Since humans first began cultivating plants, some of our best advances have been related to improvements in that industry. From Eli Whitney’s cotton gin to Cyrus McCormick’s reaper, many of the inventions that have most affected the evolution of our civilization have been agricultural. Today, we are able to accomplish agricultural feats which never would have been possible even a hundred years ago.
Indoor hydroponic systems are easily the best way to grow indoors, and hydroponic grow boxes are widely used for a variety of reasons. My favorite growing systems are hydroponic, and today I’m going to explain how my favorite growing systems work. We’ll also look at one of the major components of indoor growth: light. However, first things first. What is a hydroponic system?
In hydroponics systems, water is recycled and nutrients are manually renewed every two or three weeks. Electricity is usually used to pump nutrient water to the plant roots which can be planted in a number of mediums. The most common systems, and easily my favorite growing systems, are ebb and flow systems. A small container filled with perlite is connected to a bucket of nutrient-rich water by a hose. Other mediums that can be used beside perlite are clay pebbles, pea-size gravel, lava rock, and rockwool. By using hydroponic equipment, you can guarantee yourself fresh vegetables all year, or, if you live in a state where it’s legal, engage in indoor marijuana growing.
Light in Hydroponic Growing Systems
To grow successfully indoors, you’ll need a basic understanding of how plants grow inside. Light, water, and air are all important for successful indoor growth, but here we’ll focus on light.
Light timing is critical, as growing indoors means that you’ll have to mimic the natural outdoor seasons. Seedlings need 18-24 hours of light a day and at least 18 during vegetative growth. During flowering, provide 12 hours of complete light and 12 hours of complete darkness.
Lumens and spectrum must be carefully considered. During seedling, plants require a spectrum mimicking the blue of the summer sun’s light.
Seedling lights are fluorescent with a rating of 6500 on the Kelvin scale. They provide the perfect low intensity light for the beginning stages of growth.
Vegetative lights come in three forms: metal halide, fluorescent, and LED. All three can be great for plants during the vegetative phase and feel like summer sun to the plants.
Flowering lights help plants soak up the full spectrum and run at about 400 degrees. High Pressure Sodium lights are the most popular at this stage, but use a fair amount of electricity.
Light reflection is important for getting full use of your lights. Use reflective insulation to prevent radiant heat from escaping or entering your grow area.
Supplemental lighting like T5 HO Fluorescents and LEDs are best for supplemental lighting and are generally relatively inexpensive. These make sure all parts of the plant are encountering usable light.
Light is only one of the most critical components for my favorite growing systems. Understanding the way light affects the photosynthetic process is necessary for any grower wishing to enjoy maximum results. Buy the right lamps and watch your plants grow faster and healthier.