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Professor-

I am planning on growing 4 plants in a closet that is about 10 feet long, 2.5 feet wide and 8 feet tall. The closet doors are the kind that have spaces in them like window blinds.  Would it be totally necessary to put an exhaust fan in, or could I just put box fans in the floor?

Anonymous

Anonymous-

It's really hard to say if you will have enough cooling or not. It depends on the type and number of lights, ambient temperature and any number of other conditions. All I can say is use a thermometer and if your temperature is too high - add ventilation. Heat can be a real problem in small growrooms sometimes, especially if you use large HID growlights.

P.H.

Professor -

This looks like a project to do with my child what do you recommend? I saw your fish tank set up. Is it limited to just small plant or can we grow lettuce or tomatoes?

Harry

Harry -

The water culture system is best suited to loose leaf type lettuce plants like Bibb lettuce or romaine. Head type lettuce will not work as well. Larger plants (tomato, pepper, etc...) don't like this type of system very well.

P.H.

Professor -

I'm new at hydroponics and I really am excited about getting started but I have a fear of failure. I have a limited space to grow in and I would like to do it indoors. I want to start with lettuce and tomatoes. I've read your answer to how much sun light a plant needs and I was wondering if I grow my plants in a closet do I still need 1/2 day(12 hours)vita light, or does this requirement change when using vita light opposed to natural sunlight? You also said that knowing the type of conditions your plants like makes  hydroponic easier. How do I find out these particulars on the various plants because I what to try all different vegetable.

Louise

Louise -

The 12 hours of light a day figure was the minimum amount of light per day. If you are growing indoors You can use 18 hours of light a day or more, I know people that leave the light on 24 hours. The more light the faster the growth.

You mentioned vita-light, are you planning on using fluorescent lights? This is probably the most inefficient way to light a garden. To get the light intensity up to where the plants are getting sufficient light for normal growth you will need many, many fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs will have to be kept within a few inches of the plants as the light emitted by fluorescent bulbs dissipates very quickly.

Finding particulars about specific plants can be done by asking people that grow the plant or asking people at plant stores, check libraries for books, search the internet.....etc.

P.H.

Professor -

What about Aquaponics? Is it really possible that the waste from fish tanks can supply the necessary nutrients for hydroponic growth?

Gary

Gary -

Yes it is possible to use fish waste to fertilize plants. This can be a bit tricky to get the system balanced but aquaponics is getting more and more popular. We are working with a non-profit group that already raises fish. We are combining his fish raising with hydroponics. It should be an interesting project.

P.H.

Professor -

What is the best drainage configuration when using coconut fiber slabs? (How do I cut the plastic so that the fiber doesn't spill into my trays, while, at the same time, providing good nutrient flow?).

Anonymous

Anonymous-

I have not used the coconut  fiber slabs yet so I can only give you a semi-educated guess. I would suggest several small holes (approx. 1/4 inch in diameter) in the bottom of the slab. If to much of the fiber is leaking out you might want to set the slab on a piece of fiberglass window screen. You might also attach a piece of panty hose over the nutrient return which acts as a real good filter.

P.H.

Professor -

How about halogen bulbs...like from those ever so common floor torch style lamps....what type of light does halogen give off?

Don

Don -

Halogen lights give off a great deal of light but unfortunately the light isn't the right spectrum for plant growth. The only two commonly available HID lights that work for plant growth are Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium lights. Mercury vapor and halogen just don't work well because of the spectrum of the emitted light.

P.H.

Professor -

What can I use for leaf suckers (they look like small fleas)on my vegetables? Will safer soaps work?

Bryan

Bryan -

Safer's soap should work ok. Safer's makes another product that we like and recommend, it is called "BioNEEM" which is an insecticide and also a preventative. It contains Neem Oil. The stuff smells pretty bad but it works very well and is safe to use up to the day of harvest. The active ingredient is Pyrethrum which is safe for humans.

P.H.

Professor -

What is a good 'recipe' to follow to make a nutrient solution for veggies such as onions, green onions garlic, and carrots for a school project?

Anonymous

Anonymous -

I don't have any recipes for nutrients that are economically feasible for small scale projects. Many, many chemicals are required and many are hard to find. Most of these chemicals have to be purchased in 55 gallon lots or other ridiculously large amounts. My best suggestion is to purchase the nutrients pre-mixed, it would be much easier and cheaper.

P.H.

Professor -

What are the symptoms of ethylene or carbon monoxide poisoning for tomatoes? I've got a old propane furnace and I'm getting a lot of flower abortion/bloom drop.

Chris

Chris -

I don't know what the symptoms of carbon monoxide or ethylene poisoning in tomatoes are. Is ethylene a by-product of propane combustion? I have never heard that it was.

At any rate I would suggest that you test the air with a carbon Monoxide tester, as this gas is very toxic to humans as well as plants.

The major cause of bloom drop with tomatoes is a lack of phosphorus in the nutrient solution. Are you using a "bloom" type nutrient formula? Bloom formulas are generally very high in phosphorus.

P.H.

Professor -

I have a question: If you were wiring a room for growing with about 6 or 7 high output lights plus pumps heaters aerators etc how many amps, and what type of wire would you use? Each bulb is 400 watts.

Pete

Pete -

I'm not an electrician but a 400 watt light will draw about 4.5 amps each. You will probably need three 20 amp circuits to wire the room safely. As far as wire size goes the bigger the wire (the smaller the number) the better. I would use #10 or #12 gauge wire. I would suggest having an electrician do the job unless you are certain that you can do it correctly, electricity isn't something to mess with. As my wife (Mrs. Professor) would say "Where the Professor wires - there will be fires". ;)

P.H.

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