This article is republished from Issue 5 of Garden Culture Magazine. It originally appeared under the title, “5 Hot Reasons to Check Your Grow Room Daily”.
Technology has a big role to play in our indoor gardens. Automated or not, you are using something that involves technology. All lighting used by indoor gardeners is technological in nature. Electrical motors used to pump water or move air, both solid state timers and the kind with moving parts – are still employed quite commonly in greenhouses and indoor gardens.
Replacing the sun and the wind, defining seasonal change indoors, and watering your plants with scheduled perfection… keeping your prized garden at peak health requires technology. Once you get all the equipment to automate every aspect of supporting vitality in your grow room while reducing your workload, remember this:
Technology will not take your responsibility as head gardener from you, and from the day you plugged it in, the clock started ticking toward the day it’s going to lets you down.
1. Your Lights
Your plants need these bad boys on for the full required daylight hours, and at the right height to optimize growing conditions. If you aren’t in there to adjust the lamps regularly, even every day in some cases, you will lose the sweet spot, and your grow will suffer. Ballast, bulb, or timer failure will leave your garden in the dark, throwing off photoperiod, or worse yet… kill your plants.
Always respect the heat that high-intensity discharge lights produce. Inspect them daily, because malfunction could lead to fire, and a fire can become devastating on many levels.
2. Your Fans
These also are very important to have running all the time. Make sure the fans in your grow area have manual switches on them. Most indoor garden centres offer this type of fan. Don’t use digital or remote control fans from big box stores – they reset with a power outage. So, if your power flashes and your lights come back on, your fan won’t. But any fan can fail while you’re away, and if you are studious about adjusting your reflectors to optimize canopy light, mitigating heat with a flow of air is a must. If this flow of air stops, your canopy gets hot, and your grow suffers.
3. Your Pumps
Your solution for moving your solution. If the pump in your reservoir fails to come on when it should, your plants don’t get irrigated. In an intense growing environment that’s not good, and time is not on your side. If you won’t be going back into your room for a couple of days, you will be most unhappy when you return. If only you had just peeked in once a day…
The flip side of that problem is when a pump sticks on. Now you have an extensive cleanup job with potential water damage to the building. Not to mention a new pump to buy. Both of these scenarios could be caused by a faulty timer or the controller you have the pump plugged into, so be sure to check those before replacing the pump.
4. Hostile Invasion
They move quick. It’s an open salad bar in that room 24/7, and the weather is perfect. Bugs never travel alone. They like to invite their friends and have this maddening habit of reproducing like crazy upon arrival. It doesn’t matter what kind of bug it is either, they all have this in common.
Thankfully, the other commonality is that the quicker you address a bug infestation, the easier it is to recover from it and beat them. Bugs could very well be the number one reason for failed indoor gardens. If you check daily for bugs or signs of bugs, you can grow without preventative chemicals, and address situations as they present themselves. If you check on your growroom every 3 days, then you are the window of opportunity for those bugs to get up to a 3-day head start. By then things could get ugly.
5. Mercury Rising!
For those gardens that absolutely require air conditioning, losing it is a blatant failure. However, you have levels of security options for this problem.
You can attach your lighting to a high temperature cut off switch. If your air conditioning or fans fail, and the temperature rises higher, then the setting on the cut off switch will shut down your lamps to prevent excessive heat or even the potential for fire. You now have 24 hours to fix it. But if you’re unaware for 3 whole days…
There are so many things that happen in real-time, regardless of how “automatic” any particular grow is. With gardens, we are always at the mercy of Mother Nature, even indoors. Check on your plants daily, they enjoy having company.