Air Quality: The Good, The Bad and The Breeze
October 15, 2012
Before one gets involved in indoor gardening, the term ‘air quality’ is something the pollution levels and pollen allergies. No one really thinks about air and plants, but in your growing space this becomes not just a critical part of the environment, but a crucial one. Since you’re in charge of maintaining the climate here, it’s up to you to manage it well.
Growing house plants is a lot different than an indoor garden. They are spread out and far fewer in number per square foot than what is found in a grow room or grow tent, be it large or small. Here you have a population explosion in a bubble so to speak. Unlike what happens outside with plants filtering the air from impurities created by human and wildlife activities, there is no air exchange in this environment unless you create it. You see, plants cannot filter their own emissions. Nor can they create a breeze in this totally contained space or assist in regulating the temperature.
The basic parts of air quality management for indoor gardening are ventilation intake and exhaust, along with circulation and CO2 control.
Grow lights create a lot of heat, which provides much needed warmth in the indoor garden, especially in cold seasons. However, lights of this strength that run 18 hours a day create too much heat. Air intake systems aid in maintaining optimum temperatures. This is especially true when they have automatic regulators to turn them on and off appropriately. They also bring in fresh air that helps plants maintain their health and vigor. Since the area outside the grow space will be much cooler than inside most of the time, it’s important the the fittings seal tightly around the duct tubing so that not too much cold air comes in.
It is not enough just to bring fresh air in. Greenhouse gases build up in this space crowded with plants. The old air must be pumped out to create healthy air quality. This is done with an air exhaust system. How often and for how long this should run to keep the air in great shape for your plants to produce a good harvest will depend on a range of variables like the species itself, the number of plants and the size of the grow room.
Both intake and exhaust systems reduce the temperature in the indoor garden. Your crops may need more air circulation than this periodic event can provide. To accomplish this while maintaining steady temperatures, circulation fans are added to the environmental control system in place.
Finally, insufficient CO2 can break down any crop, no matter how on target everything else is. If your CO2 level is too low, your plants cannot create photosynthesis. To combat this problem, you need to add a CO2 generator and meter to your indoor garden as well. Ignoring this important element in their environment will have you dealing with crop problems at each stage of growth.
The air conditioning is so much easier to monitor and manage with the proper equipment for expertly conditioning the air. These critical components of the indoor garden also help to maintain proper humidity, along with helping in the fight against pest and disease issues.
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