Coco is a really versatile soil-less medium that can produce heavy yields using techniques that can push the line between hydroponics and traditional soil based gardening. Most high quality coco brands like Organic Mechanics Cocodelphia or Cocogro are ph buffered for growing and ready to use out of the bag. Here are some tricks that I like to use when transplanting and getting the most of your high value crops. This isn't an instruction on the only way to use coco, just wanted to share how I like to amend, and the other products I use with it.
With these heirloom tomatoes, I am going to be setting up a drip system for daily feedings once the root mass has established. So I'm transplanting out of 4' square pots that I have been hand feeding, into 3 gallon fabric pots. I am using pure organic cocodelphia coco this time, mixed with about 20% rice hulls as a perlite substitute. Initially for the vegetative stage, I mixed about 30% for additional aeration to allow for faster root development. The natural tubular structure of the coconut fibers allow for great moisture to air ratio, so many people choose not to add anything to it, its up to individual preference and also allows for fine tuning based on how plants respond to different moisture levels and feeding regimens.
For these tomatoes I'm trying to maximize quality and quantity, so I'm adding some organic beneficial ingredients and NPK value with Organic Mechanic's Fuhgeddaboudit! Root feeder packs. They are easy to use, you just drop the pack in your pot and put the plant on top! It adds a 4-2-2 NPK, mychorrizae, biochar, azomite, oystershell and other ingredients that will send your tomatoes to the moon. Because I'm using a drip system later, I like to water in soluble mineral based nutrients. This keeps my res and drippers clean by avoiding larger sized particles from organic liquid nutrients which can build up in the lines. In my opinion, using a blend of synthetic and organic bio-stimulants gets the largest production with high quality results.
There are a few other liquid products I like to use before or during transplant. My favorites are a B vitamin supplement like Raw B, or B-52 by Advanced to help with stress recovery, microbe and humic acid product called Microbe Life Root Dip, and Fox Farm Big Bloom for a mild organic feeding . I give them a thorough soak and allow the roots to sit in the solution for about 15 minutes before transplanting
You might have noticed the layer of rice hulls on top of the transplants. These are great also for fungus gnat prevention as the adults hate to crawl through them to lay eggs. I like to put a layer on top, and then some clay pebbles to keep everything in place and allow for even watering. This also protects the top feeder roots and allows for additional microbe activity at the top layer of the medium. Rice hulls also break down over time and release phosphorus and silica into the medium benefiting your plants in later blooming and fruiting stages.
After transplanting, I take the leftover solution and water it in to finish. Usually I will transplant just before the lights go off to reduce any additional shock, especially if I am changing to a different lighting system, like T5 to LED or MH to HPS.
That's it for now! Let me know what tricks you have when transplanting or growing in coco in the comments below. I'll make an update or youtube video when we get the drippers running so stay posted. See ya around!
Its been a while since my last update... busy summer with family and gardening projects🙂👍 Here's a small tent grow I have been working on at the store. I'm trying out these new HLG LEDs we just got at the store with an some green tomatoes that are a couple weeks into bloom.
For the past many years I have been into hydroponics, but recently finding a renewed interest for soil and organic gardening. I have been working a lot with compost building my own organic soils outdoors, but for these indoor plants, I'm still using chelated liquid nutrients, trying to keep it simple with General Organics Biothrive, CaMG+, and SupreKelp.
So far the plants have been pretty healthy, but I think having some trouble blooming due to the heatwave that we have had in the area reaching 100 degrees! It can be a challenge keeping temperatures down in the summer in a space like this without adding some additional cooling aside from the clip fans. LEDs are good for gardening year round because they are efficient with energy, use lower wattage, and generally run cooler.
Check out how thin these quantum boards are, from a side view, all you can see is the driver and power cord! The LEDs cool passively mounted to an aluminum plate that also acts as a heat sink. The whole fixture is warm to the touch, but when compared to the 250w HPS, they might as well be mounted to an ice cube! ❄️❄️❄️
These fixtures are made in 4000k veg or 3000k bloom spectrum, but are considered to be a full spectrum light mimicking daylight which can be used for either. This fixture specifically draws 100w but is comparable in output to the 250w HPS, covering a 2x2 area. The technology is becoming more popular these days considering long term costs, as well as the quality of light and production. Check out their other models, the 300w V2 (600w replacement) and 550w V2. We have all 3 models in stock today👍
Hope you enjoyed the update, let me know any questions or comments below! Hope you have a great day, happy gardening!
Our main goal of brewing a compost tea is to create a nutrient rich solution with an increased concentration of living beneficial bacteria called microbes. Depending on your exact use, teas can also be brewed to be a source of beneficial fungus. For most use cases, house plants and any blooming or flowering varieties I like to make a mix that is heavy in bacteria but also contains a fair amount of mycorrhizal fungus which forms a symbiotic relationship with the plant to help with nutrient uptake, overall growth and root development.
Here's the items you will need to get started:
To start, it is always best to use distilled or R/O filtered water. The reason for this is that tap water almost always contains chlorine or chloramines which are used as a disinfectant normally, but can greatly reduce the population of microbes that we are trying to create in our tea. If you know for a fact that your tap water does not contain chloramines, you can still use it by letting it sit for 24 hours with an air stone which will help the chlorine evaporate.
Next, stir in the kelp, molasses and humic acid. The kelp provides additional nutrients, amino acids and also is a food for the microbes to multiply. Soil Blast contains a fair amount of kelp, and additional specific bacteria to improve the quality of the tea. Molasses and humic acid are also great sources of food for the bacteria.
Third, fill the bag with the compost and soil mix. Place the air stone in the bottom of the bucket and aerate for at least 24 hours. The bacteria will reach their peak population around this time after consuming the available food provided. The aeration gives oxygen to the solution as well as agitates the compost to release the bacteria. You should see bubbles in the solution shortly after which means that it is being properly agitated.
When straining the tea, squeeze the bag to use all of the available solution and push the microorganisms through the mesh screen. Reuse the left over castings by top dressing your garden or back into a compost bin. Remember to clean your equipment well for future use!
If you have access to a ph meter and adjusters, adjust the ph to a proper level at this time. Use the tea within 48 hours. After this time the bacteria begins to decrease. You can apply the tea directly into the soil or medium, add into your other nutrient solutions, or use as a foliar spray.
There are a lot of other additives and recipes out there to use, which ones have worked for you? Let me know in the comments! Good luck, happy growing!
Hi everyone, just wanted to share with you some of my understanding on vapor pressure defcit, or VPD. You might know from some of my previous posts that I am building and working in a new indoor grow space, and with that comes a fair amount of learning while trying to adjust and control an unfamiliar environment.
The major issue that I have been having with lately is controlling the humidity in the space. As you can see from some of the pictures, my peppers have been growing steadily, but appear to be stressed, and have been for about a week now.
These Chinese 5 color peppers are the most hearty of the bunch, and resilient to temperature, humidity and various levels of fertilizer. You can still see stress in some of the leaves though, in the space between the veins there is a slight "bunching" or crimping.
These Peruvian Aji Charapita peppers however have been struggling since transplanting them in the new space. They are still drinking water and using nutrients, but you can definitely notice more the effects of having a slightly arid environment. They are obviously more sensitive to environment and nutrients that I feed them.
Relative humidity has averaged around 47% in the space, with lows of 33% and highs of 65%. In order to correct the problem, I am doing a few things:
1. Adding a DIY humidifier to help evaporate moisture into the air. I also have several propagation trays filled with water in the room to evaporate passively.
2. Trying to keep the temperature in the low 70s where plants slow their metabolism of nutrients. You can see by the 😐 face on my thermometer, that conditions are not ideal.
3. Cutting back on the amount of nutrients that I give to the plants, which is tough however for me because they are receiving their nutrients right now from the soil that I used to transplant, which is heavily amended. The root of the problem essentially is that the plants are over feeding because they are transpiring too much water from their leaves to make up for the imbalance or "vapor pressure" difference between the humidity within the plant and the outside environment. Here is a diagram showing how plants uptake nutrients and release water back into the environment through tiny pores in their leaves called stomata. The pull from excess transpiration causes nutrients to be absorbed more rapidly, which causes stress on the plant.
Below is a general guideline for blooming or flowering plants like tomatoes and peppers. Our average temperature in the space has been around 73 F, and with a RH of 47%, our VPD calculates between 14 and 15, which is just outside of the optimal range. This is why our plants are still growing, however the stress is causing pretty slow growth, and curling of the leaves caused by too many nutrients.
It's never fun to have stressed out plants, but its part of learning to find the root problem and working out solutions. That's how we grow in our understanding and improve with our gardens=) What solutions have you come up with in your garden to improve humidity in a dry climate?
Thanks for your comments!
Here's some tips to improve germination from seed:
1. Temperature and humidity are important. Improve success rate by using a heat mat or putting in a very warm place until the seeds have sprouted. Most plants have optimal germination temps between 75-90 degrees. Use a thermostat to dial back the heat or put a piece of cardboard between the tray and mat once they have sprouted.
2. Keep relative humidity at 95%. Using a humidity dome and putting about a 1/4" of water in the bottom of the propagation tray will help.
3. Once sprouted, seedlings have enough nutrition biologically to get them to their second set of leaves. They don't need a lot of light for the first 2 weeks. One 18 watt T5 fluorescent fixture is plenty to use until transplanting.
4. For really strong roots, moisten the plugs using a mild kelp solution, or for high value plants add a product like House and Garden Root Excelleurator. Mycorrhizae is also a commonly used beneficial fungus to use after roots have developed.
5. Slowly introduce them to the outside environment by cracking the vents on the dome little by little over a few days. Give them a day or two after taking off the dome before transplanting to a larger container.
*Bonus* For hard-sided seeds use an emory board in a medicine bottle to score the outsides, then soak them for 8-24 hours in a wet paper towel before gently transferring to the plugs.
Hope you enjoyed the post=). What kind of tips or tricks do you use for a high germination rate?
Here are some Thai eggplants about 3 weeks from seed that we are growing in our tent at the store. The front two are in recirculating waterfarm buckets, the back were started in 3x3 rockwool blocks, now on top of 6x6 hugos. They are growing under a 145 watt full spectrum LED. I grew these out last year in soil and they produced pretty well for a few months, kicking out really mild, tender green eggplants=)
When growing eggplants hydroponically, they do well with ph around 6.0, and nutrient PPM between 1750-2450. So once they get going they can be fed pretty aggressively. They need a fair amount of nitrogen in these early stages so adding a nitrogen supplement will make a difference. I'm currently feeding them House and Garden's Aqua Flakes A&B, as well as their nitrogen boost product.
1. Water your plants properly. Fungus gnats love to find overly moist soil to lay eggs. Allow your soil to dry 1-2 inches from the top between watering. In young plants this can also help with root development where the roots grow further to reach new water.
2. Use a well aerated soil with perlite or vermiculite. Soils with too much peat or compost can retain moisture longer than needed inviting gnats find a home.
3. Keep air moving across the top of the soil with a fan. This will help dry the top of the soil to discourage adults from laying eggs.
3. Use hydrogen peroxide with your feeding schedule for preventative or as a drench to kill larvae. For bad infestations use a product like Root Cleaner and follow up after the initial application until they are gone. Sticky Traps hung above the pots or soil will help with adults.
Any other tips to share? There are a lot of other options that I didn't mention for organic and hydroponic gardens also. Let us know!
1. Choose healthy cuttings from strong developed branches.
2. Make cuts with a fresh razor or scalpel if available, and use alcohol to clean between cuts.
3. Cut at 45 degree angle to expose additional surface area from where the roots grow.
4. Use a fresh hormone gel to dip the clones in like Clonex or Olivias, as well as cloning solution during waterings. Separate gel into a shot glass rather than potentially contaminating the bottle.
5. Use a dome to maintain humidity between 75-95% for the first two weeks. Temps should be 70-75 degrees.
Please comment or share any tips you may have from personal experience:)
Good Luck, happy cloning!
Paul Davis is the owner of Green Dragon Hydroponics, and an avid gardener with over 12 years experience focused in DIY indoor gardening, both soil and hydroponic applications.