E-mail - New Light for a Small Closet

Hi Doc

I’m a new grower I’m using simple 4' fluorescents right now to get my plants going, but i want to get a better light to finish veg. and flowering stages. I ont want to spend a whole lot of money. My grow room closet is small 3 1/2' by 4 1/2'with just 2 plants for now. Can you tell me what kind of light cpf/hps or mh and what watt would Be best for over all growth and flowering for the best price.

Hi, I too started out with the 4’ shop lights, they work but you will see a world of difference if you move up to a 250 watt HPS. (I think the single best light to use is an HPS) If you have a tall closet, you could use a 400 W hps, or if you are willing to vent the heat out of the closet.

You can always try a Tri-Band LED from HTGSupply.com too.  If you only want to grow two plants, a 90 W UFO LED will be fine, you can use a 120W or 300W if you want to grow more plants.

 If you do go with the HPS, I”d still start the plants under your fluorescent lights for 2-3 weeks, then switch to the HPS. You will notice that most plants tend to stretch (grow tall with long space between nodes) when they are placed under an HPS (this is due to the excess of red and yellow light). So you should also get some ties to tie down your plants. Simply bend over the tops a bit (careful not to break off the top) this will keep your plants from growing too tall with long internodes, and will have promote bushy growth.

Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers


Test for the Best Medium for Seed Germination

I did a little comparison of seed germination between three mediums: soil, Rockwool and seed starter plugs. Years ago, I always used Rockwool, I liked the lack of mess, the ease of transplanting, and ease of planting, just put a seed in the hole and you’re done. I do not like that it is not a renewable resource however. There can also be problems with pH depending on what species of plant you are growing. The seed starter plugs that are preformed have all the same benefits minus the pH problem, plus they are renewable. And of course, soil is what plants evolved to germinate in, and it is my medium of choice, with some variations so I gave that a try to.

Soil seems to be the best thing to germinate seeds in. the seeds germinated quicker, and grew as fast as either of the other two mediums. However, it is messy, and I have not tried to pot up   the seedlings yet, so there is the possibility of damaging the seedlings when I try to dig them out. The Rockwool was the worst, to say the least I was disappointed. I don’t know why I liked it so much. For me this just shows you need to try new things to see if you can improve what you are doing. The germination time was about the same for all plants, but the Rockwool seedlings did not grow well compared to those in the starter plugs or soil. I think it was a pH problem as the plants just grew slower and were smaller. I think I am done with Rockwool forever. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT giving it a thumbs down it has its uses especially in hydroponics, but I am a dirt grower for the most part. The seedlings in the starter plugs grew nearly as well as in soil, and potting up   will be a snap. The only drawback to the plugs is that for plants like basil, lettuce and others with very small seeds, you may be better off with soil since the small seeds can fall down into the hole, or may not grow well if they are placed on the top of the plug. I did grow chives (small seeds) in all three mediums so you can grow plants with small seeds in plugs, but I got 1-2 plants per plug and 3-6 in the soil, so soil is more economical with small seeds. If you have not tried the seed starter plugs, give them a try.

Good Growing
Dr. E.R. Myers


E-mail - Best Fertilizers / Nutrients to Use

 Hello Dr. Myers,
Can you suggest suitable nutrients for vegetative and for flowering. I currently use Miracle grow with high N for veggie and high P for flowering. Do you sell something special that you have had good luck with?
Thanks in advance.

As you may know, the three numbers in a fertilizer are always nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. For vegetative, you want the first number to by higher, like 6-5-5. The actual numbers are not as important as the ratio. For flowering, you want the second number to be the highest, like 1-5-6. (I also recommend a high middle number and a 50% dilution of high phosphorus fertilizer for seedlings since phosphorus promotes root growth as well as flowering) You also want to make sure that the nitrogen (first number) is not high when you fertilizer plants that are flowering, as high nitrogen causes plants to have reduced or no flowering. I know many growers sometimes give their plants straight water for a watering cycle or two between switching from vegetative to flowering in order to get rid of any excess nitrogen. I recommed having potassium in all stage of plant growth; it is used in a lot of metabolic processes and does not hinder any type of plant growth like nitrogen does to flowering.

I have mentioned before I hesitate to recommend specific products since each person has their own indoor environment where they grow different plants, have different grow mediums, different light sources and different amounts of CO2 and air flow. However, I really like the fox farm products, and I am using roots organics now and it also seems to be of a good quality. I have used floralicious several times (love the name) I like to recommend organic fertilizers since they often have many of the secondary or micronutrients that would be lacking in a synthetic fertilizer (like the one you are using now) that was made in a factory.

Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers


Sun Soaker Reflector and Banana Tree Care

I am trying to grow food in my greenhouse as a demonstration this year. I have some basil (purple plants on table) rosemary and tomatos. I have a banana tree that is almost one year old.

Notice the sunsoaker reflector overhead of the plants.  I really like it since it concentrates the light in a nice 5x5 area under the reflector. I do have some suplimental sun light this time of year (Spring) so I keep it several feet above the plants to get a larger area of coverage.

Banana trees need a lot of light, but will benefit if they have a break of an hour or so from the hot afternoon sun. They will do well with a general organic fertilizer that has equal amounts of N-P-K. They like soil pH between 5.5 and 7.0. They should be well watered, but never sitting in standing water. If the top of the pot is dry to an inch or so you should water the plant, if the top is moist wait. If you are going to move them outside in summer and back in for winter in a temperate climate, watch out for spider mites, they love banana trees. As with all plants, you will need to acclimate your plants to sunlight when you first bring them outside. Always put plants outside on cloudy or rainy days for the first day, or put them in the full shade of a tree or house. After a couple days, your banana tree can tolerate the full sun.

At the end of summer if you have a smaller plant you can bring the whole plant/pot in for the winter. For larger banana trees you should cut back all of the leaves before digging up the roots. Gently brush off most of the soil from the root system and replant the trunk in a large container filled with slightly dampened soil/sand mix (50% each). Store the root ball in a warm area of your home. Don't water or fertilize at all unless the soil is very dry; you wantthe plant to go dormant for the winter. Water and fertilize well when spring comes and watch it grow.

You do not need to prune banana trees, other than for aesthetics. You should remove old brown/yellow leaves since this is a place for disease to start.

You can control how big it gets by 1) buying a dwarf variety 2) minimizing pot size and/or fertilizer.

Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers