Growing plants indoors allows a grower to really get hands on with their plants, by providing appropriate lighting, the right humidity, amount of air flow and extraction, correct lighting cycles, well fed plants and finally a good choice of genetics, growing indoors has never been so simple and effective. Whether you are growing fruit, vegetables or herbs, below is everything you need to know for successfully growing in the comfort of your own home.
What Type Of Lights Do I Need?
Lighting is essential when it comes to productive, fast and active plants. In accordance with an equal amount of available nutrients and a relevant amount of Carbon Dioxide, providing a light spectrum which will work in relation to the plant’s specific requirements is key. There are multiple style of growing lights available and with a recent boom in L.E.D, the market place for lighting has never been so advanced.
Also known as C.F.L for short, these cheap and heatless bulbs are available as round lights or more effective as strip lights. Used as a good source of blue light 6400k, for growing seedlings or rooting clones, these lights can be excellent at providing the spectrum the plant desires as well as ensuring short internodal spacing and a healthy soft lush growth. Fluorescent lighting can also come in the spectrum needed for the flowering stage, which is more dominant in red light spectrum at 2700k. The advantages of using these lights is that they are cheap and effective, however when it comes to substantial growth and final crop weight, high intensity discharge lights are required.
High Intensity Discharge Lighting
This may sound like something from a power station, however these are the lights that possess the most power and photo active radiation (P.A.R). There are two types of H.I.D lights and both require an electronic ballast to run off.
The first type is called H.P.S Which means there is a high pressure sodium bulb, which is being powered from a ballast. The sodium bulb has been used commercially for indoor growing as it is cheap and very effective to grow with. The spectrum that these bulbs offer is substantial and backed up by 64,000 lumens for a standard 600w and 90,000 lumens for a 1000w bulb.
The second type of H.I.D lighting used is called metal halide. These bulbs are designed differently to H.P.S bulbs and are usually much fatter in the centre. The spectrum which is created from a halide bulb has more U.V than a H.P.S bulb. This style of lighting is commercially used to light carparks, football stadium and highway tunnels. They are both similar as far as lumens and both require an electrical ballast, with the downside that the wasted heat from the ballast and bulb can be quite excessive, meaning growing with multiple lights and ballasts can be a challenge temperature wise.
L.E.D Grow Lights
This style of grow light has paved the way for low heat, full spectrum grow lights which require no ballast. The low wattage and high P.A.R has made the conversion from H.I.D to L.E.D a no brainer. However, there is much scepticism surrounding these lights and for those who have invested heavily in the more well known brands, can vouch that these lights deliver and also produce no wasted heat, sound or light energy unlike a H.I.D with ballast can.
What About Lighting And Temperatures In The Growing Stage?
If you plan to replicate the great outdoors inside, then you must consider the exact temperature and humidity present in the atmosphere. If you are growing with one light or ten grow lights, you need to have your temperature at 24 degrees celsius with a relative humidity of 75% depending on your type of plant. There should be good airflow which can be provided by fans at different levels of the canopy. You want to create a warm and wet and humid environment that the plants can develop into healthy plants. The whole idea is to replicate the months of Spring which take place from as early as March and April time. Here you will have your grow lights on for 18 hours per day and expose the plants to 6 hours of darkness. You will need an extractor pulling fresh air in and out of the grow space which will be responsible for recycling the air the plants have taken carbon dioxide from.
What About Lighting And Temperatures In The Flowering Stage?
This is the part of the grow where now you must imitate the shorter days with less humidity. You will need to have temperatures of 22-24 degrees celsius and a relative humidity of 30%. The reason you need a low humidity is the plants need a dry atmosphere and excess humidity will only force the buds to form Powdery Mildew spores and even Botrytis which is moulding of the fruit. Here you will avoid foliar feeding plants and always ensure there is a good airflow around the base and tops of the plants, to constantly battle stagnant air which can carry unwanted spored into the garden. In this stage you will want your plants to experience 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. Your extraction should remain the same and your air flow is a constant cleaning system.
Organic Or Hydroponics?
This is one of the best things about growing indoors apart from it being secure, you have the options to take your organic farming techniques to the next level, or become a master of the hydroponic world. Growing organically indoors is very easy, simple and very effective. You are able to constantly recycle the soil and other grow mediums and really perfect the balance of beneficial fungi and bacteria present in your root zone. You can choose to hand feed and always be hands on with your plants the whole time. Growing organically can offer the best tasting and smelling fruits to the conscious grower, whilst working with a natural buffering zone.
Setting up a hydroponics system from an N.F.T system, D.W.C system, dripper system, flood and drain, dutch bucket system, aquaponics, bubbler systems or just a home made hybrid of any of the above, can be the difference between increasing yields by up to 300%. Nutrients used in hydroponics are delivered in small easy to digest chelated minerals, in comparison to the large thick chelates which are processed through an naturally occurring buffering system, over a 3 day period. Hydroponic growing does require some level of understanding and can be met with high maintenance tasks. Used to farm large crops outdoors, hydroponics is the preferred growing system especially when it comes to overall yield. Understanding the importance of pH plays a huge role in the amount of nutrient uptake as well as electric conductivity of the available salts in the reservoir.