Use the charts below to plot the progress of each stage of propagation, enabling you to compare each stage with the last so as to fine tune the next planting.
The more you stay within the ideal parameters the more successful your strike rate will be.
Helpful Hint: do not over water at this stage, once a week should suffice.
Helpful Hint: It is a good idea to refresh your back-up supply of seed & clone solution at this stage and make sure the solution is luke warm when soaking cubes.
Helpful Hint: Inspect the underneath of propagation blocks and check that roots are nice and white, if so success, if not, treat with Microbial rootzone conditioning solution.
At the end of the 3rd week you should be moving the smaller cubes onto the next stage either by placing them into larger cubes or directly into the main system to harden off.
Remember: Propagation blocks must remain moist, not saturated! At the end of this stage move onto the grow charts for further maintenance tips.
Cuttings can be taken from anywhere on the mother plant provided they are tip cuttings and the stems are of the correct thickness i.e. 4 - 6 mm in diameter. Take cuttings with at least three to four sets of leaves plus the two crown leaves. The top growing shoots make excellent cuttings, however make sure the stem is rigid and not too soft and flexible. If you can bend it over it is not ready to cut from the mother. If you do take it as a cutting, more than likely it will not make it through the sensitive early stages of cloning.
You may wish to take a number of cuttings at one time, if so prepare all the cubes or medium first, because any time that the cut is exposed to the air it can pick up pathogens and fungal spores which will lower your success rate. Before you begin to take cuttings it is a good idea to have all the equipment ready and in good working order. All your equipment should be as sterile as possible.
The purpose of the charts below is so you can plot the progress of each propagation stage week by week. This will enable you to compare each stage with the last so as to fine tune the next cloning session. The more you stay within the ideal parameters below the more successful your strike rate will be.
At the end of week one soak whole tray in a drip tray of luke warm seed & clone solution and Rootzone Accelerant at the above rates. You can also dose with Microbial rootzone conditioning solution to offset any possible pathogen attack.
At the end of week two the roots should be well and truly out of the propagation cubes. If so you can now move them onto the hardening off or grow stage. If the roots are not out repeat the soaking process as per above.
NOTE: KEEP GROW TOP (PROPAGATION DOME) AND VENTS CLOSED UNTIL ROOTS APPEAR, SLOW ROOT DEVELOPMENT CAN OCCUR SOMETIMES IN THE WINTER MONTHS.
Maintaining your Hydroponic N.F.T system (Nutrient film technique)
The minimum slope of your N.F.T system should be 1 in 40, i.e. 25mm in 1 metre.
The maximum flow rate should be 1 litre per minute for each channel. To check this, take the two feeder tubes out from the end of the gully and see how long it takes to fill a 1 litre container. If it is too slow, open the valve a fraction and re-check. If it is too fast, close the valve a fraction and re-check.
Change the nutrient tank solution every 14 days. If you are using a nutrient meter, the nutrient strength may be adjusted to within the acceptable levels below.
If you don't have a meter, top the tank up daily with water only, then adjust. The ideal pH level for hydroponic plants is between 6.0 - 6.5.
When making up the plant food (nutrient) follow the instructions on the nutrient pack, add the required amount of "A" & "B" that best suits the plants to be grown.
The ideal Nutrient (plant food) C.F (conductivity factor) level depends on the individual plants requirements, here are a few.
Lettuce 8 -12CF
Tomatoes 20 - 50CF
Capsicums 18 - 22CF
Strawberries 18 - 22CF
Herbs 10 - 16CF
Beans 20 - 40CF
Flowers 15 - 20CF
The ideal tank solution temperature is 18 - 22 deg. C.
NOTE: During hot weather LOWER nutrient strengths by half.
When changing nutrient solutions, it is advisable to wash out your tank, pump and feedlines (a tooth brush is a handy tool!).
This is where we get to the business end of the growing experience. The next 2 to 3 weeks are critical in determining how well your plants will produce. Just like outdoors when the light patterns change, i.e days become shorter it will trigger the plants to go into their reproductive mode and start to flower. By controlling the indoor environment you effectively become mother nature. The light hours are reduced to initiate the plants to flower or fruit. A 12 hour light period back from the 18 hour growth cycle is recommended to achieve this.
Once the light hours are reduced to 12 hours, ensure that the plants receive NO LIGHT at all during their dark 12 hour ‘night’ cycle. Should you open a door to your grow room and allow light from a hallway light or torch even a candle flicker to enter the room during the plants 12 hour sleep period, this will stress the plants by ‘waking’ them up effectively and then putting them back to ‘sleep’. This sort of stressing is to be avoided at all stages of growth. Any sort of stress situation will slow the flowering process and could even cause the plant to turn hermaphrodite (male & female).
At the flowering stage, plants require less nitrogen, and will start to consume more phosphorus. There are two ways to combat this. Either increase the strength of your grow nutrient with your nutrient (salt) meter, or purchase one of the Hydro-Masta bloom solutions or additives available.
With indoor lighting no one really understands why the red spectrum of light stimulates and increases the floral hormones of a plant, but the effect of an autumn sun is more in the red bank of the light spectrum. What we do know is that during flowering, a high pressure sodium lamp can enhance the total flower and fruiting cycle which can increase the crops end result significantly. Using high pressure sodium with bloom solutions can result usually in larger flower or bud sizes and more of them, as well as a shorter flowering time.
Flowers generally will be visible in 4 to 14 days. If not, it is likely that the plants were stressed by either poor ventilation, extreme heat or cold. This can occur if they where produced from poor original stock or from sick parent plants.
It is only a matter of time and your plants will produce pre flowers which will then turn into fully formed flowers. To determine when your plants will initiate flowering is where you need to know the origins of the stock or strain you are using. Whether it be a 6 week flowering or even a 10 week, this should be established from the beginning. If not you could end up cropping a plant that is no way ready to harvest.
As in the grow cycle, the charts below are based on the grower having all the necessary testing equipment. Remember, dose nutrient to maximum level on chart adding water each day to pre set level, let nutrient strength then drop back to the lower level before re-dosing tank as per C.F chart below. If you do not have these meters you will have to dump the tank at the end of each week and re dose with fresh water and nutrient as per the directions on the bottle, then each day following top tank off with fresh water.
Flowering cycle start of week No.1
Note: Be sure to check for any sign of pest infestations or diseases.
Now would be a good time to do a preventative spraying of the plants with Mite-Rid.