Using a Screen #2 - Increase Yields

I first was introduced to the idea of growing with a screen from an E-mail from a good grower that was looking to increase their yields.
I have previously talked about using a screen to grow in small spaces.  A friend of mine is doing this now so I'd like to add some comments.
First, I mentioned in the using a screen article that you should trim lower branches and leaves to avoid them becoming infected with mold.  This is still a good idea, but my friend has not had any problems with mold and she does not trim the branches.  She does remove all yellowing fan leaves.  She says light getting to the plants is more important than the nutrients that are left in the yellow leaf.  I still say it is not a bad idea and you could use these lower branches for cloning.  The advantage to using these lower branches for cloning is you can pick the plants that are doing the best or have the best characteristecs (growth habit, color, taste etc.) 
Second, I recomended using chicken wire or small holed fencing in my first article.  My friend really likes the fencing where there are square 3x4 inch holes.  She said the chicken wire holes were too small, it was hard to get the stems through the wire when they had big fan leaves, and it was easier to train the brances with the larger holed fence.  She does not even use tie wire etc.  She simply keeps the plants growing along the screen until the plants really start to flower, then the plants stop their vertical growth.

I welcome any other commets about growing with a screen,
Good Growing,
Dr. E. R. Myers


E-mail - Hydroponics Set Up - List of Needed Materials

Hey Doc,
  This is my first time working with hydroponics, are there any specific chemicals that are required to start off with? A list perhaps? Thank you for your time...
   Thanks for your E-mail.   I too am just getting into hydroponics, I have been and will be a dirt grower but like with LED's  I am expanding my growing ability thanks to good growers like yourself asking questions.
I have had great success with the bubble boy  products from HTGSupply.com.  The picture below is the proof.
I will start a list, and continue to talk about hydropoinics in the coming posts...
You don't really need any special chemicals, but you will need to monitoer the pH and add the right nutrients to you plant/ the water.
You need a good hydropoinics system, the water needs to be airated or circulated well to oxygenate the water.  I almost never recomend first time growers start off with hydropoincs, soil is much easier and forgiving to grow in.
You need a medium for the roots to grow through.
You will need a pH meter too, the problem with hydropoincs is that if you don't monitor the pH the water can get to an extreme pH and nutrients won't be available to the plants no matter what and how much fertilizer you use.  I change the water completely every week no matter what the pH to avoid nutrient lock up etc.   
You need  fertilizer(s) too.  Unlike with soil growing you must provide ALL the nutrients to the plant ALL the time.  This can mean maximum growth if you know what you are doing, but can mean dead or sickly plants if you don't.  Most hydropoinic fertilizers come with instructions on how much to use, follow the instructions.

That is all I have been using and you can see with the 90 watt LED UFO I have gotten great flowering.
More to come on hydropioncs,
Good Growing
Dr. E. R. Myers


Seed Germination in a Plastic Bag

While I would not recommend this method for small seeds (they should be put directly in the grow medium) a cheap and easy way to germinate seeds is with a plastic sandwhich bag and a paper towel. This allows the grower to see which seeds germinate and then put a germinated seed in a pot. This is a good way to conserve space if growing in a small space.  If you can only have a specific number of pots you can start a few more seeds than the number of pots you havea in a bag and put the first seeds to germinate in the pots.  I used to keep track of the percentage of seeds that germinated when I had a lot of seeds and stored them (Seed Storage LINK) for long periods of time. After seeds are stored for more than a year less and less will germinate.  After 5 years I have very few seeds germinate.

If you are going to use this method, you want to make sure NOT to over water the paper towel. If you can ring water out of it, it is too wet. You can always add a few drops in a day or two if it gets too dry. Do not let the paper towel become total dry either.  You should open up bag at least every day to check moisture and to look for seeds that have germinated, (Do you see the germinated seed in the bag below?) I used to use a small object to keep the bag open so the top of the bag did not actually touch the seeds.

Another potential problem is that the roots may grow into the paper towel. If this happens do NOT pull the seed out. The most important part of roots are small little projections called root hairs. These hairs are where water and nutrients are taken in. If you pull the plant out of the towel you could damage the fragile root haris and at such a young age this could kill the plant. The pape towel is what should be torn and then just plant it right along with the plant. It will break down and obviously plant roots can grow right through it.

Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers


E-mail - Soil Gnats, Sand and Nutrients

Hi Doc,
   My question concerns a method i used hastly to get rid of fungus gnats. have already been using azamax with minimal results for awhile. yesterday i got foxfarms dont bug me and sprayed the crap out of the top of soil and the sides and bottoms of the pot. i also put about an inch layer of play sand on the top so they wont want to come back. This seems to be working pretty good actually but what should i do about feeding. I use house and gardens soil an b line. Will the sand filter out my nutrients??

Thanks for your question.   You can check out a previous post on soil grant remedies.
No, the sand should not affect nutrients if it is play sand. Some sands have calcium or other minerals that might alter your fertilizer uptake. I used Perilite for the same purpose. You have the right idea, you want to keep the gnats away from their food source and breeding area, damp soil. Try to let the top of the soil/sand in your container dry out 100% before watering again. The more dry the soil the less successful the gnats will be.

One other thing to consider is watering from the bottom. If you are able to, water your plants from the bottom for a week or so in order for the top of the containers to remain dry. Be mindful that your little friends the soil gnats might also figure out they can get to soil from the bottom too. I grew in 5 gallon buckets with lids for trays and it was not possible for the gnats to get to the 3-5 holes I had drilled in the bottom of the buckets for water drainage. I put several inches of perilite on top of the soil after I watered the plants with water I soaked a few cigars (philly blunts) in for a couple days. Nicotine is a natural organic insecticide. You could try that too if you like. I watered the plants with normal fertilizer, then used the nicotine water to just get the top of the soil saturated, I did not want the nicotine to go all the way through the soil, just to stay on top where the gnats are.
Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers