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Before you became a hydroponics grower, when you heard the word "ballast," you probably only thought of the weighty materials they throw off of hot air balloons to make the balloon rise. But when you're talking about hydroponics lighting, a ballast is an interface device that uses analog or solid-state circuitry to get the right amount of electricity to your hydroponics bulbs. You can't just plug a bulb directly into electricity. You need a ballast as an interface. Old school magnetic ballasts are so heavy and hot that they could double as boat anchors. The most effective, efficient and safe hydroponics ballasts are digital low frequency ballasts. Here's what you need to know:

We’ve covered a wide range of topics for beginner growers here in Hydro 101 so far, but we haven’t touched on one of the most important aspects of indoor growing. So today I'm going to help you figure out how to choose and use the nutrients that will get you off to a running start as a newer grower.

We’ve covered a lot of ground in Hydro 101 to this point, and if you’ve been following along, you will be ready to take some serious steps in getting your first grow up and running. We’ve spoken a lot about outdoor growing lately, but this week, we’re turning our attention back to the indoor grow room.

This week brings an end to our outdoor series for beginner growers. We’re going to close with one of the most exciting times in the grow cycle – harvest time. This is when you get to see the fruits of your labor. For best results, you need to properly cut down, trim, and cure your outdoor crop. This can be a bit of a different process than what you’ve gotten used to indoors, so here are some tips.

This week we’re talking outdoor pests and disease, as well as how to water your outdoor plants. This edition of Hydro 101 is the penultimate in our 5-part series on outdoor growing for beginners. We hope you’ve enjoyed the series so far, but it’s not over yet. So let’s get to it.

So far in our Hydro 101 series on outdoor growing we’ve covered quite a bit of ground. But for the beginner heading outdoors, or making plans to head outdoors next season, there’s still a lot left to learn.

Last week we introduced all you new growers to the idea that you can cultivate your crop of choice outdoors. Of course, it depends on your location and the time of year, but outdoor gardening can be a lot of fun and viable a way to grow. In some cases, it can even turn out better than indoor hydroponic growing. Of course, there are trade offs either way, but a lot of growers I know enjoy getting outdoors when the season is right.

New indoor growers are sometimes surprised to find out that they can cultivate outdoors as well. There’s a lot to consider, from preparation to location and privacy, but done right, growing outdoors is much easier than growing indoors. You don't have to create the perfect environment like you do indoors because Mother Nature does that part for you. Also you don't have to pay an electric bill for your outdoor garden because the sun does the work for you. For those of you interested, outdoor season has already begun in many parts of North America, but it’s not too late to get started.

Hi, growers. Welcome to the third installment of our series on pests and diseases. Set backs can be discouraging for new growers, but don’t sweat it - pests and disease come with the territory, whether you’re a rookie indoor grower or a grand master hydroponics gardener. Huge yields is the name of the game when it comes to cultivation, so we’ll talk about some of the bugs that can ruin your crop. From white flies, aphids, thrips, and fungus gnats to the worst of all - spider mites!

Last week I introduced you to some of the basics of battling pests & disease in your hydroponics indoor garden. We focused on methods of eliminating diseases like powdery mildew. This week, we’re going to look at some other factors hydroponics growers need to think about, like humidity and air flow in your indoor grow room.

One of the most difficult things for beginning growers to grapple with is pests & disease in your hydroponics indoor garden. But it’s not just a problem of the novice grower. No matter how experienced a hydroponics grower you are, sooner or later you will encounter some form of plant disease, mildew or fungus. Pests are another crop killer, but in the first installment of my three-part series we’ll look at disease.

It's bloom time! Personally, the bloom phase is my favorite part of hydroponics indoor growing. This is the stage where all the hard work you have put in during pre-veg and vegetative phases will pay off, which is why we love hydroponics gardening in the first place. Last time, we talked about pre-veg and veg phase. But there are a few things you will have to do differently than you did during the vegetative stage. Bloom phase (sometimes called “flower” phase) requires an adjustment to your indoor grow room’s lighting, humidity and nutrients.

Last week I introduced new growers to the soil vs. hydroponics debate, and gave my two cents on where to begin. This week, I want to provide some more guidance for those of you just getting your feet wet with indoor growing. Whenever you hear growers talking about hydroponics gardening, you hear a bunch of new terms and lingo that can be confusing to newbies. In particular, you’ll hear people talking about pre-veg, veg, and bloom, which are the growing phases of your crop.

This is a question I get almost every day at The Hydroponics Outlet: “I want to start growing, but I don't know if I should start in soil or try hydroponics. What should I do?” As a long time grower and hydroponics retailer, I always recommend soil for beginner growers and for those on a budget. Soil is more forgiving and more affordable than hydroponics, so it’s great for you newbies out there.

Want to get growing and think about CEA further down the road? Here’s how to get up and running on a budget. Following these few simple, yet very important, steps and tips on proper air circulation will keep you and your garden very happy. At any local hydroponics retail stores, you should purchase:

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