How To Keep Your Plants Alive: The Ultimate Survival Guide
While growing and keeping plants alive can seem like an impossible task to some, it can be a source of joy and fulfilment to others. Whichever category you fall in, there's a good chance you have at least one plant growing at home and, to be honest, I don't see a reason why there couldn't be a 100 more so you could enjoy fresh clean food all year round. Although it might seem like a difficult project to take on, it's really not.
Here's what your plants need to thrive:
Food and water
Obvious, right? If you're using the Click & Grow DIY kit, you don’t have to worry about the watering or fertilization of the plants, thanks to the technology of the capsule and the Smart Soil. If you're doing it on your own, you have to set a regular date to water your plants and mark it down in your calendar. Forgetting to water is the #1 reason houseplants end up dying.
Air that includes at least 0,02% of CO2
Just like love, air is also all around us with already sufficient carbon dioxide levels, 0,0407% to be exact. You don't have to worry about the carbon dioxide levels too much if you're growing indoors - simply make sure to condition the room or open the window once in a while for fresh air!
Sun provides plants with energy in the form of light to thrive the photosynthesis process. At first glance, one might think that getting a sufficient amount of light for the plants shouldn’t be a problem at all, because sun isn’t going anywhere - it's still there 150 million kilometres away from us as it has been and will be for a very long time. The truth is that that's not enough, far from it.
Plants grown indoors might get a relatively good amount of sunlight if they are placed on a windowsill facing south, but keep in mind that every layer of glass in your window reduces the amount of light that gets through by 4%, and distorts the natural cycle of the plant. Also, our plants require 16h of direct light a day to be able to produce increased nutritional contents that they do. So even if you've placed your DIY garden or farm somewhere with "a lot of sunlight", you still might need to find an additional lighting solution to ensure they grow sufficiently and wholesomely. This can be quite a confusing endeavour for a beginner, but you're in luck (again), because I'm here to shed some light on the matter - pun intended.
Here are your light options:
CFLs (Compact Florescent Lights) are available in basically any hardware store, and even some grocery stores. They are much more efficient than old fashioned light bulbs (that actually cannot be used to grow plants), don't draw much power from the grid or produce as much heat compared to many other grow lights. About 80W of daylight (6500K) CFLs are good enough to start with. If the plant gets bigger, some additional lighting might be needed.
A CFL lightbulb vs. old fashioned light bulbs
HID (High-Intensity Discharge) grow lights are much more efficient than fluorescent lights, but produce a considerable amount of heat, which needs to be dealt with by using fans or heatsinks to avoid harming the plant.
HID lightbulb examples
Metal Halide grow lights are best for the germination (sprouting) stage because they produce a bluish light that vegetative plants love.
HPS (High Pressure Sodium) grow lights are best suited for the flowering stage as they are very efficient and their yellow light stimulates blooming. Get one of the best yields per watt of electricity.
Different HID grow lights
Our personal favorites are the LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights, that are very popular among growers, since there are a lot to choose from and you can build the exact spectra that you'd like for your plant with ease (most popular receipts consist of a lot of blue and red, and a little of white or green).
Blue light (LED-s with maximum spectral peak 440-470nm) mimics the long day, summer sun and encourages vegetative leaf growth. Red light (peaks around 640-660nm) is as important in plant growth and is actually a primary driver for photosynthesis. Natural red light is prominent during a short day in autumn, when sun creates a hormone cascade and begins to encourage flowering. There's a wide range of colours that can also make your crops even tastier and increase the amount of antioxidants, but that's a longer story, for another time.
If you want to play it safe, use a regular white LED (the higher the colour temperature the bluer the light and that leads to a more efficient vegetative growth, look for something around 6500-5700K).
Click & Grow LED lights in the Wall Farm
Also, don't forget to account for the plant's natural day cycle. Just like humans and other animals, plants need to rest and sleep after a long and hard day of work as well. The sleeping/darkness time is dependent on the species of the plant, but 16 hours of light and 8 hours of darkness would generally be a good way to go. So you can go ahead and add one new yoga pose called “plug-in-the-grow-light” to your morning workout and try not to forget to say “goodnight, sleep tight and don't let the aphidbugs bite” to your plants in a soft and sweet tone when turning off the light before going to bed. Alternatively, you can also just install a simple timer and synchronize it with your own daily schedule (Click & Grow’s lights have timers already built inside).
Laurits explaining the technology of his Click & Grow glow-in-the-dark solar-powered DIY garden
Now all there's left to do is to start building your very own DIY garden or farm! I used the Click & Grow DIY kit to start a fun pet-project of a solar-powered tree branch garden.
If you want to read more about my solar-powered garden or have any questions, let me know in the comments. In case you've already built a DIY plant growing system - please post them on our community page as we're huge fans. I'd love to see what systems you've come up with.
Hope you found this vinks-vonks!
Laurits, Click & Grow Product Developer