As seen in: Issue 30

The 7 Deadly Sins of Growing

Many of us are familiar with the seven deadly sins. First outlined by Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century, they are vices or negative character qualities that, if left unchecked, will result in a host of other sins and eventually kill a person’s soul.

Heavy stuff, isn’t it? But it recently struck me that these guiding principles apply to many things in life beyond one’s behavior, such as gardening, for instance.

What do the sins have to do with gardening? By doing the polar opposite of these mortal sins, you could very well find yourself becoming a superstar grower with improved results.

Pride: Don’t Think You Know It All

As you learn more and become more passionate about a hobby, you gain more confidence, which is a good thing. However, it is also possible to become a little too confident, referred to as the Dunning-Kruger effect. It is a common cognitive bias that makes it difficult to ask for help or one to even acknowledge that they might need it.

Those who reach the pinnacle of success within their respective fields, be that growing, mathematics, or sports, are the people who strive to learn more by continuing to ask questions and search for new ways to do things. If you attempt to be the best, do not let pride get in the way. Remain humble, listen to different opinions, and, never think you are above seeking out advice.

Envy: Don’t Compete With Others

While it is always nice to swap tips and take advice from fellow growers, be wary of those who are perhaps showing off and exaggerating. It can be challenging, especially for novice growers, to not feel pressured to meet other people’s expectations or results. Veteran growers will likely have better yields. Focus on the tasks at hand and do not feel disheartened or jealous of what others have achieved. Doing so will zap your motivation; there is no substitute for hard work and effort. 

Gluttony: Don’t Overfeed Plants

When growing indoors, it is common for people to cut corners or manipulate things to get the results that they want, especially when it comes to feeding. Plants are reliant on you for their nutritional needs, and so if you decide to increase the strength of feed, they will accept it. As a result, plants may experience an improvement in size, fullness, or aroma. Keep in mind, however, that too much feed is a bad thing. As animals, we intuitively think that food equals growth, but overeating doesn’t do you or your plant any good.

Non-organic liquid fertilizer for indoor growing comes in a soluble, concentrated form for the plants to take up immediately. Using too much causes the plant to overfeed and “burn” itself, which could result in a loss of yields or crop wipeout! Signs of nutrient burn include yellow or brown tips on the leaves, and when untreated, the problem can spread inward, causing leaves to become crunchy and curled.

Lust: Don’t Harvest Early

The average plant species takes at least a few months to complete a full cycle when growing indoors. It is possible to become a little impatient, especially when growing produce and you are eager to try it out. But harvesting too early is a travesty that will prevent a plant from meeting its full potential.

Edible crops harvested before their peak will be smaller in size, less vibrant in color, and fall short on flavor and aroma. Seek guidance on the exact periods a particular crop needs to reach full maturity and try to resist the urge to indulge too early.

Anger: Don’t Give Up

There is nothing more frustrating than putting a tremendous amount of effort into something only for the inexplicable to happen and cause a disaster. These experiences, unfortunately, come with the territory when growing indoors. Juggling so many variables while trying to mimic what Mother Nature does naturally is challenging! Power failure in the grow room? Water leaks? Pest infestation? Everyone has a horror story (or two) to share.

Problems are inevitable. The difference is in how we deal with them. You could shout profanities at an inanimate object and take up golf instead. Or, you can approach the problem philosophically. Accept that mistakes will happen and look at the issues as a troubleshooting exercise where you can learn to be more efficient in the future.

Sloth: Don’t Become Complacent

Being sloppy in the grow room can cause an array of problems. Think mold, rot, pest infestations, deficiencies, toxicities, and dehydration, to name but a few! One must be sure to feed on time, measure accurately, and monitor things such as the room’s humidity levels, temperature, pH, and EC. Even just a hint of laziness where hygiene is concerned can be disastrous.

Make a checklist, write a weekly planner, set the alarm, and get a routine going. Follow it, and there is not much else that can go wrong.

Greed: Don’t Endanger Anyone For Personal Gain

The desire for material wealth or higher yields can cause people to take risks with their own and other people’s health. When growing fresh fruit, vegetables, or herbs strive to produce the best quality food possible. There are many products available that improve the flavor or size of the plant but may also contain concerning levels of toxic chemicals.

The use of plant growth regulators (PGRs) is controversial, as although these compounds can help encourage healthier growth and increase resistance to fungus, there are unproven claims that they could also put consumers at risk of liver damage, cancer, and infertility. Further investigation into the use of these products is needed.

Similarly, inexpensive nutrients often contain low-quality minerals and high trace levels of heavy metals, which again, are a significant health concern. Use only fertilizers and other products that you would not worry about consuming yourself.

It’s funny to think that although they were initially intended to warn us mortal souls against eternal damnation, the seven deadly sins can be applied even in the grow room. Avoiding certain obstacles and adverse situations can help make us more productive in everything we do, gardening included!

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An industry veteran with over 20 years experience in a variety of roles, Rich is currently a business development manager for a large UK hydroponics distributor. The author of The Growers Guide series, Rich also writes on all aspects of indoor gardening, as well as being an independent industry consultant working closely with hydroponic businesses worldwide.