We have moved again - now at St Kilda. You can contact us on 0411 105 365. We are in the process of setting up hydroponic and aquaculture displays.

Monday 0930 to 1730
Friday 0930 to 1730
Saturday 0930 to 1230

We are available for consultation and site visits at these times- other times by appointment by email (robin@soladome.com.au)

After 35 years at 44 Chapel Street it was time for a change to a web based operation and to offer guidance based on many years of practical experience.

 

 

Indoor Cultivation

Helpful advice and explanations of the main concepts that you need for growing hydroponically indoors - both for the hobbyist, as well as the commercial farmer.

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Hobbyist

Natural light. The climatic conditions may mean that the plants you wish to grow cannot be grown easily outdoors without protection. A windbreak or courtyard may be required for wind shelter. More severe environmental conditions may require a cover over the enclosed area. Glass provides the best light transmission and also the best heat gain or loss. Do not use green fibreglass for a roof covering as this will inhibit plant growth. Try to control large fluctuations in temperature and humidity and remember that good ventilation is essential for plant growth.

Fluorescent lighting. Works OK with cool white but try for the gro-lux, tri-phosphor or tru-lite tubes. To be effective fluorescent lighting has to be very close to the plant leaves because the light energy from artificial light drops off very quickly as the distance from the light source increases. Some plants that have low light requirement can be grown successfully under fluorescent lighting. Seedlings and cuttings can be grown and raised using fluorescent lighting.

Incandescent lights. Produce more heat than light suitable for most plants so are generally not used. There are some gro-light bulbs that are available which have a blue coating on the globe.

Mercury vapour lights. Have been popular with those people who can buy factory demolition materials. Mercury vapour lights in factories are usually called hi-bays and have a parabolic reflector to provide even light at about five metres away (16 feet). Some people have replaced the reflectors and grown plants using these lights but have had to breed plants that can use the low light temperature. The mercury vapour hi-bays generally have the light fitting attached to the control box. If a suitable ignitor is fitted inside the control box of a 400 watt hi-bay then it can be used for normal 400 watt metal halide lamps. There are retrofit metal halide globes that can be used with unmodified hi-bay 400 watt mercury vapour control equipment but these globes are nearly twice the price of a normal metal halide globe.

High Pressure Sodium and SON-T type lights. Have been used to extend the daylight hours in the winter and spring in countries like Holland. These lights are becoming popular with indoor hobbyists. These sodium type lights tend to produce light at the red/yellow end of the light spectrum and some plants can "stretch" and become "stalky" when these lights are used exclusively for growing plants indoors.

Metal Halide lamps. Probably the most efficient to use indoors because they provide the type of high energy light source which most plants require for growth. The hobby indoor gardener will tend to use either a 400 watt version or a 1000 watt version.

Depending upon the plants to be grown as a very rough rule of thumb a 400 watt metal halide lamp with a china hat type reflector will provide enough light for a growing area 120 cm x 120 cm (4 foot x 4 foot) A 1000 watt metal halide lamp with a china hat type reflector will provide a growiing area 150 cm x 150 cm (5 foot x 5 foot).

The light from the high performance lights contains rays that can cause eye problems similar to the effects of "welding flash" and "snow blindness". When in a growroom wear safety and protective eyeware.

High pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halide (MH) lighting systems are high performance units and because of the control mechanisms when switched on they draw an inductive current which can cause problems with normal domestic timers and electrical circuits. Before buying or using any type of indoor lighting get professional electrical advice to make sure that what you plan to use is safe for your particular situation. REMEMBER THAT ELECTRICITY WATER AND HUMANS CONNECTED TOGETHER IS A FATAL COMBINATION. (The other consideration is that in the event of an insurance claim if the lights or their installation or operation was not disclosed to your insurance company then any claims on your insurance policy may be denied - before setting up growing lights indoors check your insurance policy).

 

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Commercial indoor cultivation

If the commercial grower has to provide a structure in order to grow plants then the capital cost of the structure and its running costs must be paid for by the increased price the grower can obtain for the end produce. It may be that the grower cultivating indoors or under cover may be able to supply plants when none are available locally or the grower may be able to sell his plants before the same plants grown outdoors are ready.

The cost of providing artificial lighting as well as a structure means that the financial and marketing considerations have to be correct otherwise the grower goes broke very quickly.

As soon as you start to grow plants inside a structure the following areas have to be considered.

  • Light control
  • Heat control
  • Humidity control
  • Air movement
  • Pest and disease control
  • Pollination (for flowering and fruiting plants)
  • Cultivation and harvesting systems
  • Nutrient and water systems

The notes on this page are to give you a quick summary of some of matters to consider if you intend to grow plants indoors or under some sort of covering.

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