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Check out this article from Rosebud Magazine's very own grower guru, Erik Biksa. This one is straight from the pages of the latest issue of Rosebud Magazine, and talks about a very important issue arising for growers: smart meters. For those of you who don't know, smart meters represent a serious threat to the privacy of everyone, indoor growers and non-growers alike. A concerned grower wrote in to ask Erik about this, and in true Biksa fashion, Erik served up the masterful advice of a hydroponics expert. This article will give you all the info you need to protect your grow and your personal life. Check it out!

... in Grower Guru

It’s tough to argue against aeroponic cloning if you want big, healthy root systems fast. That’s why this spring, when beans pop and prop domes crop, we’re outfitting you with this run-down and comparison from the Big Three of comparibly priced aeroponic cloning systems. Plant ’em if ya got ’em, and good luck out there this season!

Q:

I want to construct a grow operation that uses IN/OUT ventilation, but only have access to one eight inch diameter duct for IN and one eight inch diameter duct for OUT. I want to run about 12 lights (not all in the same room or timer), and don't have a problem with supplying some supplemental air conditioning for the three or four weeks of the year where fans just won't cut it around here.

Check out this piece covering one of the hottest growing topics in the hydroponics industry – Networked Growing Systems. This is the talk of the town and is ripped straight from the pages of the latest edition of Rosebud Magazine. And best of all, this one is courtesy of the inimitable expertise of grower guru Erik Biksa. Enjoy!

Hey growers, here are some tips for navigating your local hydroponics store. Enjoy!

Answers for April's Quiz:

1. C

2. A
3. B
4. A

Hey Folks, c’mon down and join us here in Hydro Lingo Bingo-the game where you get to show your level of hip-talk in hydroponics. Check with us online at rosebudmag.com/lb for the correct answers.

... in Growers

Q:

I’m newer to growing, but it seems like everyone from experts to other newbies has a different opinion on what the best soil mix is.
I’m going to grow a few plants on my balcony this season in 5 gallon pots, it’s a sunny location and the garden is up high, out of harm’s way.
What’s a good soil mix-I don’t like mixing my own. I also don’t mind if it isn’t totally organic.  I’m looking for “low maintenance” (I like to kick back in the summer, lol), decent yields and high quality.

A:


Everyone’s Got One..

For sure, there are as many opinions out there on soils as there are growers. It can be a little confusing, especially if you just want to keep it simple.


The Dirt Bags at the Hydro Shop

There are some pretty good “ready to use” out of the bag grow mixes available to you.  You’ll find these at your local hydroponics shop, but like a good cake mix, be prepared to pay - someone has already done the work and made the mess, so you don’t have to.


Just Say “No”

Avoid the mixes from the grocery store or building centre, especially pre-fertilized and “water retaining” formulas that use harsh fertilizers and synthetic polymers.  Fine for ornamentals, but I don’t recommend a lot of these types for growing anything that will eventually wind up in your body.


Choices Affect Yields

If you are results orientated, you might look for a more lightly pre-charged fertilizer content, whether organic or not in your chosen mix.  It’s much easier to feed with liquid fertilizers and supplements when you water, which you will have to do anyways on a sunny balcony - even daily when it’s hot!

Using liquid ferts over slow release organic components puts you more into the driver’s seat, so you can better address the needs of your garden as they change with the season or the weather.  For example, in a cool wet spring, those organic pre-charged nutes in your pre-mixed soil may go anaerobic - in short the oxygen starved conditions will breed diseases ruining your garden before it ever really gets growing, let alone delivering the nutrients your plants will need for healthy yields of high quality.


And The Living is Easy...

If you like to water and fertilize more frequently to push plants, add some perlite or sand to your mix to provide more pore space in the soil for better drainage and for the roots to breathe easier.  For reduced soil watering requirements, increase peat or organic matter contents (along with some dolomite lime) or you can even line the inside and bottom of the pot with water absorbent rockwool - this will act as a sponge, helping to hold water and nutrients in reserve.


Wick it Up

A wicking system is easy, reliable and cheap; look it up on the web. This will keep things watered for you when you head out camping on those sunny long weekends. Just don’t go with lots of organic nutrients in a wick system because the reservoir can get contaminated easily in the heat as it sits. Finally, try and keep your water and nutrients out of direct sunlight.

Good luck, and post us a few pics at harvest ;)


Cheers,

erik-signerik-sign

Erik Biksa

 

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© Copyright RosebudMag.com, 2011

Nobody likes to admit it when it happens, and you rarely see IT alongside the glory shots. That’s right, we are talking about when growing disasters strike. And if you have been growing for a while, you know that “it” happens, sometimes almost overnight. However, more often than not, there is a gradual ramp-up leading up to your crop falling over the cliff.

Here is one such tale:

Q:
Surely you get lots of questions about feeding programs, but there is one question I am having a hard time finding a solid answer for, and perhaps you might help - it has to do with product labels.
What the guys at the store tell me the product is going to do just doesn’t seem to jive with what’s on the label sometimes. I’m not suggesting that there’s anything shady going on because more often than not, the products they talk up work as promised. What’s confusing is that the label ingredients don’t really represent what I am seeing in terms of cropping results.
For example, one of the products I use definitely increases essential oil contents, practically overnight! However, listed under ingredients is simply “magnesium sulfate.” While I am not a growing guru, I know this to be Epsom Salts, which while helping plants, cannot account for what I am seeing based on years of growing experience and observation.
Can you help explain this situation to me a bit? What the heck is going on?

A:
No doubt this frustrating and confusing situation is the result of antiquated fertilizer labelling laws. To me it’s absolutely ridiculous that hydroponic nutrient manufacturers are not allowed to list all of the ingredients in their products. Personally, I would think that by law, they should be required to list ALL of the ingredients inside a particular formulation, no different than buying ketchup at the grocery store. The recipe is safe for the manufacturer, while the consumer has a good understanding of what they are going to be putting into their bodies.


Because most of the labelling boards, at least in North America, are so out-of-the-times with what can benefit growers, they only allow stuff they “recognize” to be put on the labels. This also means that companies can’t make important claims about the benefits of products; these therefore must be observed and shared by word of mouth through the growing community. Theses label boards will even censor advertisements and claims both in print and on the web. Luckily some level of freedom of speech still exists and growers can refer one another to superior products.

Because most of the labelling boards, at least in North America, are so out-of-the-times with what can benefit growers, they only allow stuff they “recognize” to be put on the labels.

So in the example you are giving, I would wager large sums that there are other ingredients besides Epsom Salts in the formula you describe. Also, just because the label police don’t allow them to be listed doesn’t mean that substances aren’t safe or effective, just that the label folks don’t know much about it and therefore the maker of that product is not allowed to talk about it until they have spent years and millions of dollars educating the label folks about the benefits.
Hopefully one day soon these boards, authorities, laws, etc will be reviewed and updated so that they actually serve growers rather than bureaucrats. To me, a label is designed to bring clarity to a product not to create confusion or to mislead. The fact that they do the latter is a good indicator that these laws and regulations serve no one except those that collect the fees for registration.

erik-signerik-sign

Cheers, Erik Biksa

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© Copyright RosebudMag.com, 2011

Can you imagine a day when machines can garden? In many ways, that time is already here. When growing indoors, you are already relying on technology to help create and maintain a healthy growing environment—artificial lighting, carbon dioxide, ventilation, cooling, humidity, and optimal pH and TDS are all regulated by various devices, sensors, and solutions. As some growers are painfully aware, these wonders of technology can may malfunction, causing disaster for your crop. For this reason, you still need a human at the helm to control and monitor activity. That is, until now.

The Grobot (from PurGro) is a grow room and reservoir controller with robotic actuation that enables you to control and monitor every aspect of the growing environment from anywhere around the world via a computer-linked interface. Installing a Grobot also means that if anything goes wrong in your garden, the  system can instantly notify you that something is amiss. It even allows you to check on your growing environment through a series of cameras, allowing you to keep an eye on your crop when you can’t be there.

 This robotic growing controller allows you perform a wide variety of necessary functions for maintaining a healthy growing environment.

This robotic growing controller allows you perform a wide variety of necessary functions for maintaining a healthy growing environment. Functions like emptying and refilling the reservoir, adding nutrients in controlled ratios, pH control, CO2 augmentation, temperature control, humidity control, security alerts, remote viewing, lighting controls, water levels, and dozens of other tasks that would ordinarily require a human touch can now happen while you are miles away.

All in all, the Grobot is very easy to install and has been accurately monitoring and maintaining the environmental parameters of this high tech indoor garden for five weeks. Since not all growers are IT guys, you will be very glad to know that the team at PurGro can help walk you through any questions you might have about setting up the system and the remote networking, and have you automated in no time.

Words can’t describe how James Bond it feels to slide out your smartphone, hit a couple of keys, and know that you just mixed the perfect reservoir for your garden. If you are serious about growing, but want to step away from the garden occasionally, it could be time to give robotics a try.

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© Copyright RosebudMag.com, 2012

Q:

The power company has been promoting smart meters where I live, and there is talk of converting the grid here to a “smart grid.”  According to the power company, this is going to benefit me, but they are rather vague about how exactly.  Doing some research, I see these things are hugely controversial - there is reportedly even a moratorium on them in California.
I don’t want one, what can I do?

Q: How safe is most of the growing gear that is for sale at the local hydroponics shop? I haven’t had any problems, but I’ve heard of fellow growers getting inspected by local by-law enforcement for electrical codes in their rented buildings. My one friend had no problems, the other place got temporarily halted until they made some changes and got re-inspected. I want to avoid this potential production pitfall-what can I do to protect myself and my grow?

Q:

I have harvested four really nice crops back to back, but my last one turned out like dog puke compared to the ones before. I have a good idea what the problem was and it happened while I was away. This isn’t going to be a problem anymore. My real problem though is this schwaggy looking harvest. I am hesitant to even sell it, do you think it’s gonna kill my rep? Like I said, I have started to get known for higher quality stuff.

What do you think about security cameras; are they going to attract unwanted attention or help keep the bad guys away and tell me what’s going on when I’m not here?

My local Costco seems to be offering some pretty good deals and it would be nice to have some peace of mind while I am away. Some of the bundles even have models that allow me to check on things from my smart phone.

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