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Climate Change, Global Warming, Drought, Extreme Heat, Fires: Hydroponics and Outdoor Growers Face Summer 2011

Hard to grow here, right? Hard to grow here, right?

The drought, extreme heat and fires of summer 2011 are creating crazy problems for hydroponics and remote outdoor gardeners. People try to argue about global warming and climate change, who or what is causing it…but who argues that this isn’t one hell of a hot summer? Let’s take a look at how to keep hydroponics and outdoor gardens healthy this sizzling summer…

If you’re growing outdoors, you’ve got to be worried about water. High-value plants need at least an inch of rain every week, and sometimes more.

If you’re irrigating, they may need a gallon or more per day, averaged over a week and of course depending on humidity, strain, plant size, root zone material, and other conditions.

Growers who have been growing in the same outdoor garden site for years are finding that their plants are wilting more often, especially if they count on rainfall only.

People who anticipated the outdoor problems mixed water-holding crystals into their soil mix before they put their starts in. Or they increased the capacity of their reservoir(s). Another tactic is to select strains that are more suited for heat (strains that originate from equatorial regions or Southeast Asia).

Growers relying on irrigation water can put plastic or natural mulch around the tops of their plants’ root zones. Don’t do this if you’re relying on rainfall, because it can block water from reaching your roots. But in an irrigated garden, it decreases evaporation from the root zone.

In extreme drought and sun intensity circumstances, growers put shadecloth over their crops. This intervention is a mixed blessing, because it decreases the amount of direct sun your plants get.

But if it’s a choice between dying, thirsty, sun-baked plants, or you getting baked after surviving this blazing summer and getting a happy harvest, you might have to sacrifice some of that direct light.

Indoors, growers enduring 2011’s scorching hot summer find they need to increase the capacity of their venting, air conditioning and chillers. For optimal growth rate, keep your grow room temperature between 70-74F.

If you add C02 (1200 ppm is ideal), you can let your hydroponics room get up to 84F, but you have to keep your root zone around 68F (by using a chiller or other method for lowering the temperature of your hydroponics nutrients reservoir water). When your root zone gets too warm (above 72F), the root zone may become a breeding ground for root zone diseases and harmful microbes.

Is this going to cost you in extra expenses for equipment and electricity? For sure. All you can do is cut back on other electricity usage, and pump your crops with a series of time-specific bloom boosters to make your harvests heavier and more valuable to offset increased hydroponics gardening costs.

Indoors or outdoors, armor your plants against heat, stress and drought by feeding them Vitamin B, potassium silicate and immune system boosters.

When the heat and drought are on outdoors, and especially if there are fires, or if it’s just getting to be too big a hassle for you to get enough water to your outdoor plants (and some strains will never do well outdoors in temperatures above 80F), you may have to get very creative.

The most radical thing you can do is dig up your outdoor plants and finish them in an indoor hydroponics garden. This is easier if your plants were planted in grow bags or super-large pots. At least you have a chance of getting a decent finish.

If climate change and global warming are indeed here, as Al Gore warned us years ago, then this incendiary summer is the “new normal.” Hydroponics and outdoor growers are going to have to adjust their games if they want their plants to survive extreme heat, droughts and fires. Welcome to the 21st century.

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Looking to escape the grow room? Here’s everything you need to know about outdoor growing.

Need bigger, healthier yields? Find out how to give your crop a breath of fresh air.

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If it feels hotter to you, that’s because it is.
Last modified on Tuesday, 31 July 2012 18:18

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