Hydroponics Startup

Hydroponics Startup / Quickstart area which allows you to grasp the basics and learn about hydroponic gardening indoor & outdoor through our easy to navigate system.

Lets start at the beginning: 

Hydroponics is a practice where you supply a nutrient rich solution to an inert growing medium of choice. We offer a wide variety of grow mediums, we'll touch on this a bit a further down on this page. 
The word Hydroponics roughly translated means working water.
Hydroponics and water quality meters

To successfully grow hydroponically, we need supply nutrients in the correct strengths through each stage of plant development, we use an EC meter to do so. EC meters gauge the strength of a solution by measuring the electro conductivity in the water.

We would also like to ensure that the nutrients we supply through each stage of development are accessible to the plants we are growing, we do this by measuring the pH of the nutrient solution and then balancing the solution within range for uptake using either pH up or pH down.

We have all the meters needed to grow using hydroponics as your technique. 

One could reference to pH/ TDS / PPM / EC Levels for Hydroponic Vegetables to keep a gauge on your specific plant requirement using pH Meters & EC Meters. 

Growing Medium

There are 6 different type of hydroponic systems which make some mediums more appealing or applicable than others, depending on which route you decide to take on the hydroponic highway.  (Types of Hydroponic Systems: Intro to Soilless Growing)

Expanded Clay Pebbles

Sometimes referred to to as hydroton or leca, are by far our most preferred medium, here at Grow Guru. 

Expanded Clay Pebbles are perfectly suited to recirculating systems similar to dutch buckets, deep water culture, flood and drain/ ebb flow & NFT systems. Additionally they can be used wherever you like to block light from reaching the nutrient solution. for example from reaching the inner chambers of your NFT Channel by filling net pots once the seedling are placed in the pots and securing. Wherever there is sunlight or indoor lighting for that matter & an exposed nutrient solution, there will be an algae build up or development. Its best practice to avoid light from reaching your nutrient solution and areas to which it is applied, full stop.

What we love about expanded clay pebbles is that they are reusable, easy to clean, sustainable and most importantly super earth friendly. We try to be as green conscious as possible here and are as paperless as possible from our side. We maintain green ethics throughout our brand.

Rockwool

Spun rock fibre 

Coco Peat

Cocopeat is a byproduct from the coconut industry and is also a sustainable solution for hydroponic gardens. Its usually washed, processed and compressed into bricks, as is our Premium Coco peat range. Compressed cocopeat bricks expand to approximately 6-7 times in volume. 

Coco peat is inert can be applied in many ways, Coco peat pellets make a great germination medium as much as a simple coco peat and perlite mix would in a seedling tray.

Cocopeat works well when applied to our Fabric Pots, growers usually have a preference as to the grade of coco peat used, we supply the 5kg bricks in both Fine & Coarse grade

Perlite

Volcanic

drainage aeration

Vermiculite

Water retention, aeration

Types of Hydroponic Systems

Types of hydroponic systems are discussed in depth in our article Types of Hydroponic Systems

Environment, Management & Controls

Simple rules apply to most grow environments, (in this article we assume you know that your plants need water, light, air & nutrients)

Wether you have a a grow room, grow tent or poly tunnel in which you grow your plants, one would want the entire air volume to be exchanged at least once per minute. This will ensure that stale warm air as well as the air depleted of CO2, can be exchanged with fresh CO2 rich air for your plants to process into oxygen. Around the coastal areas in South Africa we have a CO2 count of approximately 400ppm (at time of writing - this gradually increases due to global warming), generally speaking many plants can tolerate CO2 levels of about 1500ppm dependant on species/variety, increased CO2 has a steroid like effect on the plants enhancing their abilities for light collection, nutrient uptake which in turn leads to maximum yields. CO2 in covered in our article How to Increase your indoor yield with CO2

Timers are usually an essential part of the grow and are normally used to turn grow lights and water pumps, on and off, if applicable. Usually the only things that would be placed on a timer in the grow would be your plant lighting and water pumps. Everything else, in our opinion and based on a basic grow room, should remain on at all times. Fans don't get turned off at night, what one should realise is that the plants transpire at during their night cycle while they are sleeping. Excessive moisture if not maintained can lead to moulding & fungal deceases which can cause bud rot in flowering plants. We'll cover timing for grow lights below.

Grow Lights
Timing
For seedlings, clones/ cuttings, to maintain grow and keep in the vegetative stage, one needs to maintain a light cycle of 18 hour on & 6 hours off, referred to as 18/6.
To induce or flower photo sensitive plants, you would simply change the lighting cycle to a 12 hours on and 12 hours off, referred to as 12/12.
Types of Grow Lights 
CFL Lighting
Compact Fluorescent lighting provides low lighting which is suited to when cloning or germinating from seed.
HID Grow Lights
CMH Grow Lights
LED Grow Lights
We've seen a few generations of LED Grow Lights, 
Lighting Controllers
Some plant lighting brands such as Gavita, offer controllers which can be used switch your lights on an off in multiple locations, notify you by text message if there is an issue in your grow room, and dim down or turn off automatically if there is a heat concern which could result in damaged equipment.

Nutrient Feeding Charts & Schedules

**Please note this page is currently in development, however here are some other valuable resources you could have a look at in the interim:

View this Ebook, checkout these Starter Kits or Sign up to Hydroponic Courses in South Africa

- Keep checking back for further more .

More information and literature on hydroponics:

Hydroponics Definition on Wikipedia

General Tips

How to Increase your yield with CO2

Cleaning your Grow Room

 gardening courses south africa