Cuttings VS Seeds

We’ve all gathered today to watch seeds and cuttings duke it out in a 5 round bout, read on to discover the good bad and ugly about your favorite contender and by the end you might find yourself jumping ship and joining the other band wagon.

Round 1: We have the Seeds fighting out of the green corner

When starting a garden for the first time 9 out of 10 people are going to turn to seeds. Seeds are by far the easiest way to have a variety, after all you just pick out whatever varieties you want to grow and plant them.  Buying seeds essentially means you are buying multiple plants of the same variety for a lower cost than buying already established plants, which means you will be getting more bang for your buck

Round 2: We have the Cuttings fighting out of the yellow corner

Cuttings, or live plants are already established growing plants. Cuttings take the guess work out of what you are getting, after all you know that your cherry tomato cutting is going to grow another cherry tomato plant. As long as the cuttings are all relatively the same size they will all grow at the same rate and be almost the same height. And the main advantage to starting off with cuttings or live plants is that it saves you time, you are able to go from cutting to finish up to 2 months faster.

Round 3: Seeds are down for the count

While seeds do offer a great way to get variety they also offer lots of uncertainty. When seeds are ordered off the internet or bought in the store you can never be 100% sure that you are actually getting the plants you are expecting to. Seeds are also extremely un-uniform; you can start 5 seeds all at the same time and you may only end up with 2 plants or 2monstrous plants and 3 barley hanging on. Growing with seeds also takes longer because the seeds need to germinate and then start growing.

Round 4: Cuttings take a good right hook

Growing with cuttings or live plants does have its draw backs; after all you are limited to what is locally available giving less of a variety to choose from. Cuttings, even from the same exact strain can mutate from generation to generation giving you a different plant than what you started with. Cuttings also take a bit more effort than seeds, Cuttings require more TLC and if you don’t take care of them in the beginning then they might not live to see the end.

Round 5: Who wins?

Now that you’ve got the down and dirty on the seeds and cuttings you choose who the winner is and who’s going home a loser.

soil ph meter

pH: The ins and outs and ups and Downs. : For your Soil garden

everyone has heard about pH at some point in their lives even if it was in high school chemistry, and while you may have been thinking to yourself back then that you would never, ever need to know or care about pH here you are! Knowing and maintaining the pH of soil garden is just as important as in hydroponic gardens.

ph Scale

So first let’s go over what pH is and how the scale works.  The pH scale ranges from 1-14 with 7 being neutral, anything lower than 7 is considered to be acidic soil ph meterand or sour, anything above 7 is basic (or alkaline)  and more sweet. The Scale is a base 10 logarithmic scale, meaning a pH of 6.5 is 10 times more alkaline than a pH of 5.5 and 100 times more than 4.5. For soil gardening a pH between 6 and 7 is best.  The easiest way to test the pH of soil is to use a soil pH meter, and as an added bonus these meters are often a combo meter, so it can also tell you things like moisture levels  and light depth.

 

Why it’s important to know and maintain soil pH

pH-nutrient-chart2Some of you might not have thought to test the pH of the soil because you’re assuming it will reflect that of the pH of the nutrient solution you are pouring in, and in fact this is usually not the case. Soil pH is going to be between 6.5 and 7 in healthy gardens even though you are watering with a 5.7-6.2 nutrient solution. The pH of your soil is going to be higher than the nutrient solution because actively growing plants absorb hydrogen molecules which with cause the pH in the root zone to naturally rise.  When the pH of your soil strays from the norm different crucial elements start to become unavailable to the plant and deficiencies start to show, much like in hydroponics. If pH suddenly starts to become erratic in your soil there could be something going on with your plant such as root rot or other bacterial problems.

 

So…. What do you do if your soil pH is higher or lower than it should be?

If your plants are not showing any sign of distress or damage and the pH is a little high ( or low) try mixing your solution a little lower ( or higher) than usual but be sure to stay in the safe range.

If your plant appears to be deficient and the pH is off give the plant a thorough flushing with pH balanced water( running 3 times the amount of water through the container size  I.E if you have a 3 gallon bucket run 9 gallons through it) and start feeding again as usual.

3 cloners

Cleaning your Cloner!

Sad HeartHas your cloning machine stopped working? Have you become unsatisfied with its performance? Was it love in the beginning and now constant struggle to get what you need?

Well today is the day to re-spark your relationship! With these 4 simple steps you and your cloner will be back in action, just like the first time

you used it.

  3 cloners

First you are going to disassemble the entire machine, taking out the manifold, collars, pump and unscrew the misters from the manifold.

  1. The actual container and lid should be cleaned with an H2O2 solution of 5ml to gallon of water, or a bleach solution of 1 table spoon (Tbsp) per gallon. When washing out the container, don’t use a course scrubbing tool as it can scratch the plastic and make indents for bacteria to grow in.
  2. Spray misterSoak the misters in a H2O2 or Bleach solution for at least 20 minutes and then scrub them individually with a hard tooth brush.  Give them a final rinse with plane water. If your misters are too gunky then they should be replaced.
  3. ManifoldThe manifold: after you have removed the misters from the manifold and let it soak for at least 20 minutes in a cleaning solution completely submerged. Plug the manifold back into the pump and let the cleaning solution run through for a good 5 minutes. Give a final rinse with fresh clean water.
  4. Neoprene collars: while replacing the collars after each use is optimal they can be reused. To clean them submerge the collars completely and soak for 20 minutes in a mild cleaning solutions (½ -¾ strength of the listed above solution). Next, rinse the collars with running water until they no longer smell like bleach, after give them a good scrub and ring them out like a sponge.

Be sure to thoroughly clean your cloning machine after every use to prevent   the growth of harmful pathogens that can prevent success.

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.