A lot of things matter to the plants in your garden. Their quality of life has everything to do with your success as a grower, and the quality of food you can produce. However, like any living things, there is a time to work and a time to rest. Overlooking this can leave the indoor gardener puzzled about what they did wrong. You can have perfect climate control and not get the results expected by failing to deliver absolute darkness. It’s part of your environmental control duties.
There must be a distinct and indisputable difference between daylight and nighttime hours in your indoor garden, just as there would be if you were growing outdoors. Since the backyard garden is exposed to the light of the silvery moon, this issue isn’t one that readily comes to mind until you understand what makes a plant tick.
Your plants are naturally programmed to perform certain functions in the dark that are not possible when the a source of light is present. Just because your grow lights are off does not guarantee that your garden is in total darkness. Without this, your plants cannot properly breathe or process their food.
During daylight hours your garden plants are busy creating carbohydrates from the energy the sun bestows which is technically known as photosynthesis. They are also taking in carbon dioxide and putting out oxygen. When the sun goes down, plants shut down too. They fold their leaves, close their flowers and stomata, a phenomenon that to a human suggests they are sleeping. Not quite, they have much to accomplish before sunrise. Night is shorter than day, and plants are well aware of this. They only have so many hours for respirating, which is when they eat and breathe. They actually count the hours too, making light timers so very important, but you must remove the possibility of accidental light leaking into the growing space when it should be night in the indoor garden.
Not being able to convert the day’s stored up energy into sugars they can consume or to get oxygen and release CO2. This is known as respiration, the lack of which leads to lesser root growth and an overall slowing even failure of crop development. When your plants aren’t performing efficiently due to the lack of true night hours, no equipment in the world can cure what ails them. So, make sure they have the required break from light and the right amount of hours for each stage of growth.
How can you ensure you have delivered? For one thing, respect their need for dark by either not going into your indoor garden at all when the plants should be resting, or using only a green spectrum LED light when you must do so. Locate any light leaks and fix the problem right away. If you don’t, poor flowering and then fruiting will definitely be one problem you will have. Plants only set bloom when the night length is just right. Overworked plants obviously won’t be efficient at all, and declining health invites pests and disease to wreak havoc.
Moon image courtesy of michaelridel, cc by 2.0 sharealike.