E-mail - Using a Wick Watering System

hey Doc - have you ever experimented with any type of "wick" type feeding/irrigating? is so, did it take several set up attempts before it worked well? how many wicks should i be using in a 2 gallon container? I’m using 3 glasscloth wicks per container - this will be the fourth attempt I’ve made at this "wick" system and I’m about to give up 'cause i can't get it right.

I have used a wick system a couple times, when I had to go away on a trip and I was worried my plants might dry out. I used an actual wick for oil lamps, but anything that absorbs water will do old shirts and rags etc. You want the wick to be in as much contact with the soil as possible, so if you know you are going to use a wick, put it in the pot when you transplant the plant so that it runs down the side and along the bottom, maybe even wrap it around the bottom of the pot in a circle. Then fill in the soil mix. You want to make sure the wick is not pulled down on the top of the container too tight, this may keep the water from flowing. Make sure the whole wick is saturated and put the other end in the bucket with water. The water should wick or diffuse from the container of water to the soil. It might help to mix in with your soil some vermiculite or coco coir that will help absorb the water from the wick.

I hope this helps,
Good Growing,

Dr. E.R. Myers


Improving Plant Growth by Knowing Your Soil.

It is important to understand soil, in order to be a good grower. The first thing to look at is soil texture. This is simply the percentages of sand, silt and clay that make up any soil. The size of the particles is important in how much air and water will be in a soil type. Sand particles (range from 0.05-2mm) are the biggest, so they will encourage soils to drain allowing oxygen to get to the roots. However, without watering the plants, sandy soils can dry out and leave the plant without water, which is crucial for photosynthesis. Clay particles are the smallest, (less than 0.002mm) so water has a hard time moving through clay. Also, clay had a negative charge so water and nutrients that have a positive charge ‘stick’ to clay. This means clay soil’s hold on to water (and nutrients) so they help keep a soil moist. However, clay soil’ can have slow or no drainage which means the soil will become waterlogged (all the pores full of water) and the roots won’t be able to get oxygen and the plant will not grow and will eventually die. The amount of pore space in most soils is usually about around 50% for all mineral soil types. (Porosity – actual volume of spaces between soil particles) The rate that water moves through soils is called permeability. (Permeability – rate through which water moves through soil). It might seem that porosity and permeability are the same, a lot of pores means the water will move quickly. This is not the case. Soil’s that have a lot of clay, have a lot of pores, but they are very small pores, so the permeability of clay soil’s is very slow. Movement of air and water through the soil regulate the growth and type of plants that are able to live there. Therefore the best soil, called a loam, has a percentage of sand and silt and clay that allows for plants to get oxygen and water to the roots.

Summary clay – made up of small particle that fit tightly together = small pores
lots of pore space, but water doesn’t drain well b/c it’s held tightly
sand – large pores, plenty of aeration, dries rapidly and easily loses nutrients
loam – good mix of water holding ability and drainage

Note: A soil with as little as 20% clay will behave as a clayey soil. A soil needs 45% to 60% sand to behave as a sandy soil. In a soil with 20% clay and 80% sand, the soil will behave as a clayey soil

If you have a ‘heavy’ clay soil, you can add sand, if you have a sandy soil, usable clay is not easy to get, but you can add organic matter in the sustainable forms of compost, coco coir, and manure or try adding the mineral vermiculite which will also help soils’ to hold water.


E-mail - Light Mover vs. Two Lights

Doctor Myers,
  Can a 1000 watt light on a mover be as good as 2 1000 watt stationary lights in a 5 ft by 10 ft area

You will have twice the illumination (and twice the cost to buy, use twice the electricity and have twice the heat output) with two lights.  The idea behind a light mover is to get a little more grow area from a single light source, and the area you have might benefit from a light mover that moves the light along a track the 10 foot length.   Without seeing your grow area I would guess that two lights might be too much for that area, depending on how you can handle the heat.
A light mover will increase the grow area, but the maximum rate of photosynthesis will only occur when the light is directly over the plants. The idea is that like a plant growing outdoors, some days are cloudy so plants won't die if they don't get the maximum amount of light. However, the real benefit to indoor growing is that EVERY day is full sun, and the grow medium is always moist, which would give you maximum growth and yield. Light movers can increase the grow area but you eventually get to a point where as the grow area increases, the yield per area, will decrease because the plants are not getting enough light to perform photosynthesis at the maximum rate....

If you are looking for maximum yield, and can deal with the heat and electricity usage, you will do better with two lights.
Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers


E-mail - Getting Started with a Grow Tent

  I have a 4x4 grow tent, what do I need to get started?  What about ventilation.

I would first recommend that you and all HTGSupply.com customers contact the shipping manager Perry at Sales@HTGSupply.com for all questions about equipment. I have used some of the great HTGSupply.com products, but he has worked with more, and does so on a daily basis. He is my go to guy when I have an equipment questions.
If you are growing plants for flowers or fruit, I would recommend a 400 HPS, but you will have to have an air cooled version for the grow tent. You could also try a 300 W LED. You might not need to vent with an LED, but that will depend on how big the plants you are growing will get. Heat rises, so with the LED you might get temperatures at the top of the tent in the 90’s which are not going to kill your plants, but will reduce yield and overall growth.  If you are growing say basil and can have the LED about 3 feet above the plants, the temperature should not be a problem.

I recommend all first time growers start off with soil, it is easy to get, and is the easiest medium for growing since it is what plants naturally grow in. I recommend a minimum of one gallon of grow medium space (size of the pot) for every foot of plant height. I usually use 3-5 gallon buckets, you will not have problems if you have a container that is too big, as far as plant growth. You may want to try different sizes to get the best size for your grow tent.

Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers


E-mail - When to Start Adding Fertilizer to Seedlings


How soon should I give my plants fertilizer, I have read a lot of posts about nutrient burn and over fertilizing and I don’t want this, but I want my plants to grow great.

Thanks for your question. As I often say, it depends. It first depends on the medium you are growing in, soilless mediums will need nutrients from the first watering. I often suggest ½ to ¼ what the manufactures suggest for the first few watering. Once the plants are established and obviously growing, you can then go to the manufactures suggested amount of fertilizer. To be honest, I think most of the time fertilizer burn is due to people trying to get more out of their plants by adding more fertilizer. This is like saying taking more vitamins will make you healthier, it won’t. In fact some vitamins, just like plant nutrients, are toxic at high amounts.

If you grow in soil, I often recommend using straight water for the first watering or two, then using ½ the manufactures recommended amount until you see visible growth.

It also depends on the plant you are growing. A fast growing plant will need more nutrients than say a cactus. A large plant will use more nutrients than a small plant. You will need to evaluate for yourself what type of plant you are growing.

If you do over fertilizer, I have written a post about how to deal with over fertilizing your plants.

Good Growing,

Dr. E.R. Myers