Growing your high-value crops indoors is becoming increasingly popular owing to the numerous advantages it offers. The requirements of plants are unique to every stage of growth and a minor fluctuation in pH, temperature, light or humidity can affect their performance.
All these factors can be controlled manually inside a protected grow room that ultimately brings out the desired quality of the harvest.
Advantages of Indoor Growing
- Growers can have complete control over the growing environment of plants. Factors like water, nutrient, heat, light, air, humidity, etc. can be managed effectively inside a grow room.
- When plants are growing in a controlled environment, other factors like flowering, harvest, size and quality of crops can also be determined by growers themselves.
- The indoor grow room is a protected zone for plants, and therefore, they are safe from pests, insects and other kinds of preys that are nuisances for plants growing outdoors.
Prerequisites for Indoor Growing
Growing medium, nutrients, pH and EC, etc. are some of the few basic parameters to be maintained while growing indoors. Thus, here we have summarized the importance of CO2 generators along with environmental control factors that accelerate growth and add value to your hydroponics grow room.
CO2 Generator – CO2 is one of the key ingredients that fuel the physiological processes occurring in plants and your high-value crops are no exception. Supply of CO2 is enhanced inside your grow room with the help of CO2 generators. Although atmospheric carbon dioxide can suffice to meet the minimum requirement of plants, an increase in its levels will lead to accelerated growth and yield.
Effect of CO2 on Growth – Sounds cliche but it is true; plants cannot survive without CO2. The amount of CO2 present in the atmosphere at the moment is 300-400 parts per million. This density is however not sufficient for the optimal growth of plants. Therefore, you can add CO2 inside your grow room with the help of generators and elevate levels to 1000-1500ppm. Plants show 25% faster grow rate under this condition. So how does that happen?
The extra CO2 in the grow environment enables the plant to tolerate more heat i.e. temperatures as high as 70-85 degree F. And under this range of temperate and CO2 density, plants are benefited directly in the following ways:
- Photosynthesis: Plants primarily use CO2 during photosynthesis. More of the CO2 is accessed by plants leading to a rapid the rate of photosynthesis.
- Vegetative Growth: The sound effects of CO2 are directly pronounced on the vegetative state of plants. Adding extra CO2 particularly during the vegetative stage is a smart way to grow bigger plants in less time.
- Flowering: Growers understand that increased growth and bud production can be achieved by elevating CO2 levels during the first 2-3 weeks of flowering till two weeks before harvest.
What is a Carbon Dioxide Generator?
CO2 can be supplemented inside a grow room with the help of a CO2 generator. It’s a device that generates CO2 by burning propane, natural gas or denatured alcohol. The chemical reaction produces carbon dioxide gas and water. Since water is a by-product, it increases the humidity of compact grow rooms. Therefore, you need to monitor the moisture and maintain its optimum value. Also, check that your CO2 generator is equipped with fire safety features.
Environment Control Parameters
- Light: The quality of grow lights and duration of light are vital for plants growth. The set up must contain a bulb (Metal Halide or HID), reflector, ballast, timer and electrical inputs/outputs. Lights that mimic natural sunlight are best suited for growth. HID or MH lights are the most efficient options for indoor grow rooms; the former ideal for seedling and vegetative growth while the latter for flowering. High-value crops need a lot of light, so, in any case, the total number of lumens received should not go below 2500. Secondly, fix the reflectors in such a way that when light bounces off from them falls directly on the plants.
- Air: Plants needs fresh air or oxygen during the vegetative and flowering phase. Keep the windows of your grow room open while protecting them from cold winds during winters. You can also install fans both exhaust and regular to maintain proper air circulation. A CO2 generator is also useful to boost up photosynthesis. Plants grow rapidly and yield bigger buds under increased concentration of CO2.
- Temperature: Indoor grow rooms receive heat either from sunlight naturally or from artificial systems installed inside. Cooling and heating thermostats help to maintain the temperature of surroundings. Make sure that the exhaust fans operate timely and at specific intervals to blow out hot stale air from the room. The ideal grow room temperature ranges from 70 to 75 degree F.
- Humidity: Plants require a moderately humid environment for optimal growth. A hygrometer will let you detect the relative humidity (RH) of your grow room which should be within 40-80%. A simple way to control humidity is to use an RH measuring kit to know how much fresh air needs to go in for balancing the humidity to an optimal level.
These are the basic requirements for indoor growing. The needs of plants vary in different stages of growth and accordingly you have to meet those needs. Last but not the least, take care of your system and ensure that the growing environment, plants, equipment, mediums, etc. are sterile, hygienic, clean and above all free from fungus, bacteria, pests, diseases and other types of germs and disorders. Good luck with your garden!