Thursday, February 5, 2009

Let there be light, and plenty of it!

For quite sometime I have been thinking of adding a light meter to measure the intensity of the light my plant's are receiving. This meter cost a little over twenty dollars, but I think it will be money well spent.

As an example, tomatoes need a medium light level with minimum of 1,000 to 2,000 foot candles to produce fruit. Both of my fluorescent fixtures measure slightly over 2,000 foot candles at leaf level. So, with a photoperiod of 16 hours under my fluorescent lighting, tomatoes will receive in excess of 32,000 foot candle hours.

With a level less than 20,000 they would most likely not produce fruit, and a level in excess of 50,000 would be a waste of energy. Interesting indeed.

My nutrient test has only been in progress for three days, however, the nutrient level is still in the 380 TDS range. Lettuce should be between 560-800. Although I can not see any problem with the plants, I intend to use more than the recommend amount for the next batch I mix. These nutrients, though economical, are not as economical as I was lead to believe.

I doubt that I will be buying more nutrients from the person who sold me these nutrients on ebay though. I found a commercial manufacturer who will sell me small batches of nutrients for a reasonable price. This company provides the hydroponic nutrients for the Epcot Center, and has been providing hydroponic nutrients for more than forty years.

I had a nice chat with the owner and he agrees that liquid nutrients are a rip off. Also, liquid nutrients have a shelf life of one year, and I have found that to be true. Dry nutrients kept in a cool dry location will last indefinitely. It is much more convenient to store a small bag than several gallon jugs. Well, that's what the learning process is all about.

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