A Second Great LED -2

I used a grow tent again for my second test of a LED from HTGSupply.com and it turned out even better than I would have hoped. The new 2 watt bulbs really increase the light intensity and everything that I said in my first LED test about the 120 watt Tri-band is true for the 90 watt UFO (X2).  The UFO also incorporates the Tri-band technology but with two watt bulbs it is an even better light with LESS electricity usage. The next few posts will document with words and pictures my experiences
I have recommend to many people to start plants under a fluorescent light as it promotes short node length and good vegetative growth with its high blue light output. With the big bulbs (T-8 and T-12) I recommend cool white for its high Kelvin rating  and the blue bulbs for the T-5 HO. I have propagated cuttings under an LED and started seeds with my first LED test, but there is no reason not to use fluorescents if you have them, as I do.

I was happy to see that at the end of one week both lights had induced flowering in the cherry tomato plants. The basil and Coleus were smaller and younger and did not begin to flower in the first week. Remember that the LED is using 90 watts and the 4 bulb T-5 is using around 204 watts.
Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers


Merry Christmas (cactus)

This is a Christmas cactus that my grandfather gave me as a cutting. (There may be some genetic basis for my joy of growing). There are several species all in the genus (Schlumbergera) and native to the South American tropics. The green, flattened, leaf-like structures that make up the majority of a Christmas cactus are actually modified stem segments called cladodes. In most cacti, the leaves have been modified into spines which have many different functions for the plant, or as in the Christmas cactus, the leaves / spines are absent.

The plants flower around the winter solstice (Christmas time) because like with many plants the longer period of darkness, not the length of light, signals the flowering times. In fact many of our favorite holiday flowers are "short-day" plants meaning they require at least 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness to stimulate flowering

You should never over water a plant but Christmas cactus like to be moist, so water as soon as the top of the soil is dry. To add more humidity around a plant that is growing in a dry winter home atmosphere, place the pot on a tray of pebbles and keep the pebbles moist. Christmas cacti grow well in a bright location out of direct sunlight. Apply a general fertilizer (like 10-10-10) every month. You could use a higher flowering fertilizer (high in phosphorus) starting in September to maximize flowering.

Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers


Cuttings with LED Lighting

I decided to try taking cuttings of rosemary and try out Juicy Roots and see if there is a difference when the cuttings are put under fluorescents vs. LED. I took 6 cuttings and put half under a big tube fluorescent light and the others in the grow tent with the UFO. You can see with your own eyes the results (below). Now with such a small sample size this is certainly not scientific, but my goal was to test a LED with cuttings and I can now recommend LED’s from HTGSupply.com for growing plants and starting cuttings and as you will see in the next few posts, flowering/fruit production. I would have advised anyone to put the cuttings under a dome but I did not. Learn from my absent minded mistakes, you will greatly increase your cutting success if you keep the humidity high for your cuttings until roots develop.

Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers


A Second GREAT LED- UFO - 1

The next posts follow my second use of an LED as a stand alone light for plant growth

As I said in my first test of a LED  I have gotten many E-mail's asking what I think about LED's for plant growth. The use of LED’s in indoor growing is on the rise. As before I will be growing plants (Tomato, basil and rosemary this time) in a grow tent but this time I am using a UFO LED From HTGSupply.com. I am happy to report that this LED is even BETTER than I expected, I am using a 2 watt bulb version. Of course I will show you the pictures to prove it. I can not say you will get the same results with all LED lights no matter the wattage. I know HTGSupply.com has done a lot of research and this is a proven LED that they developed specifically with photosynthesis in mind. Many of you know that unfortunately the easiest (cheapest) to produce LED that emit blue and red colors (to human eyes) are not in the optimal wavelength (color) that most plants need to drive photosynthesis.
REMEMBER: Not all LED's are the same!
Cost is a factor in all purchases and as you may know LED lights are an energy efficient light source. This means you will pay less on your electricity bill each month, forever. Energy efficiency also means there is less heat as a by product. With less heat, growing in small spaces is easier and you need less electricity and equipment to remove heat. And, LED's last for years.  You should replace an MH bulb yearly and a HPS bulb every 2-3 years (LINK how long bulbs last) or you will have a large loss in light output and yield. An LED will not loose light intensity for thousands more hours than an HPS so it lasts you years longer. Keep that in mind if you are going to grow for a long time.

THE UFO LED from HTGSupply.com
Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers


Sugar Additives and Growth After Germination

If molasses benefits plants due to its sugar content, then maybe other sugars or carbohydrates added to the soil would also increase growth. I encouraged some of my students to test this hypothesis by suggesting they test the effect of adding sugars to sunflower seeds in potting soil. (Sadly, I did not have molasses the day we set up the experiments) We watered plants right after the seeds were planted. Each group watered half their plants with the additive (sugars or Fox Farm Big Bloom were tested this semester) and the other half of the plants only got tap water. We then reapplied the additive each week for three weeks until we measured plant growth. (Additives were 5ml per 1/2 L of: Coke, 5 hour energy drink, tea that had dextrose sugar and straight table sugar (sucrose). All plants were watered with tap water as needed throughout the rest of the experiment. We saw no increased growth (measured via height and biomass) in any sugar groups after three weeks. The Fox Farm group was significantly bigger in height and biomass. An interesting observation was most of the sugar additive groups had mold (no other pots had mold accept one’s that had added sugar). This mold may be related to the most important piece of data, that there was a significant reduction in percent seed germination found in groups that used sugar additives compared with those that added high phosphorus fertilizers or just tap water.  I would not recommend using sugars until your plants are larger and more established and interacting with soil organisms that are beneficial. I hypothesize that by adding sugar before the seeds germinate you are making it easier for harmful microbes that are wide spread in the environment and better adapted to take advantage of a sugary environment to dominate the soil. By adding sugar once the plant is larger and has established a relationship with beneficial microbes (already in place) the beneficials will thrive with the new food source and so will your plant. Next semester I will be sure to bring in molasses… until then, stay tuned and…

Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers


More on Molasses - Molasses II

In my last post about molasses  (Be sure to read the comments too) I recommended you can add molasses a table spoon per gallon at any stage of the growth cycle so long as you don't get harmful bacterial or fungus.  There are a few products that contain sugar or molasses (see p.s. below) but if you want to buy straight up molasses’ look at the label before you use it and compare the nutritional information and nutrition facts – Here is the information on some molasses I have: Serving Size: 1Tbsp. (21g). Servings per Container: About 24. You can make 24 gallons with this one jar. Sodium - 65mg. The lower the sodium the better this is not good for plants so compare before you buy! All of the following are beneficial to plants and more is better when comparing brands of molasses -- Potassium - 800 mg. Total Carbohydrates - 13g, Sugars - 12g, Protein - 1g, Calcium - 2%; Iron 10%; Magnesium 15%; This brand does not have sulfur, but I recommend you do use molasses with sulfur (see comments about sulfur in previous post) A good grower will see this in not a bad fertilizer, which is not surprising being made of plants it has the molecular pieces that plant cells need for their metabolic reactions. Molasses like compost  supplies mineral nutrients essential for beneficial microorganisms to survive and thrive and molasses has lots more sugars which are an energy source for beneficials. A secret to successful organic gardening is feeding plant materials to microorganism populations in the soil/medium. There is a real benefit to soil microorganisms from organic amendments like molasses, kelp, or other plant based products since they are quickly and easily available as food to soil microorganism and/or plants. If molasses does improve growth or flowering and many say it does, then it may prove the old adage true - “Feed the soil not the plant.”

By the way, if you do see improvement with molasses you may want to grow with increased organic matter, it would be best to mix things, like coir and/or compost with soil, to create a heterogeneous environment with lots of food for the microbes. Also, pH is a crucial factor, Coir has a lower pH than soil so mixing it could improve or harm growth depending on what plant and environment you grow in. If you are going to try to grow or improve growth with organic gardening, a pH meter is a good investment.

I will have future posts about beneficial bacteria, please E-mail any comments or questions about this or other topics to me at askthedoctor@htgsupply.com anytime.

Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers

P.S. Perry at HTGSupply.com reminded me that some of their products contain sugars like, Sweet Leaf, Sugar Daddy and Carbo Load. In fact, Sweet Leaf and Sugar Daddy have molasses in them.