Craft Beer in the Scenic City

After Atlantis visited the 18th annual Southern Brewer’s Fest last August, it was hard to believe that Chattanooga’s love for beer could be topped. But as we walked around the first annual Chattanooga Craft Beer Festival (CCBF), hosted by the Tennessee Pavilion, we realized the Scenic City had outdone itself once again.


This event blew the Southern Brew Fest out of the water. The atmosphere alone was right up our alley considering that for over a year now we’ve been selling brewing supplies, making our own homebrew, and growing a personal enthusiasm for craft beer. Put on by Rhizome Productions, the CCBF was quite possibly the best thing ever for a lover of craft beer.


Instead of setting up a booth and promoting our store, we chose to mingle and sample with other brew-heads, talking about our own love of beer and answering questions about making beer at home. The best thing about this festival, besides the fact that there were over thirty vendors offering two to four types of beer, was the overwhelming attendance and support of local brewers.


One third of the beer makers present were native to Tennessee, while half of those were based right here in the Choo Choo City. Chattanooga’s own Barley Mob brew club, Moccasin Bend, Chattanooga Brewing Co., McHale’s, Terminal, and Big River all made an appearance to represent the true spirit of craft beer we share here in Chatt-town.

The new festival brought great innovations to the benefit of enthusiasts by setting up a one time fee and supplying free drinking water. The cost of your ticket would give you entrance to the event, a sample glass, and endless refills to try every single last one of the beers offered. That’s right, if you could manage to drink two gallons of beer in a matter four hours then you would be more than welcome to sample over sixty different kinds of beer. Unfortunately, we could only put down about ten types, but it was fun nonetheless.

Meeting fellow brewers, talking to the pros, and trying more kinds of beer than ever before made the CCBF a most enjoyable experience. We look forward to the Second Annual Craft Beer Festival and hope that next year there will be even more good beers to choose from. Thanks to Rhizome Productions and all our hometown brewers for making the CCBF such a fun and friendly event!


Key to Success- Keeping a Clean Hydroponic System

Clean Hydroponic System

Want to grow happy, healthy plants every time? Well here’s a tip that could help you keep your garden on a nonstop path to success. The hydroponic system your plants live in will run more smoothly and efficiently with a little attention to detail. Plants are living organisms, and they attract many other forms of life to your garden. The photo above shows what your plant nutrients will grow in addition to your plants. Algae is generally harmless, but allow it to grow out of control and you might end up with a big mess on your hands.  Not only does it produce a terrible grow room odor, algae can harbor pathogens and even consume valuable nutrients before your garden plants (what a waste of fertilizer)!

It takes only a few minutes and some elbow grease to make your hydroponic system look as good as the day you bought it. Routine cleaning will ensure that no mess is too much to handle! And did you know that your equipment will last longer if you scrub it from time to time?

My favorite things in life do not include scrubbing hydroponic flood tables, but routine cleaning beats having to buy new equipment. This holds true for all types of hydro systems as well as water pumps. Deep Water Culture buckets, for example, will perform better and your plants will be healthier if you scrub them lightly with warm water between each nutrient change, rather than simply pouring out and replacing water. Cleaning can also help you avoid pH spikes and root rot.

Clean Hydroponic System

Keeping your indoor garden tidy is just like going outside to a raised bed garden and pulling weeds, it has to be done.  If we don’t weed our gardens or clean our tables then the stuff we don’t want to grow will take over and cause all of our valuable time, energy, and garden plants to go to waste.  And who wants to watch their garden die?

Well maintained gardens will thrive and in return reward their gardeners for a job well done. Clean equipment not only looks good, it helps to keep disease pathogens and pests in check. So if you’re really in it to win it, remember that cleaning is a small price to pay for the happiness of your garden, and happy gardens make happy growers!

Are All Bulbs The Same?

Hydroponic Eggplants

After my one millionth discussion about light and constantly explaining why some bulbs cost so much more than others, it seemed like a good idea to conduct a side-by-side garden comparison to demonstrate the difference between plants grown under standard HPS grow lightsand Full Spectrum Metal Halide lights. For our experiment, we grew ‘Pingtong Long’ Eggplants under 150 Watt HPS bulbs and 250 Watt MH bulbs. Sounds to me like everyone is convinced that HPS is the only way to get the big harvest, but I suggest taking a look at the following pictures to decide what looks better to you.

Below you can see the difference between fruits grown under varying color spectrums.

The HPS light produced 5.4 GPW (grams per watt) for a total harvest of 1.8 Lbs of eggplant.
Hydroponic Eggplants

The Full Spectrum MH Light grew a whopping 6.4 GPW for a total yield of 3.6 Lbs of fruit!

Hydroponic Eggplants

The color of light is just as important to consider in the development of your plants as plant nutrientsand air circulation. So the next time you visit your local grow light store and ask for the “cheapest” bulb on the shelf, remember these photos and think about the harvest you want from your garden. Happy Growing!

Atlantis Visits 18th Annual Southern Brewers’ Festival

Chattanooga, Tennessee is often thought of as having spectacular views, endless outdoor activities, and a growing number of hip, progressive people. What is not so well known about the scenic city is its long lost love of fermentation. That’s right, BEER

This little town has managed to brew up an Annual Southern Brewers Festival proving time and again just how serious it is about finely crafted fermented beverages. This year’s local line up inlcuded The Terminal Brewhouse, McHale’s Brew Pub, Moccasin Bend Brewing Company, Big River Grill, Chattanooga Brewing Company, and special guests The Barley Mob.

There’s not much that compliments an ice cold locally crafted beer like super awesome music on an open-air stage in front of the River City skyline.

Walking around the festival grounds I saw the most convincing Brett Michaels look alike ever.  And who could forget this cool fellow dressed up like the Beer Drinker’s Mascot. He looks prepared with that hard hat…
Safety First!

After recently making the acquaintance of one particular Mobster, I had my heart set on finding the Barley Mob booth and trying their Honey Peach Ale. This curiously delicious concoction, as I’m told, is not your average Pale Ale, nor is it a Mead or Wine, and yet it seems to have the best qualities of all three. The drinkability of a craft ale, the sweetness of a honey mead and the potency of a fine wine.  I should have known when the description stated “ABV (Alcohol By Volume) uncalculated ” that I was dealing with a whole different breed of beverage. Thank you Mr. Beecher!

Some brewers took in excess of ten kegs to return home with less than two. I think it  goes without saying, the festival was a hit! Tasty brews, good music, and all the sunshine one could ask for.  I can’t wait for next year’s celebration of brewing. I can only imagine what sorts of new recipes our local crafts people cook up next. Until then, why not give beer brewing a try? Happy brewing!

Growing Giants

Last Summer we acquired a variety of tomato know as Giant Tree.  The best part, the line on the box saying “As seen on TV, grows up to 60Lbs per plant”.  WOW!  If only we could grow half that, we’d have a monster yield.  We planted our little giants in August 2011, and by the beginning of September our seedlings were ready to go into our GH Euro Grower System.  We’ve used this system twice before to grow tomatoes , but this time we employed a horizontal trellis to maximize the growth potential of our plants.

The frame of the 4×8 Grow tent is perfect for stretching a net over your garden. As the vines grow you can weave them in and around the trellis netting. This practice keeps the plant bodies suspended above the ground allowing plenty of air movement around the leaves and fruit as they mature. Proper air flow reduces the chances of mold and disease, and can help with garden pest problems (we had zero pests on our 8 month old Giant Trees)

For this grow we used the General Hydroponics Flora Series Keep it Simple schedule, and boy was it easy.  We change our hydroponic reservoirs out every 7-10 days.  In between fertilizing we let the plants cycle plain water for a couple of days.  This helps to reduce stress which can lead to healthier growth, stronger plants, and potentially higher yields.

One thing to keep in mind when growing fruiting plants indoors (tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers, etc) is that the flowers will need pollinating to make sure the formation of fruit.  Outside in nature, bees and other bugs take care of pollination as they collect  nectar from flowers.  They use the sweet flower juices to create that wonderful product we call honey.  It is not easy to house and support bees, so when you grow fruits and vegetables inside, someone will need to move the pollen from one flower to the next otherwise there will be no tomatoes to eat!

In the beginning stages of growth we used two 400 watt MH bulbs on Viagrow Magnetic Ballasts. Mounted into Smart Sun reflectors and cooled with a 6″ Ecoplus Inline Fan, our garden maintained optimum temperatures while providing sufficient lighting. When the tomatoes began to bloom, we switched over to our flower fertilizer and replaced our 400 watt metal halides with 600 watt HPS bulbs. This is when the garden went crazy.  Growth was out of control.  Pruning the plants played a valuable part of this project.  Several times we removed a five gallon bucket full of foliage from the plants.  This allows more efficient air flow in and around plants, which reduces the risk of mold and disease.  Proper pruning can also allow more light penetration to the lower parts of your garden.

In the end we harvested a whopping harvest for a grand total weight of 34.85 Lbs!  We beat our previous grow records, but grow room CO2 and air circulation issues kept us from having the bumper crop we expected.  Maybe next time…

Taking extra time to research and construct the ideal growing environment for your plants can be very rewarding.  When you consume the fruits of your labors, there really is no comparison.  The knowledge and experience gained from the time we spend gardening simply has no price tag.

We become more balanced individuals when we grow plants and it can give us a great sense of fulfilment to be a part of something from start to finish. If you’re not gardening, go out, get your hands dirty, plant a seed and start growing today!

Sharing the Harvest

Last September (2011) we crammed 36 basil plants into a little 4ft x 4ft table.  In the beginning we started with four varieties Genovese, Purple, Lime and Globe.  Due to space restriction we chose one strain we thought would work the best in our grow tent.  This left us with Globe Basil in 1 gallon fabric aeration pots.  This particular type of basil grows very short and with proper pruning will grow very bushy and productive.  When the plants were less than a foot tall we were harvesting more basil than we could eat or give to our neighbors.  In November we began sharing our bounty with Crust, a local pizzeria.  Through February we were providing Crust with 1/4 to 1/2 pound of fresh, leafy, green basil each week.  We asked Greg Beairsto, owner of Crust, what he thought about Atlantis Hydroponics’ basil.

Atlantis: “How did our basil compare to what you normally use?”

Greg: “In the warm season we grow the majority of our herbs outside around the store, and in the winter we get what is available from local distributors.  Comparing your basil to what we grow ourselves it’s apples to apples, but between you guys and what we’re getting from California there is no comparison.”