SUNLIGHT OR LIGHTING
Generally the more intense the light your plant receives, the greater your yield will be. If growing outdoors, be mindful of avoiding shade when choosing a position for your plants. When growing indoors, be sure to provide a good quality light source, with high wattage. Indoor growing lights have advanced rapidly over the last few decades, with LEDs the choice for expert growers, as they convert more electrical energy into usable light, which has the added benefit of keeping the growing environment cooler. While older lighting types such as High Pressure Sodium and Metal Halide are cheaper upfront, the bulbs degrade over time and will need to be replaced after 3,000 to 5,000 hours of use to maintain yields. We also advise you to be wary of big claims from new lighting brands, with it best to stick to proven products from reputable companies.
Electrical Conductivity (EC)
EC levels indicate the concentration of salts and nutrients in your feed water. Ideally start with water that has minimal dissolved salt content (below 0.2 EC) and then add nutrients until the EC reaches recommended levels according to the maturity of your crop.
To measure EC you will require an electronic EC meter. It is best to buy an EC meter manufactured by a reputable brand. Be sure to calibrate before use to ensure the EC meter’s accuracy and follow the care instructions to ensure it measures correctly into the future.
The pH levels of your feed water significantly impact the availability of nutrients so it is very important to maintain appropriate levels for nutrients to perform at their best. The optimal pH can differ between varieties/strains of the same crop species, so it is best to get advice from your seed or seedling provider as to the appropriate pH. If however this information can not be obtained, we recommend that you operate with a pH between 5.5 to 6.5. Having a pH below 5 or above 7 will have a noticeably negative impact on the performance of your crop.
Adding nutrients to your feed water will always lower its pH level, so it is always best to correct pH after adding the nutrients. Either use pH testing strips or a pH meter to measure your pH levels and follow the instructions of the test correctly. Make sure to also take care of any measurement equipment and calibrate before use to ensure its accuracy.
Maintaining correct EC and pH levels
It is important to check the EC and pH levels regularly, preferably daily to ensure that they are both at their optimum. With systems where the water is recycled this is as simple as testing your feed water regularly.
With a system where feed water is not recycled, it is best to test both the feed water and also the water that drains off your crops. Variations between feed water and wastewater can develop, which will indicate that nutrient has built up in your medium.
Because nutrient build-up is a common issue with some mediums, such as coco peat. It's good practice to flush your crops with fresh water that does not contain any nutrients, on a weekly basis during warmer months and on a fortnightly basis in cooler months.