Water Tests and LED Grow Lights

by Jayden
(Oak Ridge, TN)

I'm gearing up to start my first aeroponic system thanks to your site. I've been reading up on the water aspect that you've talked about and found davistestkit.com, which is an affordable kit/service and it does a host of testing.

Would this be going overboard, or would this be the right way to start off? If it is too much, what kit or service would you recommend? I'm planning to put in rain barrels this year, how would I need to treat the rain water to be a viable source of water for my system, if at all?

I didn't see anything about LED lights on your site and was curious as to your thoughts on them. Have you ever used them before? Most of my research seems to have a lot of people on one side of the fence or the other. But they are just so much more affordable and longer lasting than metal halide or any of the others. I don't want to put the money into them if they aren't worth it.

Thanks for the plethora of information you have here and for making it easy to understand. Your site is well laid out and easy to navigate. I know this is a lot of work and you're providing it as a free service for which I am completely grateful. I have one hydroponic shop that I can go to here in East Tennessee and they are (surprise!) open the same hours I work and are massively busy if I take a day off. Figures, right? Thanks again, Jayden.

Answer Jayden- Using rainwater is normally considered more healthy than using "city" water. It does not contain the poisonous chlorine and fluoride compounds (and other substances) put into municipal water supplies. You should not have to treat the rain water, simply keep leaves and other debris from falling into the water and decomposing. You will likely use the water before it ever has a chance to go stagnant. If it becomes an issue, put an air bubbler in the rain water collection reservoir.

That said, I have used city tap water for years without a problem. I simply leave it out overnight in a big plastic storage tote with no lid on it. By the next day, the water is de-chlorinated and room temperature. This helps prevent chlorine dead spots on your leaves and any damage from temperature shock (which is easier than you think).

If using tap water, the whole $35.00 water test is probably unnecessary and overboard. I would just use your TDS meter to check the tap water. The number you get represents mostly calcium carbonate and sodium chloride (salt), and as a general guide, 200 ppm or less should be ok to use without a problem (not sure what it would be on an EC meter).

If you live in an area with heavy chemtrail activity, however, I would be at least a little concerned about using the collected rain water. Chemtrail activity has been linked to high levels of Aluminum Oxide, Barium compounds, heavy metals, and other substances in local water samples. Getting the more thorough water test might be a good idea in this case, just so you know what kind of water quality you are working with.

As far as LED's go, they claim the ability to put out lumens (usable light) equal to HID lights. It may be true, but I do not believe LED lights have the penetrating power that a comparable HID light has. I'm talking about a 24 inch effective light zone instead of having to keep your plants within 8 inches of the bulbs. I have seen no proof of it yet. If they had, I believe they would be making more of a splash in the "indoor gardening" market (in spite of their currently expensive prices).

The LED systems only seem more affordable until you consider how many of them you will need to bring a garden area up to 600 Watts or 1000 Watts. In exchange for the high price, they operate without producing nearly the amount of heat HID lights produce. They claim to do this while using less electricity than HID lights. They also last a lot longer than HID lights, supposedly without any loss in light output.

Less electric? Less heat? Less replacement? If you can deal with the higher initial cost, and if you don't mind the ongoing smaller yields, it could be a perfect lighting solution for someone. Happy Growing!

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(10 week update below)

Find out the cheapest and easiest ways to garden productively in this article.

Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 24 years ago, my first garden used rockwool cubes and B.C. Nutrients....and I remember thinking to myself yeah, sure, there may be a lot of advantages to gardening with hydroponics, for example there are very few pest problems, therefore very little pest control, no weeding, no plowing or tilling the soil, no soil testing or having to add things into the garden soil, no watering the garden....but for someone who just wants to grow their own vegetables and have more control over their food supply and the quality of the food that they eat, the cost of constantly having to buy grow media and hydroponic nutrients makes this an expensive hobby for most people...

Epic Nutrient Change

I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn't have a whole lot of money to work with and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as possible....and in the last 24 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!

As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol)...

Homemade Cloner

And, regarding the cost of the nutrients....I experimented for about 3 years with making different compost teas and nutrient teas, but there is still a lot of expense $$$ associated with making high quality nutrient teas....like kelp meal, liquid seaweed, rock dust, bat guano, un-Sulfured molasses, worm castings. You can eliminate a lot of this expense by becoming an expert at making high-quality colloidal humus compost, and use your properly made compost as the basis of your hydroponic nutrient solution.

Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 24 years and I have only just recently mastered this difficult skill....and even then, only because I happened to find a very easy to follow, high quality technique and decided to follow the instructions to the letter. I produced more high quality compost in just one week than I was able to use in a whole year! If you can master the technique, I highly recommend it. It is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase the productivity of your food production efforts, while at the same time decreasing the amount of effort required to grow all of your own food, and decreasing the total cost of operating your food production system.

And when I say decrease operating costs, I mean decrease them to almost ZERO, especially if you are producing your own nutrients...

High Efficiency

The ultimate solution to eliminate the cost of your hydroponic nutrients: Imagine a hydroponic system that does not require you to buy any nutrients, does not require you to make your own compost, and does not require you to brew your own nutrient tea. Seriously! No cost and no effort as far as providing nutrients to your plants! Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the system--->


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This solution is aquaponics. If you are serious about producing all of your own food and being self-sufficient, this is the ultimate solution for reducing expenses (as much as possible), reducing the total amount of work required, and maximizing the productivity of your gardening efforts. I have been gardening for over 24 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.

Produce garnden vegetables AND fish together. Eliminate fertilizer costs!

Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!

The Same System/ 10 Weeks Later!

If you've found this site helpful at all, I would really appreciate it