Category Archives: Gardening

Are LED Grow Lights Worth The Extra Cost?

It seems many of our readers live in colder climates, because we get a ton of questions about growing indoors. Now obviously many of those questions concern installing sprinkler systems inside a greenhouse or using a completely different water delivery system altogether, like hydroponics or aquaponics. But we also get a lot of questions about indoor grow lights and most of those questions concern LED lights.

Everyone knows they cost more than traditional lighting. As you can see on this page, LED grow lights can be very expensive. The question is: is this higher expense justified by better performance? The truth is: it isn’t so easy to answer.

There are a lot of very bad LED manufacturers who churn out cheap light fixtures that might be okay if you’re only vegging, but if you want to flower plants, they simply won’t perform. You find these lights on Amazon and on eBay and, of course, on various Chinese websites.

red led diode for grow lightThey use cheap LED diodes, not the quality ones made by Cree or Osram and, although the companies often promise money-back guarantees and warranties, they rarely honor them. If you try to get your money back, you end up on the phone with some guy in China who doesn’t speak a single word of English and in the end you give up. Luckily, these lights are quite cheap, so you don’t really spend too much and lose too much. One of these lights can cost less than $100.

You are most likely thinking: of course you’re not going to get a good light for under 100 dollars. That’s true, but you’d be surprised at how many people risk a purchase like that in the hopes of saving a lot of money. The only thing that surprises me is that they are then surprised when they get a bad light that doesn’t work. And then they get angry at the company, as they should, I suppose, but really, it is completely their own fault. Why did they buy this light in the first place?

So let’s assume you’re smarter than that and you know that you’re going to have to pay over $1000 for a quality high-performance and high powered LED plant light. We’re talking lights by companies like Black Dog or NextLight or Cirrus LED Systems. Some people would include Kind LED, and they do make good lights, but I wouldn’t include them in the top tier anymore. The same goes for Lush LED and Advanced LED Lighting.

So, to answer the question: yes, these lights are worth the expense. They will save you a lot of money in power costs and in heating costs. The top tier lights also outperform their high-pressure sodium and metal halide counterparts. They give you a lot more output for a lot less input.

led plant grow light

They also have a spectrum perfectly tailored for plants, which is why they use so little power. It is also why the resulting fruits and buds are higher quality than they are with HPS. Whatever you may be growing, you will get better results with a quality LED light than with traditional lighting systems.

And if you are growing in a greenhouse, you get the benefit of sunlight and then also the LED light on top of that. Is is a great supplement for sunlight and it also works on its own on days when there is no sunlight.

So, if you have the money for an LED grow light and you’ve been wondering if it’s worth it to spend that money, now you know. It is definitely worth it. Your plants will thank you and your garden will thank you.

Your wallet will also thank you. Not only will you spend less money, you might actually make more money when you sell whatever you are growing, if you sell it. Even if it’s only for your own personal use, you will enjoy the much higher quality. And of course the lower power bill. And I didn’t even mention how much easier it is to grow with indoor LED lights than with HPS or MH lights, but we can talk about that in another article.


Tips For Setting Up An Indoor Garden

If you live in a cold climate where you can only grow most plants for certain months of the year, you have probably considered gardening indoors. We get a ton of questions about this and figured it’s time to write up a quick post on it.

indoor garden with grow lights and sunlight

In general, gardening indoors is not that much different from gardening outdoors. In many ways, it’s actually easier. But there are some key differences and some things you need to be aware of. We will cover them all in this post.

 

Water for Your Indoor Garden

When you grow outdoors, your plants get rained on. In some cases, this is enough water for them. In many others, you need to give them some more water, using a lawn sprinkler system or just watering them by hand.

When you grow indoors, the plants get no natural water whatsoever. Every drop of water they need, you will have to provide them. For this reason it’s a good idea to set up a watering schedule At a certain time every day or every two days, you need to go give them the water they want.

If you have a larger operation, you could even set up a little irrigation system that runs on a timer. This is what many commercial greenhouses do. This way you’ll never have to think about watering your plants. Everything just happens automatically.

 

Lighting for an Indoor Garden

plant growing indoorsAgain, when you grow outdoors, your plants enjoy the natural sunlight. They get the cycle of light that they need. It is bright for a certain number of hours per day and it is dark for a certain number of hours per day.

When you move your operation indoors, you control all of that. First of all, you have to provide them the right kind of light. The only way to do this is to use artificial grow lights. There are a number of different kinds of grow lights and getting into too much detail here is beyond the scope of this article, so I will just list a few of them. For much more information on grow lights, check out http://growlightinfo.com.

The most expensive options are LED grow lights. These cost a lot to buy, but once you have them, they are cheaper to operate. They use less power and produce less heat than other horticultural lighting systems.

Another type of grow light are HID grow lights. These are comprised of high-pressure sodium and metal halide bulbs. The HPS bulbs have a more reddish spectrum in the MH bulbs have a more bluish spectrum. This means that MH bulbs are great for the vegging stage of plant growth and HPS bulbs are great for flowering and blooming. These lights work well and they are cheaper than a good LED fixture, but they cost much more to operate. They consume a lot of power and they produce a lot of heat.

For smaller operations, florescent grow lights will often suffice. They are not as powerful as the other two types, but they also cost less. And they generally produce less heat and use less power than an HID system, although that is in part due to them being weaker. If you compare the two lighting types them watt for watt, then fluorescent lights actually use more power and produce more heat.

Apart from these three main types, there are others like plasma grow lights and induction grow lights, etc. Like I said, we won’t worry too much about that here. Read Grow Light Info for more. Suffice it to say, you just need to choose one of these types of lights.

The big key when lighting your indoor garden is that you need to provide the correct light cycle. The lights need to be on for the exact same amount of time that they would be on out in nature. This way your plants know their schedule.

When it is time for the plants to move from the vegging stage the flowering stage you need to alter the length of the artificial daylight, so they know that it is time. In this way, you control the plants’ life cycle through your lighting schedule. This allows you to grow at any time of the year.

The plants are not relying on the sunlight to tell them what time of year it is. You are telling them what time of year it is. You can trick them and get them to to bloom several times a year. This is one of the big advantages of indoor growing. You no longer have to worry about seasonal gardening.

There are other differences between indoor and outdoor gardening, but lighting and water are the two main ones. We will cover the others in a later article, but for now this should be enough to get you started on moving your garden indoors.


Top 8 Tips and Projects for Spring Gardening

Gardening is always an interesting and exciting thing to do. It can be really relaxing, you feel close and connected to nature. Early spring is probably the exact time when all the gardening work suddenly activates and you have to do much more than before and be your own professional manager. But what exactly is to be done and how not to get lost in the ocean of tasks and errands?

Your Spring Garden Guide

  1. Take care of fruit trees.
    If you have any apple, peach, cherry or pear trees in your garden a great idea would be to start your spring season with thinning them. Those trees like that and it makes it so much easier for you to harvest them later.
  2. Clean out the garden.
    That’s really important. After winter we have lots of mess in the garden, plenty of debris, annoying weeds with roots that are hard to get rid of. So it’s just the right time to dig your planting tools from the cellar, sharpen them if needed and get to work. Nothing can really be done before you start cleaning up the garden.
  3. Clean the greenhouse.
    Don’t forget about this one too. The greenhouse needs to be clean, ventilated, all the pots and other items need to be washed and dry and ready to go. It would be a good idea to use some kind of garden disinfectant and wash the greenhouse thoroughly inside to make sure no pests and disease survives to damage your seeds and plants.
  4. Don’t forget about the compost.
    You’ll have to prepare the compost area since it will be needed soon. Or maybe you have one, but check the fencing and make sure it’s all done and is in good condition.
  5. Trim the plants.
    Take care of your older plants before you start planting new ones. Many of them need to be pruned but make sure it’s not going to get cold again, so check the temperature. Summer plants are usually trimmed in the early spring, while the blooming plants are only trimmed after they bloom, so don’t miss anything.
  6. Help your soil.
    It’s tired after a long winter season, so make sure you revitalize it and use organic materials for that one.
  7. Old and new mulch.
    If you put some mulch for the winter, don’t forget to clean it and if needed – put some new one.
  8. Start planting.
    When you are all done and ready – take you seeds and get to planting. This is probably one of the most exciting moments of gardening. Make sure you plant some perennials since those are a better investment.

What’s Your Next Task?

Gardening is never over, to say the truth. Once you are done with early spring cleaning and planting, it’s time to think of new flowerbeds, maybe plant some more annuals, remove bulbs, etc.

Don’t be lazy and prepare yourself for the upcoming season. Right now, while it’s still not the time for cleaning up, you could consider ordering some seeds for future planting. Choosing some summer-flowing bulbs would be a good thing to do on a cold windy winter day, that would also help you to tune yourself into garden work and motivate you.


Top 7 Easiest Garden Recycling Tips

Most of people who do gardening and take it seriously know a thing or two about hoarding, and you can see how many different things tend to be all over the place, saved “for later, if ever needed”. This “ever” never really comes, but the stuff usually never makes it to the garbage. What if all of that can still be used for the good: to improve your indoor garden or outdoor garden and help your savings, and also to help the nature and to recycle? Let’s look at 7 simplest ways to organize your garden recycling without paying a lot.

How to Recycle in Your Garden Efficiently

  1. Save cardboard.
    There are different types of cardboard that could serve you for different purposes, like egg carton containers are really good for chitting seeds, especially potato seeds. But even regular usual cardboard can be reused in your garden. It could be used to smoother weed when shredded, but also a great thing for composting and insulating.
  2. Mark your plants.
    Yes, there are good plant markers in the local store, but that seems boring and why spend more if you could make good use of all that junk in your house? Silverware that is not used anymore, chopsticks, yogurt containers, lollipop sticks – all that could be used for marking your plants and be eco-friendly, low-cost and make your garden look hip.
  3. Make use of CD’s.
    Those are good for scaring annoying birds that tend to like your tomatoes. Put those on the perimeter of the garden, so they glint in the sun.
  4. Don’t pop the bubbles.
    You know what the bubble wrap is good for? No, not just anti-stress thing, but it’s an awesome insulator for your greenhouse in the winter!
  5. Don’t throw away plastic milk containers.
    If you cut them the right way – you’ll get a perfect soil tool. The plastic bottle from detergent would be nice for that one too. You could make a watering can out of them.
  6. Do you have some old carpets?
    Then they are good to put on a deck when it’s frosty so you stay on your two feet. Or put in over the compost heaps, if you worry about the heat. Amazing weed suppressant too, by the way.
  7. Make use of coffee grounds.

Coffee is good not just for human beings, but for the nature too. Next time you finish your daily pot of java or any other kind, for that matter – why not make use of the coffee grounds? It helps the plants to grow better and healthier.

Benefits of Garden Recycling

There are many things that motivate people to recycle and the global warming or any other nature crisis should be enough to do that. Protecting the environment and the Earth is a good goal on its own. But the list of the tips above also could help you to get rid of all those things that are stacked in your house and don’t get used and make your garden look good and interesting, bring some changes into that. It won’t cost you anything and you’re killing two birds with one stone. Be eco-friendly, stay green and make gardening more than just soil and plants.