Author Archives: admin

America’s Next Agricultural Revolution Will Happen Indoors

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America’s Next Agricultural Revolution Will Happen IndoorsWith climate change wrecking havoc on the world’s crops, it’s time to consider other options. Warehouse farms might be the answer to the global food crisis.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released their first report in seven years, and like many sequels, it wasn’t good. Beyond melting ice caps and unprecedented heat waves, the news that most shook readers was that "all aspects of food security are potentially affected by climate change."

Early proof of this impending disaster is playing out in California where farming-related losses in 2013 are estimated to be $5 billion and 2014 is not on track to be any better. Chipotle noted in a recent investor letter that they might cut back on their signature guacamole because of avocado scarcity. In a wry twist, this news caused much more concern for many Americans than the United Nations Nobel Prize winning team’s research tome of impending doom.

From clean rooms to grow rooms: High-tech companies cultivate indoor farms

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Tech companies that are more familiar to us as gadget and electronics manufacturers are beginning to branch out into indoor farming, applying their tech skills to growing veggies as well.

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Over the last few years, we've started to see names such as Panasonic, Toshiba, Sony, Fujitsu, and Sharp pop up in our news feeds, but not necessarily for what you might think. Instead of catching my eye with tidbits about the latest gadget, gizmo, or tech component they've produced, it's the vegetables they're growing that piques my interest.

While I think that most of us who tend to be crunchy and rootsy prefer that our food comes from the soil, and be grown under the sun somewhere nearby (by someone that we might possibly know) with minimal off-farm inputs and chemical treatments (read: organically and sustainably grown), it isn't the reality, or even a possibility, for the majority of the population. As much as I like to grow my own food, and to support small local organic growers, my family and I still depend on the grocery store for many of the things we eat, especially in the off season. And that's true for much of the world's urban population as well, where access to fresh foods can be extremely limited, simply due to lack of local sources.

The Multiple Roles of Soluble Silicon For Plants. Growstones are a Source.

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Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 11.33.00 AMUnder normal growing conditions and irrigation frequency, Growstones leaches out soluble Silicon at an average rate of 5 - 6 ppm per week, accumulating about 45 ppm1 of soluble Silicon in the nutrient solution recirculating system in 8 weeks. During the same period, the average accumulation of soluble Silicon from rockwool is 0.8 ppm1. And as the irrigation frequency increases, so does the leaching rate of Silicon from the surface of Growstones.
This means that with Growstones products, growers can benefit not only from more frequent irrigations with increased growth potential without the risk of root rot, and have tremendous aeration and drainage – growers can also increase soluble Silicon availability to plants with the associated benefits already included, with no extra cost for external Silicon fertilizers.

The Coolest Wicking Demo on the Planet

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Growstones aggregates make for an ideal hydroponic substrate due to its small and large pores. When the substrate is irrigated, water is held in the micro pores but quickly drains through the macro pores, allowing fresh air to flow through the substrate, which brings oxygen to the roots and removes carbon dioxide from the root zone. Amazing.

Check it out in this video. It's not magic. It's Growstones!

 

Why You Want to Kiss Clay Pebbles Goodbye

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Clay pebbles available today

Growers have had a love hate relationship with clay pebbles for years. Now there’s finally a choice. Besides the clear advantage of providing a higher level of aeration than clay pebbles, Growstones have significantly less fines, and release silica over time in a form plant roots can uptake.

Here are some of the advantages of Growstones aggregates over clay pebbles based on actual physical characteristics of both substrates.

1. Higher air-filled porosity

At field capacity (i.e. after irrigation water has drained away), clay pebbles air-filled porosity is about 42%, while Growstones hydroponic media is 48% by volume. This corresponds to at least 12% higher aeration in Growstones than clay pebbles. The importance of high porosity in hydroponic growing cannot be undermined. Ideal substrates have small and large pore spaces. When the substrate is irrigated, water is held in the small pores but quickly drains through the large pores, allowing fresh air to flow through the soil, bringing oxygen to the roots and removing carbon dioxide from the root zone.

The Importance of Buffered Coco and Why We Use It in GS-3 Coco Mix

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As I am sure you know, coco peat or coco coir are byproducts of industries that use coconuts. Coconut tree plantations are found in the tropical and subtropical areas of West Africa, Asia, South America and Central America. Garden grade coco coir is created by a series of steps like aging, washing, rinsing, drying, buffering, grinding, and grading. Without proper processing, coco coir will have an excessive salt content, degenerate and compact resulting in problems with Pythium root rot, and lead to nutritional imbalances especially related to calcium and magnesium deficiencies.    

Without going into too much chemistry, we'll explain cation exchange and coco coir. Since coco coir has a negative charge, it can hold certain nutrients and keep them from the plant (nutrient lockup = BAD). Suppose you are growing a fast growth annual flowering plant. You want every bit of calcium to get utilized by your plant. Nutrient lock up will affect plant health and reduce overall yields. 

So, how do we make sure our coco coir doesn't contain a lot of elements that will lock up expensive fertilizers, burn plants with excessive unwanted salts, and reduce plant health and yields?

The Science Behind Gnat Nix for Fungus Gnat Control

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gnatnix-illustrationDid you know that potted soil from garden centers often is contaminated with eggs and/or larvae of fungus gnats? That means before you even start, you could have a fungus gnat problem and not even know it. Whatever the source of your fungus gnats issue, larvae are the source of plant damage. They feed on algae, fungi, decomposing organic matter, and plant roots in the growing medium. They prefer feeder roots and root hairs, both of which are important for plant health and vigor. If these roots are damaged plants may lose vigor, wilt, have poor growth, leaves may turn yellow and drop.

What’s more, even though adult fungus gnats don’t bite or feed, as long as they are able to complete their life cycle, there will always be potential for plant damage from larvae. Up until now, there was no way to significantly disrupt a gnat’s life cycle without the use of chemicals.

Not any more.

Mykos Means Root Mass

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Mykos PumpkinWhy We Added Xtreme Gardening Mykos ® to our GS-3 Coco Mix.

When most novice gardeners hear the word "fungus", visions of plant devastation come to mind. Leaves and flowers covered in harmful, fluffy nasty that ruins entire gardens. Bad news. 

But there is also beneficial fungus too! And Mycorrhizae is one of them. In fact, it is an excellent type of fungus that helps plants uptake water and nutrients, and shields the roots from attack by harmful root diseases. In exchange, the plant provides carbohydrates back to the fungus. A symbiotic relationship where both benefit. 

Time Is Money! GS-3 Saves You Both

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Time to a grower is crucial. Why waste it measuring, blending, and preparing your blend? Did you add enough? Did everything get evenly mixed? Without the proper blending equipment, it’s a guessing game. Inevitably, you will have that ½ bag of something left over taking up space. All of this can be a waste of your time, which ultimately is a waste of your money. Not anymore.

We’ve done all the work for you!

Clay Pebbles vs Growstones. Out with the old, in with the new!

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[caption id="attachment_2595" align="alignright" width="225"]bad clay pebbles clay pebbles[/caption]

Once upon a time (like 50 years ago), clay pebbles were the way to go when growing indoors. Frankly, that’s all that was available. And even though even back then they were far from ideal due to their red clay leakage, dirty composition and unsustainable practices, growers grinned and bared it. Because that’s just the way it was.

But not anymore.

Thankfully, technology has changed. Just think of what your life would be without the smart phone? Or laptop? Or internet, for that matter? You’re not sending text messages via carrier pigeon, are you? Then why are you still using an old, outdated growing medium like clay pebbles?

The fact is the quality of the clay pebbles on the market today is EVEN WORSE than it was 50 years ago. These replacements are not only dustier, they are no longer consistent in size or porosity, they crush and chip easily, and leave behind an even darker residue. Yuck.