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FAQ's - Soil

Q. How can I sterilize my Hydroton Grow rocks, so I can safely use them again?
A. To clean and sterilize the rocks soak them in a bath of H2O2 and water at a ratio of 1liter:100 liters of water and let it soak over night. Then thoroughly rinse the rocks off with hot water.

Q. Does using liquid kelp actually help plant growth?
A. Kelp contains over 70 minerals and trace elements and is an excellent source of micronutrients. It is excellent in an organic garden where synthetic chelates cannot be used. It contains many different amounts of hormones, such as cytokinins. Kelp contains high levels of sodium so if your plants are sodium sensitive such as lettuce then use in moderation. Kelp is often used as a foliar spray.
Q. What is the purpose of adding dolomite lime to my medium?
A. It is used as a PH stabilizer. It has a neutral PH of 7 and will never rise beyond 7. It is a compound of magnesium and calcium mixed well in the medium. Before planting mix in well. Follow the manufacturer's suggested rate of application.
Q. What is soilless mix? Why no soil?
A. It is a popular growing medium used by many people and very popular among commercial greenhouses and nurseries. It is usually a high porosity mixture of sphagnum moss, prelate, wetting agent, pumice, vermiculite, coco fiber and dolomite lime. It is very easy to work with and a favorite among gardeners worldwide.
Q. What should my soil temperature be?
A. Soil temperature should range from 65 -75 F, for optimal growth rate.
Q. Can I put cuttings that are started in rock wool into a soilless mix?
A. Yes, absolutely, plants respond just fine with this style of transplant. Rock wool is nice to start the cuttings in and they transplant well into soilless mix. Rock wool transplants well into most mediums.
Q. What style of container should I use? Long and deep or short and squat?
A. Since plants roots tend to branch downward and penetrate deep rather than out the side. Sort and squat often do not go deep enough and end up just wasting more medium than actually benefiting the plant.
Q. What size of container should I use for my 3 foot high tomato plant?
A. I would recommend a 3 gallon container. An easy way to remember when transplanting is approximately 1 gallon for every foot you plan on your plant getting, so in this case a 3 gallon container. This is just an approximate but you can be the judge based on the plants size and dimensions.
Q. Can I reuse my soilless mix after harvesting a crop?
A. You can but the possibilities of fungal attack, soil born disease, pythium, and nutrient build up are too high to risk. I definitely recommend not reusing the soilless mix.
Q. If my plants are in a soilless mix when should I water them in the early day or later in the light cycle?
A. Always water early in the light cycle. This allows the plant to draw up some of the moisture. Soaking them before the lights go out can be an open invitation to fungal attacks and root rot. Moisture meters work great and are great for indicating when the plant is in need of water or not. These are usually inexpensive.
Q. Is it possible to over water my plants?
A. Yes, this is a common problem among indoor beginner gardeners. Too much water suffocates the plants root system and deprives it of oxygen.
Q. Does adding a wetting agent to my nutrient solution help?
A. Yes, a wetting agent decreases surface tension making the water more adhesive. Basically making water wetter. This allows the water to penetrate through the soil right down to the plant's root system. It is also extremely effective as a foliar spray additive and works excellent with products such as neem oil.
Q. What is the difference between mobile and immobile nutrients?
A. Mobile nutrients are nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Zinc and magnesium. These nutrients are able to move themselves within the plant to go where they are needed most. Immobile nutrients are boron(B), calcium(CA), chlorine(cl), copper(cu), Cobalt(co), silicon(SI), sulfur(S) and molybdenum(mb) are not able to move themselves within the plant. They stay in their place of origin in the older leaves causing the newer leaves to show signs of deficiency.
Q. What is the difference between Macro and Micro nutrients?
A. Macro nutrients are the elements needed by the plant the most. That is nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). They are the basic building block of plant growth. The micro nutrients are often referred to as trace elements. They are required in trace amounts.

Q. What do the 3 numbers stand for in a fertilizer mix for example 20-20-20?
A. These numbers represent the percentage of nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). These are the 3 main elements in plant fertilizer.

Q. How does N-P-K affect plant growth?
A. Nitrogen (N) is required in high amounts during the vegetative stage of growth and not so much during the bloom stage. Nitrogen flushes away easily and is always in need of replenishing during the vegetative period. It is also very important for leaf and stem growth. Nitrogen is very active among young leaves. Plants show signs of nitrogen deficiency with symptoms like slower growth, yellowing occurs among young leaves between the veins and eventually progressing to yellowing of the whole leaf, leading it to completely die and fall off. Phosphorus (P) is used in high amounts in germination, cuttings, seedlings, and bloom stage. Phosphorus is very important for vigor and seed production. It is very active in new growth and root tips growth. Deficiencies include small dark blotchy leaves with stems and veins turning a reddish color. Seed yield is drastically affected as well. Potassium (K) is an element used in all stages of plant growth. Potassium will increase a plants resistance to drought, disease, and mold. Potassium is very important to a plant. It performs many functions such as regulating the stomata. It helps in root growth and increases chlorophyll in the leaves. It is very important in production of starch and sugars. Potassium deficiency often appear as weak and brittle stems, older leaves die off at the tips, plants often become burdened with disease. Unfortunately, potassium locks up easily in soil with a high salt content.
Q. What is Mushroom compost?
A. Mushroom Compost is an inexpensive potting soil and soil amendment that is packed with organic goodies. Mushroom Compost is sterilized to provide a clean medium for mushroom growth. After serving its purpose as a mushroom growing medium it is discarded. After lying fallow for 2 years, mushroom compost is very fertile and packed with beneficial organisms. The high powered compost could also foster anti-fungicidal and anti-bacterial properties in foliage and below the soil line, which helps guard against disease. It is packed with bifacial bacteria that speed up nutrient uptake.
Q. How can I control my soil temperature?
A. Ideally the soil temperature should be between 65-75 degrees fro the most chemical activity. Warm the soil with heating cables or soil heat mats. Seedling heat mats are ideal for this and can be purchased in our online store.
Q. What is coconut fiber and how does it work for growing?
A. Coconut fiber is also called palm peat, coco peat, and coir. Coir is coconut pith, the fibery part just under the heavy husk. Pith is soaked up in water up to nine months to remove salts, natural resins and gums in process called "retting". Next they beat the straw brown coir to extract the husk. Coir is biodegradable and an excellent medium for propagation through flowering and fruit growth. Coir holds lots of water while maintaining structure. It is durable, rot resistant and a good insulator.
Q. When is the best time to water my plants? Day or night?
A. Water early in the day so excess water can evaporate from soil surface and leaves. Leaving foliage and soil wet overnight invites fungal attack.
Q. Should I allow any runoff when watering my plants?
A. When you water your plants you should have at least 25% runoff during each watering.
A. Expanded clay pebbles are used in hydroponics as a medium to support the plant. They are chemically inert, do not affect pH and provide excellent drainage. They are made from a special type of clay, which is heated to a high temperature causing it to pop like popcorn.