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A few studies have been conducted to determine the relationship between light spectrum and plant growth. It is often difficult to apply this research to a specific plant, as different kinds of plants may have different light spectrum requirements. A few general conclusions can be drawn though. Light in the blue and orange-red seems to be especially well suited to plant growth, whereas light in the green spectrum is least beneficial.
Judging from this criteria, the phosphor coated halide bulb has a better spectrum than the clear uncoated halide bulb. It has significantly less ultraviolet and violet light, slightly less blue and green, significantly more yellow and orange and slightly more red. The phosphor coated bulb therefore does an excellent job at bloom time. It has the additional advantage of being a high-diffusion light, which the plants prefer at all stages. The super-phosphor bulb has the same high luminosity as the super-clear bulb.
Sylvania seems to be the most popular bulb brand among the counterculture Luther Burbanks. Some people have tried GE, Sylvania and Westinghouse bulbs, and most seem to conclude that Sylvania does the best job for their particular crop. Although the Sylvania MS1000 is not as stable or long lasting as its GE counterpart, it's apparent better spectrum, greater intensity and lower price seem to indicate that Sylvania bulbs are the better buy. GE does not appear to be aggressively pursuing the horticultural market at the present time. By the way, the I-line bulb (for use on the outmoded Mercury Vapor ballast) has the worst spectrum due to it's large peak in the green light region.
The high pressure sodium light works well in combination with the halide during a plant's vegetative growth cycle. If they are used in combination with halides (in a 1:1 ratio), large reflectors should be used to achieve adequate dispersal of light. The sodium can be used alone if the plants are genetically adapted to the yellow-orange spectrum of light. How can plants be genetically adapted to sodium light? By starting with a large number of seeds or numerous male and female cuttings from several different plants, using only sodium light and allowing only superior plants to participate in the seed making process for three generations. Artificial selection for desirable characteristics is the name of the game and the end result is a super blooming plant with equal yield and excellent quality.
The bulb must ordinarily be powered by a ballast, consisting of a transformer and a capacitor. GE produces a superior sodium ballast, but the price tag is high. Jefferson has a quiet sodium ballast at a lower price; however a high proportion of their ignitors seem to fail and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it is because they are wired differently than most ballasts and as a consequence any rewiring from one voltage to another (110 to 220) must be done by people who know what they are doing. Universal sodium ballasts are among the loudest in the industry. Advance sodium ballasts had a quality control problem, but it seems to have been solved.
GE and Jefferson halide ballasts seem to be of equal quality, with Jefferson again more reasonably priced. Both brands are quiet and reliable. I prefer Jefferson Quad tap ballasts over their dual voltage model. Universal halide ballasts operate at acceptable noise levels but are considerably less expensive than most other brands. Advance halide ballasts are between the Universal and Jefferson in noise levels.
The Leviton company is probably the world's largest manufacturer of HID sockets. It's 5KV pulse rated socket (required for 1000 watt sodium systems) always comes complete with two attached wires, each one foot long. These socket leads are silicone insulated 14 gauge and rated at 200 degrees C. at 600 volts. These extra high temperature leads are an option on sockets which are used on any 400 watt systems. If the 90 degree C rated lamp wire from the ballast runs directly to the socket terminals, within two years the heat of the 1000 watt bulb (1000 BTUs) will dry the insulation to the point where it will easily flake off. This may not always be apparent, as the first part to dry out is that which is covered by the socket hub or junction box. The metal absorbs the bulb's heat and dissipates much of it within the small air space around the wire. By the way, asbestos wire is rated at only 300 volts and consequently fails to meet U.L. specifications for 1000 watt systems.
U.L. Standards for Safety #1572 requires that there be no possibility of a strain on any of the connections of one wire to another. Therefore it is recommended that such connections be made in a junction box with a specially made cord clamp for strain relief. Simply joining the socket leads to the lamp wire with wire nuts in mid-air is not enough; the connections could come loose and create a fatal shock hazard.
Industrial HID fixtures all use rigid conduit pipe. I recommend such pipe to mount the junction box a foot away from the bulb.
It is common for halide shop to simply mount the socket to brackets which attach to the reflector. I don't recommend this arrangement for a couple of reasons. Without a socket hub, it becomes nearly impossible to use rigid conduit pipe resulting in the problems mentioned above. In addition, moisture can more easily enter and short out the socket terminals. Moisture problems can result from low night temperatures and condensation, from a leaky ceiling, or by spraying the plantâ€™s foliage. Incidentally, wholesale houses assume no liability for the suitability of application of the parts they sell, and often their knowledge of the product is limited.
Commercial bud producers often use two rooms in their operations. One room is used for vegetative growth and the other is used for budding or blooming. If the seeds are not genetically adapted to HPS light, the grow room would have a halide only, 18 hours a day, fed with a high nitrogen fertilizer. A few mother plants in 15 gallon containers can be grown for a long time and used as a source for cuttings. Root the cuttings in 2 inch pots and as soon as they start growing, transplant into 1 gallon containers. Set these new plants in the budding room. Use biologically active soil supplemented with steamed bone meal.
In the bud room, use a combination of halide light and sodium with large reflectors, 12 hours a day. Clip the side branches. Harvest after 1 month in the budding room.
There are two basic types of growing mediums: soil and artificial. Soil consists of manure which has been composted with dead plants and other organic matter and different rock amendments. An example of a good artificial medium is a vermiculite/perlite mixture.
Many retail nurseries sell bog peat and perlite, calling it a "potting soil." This is deceptive advertising. Peat moss has no manure or natural nutrients, and therefore cannot be defined as soil. Peat moss is used mainly for moisture retention and root support; however there are alternatives which serve those purposes just as well, without the acidity problem of peat.
There are two kinds of peat moss on the market: bog peat which has been accumulating and compressing for thousands of years; and coarse sphagnum, which is harvested live and has better aeration. Coarse sphagnum has the additional advantage of having natural antifungal properties, making it well suited for mixing with compost. You may wish to use milled sphagnum, which has been coarsely chopped.
The advantages of compost are many. A compost pile typically heats up to 160 degrees F., which kills off the harmful micro-organisms, leaving the beneficial ones to make nutrients in manure available to plants. This means water soluble chemicals do not have to be added to the soil, resulting in less salt build up and pH problems.
Dolomite Â lime is mostly calcium with some added magnesium. It is not instantly water soluble, but releases gradually. It is used to adjust the soil pH and to provide the secondary nutrients. For hydroponics, I would use hydrated calcium and magnesium oxide in a 3:1 ratio. Lime balances out the acidity of Nitrogen and Phosphorus.
For those who want to use a sterile, pH neutral medium, I recommend a perlite/vermiculite mixture in a ratio of 3:1. The perlite is good for drainage and aeration, the vermiculite is good for rapid absorption and slow release of water.Water soluble fertilizers are best used in the following ratio:
PRIMARY: 12 parts NPK
SECONDARY: approximately 4 parts calcium/magnesium
TRACE: 3 parts seaweed liquid or powder
The actual amounts used would vary according to the frequency of fertilizing and growth rate. If your water supply is naturally alkaline, adjust to neutral with citric acid. For extremely acidic water, adjust to neutral with Potassium Hydroxide. It is best to store chemicals in a dry environment to avoid any chemical reactions. They can absorb moisture from the air. Some brands of fertilizers, such as Peters, use a cheaper and more acidic form of nitrogen. Calcium nitrate is preferable because it is almost neutral.
It is a good idea to germinate your seeds in 2" pots using the same medium to which they will be transplanted. In hydroponics, when using gravel alone as a medium, try germinating in a perlite/vermiculite mixture. Sprinkle a layer of dry coarse sphagnum moss over the top of your germinating medium which will prevent most fungus problems. By using trays under the pots and bottom watering, many of the problems associated with top watering, such as fungus growth on top, channeling and soil compaction, can be avoided. Superthrive isan excellent vitamin/hormone supplement for rooting cuttings, as a general tonic and at budding. It increases the germination rate, clone cutting survival, plant yield and quantity of blooms.
The imprisonment of body and confiscation of property which can result from getting caught for growing pot can clearly endanger both physical and economic survival. It is one of the most common examples of how natural human rights are violated when the coercive elements of society band together and call themselves a "government."
One of the most common ways indoor growers get caught is through informers. The information can be from a disgruntled ex-lover, a nosey landlord, or simply someone who saw the plants at a party or gathering. Discretion is strongly advised.
The police can easily obtain lists of high wattage users from the government controlled monopoly power company. There are many reasons for a high power bill: a pottery kiln, welding, carpentry tools or electric heat. A high power bill in itself is not sufficient cause to obtain a search warrant, although it may trigger an investigation by the power company and/or the police. How high is high? There is no definite answer, it would probably depend on the local police department budget, zoning laws, etc. It is advisable to practice energy conservation and alternatives. Insulating your hot water tank is a good idea. Either turn down your thermostat or use a wood burning stove for heat. The heat from halides or sodiums can be utilized by venting it into the rest of the house. For this purpose it may be desirable to modify the duct system attached to your furnace. The air intake usually goes to the first floor. If you are growing in the basement, you may want to have it pull air from the basement instead.
It is not advisable to bypass the electric meter and use a lot of juice because there is also a meter for the whole block and the margin for error is only 10%. For large scale operations in secluded rural areas, it is advisable to generate your own power. A 55,000 watt P.T.0. driven generator is available. A used tractor can be purchased cheaply to run the generator.
Insulation not only reduces energy usage, but also prevents detection from aerial infra-red photography. Mylar is good for this purpose and is especially efficient at reflecting in the red and infra-red. Mylar which is 2 mil thick is easier to work with and doesn't tear as easily as thinner mylar. It is a good idea to get mylar with a reflective aluminum coating on both sides so you can divide a room in half and have a light source on either side. Deep reflectors are more efficient at putting the light down on the plants where it is needed. Also the light will not shine directly onto the walls which leads to a radiant heat loss.
It is probably true that over 99% of pot growers in this country escape arrest. For those who are caught, the word injustice takes on a deeper meaning. It maybe true that pot growing and smoking are sometimes immoral or irrational; but the same can be said of religious worship and churches. The point is that people have a natural right to pursue happiness in their own way, so long as they don't interfere with the similar rights of others.
The Judgement at Nuremberg was based in part on the premise that individuals are responsible to a higher law which overrides government authority. We are all governed by natural laws; Congress cannot effectively legislate against the law of gravity for example. Can moral laws have the same objectivity and real validity? Certainly, because human morality is based on human nature. Is a person's nature changed by the winning of an election or the pinning of some "official" badge? The same moral laws govern all of us, whether we are government employees or not; what is wrong for a private individual is also wrong for the civil servant. The sheriff has no more right to confiscate your crop, equipment and assets than does a thief in the night.
Until next time, this is the Farmer in the Sky, saying so long!