote femaleness in dioecious plants (plants having females and males). The concentration of auxin is usually highest at the main growing point of the plant, suppressing lateral/side shoot growth. Growers have often pinched the tips of the plants in order to promote extensive branching and to keep plants short and sturdy. Bending and tying the growing point downwards will also have a similar effect without damaging the concentration of auxins within the plant.

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Cytokinins:
Cytokinins are produced in the plant's roots and move upwards through the plant to the growing tips. As the roots system grows larger, it produces more cytokinins, which in turn, signals the plant to grow and branch more. As the plant continues to grow and branch, it produces more auxin in the growing points. Remember auxin influences root development, so the plant grows more roots, producing more cytokinin, etc. Less cytokinin with more auxin signals root growth. More cytokinin, less auxin triggers more shoot growth.

Kelp meal is a natural source of cytokinins. Kelp based products contain kelp extracts in easy to apply liquids. Additions of these products at the roots during the vegetative stage will result in rapid growth and branching. It is best applied to the root zone, but a quick foliar spray can be used to perk up growth. A fine spray in early flowering will help to build the framework for a bountiful harvest, as it plays a role in longevity of plants. Flowering might be slightly extended, adding to quality and results. During the vegetative stage an abundance of cytokinins will help to remove dominance (due to higher concentrations of auxin) from the main growing tip, leading to bushier plants. Applications of cytokinins can reduce aging in plants and can improve the shelf life of veggies and cut flowers.

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Gibberellins:
Giberellins are produced by the roots and growing leaves. It promotes cell elongation and cell division. In seeds, it is activated by water and helps to break seed dormancy leading to germination. Some plants such as lettuce, in high temperature will "bolt" growing an upright seed stock, this can be attributed to an abundance of gibberellins.

In dioecious plant species (those types of plants having females and males) the application of giberellic acid ( typically foiliar sprays) can cause female plants to develop male flowers, thus, pollinating themselves. These plants generally turn out to be all female. So if a grower has two different or same types of a favorite specimen, they can apply giberellic acid as a spray once or twice during flowering. The plants should only be harvested for their pollen for transfer to an unsprayed and desirable female. The offspring might be more susceptible to hermaphordism (both male and female flowers on the same plant) than their parent under environmental stress such as photoperiod interruptions or being root bound.

Giberellins also act against abscic acid in breaking the dormancy in the growing points of plants.

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Abscic Acid:
Abscic acid is produced in the buds/shoot tips of the plants. It plays a key role in slowing plant growth and promotes dormancy (overwintering) in plants. This function also helps to slow cell elongation, possibly promoting tighter internodal spacing (distance between growing points) for tight flower spikes. ABA (abscic acid) plays an important role in plant survival. It can prevent plant wilt, as it triggers stomata (tiny holes in leaves plants used to take in CO2 and release O2 for photosynthesis) to close during drought conditions, so the plant requires less water because it has shut down its growth process.

This creates the assumption that abscic acid is a "stress" hormone. Furthermore, abscic acid plays a role in leaf abcision, the process where the lower leaves of the plant begin to drop near maturity or from severe stress.

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Ethylene:
Ethylene is present as a gas produced by the plant. As levels of ethylene increase with plant development while other hormones are balancing in accordance, the effects of ethylene become more pronounced. Ethylene promotes fruit ripening, or "maturing". This signals the plant that its life cycle is changing or ending. Tomatoes turn red and small flowers begin to wither. It will signal the plant to transfer its nutrients back into the stem tissue from the leaves and other storage tissue.

Abcision (the process where leaves drop) is attributed to decreasing levels of auxins produced by the leaves, allowing further expression of abscic acid and ethylene. This response is brought on by shortening days and cooler nights.

Tomatoes can be grown with an ethylene inhibitor, shipped green for shelf life and resistance to handling damage, and then exposed to a sealed environment with controlled levels of ethylene to ripen the fruit at their point of destination. Burning fossil fuels, such as CO2 generators, produces small amounts of ethylene. Inefficient burners may produce ethylene levels high enough to seriously harm plants. Ethylene is found in abundance in the skin of ripening fruit such as apples or green bananas. By placing unripened plant material in a paper bag with a green banana you can hasten ripening, bringing out flavor and aroma. If done at warmer temperatures fresher material will convert stored starches to sugars.

The above helps to shed some light on the role of hormones in plants. Growers should be cautious when applying hormones to plants. Excessive amounts could be detrimental to the plants development, causing serious set backs in plant functions. Synthetic hormones should also be handled with caution. Some are known to me mutanagenic and carcinogenic in mammals. However, used safely, at the right time, and in the right amount, hormones provide the grower with an additional means of plant manipulation. The key to remember is that no one hormone controls plant processes, it is the balance of all hormones influenced by environmental factors which the grower must control in order to achieve the results they desire.

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BEST OVERALL SYSTEM INTEGRATION
ABSTRACT
This article is all about building a system that takes advantage of the techniques and equipment that will best provide for healthy, happy, stronger plants which will in turn provide for larger, more bountiful yields time and time again (and it doesn’t matter if this in Hydro or Soil, Soiless, Rockwool or Coco.)

The hardest aspect of growing healthy plants is Mastering Root Health. When roots are unhealthy (or not as healthy as they can be) the overall plant health will diminish. Depending on the phase of growth the plants are in, the overall yield will suffer. Growers often tell us that they are growing strong heathy plants with a healthy root zone, but many of them have never actually seen a healthy root zone and have nothing to compare health to. All, as in life, boils down to perspective. Eventually, after enough growing cycles, we find that most growers develop a more expansive perspective and have the experience necessary to be able to tell if their plants are Healthy and Flourishing, or sickly and not doing so well. It takes a keen eye to tell when Plants are beginning to take a dive for the worse. You need to be able to see their issues early on and steer them through their stress and put them back on course. The best thing to do of course, is to build a system which will plan for and avoid these problems from the beginning.

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AERATION IN THE ROOT ZONE
Aerating the root zone is probably the single most important concept for new growers to get a handle on (next to learning how to pH-adjust their solution). The more oxygen provided at the root zone, the faster plants will grow, the healthier they will remain, and the more overall weight they will yield at harvest time. Make sure your medium is porous and aerated. If it is not, then aerate it using coarse media such as Perlite or pumice rocks. Make sure the medium goes from wet to barely moist before it is watered again. (If growing in Hydroton, Hygromite, Silica Stone, etc. then ignore this because it is almost impossible to over water.) Coco is also an exception to this rule. It is very porous to begin with and maintains a good air to water ratio at almost all times. Still, make sure that it dries out some before watered again. (If you want to error on the side of caution, let the coco go from “wet” to “barely moist” before watering again.) By doing this, you are ensuring that there is ample oxygen contained within the medium. It is always a good thing to employ air pumps in your watering source, especially in a reservoir containing nutrient solution. For the best aeration possible make sure that you are creating enough air bubbles so that your reservoir looks like a hot tub - strongly bubbling. The more we break the surface tension of the water by blowing fresh air through it, the better. Also a drip system provides more aeration than almost any other system. (More to come later.)

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ROOTS EXCELURATOR
We cannot speak highly enough of this product. Roots Excelurator promotes unbelievably healthy root growth that stays crazy healthy the whole way through the plants life cycle. We have never seen a product that breaks as many rules that we have come to accept as “laws of conduct” as this one has. (Ex. never let your reservoir solution get above 75 deg. F. With Roots Excelurator we have seen many a root zone that has remained healthy even at 80 deg. F.) We cannot glean too much info about what is actually contained in Roots Excelurator, but whatever it is, it works. And it can work with almost any other product we have tested it with: enzymes, beneficials, no problem; whatever you want, as long as it is not a “sterilizing” product like hydrogen peroxide or Dutch Master Zone, etc.)

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WATER CHILLER
Although expensive, nothing works as well at controlling water temperatures as a water chiller. Frozen plastic liter bottles of ice water can be added to a reservoir to help control temperatures but that rarely if ever works in the long run. It is critically important for a healthy root zone that water temperatures stay between 66-68 deg. F.

This does not mean that they can sometimes be hotter or colder than this temperature range. It is about consistently staying at 66-68 deg. F. At this level, the nutrient solution holds a good amount of oxygen within it, and the nutrient absorption rates are still high enough for most plants. Lower water temperatures contain more oxygen, while interfering with nutrient absorption rates. (Available oxygen and nutrient absorption rates are inversely proportional to each other.) The only way we have found to maintain the nutrient solution consistently within the correct temperature range is via a water chiller.

Also note: Lower water temps (since they allow the water to hold more oxygen) will promote more aerobic (oxygen-loving) microbial life (the “good guys”) and discourage anaerobic (“bad guys” - pathogens) microbial life. Lower temperatures help prevent problems and can help solve existing issues.

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BENEFICIAL MICROBES
There is a complex relationship between plants and the microbes that live in and make up the rhizosphere. The light energy captured from photosynthesis in the leaves is channeled down to the external root surface. Up to 40% of the plant’s energy is exuded as mucigel into the ectorhizosphere as carbohydrates, amino acids, and other energy-rich compounds. As these molecules are released, they serve as food and growth stimulants for billions of bacteria, fungi, algae, actinomycetes, protozoa, and other microbes.

In return for the release of nutritional substances from plant roots, microbes themselves produce chemicals that stimulate plant growth and/or protect the plant from attack. This large array of substances include hormones, enzymes, vitamins, amino acids, indoles and antibiotics. These complex plant cells are transported to other parts of the plant, with minimal change to chemical structure, where they can stimulate plant growth, increase metabolic functions and enhance plant reproduction. As growers we we want to inoculate and promote healthy microbe colonies. Some of the more common varieties to look for are Mycorrhizae, Trichoderma, and Bascillus Subtillus. There are a plethora of products that help us in our endeavors, including Bio-Stimulizer, Piranha, Subculture, Tarantula, Voodoo Juice, and HydroGuard, to name a few. We even brew our own concoctions.

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ENZYME SOLUTIONS (NOT ALL ARE CREATED EQUAL)
Along with major plant hormone research, enzymes have become the recent focus of much attention. Small, yet amazingly powerful, enzymes have a variety of important benefits for the grower. There are many different enzymes that all have different functions. We are most concerned about two types of enzymes: those that accelerate sugar / resin production and work to create flavor and aroma, and those that break down dying and dead plant proteins (dead leaves and roots) into their component parts – amino acids, lipids and smaller molecules --which can be reabsorbed by the plant and the beneficial microbes. This also prevents those proteins from becoming food for pathogens. Some of the enzyme solutions we like are Hygrozyme (for better, faster overall growth), Sensizyme, Cannazyme and MultiEnzyme for enzymatic breakdown of dying root tissue capabilities.

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DRIP SYSTEM SETUP
Drip systems are the most widely used hydroponic systems in the world and our personal favorite. They provide plenty of aeration because plant roots are never totally submerged, yet are never allowed to dry out. Drip systems also pull oxygen down with the water emitted from the drippers. This oxygen rich water trickles over the plant roots and nourishes them. Operation is simple: a pump has tubing connected to it which branches off to feed individual plants. Nutrient solution is dripped at the base of each plant where it trickles through grow media and into the roots, finally draining into the reservoir where it can be reused or sent to waste. A timer is used to space waterings.

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DRAIN TO WASTE
Drain to waste is another method of growing that is easily used, and provides better control as well as faster growing plants with healthier root zones. Instead of recycling the nutrient, it is used once, thereby eliminating a whole host of problems. We have another Info Sheet dedicated to illustrating "Drain To Waste"

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STERILE EQUIPMENT
Sterilizing equipment is extremely important and often handled incorrectly. Many people mistakenly use hydrogen peroxide for sterilization purposes. It happens to be a poor oxidizer, unable to kill many different types of pathogens, and is only truly effective at a pH of 2.0. Bio-Green Clean is an organic enzyme that does a great job. It is especially good at cleaning those hard-to-clean white trays - makes them WHITE again. Bleach, although not the most environmentally friendly product, is our perennial favorite. It can kill anything, and is very cheap, making it hard to resist. Do NOT use it sparingly - make a very concentrated solution. Go all out, let it soak for at least an hour, and let it run through all equipment (including pumps.) Scrub any surface as with a strong bleach solution. Then make sure to do multiple rinses with plain water to rid the trays of any residual bleach still lining the trays. When using strong bleach solutions, wear gloves & work in a ventilated area.

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RO WATER WITH UV STERILIZER
Why would you drink purified water yet not feed it to your prized plants as well? RO water is purified of all contaminants and minerals, effectively cleaning the life-blood of your plants vascular system. Coupling an RO water purification system like the Merlin Garden Pro or the Stealth 200 to a UV Filter System like the one Hydro-Logic makes ensures that your water is fresh and clean and that it is also free of any pathogens coming into your delivery system or reservoir. Most importantly for growers is that when using city water for your plants, not only are you feeding them chlorine and other contaminants, you are also taking up valuable “head-room” that can be used for additives or a higher concentration of base nutrients. Usually, every 300ppms of nutrient that you can further feed your plants (without burning) will allow for 10-15% greater yield. Most city water TDS levels hover between 300-400 ppms. With an RO system, that number goes down to about 25 ppm, leaving much more room to pack in nutrients. Also note: The chlorine in the city water supply is very strong and does NOT evaporate over night. It WILL kill off beneficial microbes.

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APPLYING ADDITIVES (DON'T OVERDO THEM!)
With so many additives available today, and so many additives coming to the marketplace every month, it is extremely tempting to use an ever-growing amount of them. This can be catastrophic to your plants' root system as well as their overall health and vigor. There are so many products out there from different companies touting the fact that they “increase the plants' metabolism” or “help with nutrient uptake”, that is increasingly easy to add 2 of the same products ( from different manufacturers). If both products are applied at full strength or even 1/2 strength, plants can be “stressed,” or worse still “burned” or even killed. Make sure you research and have at least a cursory understanding of what you are giving your babies.

We Suggest: Add additives at 1/4 strength to be safe at first then increase the dosage by 1/4 the next week until you have a good understanding of what this additive is doing.

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RESERVOIR AND WATER MANAGEMENT
If you want your plants to excel, you will want to pay close attention to what is going on in your reservoir. By monitoring nutrients, not only can you feed your plants the appropriate level of nutrients, but you can also maximize the nutrients available for uptake. Monitoring insures against underfeeding or burning.

Order of Operations
It is very important that you follow these steps (in this order) when adding anything to your reservoir solution (nutrients, additives, etc.) Please note: whenever you add anything to a reservoir solution make sure that you adjust the pH last. Even if you just add water to a reservoir solution you still need to adjust the pH. There are certain exceptions to this order and it will be indicated on a given product label or set of instructions.

    1. Start Out with Purified (Reverse Osmosis) Water. We recommend a UV filter be employed on any incoming water into your reservoir. This insures that the starting water is pathogen free.
    2. Add MagiCal up to 150ppms. In the last 3 weeks of the Bloom stage you can add 50ppms of MagiCal.
    3. Add additives, one at a time, stirring well in between This includes anything that is not your main Nutrient.
    4. Test ppms and see where you are at? You should only be at 37% (or just over 1/3) of overall desired ppms. (Ex. If desired ppms for given week are to be at 1500ppms then you will not want to have more than 550ppms with your additives added to your water solution (at this step).
    5. Add base nutrient (Examples of main nutrient: PureBlend Pro, Flora Nova, SensiBloom or Grow, Connoisseur, Any 3-Part Nutrient, etc.) as per directions (example: SensiBloom you add in equal parts A and B - If you add 100mL of A you will have to add 100 mL of B). Continue adding Nutrient until desired TDS is reached. (Ex. As in the previous example from step 3. the ppms after adding the additves were at 550. The desired ppms for that week are1500ppm. We now add 950 ppms of nutrient to the solution. CALL WITH QUESTIONS!
    6. Adjust the pH of the Reservoir Solution.

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Changing the Reservoir
A good rule of thumb is to always top off your reservoir with fresh water without any nutrient added. You will lose some water through evaporation and plant uptake, but the strength of the solution doesn't drop the with the level of the solution. Sometimes, as the reservoir water level drops the nutrient solution can become more concentrated. To avoid overdoing it, add only fresh water and then adjust your pH accordingly. The best way to know when its time to change your nutrient solution is to keep a record of how much water you're adding into the reservoir to top it off. When the amount added equals half of the reservoir capacity, it's time to change the solution and rinse the reservoir and growing medium. If you've got a 20 gal res and over the course of 12 days you've added 10 gal -- it's time to change your solution.

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Cleaning and Sterilizing Equipment
Sterilizing equipment is extremely important and often handled incorrectly. Many people make the mistake of using hydrogen peroxide for sterilization. It happens to be a poor oxidizer, unable to kill many different types of pathogens, and is only truly effective at a pH of 2.0. A better choice is Bio-Green Clean, an excellent organic enzyme cleaner. It is especially good at cleaning those hard-to-clean white trays.

Bleach, although not the most environmentally friendly product, is an old favorite. It can kill anything, and is very cheap, making it hard to resist. Do NOT use it sparingly - make a very concentrated solution. Let it soak for at least an hour, and let it run through all equipment (including pumps.) Scrub surfaces with a strong bleach solution. Then make sure to do multiple rinses with plain water to rid the trays of any residual bleach. When using strong bleach solutions, wear gloves and work in a ventilated area.

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Water Temperature
Although expensive, nothing works as well at controlling water temperatures as a water chiller. It is of critical importance for a healthy root zone that water temps stay between 66-68 deg. F. This does not mean that they can sometimes be hotter or colder than these temperatures. It is about consistently staying at 66-68 deg. F. At this temperature, the nutrient solution holds a good amount of oxygen, and nutrient absorption rates are still high enough for most plants. See Best Overall System for more info.

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Reverse Osmosis “Purified” Water
Why would you drink purified water yet not feed it to your prized plants as well? RO water is purified of all contaminants, minerals, and chlorine; effectively cleaning the life-blood of your plant's vascular system. Coupling an RO water purification system like the Merlin Garden Pro or the Stealth 200 to a UV Filter System ensures that your water is fresh and clean and free of any pathogens. See “Best Overall System Setup” or dowlnoad or infosheet“Why should you consider Reverse Osmosis” for more info on this topic.

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Using Beneficial Biology to prevent Root Rot
There is a complex relationship between plants and the microbes that live in and make up the rhizosphere. As growers we we want to innoculate and promoste healthy microbe colonies. Some of the more common varieties to look for are Mychorizzae, Trichoderma, and Bascillus Subtillus. There are a plethora of products that help us in our endeavors, including Roots Excelurator (the Best Protection Product we have) Vermi-T, Piranha, Subculture, Tarantula, Voodoo Juice, and HydroGuard, to name a few. We even brew our own concoctions. See “Beneficial Biology”, “Best Overall System”, and “Root Zone” info sheets as well.

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Enzyme Solutions
Small, yet amazingly powerful, enzymes have a variety of important benefits for the grower. There are many different enzymes and all have different functions. We are most concerned with two types of enzymes: those that accelerate sugar / resin production to create flavor and aroma, and those that break down dying and dead plant proteins (dead leaves and roots) into their component parts – amino acids, lipids and smaller molecules which can be reabsorbed by the plant and the beneficial microbes. This also prevents those proteins from becoming food for pathogens. Some of the enzyme solutions we like are Hygrozyme (for better, faster overall growth), Sensizyme, Cannazyme and MultiEnzyme for enzymatic breakdown of dying root tissue.

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The other route - Keeping a Reservoir Sterile
Some growers rely on “clean” growing environments, strong disinfectants and products that will sterilize the reservoir. This is harder than it sounds. Folks who have been growing in the same area for years might find that they are having root problems when they never had them before. Or a new grower might have them from the beginning. It can be tough to rid your area of pathogens once they have been introduced.

Zone: Comprised of monochloramine and essential oils know to ward off root disease. This is the strongest sterilizing agent we sell. It is easy to use and works well at preventing root disease. Can be used at 2-3x strength to fight an infection. (Make sure to NOT add any beneficial microbes or enzyme solutions to the mix.)

Hydrogen Peroxide:
Creates ozone in water, killing bacteria and adding oxygen to the system. Elevated levels of oxygen in water have proven to dramatically increase the speed of plant growth. Recommended in HIGH concentrations for cleaning as well. (Make sure to NOT add any beneficial microbes or enzyme solutions to the mix.)

UV - Filter:
Use of a UV filter can greatly help win the battle against pathogens. As long as the nutrient solution is clear when it runs across the filter, (i.e. no organics) all microorganism DNA will be torn apart.

PLEASE NOTE!!
Both Zone and Hydrogen Peroxide offer protection and benefits. But NEITHER works well with beneficial microbes or enzymes added to the reservoir. Hydrogen peroxide doesn’t work well with anything organic.

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Irrigation Pump

This example is of a fully automated reservoir and its components. We did this to cover all the bases, and show you some of the things you might be including with your own reservoir and component management.

Irrigation Pump
An irrigation pump is used to pump water from the main reservoir to the Hydroponic / Soil Delivery / Drip system. Since there are so many brands and sizes of pumps to choose from, it can be quite hard to figure out the proper size pump for your given system. It is best to talk to us about it first. (Also note: All pumps are not created equal. Even though two pumps have the same GPH rating doesn’t mean they will output at the same rate.) Make sure to ask a sales person about the differences.

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Float valve or Float Switch
Float valves are a simple concept that can ensure that a hydroponic system always has enough water. You'll notice the float valve is attached to the right side of the reservoir, with a water line coming in. At first glance a float valve might seem difficult to use and operate, but in truth the concept is easy and accessible. Float valves work in a similar way to a toilet. When the water level of the reservoir drops, the float valve drops with it, thereby opening up the tap for water to flow into the reservoir. When the reservoir fills up again, the float valve rises back up with the water and closes off the tap, thus restricting water from passing through. Float valves can be used to connect one reservoir to another, or they can be connected directly to a water filtration system such as the Merlin Garden Pro or the Stealth 200. In between the float valve and the incoming water line we like to put a ball valve (giving you more control of when the water is flowing into your reservoir.) Talk to us about installing a float valve. It is actually cheap and easy! We also believe in employing a slightly more sophisticated float, called a float switch; involving a watering timer. Inquire within!

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Aeration within the water leads to More Aeration at the Root Zone
Most reservoirs need some form of aeration. Oxygen is very important for healthy roots and aerated water provides bonus oxygen. We suggest using either an air pump, air stone or venturi, or a combination of all three. None of these is depicted in the picture above. The other types of systems will need extra oxygen, depending on the type of growing media used. We suggest the biggest air pumps you can find! Your reservoir should be bubbling like a hot tub!

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Draining a reservoir with the help of a “Drain Pump”
Since draining the reservoir should be a regular event (about once a week) we suggest using a separate drain pump. This pump should ideally suck from the bottom in order to assure complete and thorough drainage. Examples of good drain pumps are the PE-1 for smaller reservoirs, NK-1 or NK-2 for medium sized reservoirs, and a Water Wizard hooked up to 3/4” hose line for larger reservoirs.

Nutrient and pH Control
Although not depicted in the diagram above, a good reservoir setup will always include a continuous pH / TDS / water temp monitor such as the GrowCheck TriMeter from Hanna or the NutraDip Trimeter. This meter will continuously display the pH and ppms of the nutrient solution, allowing for greater control. Water temperature is also very important to monitor. We suggest the use of a water chiller. (see below). For more automated control, check out the IntelliDose or MiniDoser from American Hydroponics. It will monitor and control pH and ppm values at ALL times.

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Keeping your Reservoir Temperatures Cool using of a Water Chiller
A water chiller is one of the most over-looked and most needed component to a healthy reservoir. A water chiller assembly employs a submersible pump to move water through the chiller and back into the reservoir solution. Chillers can be set up to have a differential so that they are not always running. Ideal water temperature is between 66-69 deg. F. The chiller will bring the water down to 66 deg. F. and then turn off until the water is up to 68 deg. F. (We like EcoPlus Chillers or Frost Boxes over any other because they are well made, more durable and longer-lasting. Of the two,  the Frost boxes are a large step above.)

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