Comparing Organic & Conventional Tomato Systems

January 11, 2011 by Mario  
Filed under Organic Gardening

The Long Term Research on Agricultural Systems at Russell Ranch, part of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, conducts trials to see the different inputs used to grow conventional and organic tomatoes, and to see if the tomatoes grown under different management styles end up with differing properties. This video how this is done

StuckOnTools® Tool Organization Systems

May 23, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under 16

The StuckOnTools® Tool Organization Systems consist of durable, powder coat painted, rust resistant steel boards, which clean up quickly. They make your work areas – garage, shop, kitchen, office, hobby – come alive with color and convenience. Browse our Product Catalog area for our current StuckOnTools product line designed to help you organize everything including: Garage/Shop Tools; Gardening Tools; Kitchen Utensils; Office/Work Areas…and more!

Basic Indoor hydroponics Gardening Guide – Indoor Grow Lights for Hydroponics Systems

March 21, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Resources

A great indoor garden requires a good grow light. It could mean the difference between success and failure. Having the right hydroponic light is the single-most important and costly decision in setting up your garden.

 Hydroponic grow lights come in three main types:


Incandescent lights

These are the usual lights found in homes. They are generally a poor choice for garden grown lights because of their limited light spectrum and inefficiency.

HID (High Intensity Discharge) grow lights

Producing more light (up to 10x more lumens/watt than an incandescent light),are more efficient. Drawbacks would be, they produce more heat, generally more expensive than incandescent lights and requires the additional expense and maintenance with ballast. It takes around 100 hours before hydroponic HID grow lights reach their optimum working conditions, or until they reach light intensity and color stability. 

Natural Sunlight

Expense for acquiring artificial lights can be skipped by using sunlight. This is done with the use of solar room, greenhouse or large windows which allows plenty of sunlight. Or you can do this outdoors; hydroponics does not necessarily mean the cultivation of plants indoors but it growing plants without the use of soil.

Basic setup for an indoor garden is 1000w of lighting for and area of 16-25 square feet of plant area. Reflectors and/or light movers should also be considered as they improve efficiency of the indoor hydroponic gardening system. Ballast may also be needed as numerous hydroponic grow lighting require igniting.

 Some Basic Facts

Before plugging in your grow light

Different plants require different levels or types of lighting, this paragraph would deal on some simple know-how on how to make an effective lighting setup. In setting up your garden, it is essential that you determine your growing area in order to determine the best lighting setup for you. Light is an essential factor in the growth of plants, it is important that the lighting solution you chose for your garden is adequate for its size. A poor or ill advised decision would certainly reflect on the quality of plants you produced. Inappropriate budgeting like cost cutting specially on lighting would just prove to be uneconomical and inefficient in the long run.

A general rule for lighting that area coverage is determined by a light wattage output. Reflectors might be used to increase the light area and reach corners but effectiveness is still determined by this formula.

Day and Night Cycles

The type of plant and its stage of growth generally determine the amount of light needed. A common cycle is that with 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness which is recommended for its vegetative growth phase.

For seedlings, a continuous light source is needed until the first real leaves appear. When the leaves appear, the regular 18/6 light cycle is used. Fluorescent or incandescent lights are best for seedling because of the low heat and soft light they generate. Automated timers maybe used to ensure consistent light cycles. Inexpensive timers are also available; this can be found any hardware or Home Depot/ Lowe’s type store.

Light and Photosynthesis

The plants exposure to light intensity, duration and light color directly affects the amount of energy needed for photosynthesis. The color of the light, Blue simulates the summer sun, Orange for autumn seem to stimulate photosynthesis best. The light spectrum produced by metal halide bulbs (Blue lights) and high pressure sodium bulbs (red/ orange lights) produce this effects. HID grow lights produce these effects owing to their popularity to hobbyist and professionals. Combination of metal halide and high pressure sodium bulbs provides the complete spectrum of light produced by the sun.

Use Caution When Working with Lights

The combination of water, electricity and chemicals in such a closed-in space makes the grow room one of the most dangerous places in your house. Keep in mind to separate your ballast by elevating it from the water-containing areas of your hydroponic growing system

Basic Indoor hydroponics Gardening Guide – Carbon Dioxide (Co2) Systems, Water and Temperature

March 21, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Resources

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Systems

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) as described in the previous paragraphs is one of the most important elements needed for plant growth. CO2 is combined with nutrients, water and energy from light (grow lights/ sunlight) is utilized during photosynthesis producing essential sugars that provide energy for the plant. Any factor missing needed for photosynthesis will limit the plants growth potential. In order for a plant to grow to its utmost potential and for it to yield the best results all of the elements must be present. 

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Injectors

One of the most cost effective way of adding CO2 to an indoor hydroponic garden system is with the use of CO2 injectors. A valve, regulator and gauge are used to measure CO2 levels injected to the air. Sophisticated CO2 injectors are also used to control CO2 release. CO2 tanks are readily available from medical supply outlets and restaurant supply stores.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Generators

Investing in CO2 generators would also be wise for long time use in your indoor hydroponic garden systems for several crops. CO2 generators burn propane, natural gas or other carbon based fuels to produce carbon dioxide. More expensive than CO2 tanks, they provide a more convenient way of producing CO2. Long period and continuous use of CO2 generators has proven to be more efficient and economical than purchasing injectors and many tanks.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Monitors and Controllers

CO2 monitors with controllers automatically maintain indoor hydroponic garden systems CO2 levels. It is advised for large-scale gardeners or hobbyists and enthusiasts with that extra cash to invest. Often in the hundreds of dollars, they are quite expensive but are really effective if you can afford it. An electronic CO2 monitor together with a CO2 controller are used to maintain CO2 levels. Monitors could be sold separately and can be used with various types of controllers giving room for flexible indoor hydroponic garden designs. 


Water quantity requirements vary according to the type of indoor hydroponic garden system. Adequate levels of water should be maintained whatever type of indoor hydroponic garden system used. Water deficiency even if reversed and corrected cause permanent loss in production.

Not only the amount of water but also quality of water is important. Poor quality also causes serious problems for any indoor hydroponic garden system. The use of tap water can affect the nutrient balance in hydroponic nutrients solutions. Tap water naturally contains mineral and salts. Often referred to as “hard water,” tap water is offset by constant monitoring and adjusting nutrient solution. Salt content should always be kept below 325 ppm (parts per million) whenever possible.



Temperature is a gauge for optimum production for every plant. When plants are exposed to extreme ranges of temperature, stunted growth and poor fruit yields are the result. Plants have specific temperature ranges for their ideal growth. Warm-season vegetables and most types of flowers have 18o C and 260 C as an ideal temperature range. Cooler season vegetables like lettuces have a 10o C to 18o C range.