Learning to grow
Ok, no one is going to dispute this. Learning to grow has a very steep initial learning curve. There’s all sorts of things that a newbie needs to learn during his/her first grow. Here is a list of the top 10 most common mistakes that we find that new growers will make.
Read on and help make sure your first grow is a successful one!:
1) Overwatering your plants
By the time people reach their teen years, they generally know that plants need water. The problem is that armed with this information, and believing that if a bit of something is good then lots must be better, they start off by watering their new plants every 2 hours or so. This is particularly bad when they are potted in a water retentive medium such as soil.
Yes, plants need water, but the roots also need oxygen. Drowning the roots not only starves the roots of oxygen but also creates the ideal conditions for root-rot.
Let your plant’s roots get the oxygen they need and avoid the dreaded root-rot by allowing the medium to dry out a little in-between waterings. This is less important for hydroponics than growing in soil but even in clay pebbles, your plants shouldn’t need watering more than once per day to start off with.
2) Too much or too little feed
Plants do need plant food, but too much is worse than too little. An overfed plant will become sick very quickly and can even die. Make sure that you are feeding the correct amount by using a feeding schedule designed for the nutrient brand that you are using and the substrate that you are growing in.
One Stop Grow Shop can provide a feed chart for all the nutrients lines that we sell. So, don’t make your plants sick. Be smart and ask us for a feed chart!
3) Putting the lights too high or too low
Plants need lots of light but it is crucial to understand the lights that you are using and to put them at an appropriate height.
Most people will use a fluorescent type lamp for vegging their plants. The intensity of fluorescent lamps is not very high, and the heat output is not too bad. To get the best effect from them they need to be fairly close to the tops of the plants – at about 6 inches or so will usually give good results.
When it comes to going over to flowering or fruiting, most growers will switch from fluorescent lights to a HID type lamp, most usually a high pressure sodium (HPS). Plants need a few days to adjust to the new colour spectrum of the new, very bright light.
Be nice to them and start your HPS lamp at 3 feet or so away from the tops of the plants. This can be reduced down to about 18 inches (400 Watt lamp) or 24 inches (600 Watt lamp) by lowering the lamp a few inches or so every day. Don’t forget your plants will also be growing upwards to meet the lamp at the same time! Getting your lamp too close to a plant will inevitably cause burning and a very unhappy plant as a result!
4) Air temperature too cold or too hot
Most plants need a temperature above 15C to grow. Below that they will stall (stop growing). The max temperature for most plants is generally about 28C. Aim to keeps air-temps within 20-25C during vegging and make sure that the tops never get hotter than 28C during flowering/fruiting when you have a HPS above them.
5) Inadequate extraction
This is a classic newbie mistake. People new to growing often believe that they will get along fine if they scrimp on the extraction system. Some people even try to start growing without one at all!
Plants use the CO2 in the air. They will quickly use up the CO2 in the air inside a tent. Once the CO2 is depleted, they will no longer be able to photosynthesize and will stop growing. The air in the tent ideally needs to be replaced roughly once every 2 minutes. Doing this will also help make sure that the temps do not go too high (see point 4 above), especially when using a hot HPS lamp!
6) Not checking for pests
Spider mites and other bugs can reproduce like absolute wildfire in an indoor grow environment. If you are not checking your plants (the stems, the tops AND bottoms of leaves) every couple of days or so for signs of insect infestation then the chances are high that one day you will go to look at your plants and there will already be devastation under way.
Checking every day or 2 for spots on leaves or anything else peculiar will help ensure that you catch bugs and moulds early on before they get a real hold in your grow-room. This gives you chance to consult a book or ring our shop for advice. There a plenty of effective treatments for every type of bug out there, but there isn’t a single product anywhere that can instantly fix the damage that they can do to your grow. Avoid the damage by dealing with those pesky critters early – check your plants at least every couple of days!
7) pH Problems
This problem tends to affect hydro growers more often than soil growers. Soil helps to buffer pH. However, too much feed or using the wrong type of feed can lead to problems caused by the wrong pH.
In a hydroponics system the nutrient water needs to be kept in a pH range of 5.5 to 6.0, with the ideal pH being 5.8. This allows the plant to get all the different types of nutrient that it needs. If the pH goes out of this range they won’t get all the types of nutrient that they need and will begin to suffer from deficiencies. Arm yourself with a pH meter and pH down and make sure that your nutrient water stays in the right range to keep your plants healthy.
The ideal pH for soil 6.5 to 6.8. When you have watered your plants and collected some run off in the saucer beneath, use a pH meter to make sure the levels are staying within acceptable limits.
8) Incorrect humidity
Plants need a relative humidity (RH) of between 50% and 60% when vegging and between 40% and 50% during flowering/fruiting. Humidity levels out of these ranges will cause slowed growth or vulnerabilities to moulds.
Use your extraction system to help keep humidity down, or a bowl of water to help raise it. Keep RH in the right range and your plants will thank you!
9) No temperature difference between light and dark cycles
Plants not only sense when to flower by when the lights are on, they also sense the temperature difference between night and day!
During flowering, try to keep the temperature at the tops of the plants between 25-28C during the lights on period and make sure that the temperature drops by at least 5C when the lights go out. Your plants will flower/fruit more quickly and more plentifully if you do!
10) Not talking to your plants
Ok, that was a little joke. I’m not actually proposing that you go and chat to them about what has just happened on Corrie. However, plants definitely respond to the time you spend tending them and the care that you give them. The more, the better. Love your plants and they will give it back to you come harvest time!