Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Boost Yield by Adding CO2 to Your Hydroponic Garden

Low carbon dioxide (CO2) measures will limit your plant's capacity to create energy through photosynthesis. Crops can process a great deal more CO2 than is normally found in the surroundings. One of the best ways to boost growth is to enhance the quantity of CO2 available to your crops with a CO2 system in your hydroponic garden.

How to increase your hydroponic garden's carbon dioxide levels

Choosing a CO2 injector is the least pricy way to add CO2 to your hydroponic system's climate. These commonly consist of a release, Regulator, and a gauge to determine the amount of CO2 being inserted into the air. Some of the more involved carbon dioxide injectors also include a timer to run the scheduling of the CO2 discharge. CO2 refills are usually distributed independently and can be found at medical or eatery supply shops.

If you want to use your hydroponic garden for a lengthy time or for a number of crops, it may be cheaper to invest in a long-term CO2 production olution. Carbon dioxide generators manufacture carbon dioxide through the heating of propane, natural gas, or any other carbon-based fuel base. They are appreciably more costly than the basic CO2 injector system, but you will eliminate the expense and effort of obtaining CO2 refills. Over a lengthy enough period of time, the investment in CO2 production ends up to be more economical than purchasing an injector and many refills.

For large-scale nurserymen (or those with extra funds to tinker around with), a CO2 gauge with regulator can mechanically maintain your hydroponic setup's carbon dioxide levels at a selected point. These arrangements can be very pricy, 100s to thousands of dollars, but are a fine extra if you can find the money for it. There is normally an automatic CO2 dial connected
to a regulator that is then associated to a CO2 producer to guarantee that the system continually is set at the user's fixed CO2 amount. Some dials are marketed separately and are compatible with many varieties of regulators, allowing greater versatility when planning your system.

Whichever system is best for you, it is important to always consider your carbon dioxide system when initially desiging your hydroponic garden. Many gardeners will overlook this one part of their system and reduce their crop's production before a single seed is even sprouted. Remember, a lack of any key facet required for photosynthesis will limit the plant's development to the point of that deficit. If any one needed aspect is omitted, the full growing process will be impacted.

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About the author: Visit www.indoor-gardening-guide.com for more information on indoor hydroponic systems. Check out our garden grow light comparisons, nutrient information, and original indoor gardening articles not distributed anywhere else.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Houseplants- Beauty and Clean Air

There is nothing more lovely and cheery than a room filled with beautiful green plants. Bringing the outdoors in has always been a challenge. Plants were meant to grow outside, under natural conditions, not under an artificial environment inside.

The Victorians were the first ones to attempt bringing their favorite plants indoors. Great effort was made to hold onto the beauty of the plant year round, and to bring to life the interior of their homes during the winter months. The Civil War Era found parlors adorned with beautiful green plants. The greenery was used as a way to brighten up their dull living quarters.

Present day finds us trying to accomplish the same fetes as our Victorian and Civil War ancestors - bringing color and beauty into our homes. Another more important reason plants are being brought indoors today, has not so much to do with beauty, as it does with health.

We spend a lot of our time indoors- jobs, home, school- and we don't get enough "fresh air". Chemicals in our homes and offices, found in synthetic building materials, can cause health problems. Studies have been conducted and the results found that plants brought into a room, will absorb these chemicals (Benzene, Trichloroethylene and Formaldehyde) and put oxygen back into the room. One potted plant per 100 square feet will clean the air in an average home or office. Without a doubt, the most important job of an indoor plant is its air purifying abilities.

Of the many indoor plants cultivated today, there are a few that show better than usual abilities of absorbing these chemicals than others do. Bamboo Palm, Spider Plant, Dracaena, and Weeping Fig are just a few that have this absorbing ability.

Growing and maintaining these air purifying plants and other popular indoor plants is not as hard as you may think. Keep in mind there are cultural factors to be considered when attempting to grow these plants indoors. Light, humidity, temperature, soil, type of water and fertilizer together, make up your plants needs.

Light is a critical factor because it is the main source of energy for every plant. The more light a plant receives, the more it will grow. The opposite is also true. There are different types of light conditions and each plant will have its own requirements. Direct light will allow you to place a plant in a south-facing window in full sun. Bright light refers to light coming into a north window that has no obstructions. This is the best light condition for most plants, including the Spider Plant. Medium light can be found in most offices and rooms that have florescent lighting. A north-facing window that is blocked by trees will create a low light condition. There are some plants that can grow under low light conditions, for example, the Bamboo Palm.

Humidity influences plant growth as well. Too low, and the plants' leaves drop or turn brown. The humidity levels in homes are usually low because we heat our homes in the winter. You can increase the humidity around a plant by placing the pot in a pebble filled tray. Fill the tray with water, almost covering the pebbles. Make sure that the pot does not sit in the water. By doing this, you create humidity directly below and around the plant. The Mosaic Plant benefits from extra humidity as does the Zebra Plant.

Indoor temperatures have a wide range in our homes. Some plants like cool temperatures (55F-70F) such as Jade Plant, and some like a mid-range temperature (65F - 80F) such as the Cast-Iron Plant. The Crystal Anthurium and Rex Begonia just like it hot (75F - 85F).

Which growing medium you use will be determined by the plant you want to grow. All-purpose potting mix is very popular and now soiless mix is being used as well. Certain plants require their own type of mix, for example, African Violet mix and Orchid mix. Know the plants' requirements before you purchase a soil mix.

Water quantity is very important. Too much and the plant drowns, too little and the plant dries up. Overwatering causes most plant deaths. It is better to give a plant less, more often, than too much all at once. Another important factor for good plant growth is water quality. The best water for indoor plants is one that has been treated. Placing a container, filled with water, on a counter and allowing the chemicals to evaporate, becomes treated water. Make sure the pH of the treated water is between 5.5 and 6.5.

A good houseplant fertilizer will satisfy most indoor plants' nutrient needs. Dilute the amount by half when feeding. If a plant is growing under low light conditions, you don't need to fertilize as much as you would a plant growing under bright light conditions.

Now that all of the cultural factors have been talked about, lets get back to our air purifying plants. The Bamboo Palm, Spider Plant and Weeping Fig are all very hardy- meaning they are very forgiving- have medium to bright light requirements, need to be moderately moist and like mid-range indoor temperatures. Dracaena has the same requirements with one exception, it needs low light conditions. Other popular indoor plants to consider are Red-Margined Dracaena, False Aralia, Croton, Rubber Plant, Parlor Palm, Philodendron and Snake Plant.

Our Victorian and Civil War ancestors had a limited choice of plants to bring into their homes, whereas we have a vast number of species to choose from thanks to today's growers. It took modern day research to find out that Parlor Palms and Snake Plants clean indoor air. Surprisingly enough, these plants have been in homes since the Victorian Era.

Breathe easier- give indoor gardening a try.

About the Author
Georgiana Marshen is a master horticulturist and freelance garden writer. She has been published in BackHome magazine and is a contributing garden writer for American Profile Magazine

Monday, February 20, 2006

Kitchen Garden in a Pot




If they're handy, you'll use them! Just think how nice it would be if you only had to go a few feet to clip a sprig of your favorite herb by making a kitchen garden in a pot! Follow along with my project and adapt it to your liking.

Choose Location, Pot

Choose a sunny window indoors or place a pot right outside your door. I have chosen a spot in the deck right outside my front door. This will make it very easy for me to access them, plus it will add interest and beauty to the front area. The pot I will use is an old ugly pink plastic pot, but it's big. I have some white and green paint I will sponge and wipe on the pot to give it an aged look. If a clay pot is used (as in the picture), remember that they dry out quickly, so it will have to be watered more frequently. Place some broken pot pieces or some stones around the bottom holes of the plant for better drainage. Choose a potting soil that drains well. Those with perlite or vermiculite are good. Add compost or an organic balanced fertilizer to the mix. Fill the pot up almost to the top, leaving room for planting.

Plants

Choose plants that you like and will use. I have chosen lemon grass, chives, variegated lemon thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano and lettuce (yes, lettuce!). Many herbs can be found at local nurseries, but if you're not lucky enough to have a good local source, try mail order.

Choose placement in your pot so that all plants can be seen. Plant your herbs at the same depth they were in their original pots. Give them a nice drink of water and watch them grow! Herbs are virtually maintenance and pest free. The next time you need an herb, just go to your handy herb pot and snip!

Recipe: Herbed Butter

Ingredients: 1 teaspoon each of: marjoram, thyme, rosemary (minced fresh) ¼ teaspoon each of: garlic, basil, sage (minced fresh) ½ cup (4 oz.) sweet unsalted butter or margarine, softened

Mix ingredients together, either by hand or an electric mixer. Pack into molds or crocks, or roll like a jelly roll in a piece of plastic wrap and place a twist tie on both ends. A melon-baller can also be used for nice round shapes. Chill for at least three hours before serving. Herb butter can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three months.

About the Author
Laurel Morris is a master gardener and herbalist from coastal North Carolina, specializing in use and preservation of garden produce. She writes a bi-monthly herb gardening column for Suite101.com, an internet guide.