Monday, August 25, 2014

CO2 Enrichment = 20-30% Increased Yields

We're nearing the end of summer in the Northeast, which means it's time to start planning your winter indoor gardens.  The outdoor heat isn't as much of an issue during the winter, which makes it a perfect time to start considering the addition of a CO2 generator.  Plants breathe CO2 the same way we breathe oxygen and, when the CO2 levels are properly maintained (typically at 1500 PPM, or Parts Per Million), CO2 enrichment provides a 20-30% increase in yields, completely naturally.  The reason we recommend using generators in the winter (rather than in the summer) is because CO2 is generated by burning either natural gas or propane, which obviously creates heat.  However if you have adequate cooling in your space, this shouldn't be an issue and you can probably run CO2 all year long with no problem.  Plus, generators are the the most efficient means of CO2 enrichment.  If sized properly, they will bring your CO2 up to the desired levels and keep it there, much quicker and more accurately than when using a CO2 tank or natural CO2 bucket/pad.

Green Air Products, who are one of the first companies in our industry to focus on CO2 enrichment and environmental controls, has just introduced the first series of multi-fuel-source CO2 generators (they can run off of propane OR natural gas) which also use efficient infrared technology.  Plus Green Air's CO2 generators have holes to insert optional cooling tubes, which can be incorporated into your exhaust ducting to remove excess heat out of your growing space.  They also feature an electronic ignition, so when they're off, they're 100% off.  There is no pilot light so gas isn't being wasted, unnecessary heat isn't being created and they're extremely safe to use.

Maintaining the optimum CO2 levels for maximum production is easy.  Green Air also makes a Set Point Controller that allows you to set the CO2 level that you would like to be maintained in your garden (like we said, typically 1500 PPM), and will only turn the generator on if the levels dip below your set point.  Once your CO2 levels are back at the desired setting, it triggers the generator to turn off.  This way, you won't have to worry about wasting gas or your CO2 levels going too high.  Another added bonus is that it gives you a digital read-out of what the exact PPM of CO2 is in your garden at any given time.  

These are just a few products we offer in terms of CO2 enrichment.  There are still the traditional CO2 generators that run off of either Propane OR Natural Gas (not both), and have standard burners instead of infrared technology.  If you'd like to run CO2 without using a generator, we sell CO2 tanks and regulators and CO2 Boost natural CO2 buckets, as well as other options for monitoring and controlling your CO2 levels. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Products We Love: Canna's Terra Professional Plus

Canna's Terra Professional Plus is a great growing medium that is pH stable, has excellent drainage with no perlite added (only natural tree bark for aeration) and a starter nutrient charge so manual feeding isn't necessary for at least a few weeks. It's mild enough for seedlings but strong enough that all plants will get off to a great start.  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Botanicare's Hydroguard is Back

Botanicare's Hydroguard is now back, replacing its previous replacement AquaShield.   Now being formulated with a different species of bacteria, Bacillus Amyloliquefaciens (as opposed to the previous and more commonly used Bacillus Subtilis), it is even more concentrated and effective at improving root health and root mass.  Plus the shelf-life has increased to 2 years, instead of the 1 year shelf life of AquaShield.  A great weapon against root rot.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


We will be closed next week from Monday June 30th - Sunday July 6th.  We will reopen Monday, July 7th at 11:00AM.  Our last open days before the 1-week break is Friday the 27th in Queens (11:00AM-7:00PM) and Saturday the 28th in Nyack (11:00AM-3:00PM) so make sure to come in for any essentials before we close.  Hope you guys enjoy the July 4th weekend and see you when we reopen!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer Hours in Effect for Queens Location

Astoria Summer Hours (Memorial Day - Labor Day)

Monday - Friday: 11:00AM - 7:00PM
Saturday & Sunday: CLOSED

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Calcium Deficiency: Signs, Causes and Cures

The most common nutrient deficiency that our customers face is a calcium deficiency.  When you encounter it for the first time, it can be scary.  You might freak out and think your plants are dying.  They're not, they're just showing you that they need something.  It is very easy to diagnose and fix, hopefully this helps.


The first sign of a calcium deficiency is yellow spotting on the leaves.  If left untreated, the yellow spots will start to become brown in the center and will eventually spread over the entire affected leaves.  They will then start to dry out, shrivel up and die.

From issue 24 of CannaTalk Magazine


- Unbalanced pH.

pH is one of the most important factors in gardening.  If the pH level of your growing medium or nutrient solution isn't in the proper range, typically from 5.5 to 6.5, nutrients can't get absorbed by the plant.  So even though you may be feeding your plants everything they need to grow well and perform, they might not actually be getting it.  You can check your pH with a variety of tools.  For testing water: paper pH test strips, pH indicator solution (General Hydroponics makes an inexpensive test kit, and a complete control kit that comes with pH Up and pH Down to adjust your pH) or a digital pH pen.  For testing soil: A soil tester that is cone-shaped with a dial or a Bluelab digital soil pH meter (the inexpensive pH testers with the long metal probes are unfortunately not very accurate).  With container gardening, you can always test the water you're feeding your plants and then the run-off from the bottom of the containers and "ballpark" the difference (for example, if your water is reading 6.0 and your run-off is reading 7.0, you can safely assume your medium has a pH of around 8.0).

Cure:  In hydroponics, you can simply adjust the pH of your nutrient solution with pH Up (which is alkaline) or pH Down (which is acidic).  In soil it will take a little longer to stabilize the pH (it takes longer to fix any problem in soil than it does in hydroponics), but you would do it using the same principle as reading the run-off.  For example, if your soil has a pH reading of 4.0, you would want to water with a solution that measures 8.0 for a few waterings to bring it down to 6.0.

- Using nutrients that don't have a high enough dose of Calcium.

New York, especially the five boroughs, has some of the cleanest water in the country (minus the chlorine) which means that it doesn't have a very high nutrient/mineral content.  This is typically a good thing because when your water starts out with a low PPM/EC/TDS/CF (all of the units of measure that are used to measure the amount of "stuff" in your water), you have more room to feed your plants the nutrients that they actually want and need.  When your water starts out with more "stuff" in it, you are limited in how much you can add to it to feed your plants.  When starting with water with a very low PPM (Parts Per Million, which is the most common unit of measure in the US in our industry), you have to make sure that you're adding all of the essential micro and macro nutrients for plant growth, in the proper ratios for the specific stage of growth that your plants are in.  That sounds complicated, but most of the base nutrients you see have a pretty well-balanced blend of these nutrients.  That said, sometimes plants need more.

Cure:  Use a calcium supplement (usually a blend of calcium and magnesium) such as General Hydroponics' CALiMAGic, which contains 5% calcium, 1.5% magnesium, 1% nitrogen and .1% iron (all of the most commonly deficient nutrients in the vegetative stage), or Aptus' Massboost which contains 7% calcium, 5% nitrogen and 1% magnesium.  Within a week or 2 this should fix your calcium deficiency.  New growth should start looking green and healthy.  (If you'd like to speed up the recovery process, when your plants are in their vegetative stage you can foliar-feed the Massboost.  Just be sure to follow their recommendations for foliar-feeding and always spray when the lights are off, or at sundown if growing outdoors.)

- Under-feeding

Sometimes plants just want more food.  If your pH is on point and you're using a good nutrient that contains a higher percentage of calcium, look for signs of other deficiencies.  For a chart of what all of the major nutrient deficiencies look like, come in for a free copy of CannaTalk issue 24.  If you see signs of a calcium deficiency, but maybe it looks like a nitrogen deficiency too, and also kind of iron (or some other mix..) you might not be feeding them enough.

Cure:  Try and increase the amount of food you're giving them, but be very careful.  Adding too much, too soon, can cause over-fertilization and burn your plants.  This is when a PPM meter comes in handy.  You can know exactly how much you're feeding your plants and make notes of what they want, and when they want it.  We usually recommend increasing your nutrients by only 100-150 PPM at a time.

- Nutrient Antagonism

Sometimes when it looks like you a have a deficiency of one nutrient, it's really because you have an excess of another.  This is known as "nutrient antagonism."  An over-abundance of potassium and/or salt is a very common cause of calcium deficiency when using coco coir as a growing medium.  Coco has a lot of naturally occurring potassium and sodium (sodium due to the sea water that is present where the coco is originally grown) which is an antagonist of calcium.

Cure:  When growing in a coco coir medium, be sure to use a high quality brand!  Canna Coco has already been treated and buffered to correct any nutrient/salt excesses beforehand so it isn't an issue, but a lot of other brands have not been treated the same way.  This is why many people have negative results when using sub-par brands of coco coir.  Just add a good quality calcium supplement to your nutrient regimen and the problem should correct itself.  If you're growing in a soil or soilless medium, such as Pro-Mix or Rockwool, just give the plants a good flush (see our article on Flushing) and the next time few times you feed, add in a dose of a calcium supplement.

From Aptus' Education Manual