2014 Fertilizer Experiment Poll Results: Mills Nutrients is the Winner!

2014 Fertilizer Experiment Poll Results

2014 Fertilizer Experiment Poll Results

The results are in and after 2 months of voting on the Atlantis Hydroponics fertilizer experiment poll all of you (our loyal readers) have spoken and I am happy to report that the winner of the January 2013 fertilizer poll is: Mills Nutrients bio-mineral fertilizer line.  We will run the experiment using Mills Nutrients side by side against  General Hydroponics Flora Duo using separate drip to waste reservoirs, feeding individual plants in the same 4′ x 4′ Botanicare grow tray. All of the plants will be lit by a single 400 watt High Pressure Sodium ViaVolt bulb.

Check back soon for pictures of the experiment and also for our next poll where once again, you will decide what products Atlantis Hydroponics tests. Thank you for your readership and your participation.

A New Year Means New Hydroponic Experiments!!!

2014 Fertilizer Experiment

Atlantis Hydroponics’ Potential Fertilizers for Testing in 2014

Although many of us are still reveling in the wonderful 2013 holiday season, I have already turned my attention to the upcoming year. I have been given the opportunity to test some great new hydroponic fertilizers designed to ensure that our 2014 crops are the biggest and best ever…and I would like to share this opportunity with all of you!

There is one dilemma: There are too many products from which to choose.  So I propose you, the readers, pick which products are tested in my experiment. The experiment will be conducted under a 600 watt HID light in a 4′ x 4′ side by side drip to waste hydroponic system. The potential fertilizers for testing are: Mills nutrients bio-mineral fertilizer line (a great Dutch organic/synthetic fertilizer), ROCK nutrients line of chemical fertilizers, Bio Tabs time release biological organic fertilizer line, Xtreme Nutrients line of fertilizers guaranteeing to produce a great grow, and last but not least the well known 3 part (grow, micro, & bloom) line of fertilizers from Humboldt Nutrients.

Vote for what you would like to see tested. Vote early. Vote often. Encourage others to vote. Vote for what you want and I will test, document and share ALL of the results.

Have a Happy New Year and thank you for your readership and participation.

The Kratky Hydroponic Method: A Simple & Effective Hydroponic Technique

When I first heard about this new method of growing from a friend, I thought he said it was called the “Cracky” method. After hearing his explanation of how it worked, I thought my friend was actually on CRACK! I was more than skeptical- I was incredulous. After some research my curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to try this “revolutionary” new method of hydroponic growing. The style of growing was developed by B.A. Kratky at the University of Hawaii. His method contradicts traditional hydroponic theory on multiple levels: no active movement of water, no aeration of the reservoir, no change-out of nutrient solution. It is best for growing leafy greens, such as the lettuce shown here, and it has not been proven suitable for growing fruiting or flowering crops. All I can tell you is that although contradictory to my years of education and training, I cannot argue with the results in front of me…

Kratky Hydroponic System 1 Week After Planting

Kratky Hydroponic System 1 Week After Planting

Kratky Hydroponic System 2 Weeks After Planting

Kratky Hydroponic System 2 Weeks After Planting

Kratky Hydroponic System 3 Weeks After Planting

Kratky Hydroponic System 3 Weeks After Planting

Kratky Hydroponic System 4 Weeks After Planting

Kratky Hydroponic System 4 Weeks After Planting

Kratky Hydroponic System 5 Weeks After Planting

Kratky Hydroponic System 5 Weeks After Planting Ready to EAT!

The basic idea behind the Kratky method, as it has been dubbed, is that the plants start with their roots submerged in a mixture of water and fertilizer as seedlings. The growing container should be well sealed to minimize moisture lost to evaporation. The roots will then grow longer into the water as the water/fertilizer mixture is absorbed by the plants. As the water level goes down, the plant will make aerial roots able to absorb the necessary oxygen from the airspace between the top of the water and the top of the container. By the time the water is gone, you should have harvested your lettuce and can start again. No pH adjusting, no adding more fertilizer, no topping off the water/fertilizer mixture. I admit I am shocked, but I swear it works. Grow some in a Kratky Method Hydroponic System and see for yourself.

Hydroponic Fertilizer Experiment Update #2

Fertilizer Experiment Update

Fertilizer Experiment Update
APTUS & Heavy 16 on Left / GH Flora Duo on Right

Time for another update! We started our experiment testing Heavy 16 fertilizers and APTUS additives versus General Hydroponics’ Flora Duo a little more than 2 months ago. We are growing super hot peppers called Trinidad Scorpions, and they have really taken off!

To refresh your memory, or if you’re just joining us for the first time, the experiment is set up with separate drip to waste reservoirs, feeding individual plants in the same 4′ x 4′ Botanicare grow tray. All of the plants are being lit by a single 400 watt High Pressure Sodium Hortilux SUPER HPS bulb. Here are some numbers for all of you keeping track:

Fertilizer Experiment Metrics

Fertilizer Experiment Metrics

And now for some more pictures:

All Plants in the Experiment

All Plants in the Experiment

GH Plants

GH Plants

Heavy 16 & APTUS Plants

Heavy 16 & APTUS Plants

Monster Branching on GH Plant

Monster Branching on GH Plant

Monster Branching on Heavy 16 / APTUS Plant

Monster Branching on Heavy 16 / APTUS Plant

And the Winner is…

Heavy 16 & APTUS  vs GH Duo

Which Fertilizers Will Work Better? Check Back Soon and You Decide…

In one of our recent blogs, Atlantis Hydroponics let the world decide which fertilizer experiment we would conduct, blogging the results in real time as they occur. The winner of the experiment poll from the blog Which Hydroponic Fertilizer is Best? Experiments with a Purpose! is:

Heavy 16 and Aptus versus General Hydroponics Flora Duo, garnering 41.82% of the vote!  We will be setting up a side by side trial garden to compare how these fertilizers and additives perform. We are very excited to test Heavy 16 and Aptus as they are two brands that we currently do not stock; as a policy, Atlantis Hydroponics only carries fertilizers and additives that measure up to our high standards of quality after in-house testing by our hydroponic research and development team. Check the Atlantis Hydroponics Blog frequently for pictures and updates of the experiment.

Which Hydroponic Fertilizer is Best? Experiments with a Purpose!

plant science experiments favorite hydroponic experiment

Choose your favorite hydroponic experiment. Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Have you ever wondered to yourself which hydroponic fertilizer works best? Do I really need to use all 14 products from “that” nutrient company? Will adding this product make my plants grow like Jack’s beanstalk? Well now is your chance to find out. I am always running experiments here at Atlantis Hydroponics. I trial new fertilizers, test the latest “must have” additives, and perform simple side by side experiments to determine what works, and what does not. Now is your chance to choose the next experiment I conduct. You choose what you want tested, & I will blog the experiment and the results. So here it goes; the possible experiments are:

Is there a Light at the End of the Tunnel? A Look at LED Technology in Horticulture

LED Side by Side Trial With Lumi Grow ES330

Side by Side Trial – Lumi Grow ES330 LED vs. 270 Watt HPS (on left)

We have all seen the plethora of advertisements in the magazines about LED grow lights.  When LEDs first hit the horticulture market they were little more than Light-Brite™ toys with expensive price tags and big promises. They claimed that each watt of LED lighting was equivalent to more than 10 watts of HID lighting, on top of which they asserted LEDs would produce no heat, have better penetration of light through the canopy, and that they would revolutionize the growing industry.  Unfortunately, the early LEDs were unable to deliver on most of their promises.

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode.  Unlike traditional light sources with delicate filaments, electrodes, or pressurized gas filled lamps (i.e. HIDs), LEDs are solid state electronics, and as such are more robust and longer lasting (Bourget, 2008).  Solid state by its most simple definition means “made without any moving parts.”  A flash memory card is solid state device, where as a typical hard drive is not.  By not incorporating moving parts into the design, solid state electronics are less likely to break, wear out, or malfunction. This added level of reliability is one of the biggest benefits of LEDs.  Current LEDs are rated for as many as 70,000 hours of operation before they reach the point where replacement is advisable.  Although they will still be working at that point, at 70,000 hours of operation they will have reached a 30% diminishment in luminous output making it cost effective to replace them.  Seventy-thousand hours means that a grower using LEDs will not change the diodes for almost 16 straight years, running 12 hours per day, every day.

LEDs have not always had the longevity and reliability they are able to deliver today.  The history LEDs being used in horticultural applications started in the late 1980’s with crude arrays of red only (660 nanometer) LEDs.  Early experimentation with LEDs in horticulture was driven by their potential for use in growing food for space travel.  In the late 1990s the crops research group at the Kennedy Space Center conducted several studies on the yield and physiological response of several crops to LED lighting.  LEDs became even more promising with two critical advances in LED technology; the advent of blue LEDs, and high output diodes.  For a full timeline of LED lighting in horticulture please see the timeline below (HortScience Vol.43(7) Dec. 2008)

Horticulture LEd Lighting Timeline

Horticulture LEd Lighting Timeline

The advances in LED technology keep on coming; each decade LED prices have fallen by a factor of 10, while their performance has grown by a factor of 20 (a phenomenon known as Haitz’ Law).  So it seems the future of LEDs is getting brighter! In the next blog we will look at the different applications of using LEDs for growing plants and see if they are close to delivering on their original promise of revolutionizing the horticultural world.

Indoor Garden Lighting (Part 1): Obstacles to Overcome!

A beautiful sun setting over the green grass

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

“Fiat Lux,” Latin for “let there be light,” is the famous quote that begins the third verse of Genesis.  We all know that plants need light to carry out photosynthesis and the best (and cheapest) way to get it is to use natural sunlight.  Alas, that is a luxury many of us don’t have.  We are relegated to growing our plants indoors; in closets and cubbies, in basements and bedrooms.  So for us, what is the best way to light our gardens?  We have several options: Fluorescents, HID (Metal Halide or High Pressure Sodium), Plasmas, and LEDs.  What basic grow light information do we need to know when we choose how to light our garden(s)?  First we need to know what our obstacles are…

One of the biggest problems we as indoor gardeners face is that most of our lighting options produce heat, a lot of heat; approximately 3.4 BTU (British Thermal Units) per hour/per watt.  That means that a single 1,000 watt HPS light system generates 3,400 BTU of heat every hour.  A BTU is the amount of energy required to raise 1 pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit.  To give you an idea how much heat that is; each 1,000 watt HPS light radiates enough heat into a grow room to boil 3 gallons of water an hour!

Another obstacle for indoor lighting is the penetration of light through the plant canopy.  Light diminishes from its source with distance.  The relationship of light emitted from a point source (a bulb) and distance is known as the inverse square law.  The law states that the intensity of light changes in inverse proportion to the square of the distance or I (intensity) = L (light) / D (distance.)  That means that the intensity of light 2 feet away from the source is 25% of the intensity 1 foot from the same source.

The last challenge of indoor grow lights is that most lighting requires huge amounts of electricity.  In order to cover a 10’ x 10’ room high light plants require 4,000 watts of lighting or more.  The average American household uses 14,000 watts of electricity per day according to the Department of Energy so the above mentioned garden would account for 28.6% of their total electrical consumption.  Use this handy electrical usage guide to find out how much your electricty will cost per month.  With the cost of electricity ever on the rise the search for more efficient horticultural lighting has LED down several roads…  Check out part 2 of this blog series for a review of different types of horticultural lighting and how they stack up.  Bright sun inside of light bulb

Strong Plants Pump Iron: Facts about Iron Nutrition in Plants

I have been growing for decades and at a certain point I was able to diagnose problems with a quick glance.  Iron deficiency was always one of the first I would notice because it has a very specific look.  The signs of Iron deficiency present as interveinal chlorosis or yellowing of young leaves between the veins.  This can be accompanied by necrotic spotting (brown dead tissue spots) on leaves.  Iron is an immobile element meaning deficiencies will always first show at the top of the plant or on the newest / youngest growth.  Iron is required for photosynthesis, respiration, as well as the production of enzymes. 

There are three forms of Iron chelate, FeEDTA, FeDTPA and FeEDDHA, although the most common form is FeEDTA.
 
With Iron nutrition, the form of Iron is very important. The three common chelated forms (Iron-EDDHA, DTPA and EDTA) differ in their ability to keep Iron soluble and available to plants as the media or hydroponic solution pH increases. Between a pH of 4.0 to 5.5, any form of Iron will work (including Iron sulfate) at supplying Iron to a plant.  As pH climbs over 6.0 less than half of the Iron from FeEDTA becomes unavailable to your plants.  However, as the media / fertilizer solution pH increases above 7.0, only the Iron from Iron-EDDHA will remain soluble. Research has shown that the ranking of Iron forms from most effective to least effective at supplying Iron at high media pH are:
 
Iron-EDDHA (pH up to 11.0)> Iron-DTPA (pH up to 7.0)> Iron-EDTA pH up to 5.5)> Iron sulfate (pH up to 5.5).
 
When choosing an Iron supplement make sure to check the Iron source and match it to your growing needs.  I always recommend that soil and soilless growers use the Iron chelate FeDTPA because it will provide the Iron the plants need and allow them to set the pH of their irrigation solution to the ideal 6.3-6.6 pH range.  The product I use myself and recommend is CALiMAGic from General Hydroponics.

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!