CO2: Human Trash, Plant Treasure

CO2, the stuff that all air breathing animals get rid of and all plants thrive on,occurs naturally at at approximately 300-400ppm (parts per million) and while plants can exist just fine with the CO2 in the air, elevating CO2 levels will greatly improve your plants life.  To better understand how important CO2 is Look at the photosynthesis equation below. It demonstrates how CO2 along with a few other components (light and water) are used to make necessary sugars, Kind of like how food is used in humans.

Since CO2 is obviously a photosynthesis equation super star problems will arise when there isn’t enough.  When levels drop below 300ppm plants are not getting the amount they need and will go into survival mode, stopping growth and photosynthesis almost completely. Not having enough CO2 in the air is common when fresh air is not being introduced regularly to the plants living area, such as a tent, closet or sealed off room and depending on how active plants are CO2 can be used up in a matter of hours.

Ok, so now that we’ve gone over how important CO2 is to plants, let’s talk about how elevated levels will improve their livesTomato.

Prepare for plant excellence when CO2 concentrations between 1000-1500ppm are achieved. When living in a CO2 enriched environment growth rates are increased by up to 30%, leaf growths are increased, measurably thicker and are slower to wilt. Stem and branch growth is also increased, and with more branching come more flower sites, an extra added benefit. Positive CO2 effects can be even seen at the cellular level. Cells that have been enriched with CO2 are more densely packed together and have a strengthened structure, which allows the plant to bare more weight.  Finally CO2 causes the stomata of the plant to stay partially closed, this helps slow the loss of water vapor from the plant. Please keep in mind though as the saying goes “too much of a good thing can cause harm” so don’t go overboard.

By now I’m sure you’re saying to yourself “Self, I need to add CO2” and you may be wondering how to go about it, well you’re in luck because that’s what we’re going over next!

CO2 tankThere are many ways to go about adding CO2, one of the most common ways is with a tank and regulator (such as the Reg-1 or the Active Air CO2 system). Generally tank is filled every so often (you take it to be filled) with CO2 and connected to a regulator that is set to disperse a set amount. This method is pretty risk-free meaning there is no fire hazard and no chance toxic gas leaks. The Price point can be a little spendy with costs consisting of the tank itself, the regulator and needing to re-fill the tank every so often(approximately every 2 months).

genoratorThere are also CO2 generators. These work by having a pilot light burning natural gas or propane at a steady flow set by an internal flow meter. When running a CO2 generator it is important to remember that with flame and gases there is the potential for fire, and if gas is not completely burned toxic gases can be released into the air in addition to raising the ambient room temperature.  The price point for this option is slightly higher than other options, with the unit cost and prices for gas. Then there is natural CO2 production. Some people prefer to produces their own by concocting their own mixtures by fermenting, or composting.

EZ CO2

There is however a much easier way of utilizing natural CO2 production, EZCO2 is a simple “set it and forget it” hassle free way of providing plants with CO2 for 6-8 months. This method is the biggest bang for your buck the easiest to use, there also is no danger of fire or toxic gases and it doesn’t smell. As the EZCO2 bag continually produces CO2 there is no reason to turn on and off exhaust fans unlike the above mentioned options.

CalCarbThere is a new product on the market that is able to “give” plants CO2. CalCarb, a foliar is sprayed on the underside of leaves to give your plants calcium carbonate.

When sprayed on the underside of the leaves Calcarb enters the stomata and then, after some pretty cool chemistry, produces CO2 as a by product inside the plant.

 

 

With sheer excellence there is always some sort of down side, even if it may be small, so let’s go over that real quick. With your plants excelling they are going to need a little more attention than before. This is because plants are going to be growing faster and using more water. As The law of limitations ( or Liebig’s law of minimums for the science geeks) states “that growth is controlled not by the total amount of resources available, but by the scarcest resource (limiting factor).” Meaning in order for CO2 to work its magic there also needs to be enough food, water and light for the plant. Lastly if fluorescent lighting is the primary light source, save your the money, CO2 enrichment isn’t going to work because the fluorescents are producing enough light to allow plants to process the extra CO2.

Root Rot

Root RotIn hydroponics root rot is often attributed to poor aeration. When your system is not being properly aerated there is plenty of opportunity for bad bacteria and fungi to grow and take the oxygen out of the water and away from the root system.

Since root rot can become a problem quickly it is a good idea to check your roots ( to make sure they are nice and white) and hydroponic system (reservoir, pumps, air stones, and tubing) regularly for things such as foam, slime build up, murky water, discolored or stinky roots.

In dirt root rot will occur when the plant has been continually over watered, as we talked about in a previous entry, when roots are cut off from their oxygen source the root suffocates and dies. Since examining your roots in dirt is nearly impossible you are going to have to pay close attention to your plant’s leaves. If your leaves are looking discolored, have large brown spots on them or are curling and you have already ruled out nutrient deficiency and watering problems then there is a strong possibility that you are having root problems.

 

How to win the root rot war!
If you find that you are dealing with root rot in your system the first thing you need to do is drain the system and thoroughly clean the reservoir and pumps with an H2O2 solution of 5ml per gallon. I would also recommend replacing all tubing and air stones as it can be very difficult to completely clean these small parts. Next Refill the system with just water and H2O2 and run your system with your plants, to give both the plants and the system a good final rinse. When refilling your reservoir with nutrients you need to decide how you want to go about ending the war; meaning do you want to go nuclear or biological.

Should you choose to go “nuclear”: when mixing up your fresh batch of nutrients you are going to add one of the following products as directed on the bottle:

H2O2

Physan 20

Down Under HF

*Please note that if you are choosing this route you will not be able to introduce beneficial’s, as these products with kill them.

 

The Biological Route: If launching an all-out nuclear attack seems a little crazy to you, or you just like the benefits from the good bacteria and fungi then this is choice for you. When mixing up your fresh batch of nutrients you are going to add 1 or more of the following products ( our knowledgeable staff will help you decide which of these products you should use based on your system)

  • Piranha
  • Tarantula
  • Microbe Brew
  • Great white

It is also a good idea to give your plant Hygrozyme or Senizym to help keep the root zone free of any dead root material. Some other things to consider adding to help your plants recover faster are B Vitamins (B-52, Organic B-1, Super thrive, Thrive Alive) a silica ( Rhino Skin, Pro-Tekt, Silica Blast) and something to help boost its immune system

Ebb Monster

Today we are going to talk about the Ebb Monster ebb and Flow system

ebb monster

The Ebb monster comes complete with everything you need to start your hydroponic ebb and flow system, with the exception of your media and plants, of course.

Included in the system:

  • A Black 55 gallon Agricultural grade reservoir with a lid
  • 6 sets of 5 gallon pots (each set has an inner and outer pot)
  • 2- 530 GPH water pumps
  • ¾” Tubing for water flow
  • ¾” Fittings to secure all tubing to pots and reservoir
  • Control Module to make everything work!

What we would recommend adding to your system to make it wicked awesome:

  • 6 flat round air stones( 1 for each pot)
  • 1- 4 outlet air pump
  • 1- 2 outlet air pump
  • ¼” Air tubing
  • 1/10th horse power Water chiller
  • 1- 340 GPH water pump
  • Wall mount continuous monitoring system ( Tri meter, Gro-check Combo, BlueLab Guardian)

Other things you are going to need:

  • Media; this could be anything from hydroton and Grow stones to Rockwool, Really anything except for dirt and cocoa
  • Nutrients

 

Now that we’ve talked about the semi boring stuff let’s get into the perks of the Ebb Monster

The Ebb Monster is a great way to do hydroponics because it’s self-contained, easy to monitor, and produces large fruits, flowers and vegetables.

With the control module flooding and draining your 6 to 12 pots 3 to 4 times a day ( depending on your selected settings) from the 55 gallon reservoir, there isn’t a huge time demand on your day which can be really great if you have a busy life, as most of us do. A Quick check of your pH, PPM, and temperature on your wall mounted monitor twice a day and making sure your water level is where it should be (a good general rule to follow is that once the reservoir is down 50% you can top it off with fresh water 1 time) is really all that needs to be done on most days. It is recommended that the reservoir be emptied, cleaned/wiped out and refilled with fresh water and nutrients once a week.  This will also help reduce the risk of colonization of fungi, bad bacteria, and root rot.

When it comes time to start anew with your Ebb Monster, cleanup is fairly simple!

The easiest way to do it would be to run a cleaning solution through your entire system such as H2O2, ONA Bleech, or Physan 20. Running the solution through the entire system will help clean the tubing and buckets, while killing any bacteria or fungi that may have started to grow. Using a sump pump attached to a hose is the easiest way to drain the reservoir.

 

The down side:

As with most things the Ebb Monster is not perfect. With lots of mechanics coming into play there is room for error as you are relying on pumps and a control Unit. if any of these components fail plants could be either be sitting in water or not getting fed.

While Having a wall mounted monitoring system is a great tool and makes monitoring very easy it is a good idea to check your pH the old fashion way at least once a week to make sure your unit is running properly.

In addition you will also need to watch the reservoir temperature, which should ideally be between 68-72 degrees. This is where the water chiller comes in to play, not only does the chiller keep your water at the desired temperature it also helps keep the water oxygenated. Ebb Monsters are also best suited for areas that do not have height constraints, since the plants are growing in 5 gallons pots they have plenty of opportunity to grow to their full potential. If you have a height constraint you might consider the Ebb and Grow which is a smaller pot based system.