Many of us focused a little more on gardening outside this year because the pandemic forced separation. It is both refreshing and therapeutic to care for plants, solve problems to better their health, and watch them grow. And the satisfaction that comes with creating your own medicine and food helps instill a kind of much needed mindfulness.
So harvest time comes with a little sadness that gardening season is over.
However gardening doesn't have to end with the season. Growing indoors is very possible, and using tents can help you build a compact area that can:
- control the photoperiod (hours of light) and fruit/flower when you determine
- keep a bright light from annoying your living space
- help reduce noise from pumps, fans and other equipment you may be using.
- help keep a clean tidy area and reduce likelihood of bug and mold problems
Here is how to plan for an indoor grow using a grow tent:
1. Find an area in your living space you can allocate for growing. Most small indoor gardens will use a space for these tent sizes:
If you have more space, there are many larger sizes available on the market. Then purchase your tent.
Brand names are preferred, sometimes knock-offs will have zipper issues or become torn easily.
2. Get equipment:
- a light suitable for your grow tent.
- a timer for your light
- an exhaust fan
- a thermometer/hygrometer
- also nice to have is a small circulating fan (both air circulation and ventilation/exhaust are beneficial)
3. Decide on your grow method.
You can make it very easy just using pots with a soil or soilless mix or get science with a hydroponic system.
Look for savings that you might find by purchasing a tent kit which offers one price for the basic
required tent and equipment.
Better to Burn Bud than to Bud Rot
Bud rot, also known as gray mold or botrytis is a mold that thrives in cool, moist conditions. The spores are mostly transmitted by wind and like to attack weak areas of plants like a break or a bend in a stem.
The really terrible thing about bud rot is that it always seems to attack your biggest and best flower growing. This discussion will focus on prevention, identification and remedies.
Indoor gardens can benefit from managing temperature (over 70F) and humidity (<50rH). Outdoors we cant adjust those factors but we can manage by:
Growing in well lit areas, pruning to allow more air and light and watering early in the day to allow moisture to dry up through the daylight hours. If possible, give plants more spacing.
Rain can become trapped in your flowers so either covering your flowers during rain, or shaking your plants after a rain can be beneficial. Leaf blowers can also be used.
Keeping the growing area free of plant debris and disinfecting tools should be part of your everyday procedure especially this time of year.
Fungicides should be avoided in flower. However some stressor reducers like Harvest Miracle can help your plant resist attack and can be used up to 7 days before harvest. Potassium silicate in your nutrient solution is also thought to help plants by thickening the cells walls and making it difficult for mold to take hold
If you search online you will find bud rot can manifest in a number of different ways all over the plant. However, what you will most likely find is bud rot that is inside your flower. So the cola can appear to be drying up, the edges of leaves may brown.
The biggest tell tale is a leaf coming out from your flower that is entirely brown and might be soft and wilted. Where that leaf is bend the flower to open it up and take a look. Mold growing inside the bud will be easy to identify as an ugly gray moldly mass.
There really is no remedy other than to remove and destroy any parts of a flower that are growing mold.
Once you identify mold in the flower cut off the affected bud and discard (do not compost). It may be beneficial to use a q-tip to clean the remaining flower at the cut site with isopropyl. Use gloves and disinfect your tools.
If you are finding the mold is spreading quickly through your garden it is best to harvest early and dry quickly.
When you dry, separate the buds and put into a dry rack (vs hanging branches) to get as much air as possible. Ideally dry at 80F and 45 rH.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of flowers.
Every year outdoor plants look great through the spring and summer. But when summer fades, days shorten and nights cool, plants become more susceptible to powdery mildew (PM). At the least PM is unsightly, but on consumable plants it can be unhealthy. Prevention is key to fighting this disease.
Preventative Measures You can Use in Your Garden
- Avoid excessive nitrogen in your fertilizer. Nitrogen near the end of summer will encourage new leaf growth and young leaves are more susceptible (even though you might find on old leaves first)
- Avoid Shade. Powdery mildew does not like al ot of light. Shaded plants or plants that are overcrowded are more likely attacked. Start pruning to allow more light onto all of your plant.
- Increase Air Flow. Powdery Mildew is also sensitive to air flow so another good reason to prune.
- Be More Attentive to Watering. Water early in the day. Avoid over watering (but be careful, drought stressed plants are susceptible). Mulch around the base of your plant can help reduce splashing which may help PM spores travel to you plant. There is some controversy about whether it is beneficial to sprinkle water on your plants but we think it is best to avoid the practice.
- Keep Your Gardening Tools Clean. When pruning (or other activity), sterilize your tools in a little 5% bleach solution regularly when moving from plant to plant.
What to do When You See PM
PM spores travel by wind and spread easily when conditions are favourable. PM likes moderate temperature, slightly humid weather and does not need water to germinate.
- As soon as you see PM begin treatment.
- Carefully remove infected leaves and throw out – do not compost
- Badly infected plants should be removed in entirety.
- The most available treatment is usually a sulphur based spray. Sulphur can prevent spores from germinating. It also kills fungi on contact. Follow label directions and test to ensure your plant does not have a phytotoxic reaction.
- Copper based sprays can be very helpful if used as a preventative about 2 weeks prior to when powdery mildew usually comes or as soon as it appears.
- In addition, you may find homemade remedies on the internet that can help control PM by changing the pH on the plant leaves. Your mileage may vary with these concoction.
Prepare your plants now. The tools you should have on hand include pruners/trimmers, and a suitable fungicide spray, and some bleach.
August is when we start to see many plants mature and begin flowering. This is a short guided tour of bloom boosters and finishers which may enhance the output from your garden. We are focused on the goals of yield, essential oil production and appearance. Nutritional goals are already in place.
We are going to talk about:
- p/k boosters
- amino acid boosters
- pgr’s (plant growth regulators)
PK boosters are fertilizer salt boosters. So they are feeding your plant directly. Just like if you were to start eating a whole lot of bacon. They work well and can enhance color and yield of flowers but some plants may not react well, preferring a more balanced diet. Try but observe your plants response. TripTonic provides a mild pk enhancement that can be used regularly during flower for most varieties.
Amino acids are a healthy way to influence the mechanisms of biochemistry. They are also readily available in health store for human consumption. Many companies have developed amino boosters that are effective for yield and appearance. Triptonic Bigger Bud is a craft amino which will stimulate plant metabolism, reduce stress and improve overall health.
Sugars are an excellent source of food for the biologics in the rhizoshpere which can improve health, create nutrients. Many people find improved flavor when using sugars. But more is not better. Molasses should be used periodically. Branded sugar blends like TripTonic Terpz and terpene enhancers like TripTonic Terpz should be used according to label directions. Ensure that you omit sugars from your feed a week or two prior to harvest. The right amount of sugar is sweet – too much is sheet.
PGR’s are non fertilizer growth stimulants. They can be natural, organic or synthetic. They are usually things like hormones and vitamins. Many stimulants occur naturally in kelp (although these are not particularly good flowering stimulants). Amino acids in TripTonic Bigger Bud can be considered a PGR. In as much as Terpz stimulates essential oils production with sugars, it can also be considered a PGR.
But PGR’s have a dark side. They can include very powerful chemical agents that have specific uses in horticulture but may not be appropriate for crops that humans consume. Follow directions and ask for assistance from your grow store if you have questions.
Flushing helps the plant finish consumption of food provided to the root zone so it can metabolize and properly ripen. It really is nothing to stress about, particularly outside. Just give your plants water without nutrients for a week or more before harvest. There are flushing products that help dissolve salts that have built up over time and help reduce flushing time.
Congratulations – you are now ready for your harvest and cure!
Give Me a Bottle of Something – I’m Deficient!
(Is your Grow Store your fix? Maybe!)
One of the really cool parts of growing is you become attentive. You observe. When your plant looks wrong – you know it! So then you research and look for pictures similar and find the closest looking to your plant’s symptoms is a #### deficiency. Then you head to the grow store for some ##### supplement. At least that was my personal start to solving these kinds of problems. But then I realized food is only one aspect to plant health.
A deficiency could be the expression of other problems affecting your plant. There are many factors to consider before searching for chemicals or organics to supplement. If you are using a prepared hydroponic or organic blend suitable for the plant your growing, you really shouldn't see a deficiency.
The big common exception is calcium/magnesium deficiency. This nutrient when in short supply can cause a number of problems including blossom end rot in tomatoes. Some plants grow very fast and need constant supply of calcium otherwise the calcium with settle in soil, leaves or stems. Calcium supply is also affected by inconsistent watering. Some soils may have low levels of calcium and if you are using reverse osmosis water, then you also have reduced calcium. So calcium/magnesium supplementation can be helpful in many situations. But for other deficiency suspicions, you might suffer by turning to a supplement as the first attempt to resolve the problem. For example, you see yellow leaves and determine that your plant must need more nitrogen. That may be correct. But it might also be that you were over watering and adding the extra nitrogen didn't help and now the over-fertilization is attracting bugs.
Below is a check list of possible problems you can build on when diagnosing plant problems. View/Save Chart
Your grow store could be your “fix” for calcium/magnesium deficiencies. But other deficiencies could point to other factors in your current environment that could be impacting health. Maybe you need a fan for example!
You have decided you want to give your plant proper food. But when you go to your grow store, there is a huge amount of choice. Here are some tips to get the best fertilizer for your plant and your growing style.
You want to look for a "base nutrients" formula. Starting around the late 1700’s, scientists started work to observe the requirements for plant life. In the 1930’s William Gericke demonstrated a tomato could grow without soil when given the chemicals plants require for life. These are the essential elements for plant life and they are present in hydroponics fertilizers found at your grow store. Other fertilizers do not focus on providing essentials, rather they focus on correcting deficiencies or working in concert with a grow media that has some of the elements in it already.
Base nutrients come in three general categories: one part, two part and three part. Two and three part nutrients are the traditional formulas and have always been superior to standard fertilizers for ensuring complete nutrition for plants. Standard fertilizers are not able to contain all elements together because some will “bind” and will not be able to be taken in by plants.
Three part formulas generally come as separate liquids: Grow, Bloom and Micro. Check the manufacturers instructions, but most often the routine is that micro is used in a fairly consistent quantity throughout the grow cycle. The grow and bloom are both used during the entire cycle, but grow is heavy during veg and light in bloom, and the bloom formula is light during veg and heavy in flower. Examples of three part formulas are: Remos Nutrients, and General Hydroponics.
Some growers like the added control and the ability to add the micro-nutrients into solution after pH has been adjusted (to not damage the micros).
Two part formulas are a little more convenient and usually come in two bottles, one set for grow a+b, and one set for bloom a+b. These, like the three part formulas are added into water to dilute and prevent the chemicals from mixing in concentration. The usual routine is to mix some amount of A (bloom or grow) in water and stir. Then mix an equal of B (bloom or grow) and stir. Examples of two part formulas include: TripTonic A+B, House and Garden Soil A+B, and Canna Coco A+B.
One part formulas break the rule of keeping some chemicals separated. Combining technology and organics, one part formulas are the simplest to use and still produce amazing results in the grow. The drawback is that these formulas are not usually good for hydroponics. Use these in soil, and soilless (including coco) grows. Examples of one part formulas include Neptunes Harvest Tomato, Rose & Flower; Grotek Solotek Grow and Solotek Bloom and General Hydroponics Flora Nova Grow and Flora Nova Bloom.
In summary, all hydroponics base nutrients work well to provide the essential elements for plant life. The choice depends on what works for you