Grubbycup has been an avid indoor gardener for over 20 years. His articles were first published in the United Kingdom, and since then his gardening advice has been published in French, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Czechoslovakian and generic levitra sale German. He is also considered one of the world's leading authorities on crochet hydroponics.

Just like humans, plants need food to survive and thrive. Here’s a quick guide to get you started on designing your first nutrient regimen.

There are several nutrients needed for proper plant growth. The first three are non-mineral nutrients: hydrogen, oxygen and carbon. Water, atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide supply these requirements for plant growth. During photosynthesis, light energy is collected by chlorophyll in leaves, and part is used to split water molecules into free oxygen gas and hydrogen. The hydrogen is bonded with carbon dioxide to form sugars the plant can then use to grow. The water is often added by itself or as part of a nutrient solution, and carbon dioxide is either naturally present in fresh air or is added to the genuine cialis online'>genuine cialis online garden as a gas.

In a natural setting, plants use nutrients to grow to maturity, then when they die they fall to the forest floor and return their nutrients to the soil and new growth uses the nutrients to grow to maturity. Compost is useful in the garden because it is made from the decomposed building blocks of other plants (manure composts are plants processed through an animal first), and as such tends to have at least a little of usefull link viagra in uk all the required nutrients. When an animal dies in the forest, the scavengers eat the fats and meats, and the plants eat the remaining blood and bones—blood tends to be high in nitrogen, bone high in phosphorus.

In a garden, the previous year’s plants have often been cleared away and are not returning their nutrients to the soil. Even if they were, the nutrients removed along with the harvested portion of the plant would eventually mean a loss of nutrients in the system. In container gardens, the growing medium may be new and sterile, without any nutrients at all. The missing nutrients are added to the system in the form of fertilizers.

Fertilizers provide the buy cheap generic levitra'>buy cheap generic levitra nutrients needed for plant growth. The first three are known as primary nutrients and are so important that they are listed on the front of nutrient packaging:

· Nitrogen (N) is needed to make plant cells and the chlorophyll (the green in leaves) required for photosynthesis. Nitrogen compounds make up between 40 and 50% of the dry matter of plant cells. It promotes large, healthy foliage, absorption by roots and proper plant development. Nitrogen deficiency is the most common nutrient problem. Growth nutrients commonly contain elevated levels of nitrogen.

Organic nitrogen breaks down over time to become a form available to plants. Synthetic nitrogen forms can become available to the plant quickly and are often made with an easily dissolved salt. Nitrogen-deficient leaves will contain relatively little chlorophyll and cheap levitra'>cheap levitra tend to be pale green to yellow in color. Nitrogen is mobile in plants, and this enables it to be moved from older growth to young growing tips when supplies are short. This mobility of rx cialis nitrogen explains why deficiency symptoms appear first in the older lower portions of the plants, working their way up to the growing tips.

· Phosphorous (P) is required for photosynthesis and root development and assists in blooming. It is also used to form nucleic acid, which is an essential part of living cells. Phosphorus compounds are used in respiration and the efficient use of nitrogen. It is important throughout the life cycle of the plant, but use is elevated during the flowering stage. Bloom and flowering nutrients often contain elevated levels of phosphorous.

Phosphorus deficiencies usually manifest as a generalized under-performance of the plant—leaf development is stunted and bud size is reduced. Leaves may develop a bluish tint. Phosphorus assists in nitrogen uptake, so symptoms of phosphorus deficiency are often similar to those of a nitrogen deficiency.

•Potassium (K) is required for photosynthesis, carbohydrate and protein creation. It assists with disease resistance and is used in the plumbing of the plant—liquid movement within the plant, stems and roots. Many enzymatic reactions require potassium, and it assists in silica uptake and helps with fruit quality. Bloom and flowering nutrients often contain elevated levels of potassium.

Potassium deficiency often shows up as a yellowing or browning of the leaf edges and curled-over leaves, followed by yellowing spots in the interior of the leaf face. Discolored spots may appear on the undersides of leaves. Potassium is mobile, so deficiency symptoms show first on lower leaves as flecking or mottling on the leaf margins. Prolonged deficiency results in cell death along the leaf margins and the plants can show signs of wilt. These symptoms first display in older leaves and continue to work up through to the newer leaves if not corrected. Growth, root development, disease resistance and bud size are reduced.

· The next three nutrients after the 100 mg levitra primary nutrients are called secondary nutrients: calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) and sulfur (S). Calcium-magnesium supplements can be used if needed, but sulfur deficiencies are rare since sulfur appears frequently in both synthetic and organic nutrients. There is some debate over whether or not silica (Si) should be considered a nutrient, but since it is helpful to plant structure, it can be treated as such under most circumstances. Silica supplements are available to boost silica levels.

· The final group of nutrients are known as micronutrients. They are boron (B), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), chloride (Cl), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni) and zinc (Zn). Micronutrients are only needed in small quantities when compared to the other nutrients. They may be added as a separate additives, or included as part of a nutrient line.

One benefit of using a particular nutrient line is that by following the manufacturer’s schedule, the plant should receive enough nutrition to grow. If you’re designing your own nutrient regimen, you should ensure there are sources for each of these nutrients. Regardless of the exact sources of a garden’s nutrients, they can make the difference between an average garden and an impressive one.

Be sure to tune in next month for Grubbycup’s next Growing 101 column on managing a nutrient solution.


At the start of your new indoor garden journey, you selected what you'll grow, where you'll grow it and what you'll use to grow it in. Now comes the most important decision of all: choosing your lighting system. The lighting system is one of the most important and expensive components of an indoor garden. Read on for some basic things to keep in mind as you make your indoor lighting selection.


Plants need light to undergo a process known as photosynthesis, which converts water and carbon dioxide into a sugar called glucose that plants use for growth. Photosynthesis makes use of a special, green plant pigment called chlorophyll to collect light energy. Chlorophyll absorbs and makes use of red and blue-indigo light, but it reflects green light, which is what makes plants green. It’s also why indoor garden lamps often put out much of their light in the red and blue spectrums. Outdoor gardens can make use of the sun for their lighting needs, but to meet the lighting needs of indoor gardens, artificial lighting is used to convert electricity to light.

Light Intensity

Light intensity is an important factor for indoor gardeners to consider. Low light levels slow photosynthesis, and high light levels encourage it—to a point. The amount of energy a light fixture uses is measured in watts. In general, the higher the wattage, the more light and heat a fixture will produce. For example, a 1,000-W HPS lamp is both brighter and hotter than a comparable 400-W HPS lamp. The lighting requirements of your indoor garden will depend on the type of plants you are growing and how large of a space you need to cover, among other things.

Light Meters

Inexpensive light meters can be used to learn the intensity of the light reaching different areas of the garden. Just move the cialis no prescription'>cialis no prescription meter around to different areas and take a few readings. Light meters often give readings measured in lux. A lux is the light from one candle at one meter away spread over a square area one-meter wide. Direct sunlight is approximately 32,000 to 100,000 lux. Full-sun plants usually need at least 25,000 to 50,000 lux to do well, with increased productivity occurring when light levels are near full sunlight.

Light Reflection

Light bulbs give off light in all directions, so there are lamp hoods designed to reflect light from the top and sides of the bulb down into the garden. This is done to capture light energy that would otherwise be wasted. For this same reason, the walls of indoor gardens are often painted white or covered with a reflective film to reflect light back toward the plants. If a reflective film is used, care should be taken not to create a fire hazard as some reflective films are flammable. Another notable property of light is that intensity drops off as an inverse square to the distance. For example, a plant twice as far away from the light only receives 1/4 of the light from it. Trying to judge how much light is actually hitting the plants just by looking at how bright they appear can be problematic because the human eye is much better suited for operating under a wide variety of lighting conditions than judging the intensity of those conditions.

Types of Lighting

There are several options in indoor garden lighting technologies, with fluorescent T5s, high-intensity discharge systems (HIDs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) being the three most common.

  • Fluorescent – These lights include T5s (grow lights), T12s (shop lights), CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) and electrode-less (induction) lighting. While these each look different, they all use the same basic principle to operate: a current is applied to a sealed, phosphor-coated glass tube containing a small bit of mercury and an inert gas. The mercury is excited until it changes from a liquid to a gas. The mercury gas gives off ultraviolet light, which is converted to visible light by the phosphor coating. One of the benefits of fluorescent lighting is that the bulbs don’t produce a lot of wasted heat. The operating temperature of a fluorescent bulb is lower than HIDs, meaning the lamps can be placed closer to the plants without causing heat stress.
  • HID Lighting – is another common garden lighting technology. The two most common forms of HID lighting used for plants are metal halide (MH) and high pressure sodium (HPS). Metal halides use a variety of metal halides in an arc tube, similarly to the mercury in fluorescents. The resulting light from the arc tube contains both visible light and ultraviolet light. An outer tube surrounding the arc tube confines the generated UV light while allowing the usable light to pass through to the garden. For some people, the blue cast of metal halides can be more pleasant to work under than the just try! new drug levitra harsher-looking orange light of HPS lamps. HPS lights use an inner and outer bulb similar to a metal halide lamp, but the long, cloudy arc bulbs contain metal sodium and mercury instead of metal halides. The light given off has a distinctive amber-orange tint to it.
  • LEDs – are another lighting technology that can be used by growers. Instead of using a charged gas to illuminate, light-emitting diodes are electro-luminescent, meaning they use small semiconductors to emit light. They have two leads, a positive and 5mg viagra a negative, and when current is applied across the two, light is produced. They produce little heat and last longer than other types of lighting, but LED light fixtures tend to be a more expensive on a per-watt basis than fluorescent or HID lighting.

Whichever lighting system you choose, remember, the amount of heat generated from your lights must be taken into consideration. A 60-W T5 light can be used without cooling and can be kept as close to plants as a few inches away, but an uncooled, 1,000-W HID light can quickly cause plants heat damage if the light is kept too close.

Don't Forget the Ballast

Both fluorescent and HID lights use ballasts to condition and control the electricity supplied to the lamp. One difference between fluorescent and HID lighting is in the location of the ballast. In a fluorescent fixture, the ballast is generally built in. In an HID light, the ballast and hood are two separate pieces. To help with heat management, HID ballasts should be kept outside of the growing space where practical. The bulb and the ballast used to fire it must match each other. Keep in mind that lamp sockets are made in general standard sizes. A bulb fitting into the socket is no indication of compatibility. The wattage and type of the bulb must be compatible with the output of the ballast. For example, only use a 400-W MH bulb with a 400-W ballast capable of firing MH lamps. Some HID ballasts have additional features, such as the ability to run at different levels, be controlled remotely and fire either MH or HPS lamps. Always check the buy real viagra'>buy real viagra ballast’s documentation for specific details on features.

The lighting system is one of the most important and expensive components of an indoor garden and is a critical factor in the success or failure of the plants under its care. Be sure to consult other growers or an indoor garden shop specialist for more advice on your garden’s specific lighting requirements.


Starting with a good potting mix can make a big difference in how well a container garden performs. Grubbycup shares the basics on what to look for in a potting mix.

Container gardening is a perfect option for those just learning how to grow plants, as well as those with little space. There are a variety of potting mixes, both commercial and homemade, available for use as a growing medium for plants. Here are the basics on what can be found in many potting mixes, and for what purpose.

Soil is comprised primarily of fragments of mineral rock. As rocks break down from weathering or erosion, they are broken into smaller pieces. The small pieces are called sand, the really small pieces are silt and the tiniest pieces are clay. The soil texture—sandy loam, silty clay, sandy clay, etc.—is based on what percentage of each a soil contains. For example, sandy loam is mostly sand and silt, and silty clay is mostly silt and clay. Organic material in true soil is only about 5%. Soil is heavy and tends to have aeration issues. Although it is possible, it is pretty uncommon to use actual soil in container gardening.

Soilless potting mixes are intended to be an improvement over soil when used in containers or garden plots. They tend to be made from a blend of both inorganic and organic materials designed to be lighter and female levitra better draining than soil. The ideal potting mix provides suitable aeration, moisture retention and anchoring for the plant’s root system. The amount of air space in a potting mix is called the porosity. A porous mix will dry out quickly and require frequent watering; a non-porous mix may stay wet too long and have overwatering and aeration issues.

Potting mixes tend to be mixed from different ingredients intended to achieve an overall result. For example, perlite adds porosity, and peat and coco coir both increase water retention, so a combination of perlite and peat or coir might be used to achieve a balance between the two that is conducive to plant growth. Although there are many ingredients found in potting mixes, common organic components of potting mixes often include peat, coir, rice hulls, compost, humus and wood chips.

  • Peat moss holds water well when moist, although it can become somewhat hydrophobic when allowed to completely dry. Peat moss is harvested from peat bogs. Moss grows on top of older dead moss and viagra online doctor in turn dies, decomposes and becomes peat moss while new growth continues above. It is similar to humus in that it is the more stable stage of plant decomposition.
  • Coir is made from ground coconut husks, and is used primarily for water retention and structure. Once a waste product of the coconut industry, coir has become a popular choice either by itself or in combination with other ingredients.
  • Rice hulls are a by-product of the rice industry. They break down slowly, and offer a nice environment for micro-organism growth—so much so they should be used in moderation so as not to encourage an overabundance of such growth.
  • Compost (preferably homemade) can be included or added to potting mixes. While compost by definition is still in the decomposition stage, the more stable humus (compost that has completed decomposition) can also be used. Although humus does not have the same nutritional value as compost since decomposition uses nutrients up, it still contains useful beneficial acids and adds structure to the mix. Not only does compost contribute water retention and structure, it also contains many useful macro- and micronutrients, as well as beneficial acids and micro-organisms.
  • Wood chips, sawdust, bark and other wood products are also used in some potting mixes. Smaller particle sizes hold more water, but also break down faster. Large wooden particles break down slowly, but are not as absorbent.
  • Biosolids are occasionally used in low-quality potting mixes. Biosolids are made from city sewage sludge, and may contain harmful chemicals and hormones. While not illegal in the United States at this time, my personal recommendation is to avoid any product containing biosolids.

Common inorganic components of potting mixes include perlite, vermiculite, pumice, grow stones, rockwool and expanded clays, which all contribute to porosity. They also are similar to each other, in that they are made by melting rock or glass and then manipulating it to increase surface area and link for you viagra suppliers in the uk air space.

Another attribute of potting mixes to consider is their starting fertilizer “charge,” if any. Many potting mixes contain at least some starting nutrients, although the order cialis now amount included varies from just enough to help avoid minor nutrient deficiencies up to products designed to be used with little to no additional fertilization.

Commercial mixes can be convenient as they often include a variety of components and save the consumer from having too many half-filled bags of ingredients in their garage. Mixing large amounts of potting mix by hand can be strenuous work, and miscalculations with the amendments used can be detrimental to plant growth.

Even if a gardener chooses the convenience of purchasing a commercial potting mix and has no intention of making their own, they should have some understanding of the ingredients so they can make informed selections. Starting with a good potting mix can make a bushel of difference in how well a container garden performs.


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