Lessons from the harvest

Large grow room with multiple thriving plants under LED grow lights.You’re ready to start growing your very own fruits and vegetables. You have your grow room or grow kit ready and you have your seeds, but you’re second-guessing yourself.

What if your grow fails to meet your expectations? What if your plants don’t grow properly?

In order to achieve a successful harvest, there a few factors you need to consider and really pay attention to. In this article, we’ve outlined the four essentials of a successful grow room.

Table of Contents

  1. Keep a Close Eye on Your Plants’ Nutrition and Health
  2. Pest Control and Grow Room Environment Go Hand-in-Hand
  3. The Importance of Lighting Cannot Be Overstated
  4. Fans Serve Multiple Purposes
  5. A Successful Grow Room Leads to a Quality Harvest

The lessons provided here will help you get the most out of your grow room, and they’ll ensure that you’re not dealing with unnecessary obstacles or struggling during the growing process.

1. Keep a Close Eye on Your Plants’ Nutrition and Health

Lettuce seedling growing in soil.Plants need nutrients in order to grow. During the vegetation stage, plants must receive enough nitrogen, typically sold in liquid form. Later on, they’ll require phosphorus and potassium, as well. You should also provide your plant with root stimulators, which help support a strong root system, as well as sweeteners to help facilitate the growth process and enhance flavors.

In addition to maintaining a diligent nutrient regimen, you must also make sure that the water you provide your plants is at the right pH level. The pH is used to measure how acidic or basic a given substance is. The lower the pH level, the more acidic the substance is. The higher the pH level, the more basic the substance is.

Note: The ideal pH level for most plants, is around 6 to 7, with 6.5 being the sweet spot. It’s good practice to do some research on whatever fruits, vegetables, or plants you may be growing.

You can load up your plants with nitrogen and water them as much as you’d like, but without taking the right steps to check their pH balance, they’ll likely still end up dead. So how do you go about properly adjusting the pH level of water? You can use pH Up and pH Down solutions, as these are designed to adjust the pH level by raising and lowering it as necessary.

Also important to consider is the PPM, or parts per million. The PPM number indicates how many solubles (such as minerals, for instance) are present in your water. With a higher PPM number than recommended, your plants won't be able to absorb the nutrition they need, leading to nutrient blocks and deficiencies. When that number's too low, your plants won't get all of the nutrition they need, which will slow down growth and could also lead to deficiencies.

To measure PPM, you will need an EC/TDS Meter to get readings for both the amount of total dissolved solids in the water and the water’s electrical conductivity. If your plants are getting too much food, add some reverse osmosis treated water (or filtered water with a neutral pH) to your solution — this will lower the PPM concentration, giving your plants a smoother introduction of nutrients. If the PPM is too low, it means your watering solution needs more nutrition, so you will have to adjust the amount of nutrients you provide accordingly.

2. Pest Control and Grow Room Environment Go Hand-in-Hand

Hygrometer and fan in a grow tent.Having a successful grow room environment means keeping everything in your grow room or grow tent in check. This includes keeping a clean and tidy space, and making sure the climate is optimal for your plants.

Keeping a clean environment is important when growing your own fruits and veggies in an indoor grow room or grow tent. Pests are attracted to your plants by nature, but they thrive in dirty, unkempt grow rooms because it's closer to their natural environment.

From spider mites and white flies to ants and roaches, make sure your keep grow room environment as tidy as possible. It's also helps to lay a few sticky traps near openings in your grow room or tent, and hang a few above your plants for any flying pests.

When an infection hits, trimming the infested plants and using neem oil is a great way to eliminate pests and keep them at bay.

Protecting your grow room environment also means making sure your grow room temperature and humidity levels are at an adequate level. All plants thrive off different temperatures and humidity levels, so it's important to first do the research and ensure you know the right environment for them. That's why a thermo-hygrometer is a great investment as it will help you keep a close and accurate eye on the changing climate conditions in your grow room’s environment.

Lowering and raising the humidity levels in your grow room is tricky. To lower temperatures, you can open up a window (if you have them), open a door, or push warm air out of your grow via a high output fan. Doing that, though, will lower your humidity levels, which will have a negative impact on your plants metabolism. So to raise humidity, you can simply lower the output of your fans to a bare minimum — but doing that will either raise temperatures too high, create a stagnant environment where water can't absorb into mediums, or evaporate, thus creating the perfect environment for pests and plant illness.

See how complicated it can get? It's important to keep in mind that your environment may be slightly off from time to time, but as long as it's within a 5°F and 5 percent humidity of the sweet spot, you'll be fine. Though if you want to be precise about it, environment controllers like those from iPonic can regulate ventilation equipment to turn on and off in order to maintain the optimal conditions of your grow room environment.

Remember: No amount of nutrients will be able to save your plants from a bad environment, so environmental control is key.

3. The Importance of Lighting Cannot Be Overstated

T5 grow lights in a lettuce grow room.In order to achieve full harvest potential, it’s important to provide your plants with light that falls under the appropriate spectrum.

When selecting lights for your grow room or grow tent, you'll want to weigh multiple factors and even do research on how different types of light function and what they provide plants with. Should you use UV light in your grow room? Do your plants need infrared light? How will these lights affect your plants’ growth?

Additionally, keep in mind that some lighting may affect the temperature of your grow room, which goes back to keeping a stable environment. Therefore, it's best to weigh all of your options and determine how different lighting will impact the totality of your space before moving forward with your purchase.

There are so many lights to choose from, so doing your research is essential to finding the perfect lights for your grow room. What you'll first need to look into are the wavelengths of light a given light offers.

  • Standard HPS and MH grow lights will give you a wide spectrum of light that contains various wavelengths plants need to grow.
  • LED grow lights usually have targeted wavelengths of light, like blue, red, orange, UV, and IR.

Once you know the wavelengths your plants need and the light you want to use, you'll want to figure out the intensity your plants need.

  • Lower wattage lights (below 150w) are usually used as supplemental lighting. These help fill in gaps that your grow room's primary light source doesn't offer.
  • Higher wattage lights (above 200w) are used as primary lighting for vegetables, flowers, and fruiting plants.

Of course, your plants and the size of your growing area will determine how intense your light can be. If you're starting a grow room, begin by researching how many lumens of light your plant needs to grow, then use your grow room size to determine what sort of lighting and ventilation you'll need.

If you're already growing and your plants are frying, use a PAR meter to measure the intensity of your lights. Raise the grow lights if they're too intense. If the effectiveness of your lights suffers as a result of positioning them higher — as is the case with LEDs — you'll need to downgrade the intensity of your grow light.

4. Fans Serve Multiple Purposes

Fans and LEDs in a grow tent.We can’t stress the importance of efficient airflow in your grow room enough. Your plants will struggle to grow to their full potential without the right amount of fresh air in the grow room.

Fans are your first line of defense against overwhelming temperatures and humidity. High output fans will push large amounts of heat and humid air out of your growing area, whereas smaller oscillating fans help move air around your grow room to keep temperatures bearable.

Fans also help circulate air around your grow room. Have you ever stood in a hot room without fans? It feels like you can't breathe. That's what happens when there's no air circulation: You're breathing in warm air filled with your own CO2 and whatever else is in the environment. The same thing goes for plants: Without air circulation, your plants are breathing in stale, spent air that's probably filled with dust, which clogs their stomata and restricts their breathing.

Oscillating fans help circulate air around your grow room. In doing so, they also help gently push on branches. When your plants receive that bit of resistance, it helps strengthen them. Strong branches allow for fruits and flowers to thrive, so it's important to keep airflow in mind when growing.

There are a lot of options when it comes to airflow and air circulation for your grow room. Before deciding which fans and filters you’ll need, you’ll have to determine what’s best for the size of your grow room, as well as the number of plants you’re growing and how many exchanges of fresh air they'll need each day to thrive.

A Successful Grow Room Leads to a Quality Harvest

Fruit and vegetable grow room harvest.Getting the most out of your grow room requires that you put in the time and effort into making it a healthy, stable environment for your plants.

It takes a fair amount of research and hard work on your part to provide the best living situation for your fruits, vegetables, herbs, and any other plants you may want to grow. That said, by putting in the time and hard work, you’ll see the payoff for your efforts.

The four essentials outlined here are pivotal to the success of your grow room. If you can follow these tips, you’ll be on the right path to seeing a quality harvest.

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