Winter is Coming!
Easy Grow’s top 5 tips on preparing your garden for the cold
Whisper it quietly, but the cold and dark is beginning to creep back in and we will soon be back in to the brisk days and freezing nights of winter. While it is a well known fact that for hydroponics gardeners, cold weather brings more good than bad – due to having better control of the climate in your grow room, it also presents the need for a number of modifications in order to maximise the yield of your favourite plants and flowers.
Follow our tips below to ensure you are getting the most from your hydroponics garden this winter.
1. Watch your Temperatures!
The root zones in a plant are very susceptible to the cold, when exposed to temperatures below 19℃ their growth rate begins to slows and cells begin to become damaged on the outside of the root surface. Optimal temperatures for a root zone is between 20℃ and 21℃, and both the root zone and nutrient solutions should be kept in this operating zone. This will provide a nutrient solution that is warm enough to stimulate good growth rates yet cool enough to maintain good oxygen content.
Plant pots should not be left on the floor, especially on concrete floors or anywhere where the air temp is stratified, this will result in a massive reduction in the root zone temperature. Some people will use heating mats for the plant pots, while others will elevate the pots from the floor. Whatever you decide, make sure that you do not let the root zone get too cold or this will shock the roots while also slowing nutrient absorption and growth.
Related problems occur when your hydroponics room, floor and nutrient solution fall below 19℃. It stresses your plants, making them less able to deal with diseases and pests. This can lead to big problems in winter as the cold temperatures provide an environment in which diseases, pests and harmful fungi flourish. You have weaker hydroponics plants and more things that attack them.
If you suspect that your plant has begun to suffer from temperature stress, then you can still offer your plant the best chance of survival with prevention and treatment. Read our blog on controlling stress in plants through the use of humic acids and seaweed extracts
2. Ensure a Good Circulation in your Grow Room
Air temperature difference is a problem you might have in your grow room – your heat will travel to the ceiling and will be cold near the floor. If not treated properly your hydroponic plants can die. You need proper air circulation inside your grow room.
Upgrade your grow room climate control, air mixing and root zone temperature so your winter growing continues to provide you the massive harvests you want. Making sure that your indoor hydroponics garden has ideal temperatures from floor to ceiling. This means 20℃-23℃, unless you’re adding C02 to your atmosphere, in which case your temps can go higher.
If you want to increase your temperatures and consequently yields in your grow room this can be achieved by increasing the CO2 content in the grow room. Easy Grow recommends the original natural indoor CO2 bags, Exhale CO2 bags will raise the CO2 level in a 1.2m x 1.2m space at least 500 ppm above ambient levels and sustain that level for at least 6 months, guaranteed.
3. Contain your Light & Heat
In the winter you will naturally be using more light and heat energy in your indoor garden. It is therefore extremely important to contain as much of the light and heat energy as you can to minimise the cost of running your hydroponic set-up.
Grow rooms should be heavily insulated to reduce the escape of heat energy, if your indoor grow room is not well protected in cold weather, you will need to add insulation to protect your plants from harsh temperatures. Because cold air is heavier and sinks it is a good idea to raise things like water and plantings off the ground if you can keep them on a table the plants will do better.
Additionally Easy Grow recommend using our lightite foil and reflective sheeting when constructing your grow room, this sheeting is 5 layered and extremely thick preventing the escape of light and heat energy. To ensure the maximum light and yield in your indoor garden always use Easy Grow lightite sheeting.
4. Make Use of your Increased Heat
Winter is not only a time of handling colder outdoor temperatures to make sure they don’t hurt your indoor plants. It’s also a time of opportunity. You can save on electricity costs by sending your HID heat into the rest of the house or using it to keep your hydroponics garden at its optimum 23℃. With an increase in the amount of light and heat energy being used it is a good idea to figure out how to get the heat out of your grow room and into the rest of your home to reduce in household heating costs.
5. Maintain your Humidity
Winter is the driest time of the year, humidity-wise. The air becomes brittle and arid in most regions, this problem is compounded by our indoor heating systems drying out the air. Plants react to this about as poorly as people do. Growing hydroponically means that there is lots of water around but the majority of it doesn’t do much for the air. You can add a humidifier to your growing space and/or get a spray bottle and mist the foliage of your plants once every few days. This is NOT a good idea if your plants are subject to mould, powdery mildew or other fungi, however. Leaves should be lightly misted, not soaked, to prevent mould growth.