DIY Hydroponics

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DIY Hydroponics - Pests and Diseases

Insects and fungi are the main problems you will encounter in your hydroponic garden. There are diseases that do affect various plants and these should be considered on a case by case basis and most definetely will be in the minority. Insects on the other hand can live just about anywhere, will move into your garden uninvited and if conditions are even slightly favourable will thrive even in an indoor garden. Fungus spoors are present in the air all the time and if they settle in your garden and the conditions are right they will grow at an astonishing rate.

Insects and Fungi can be prevented with a few simple precautions. Cleanliness should be your watchword. Keep your growing area or room free of fallen plant debris, every garden loses a few leaves here and there and they should be picked up as soon as is practical. Both insects and fungus like dirty uncleaned corners, piles of leaves and mulch. Clean and disinfect any new plants moved into your garden and inspect them thoroughly, particularly the underside of the leaves before the damage is done. Clean the floors and walls of the garden room on a regular basis and very importantly keep all of your garden tools clean. Personal cleanliness should not be forgotten either. Dont walk into your indoor garden carrying the mud and vegetable matter of the outdoors in with you. Chances are your carry quite a few passengers in the form of insects and fungus. Clean clothes and a clean self are important for your wellbeing as well as your gardens. Once you have used your hydroponic medium for one crop consider throwing it out or in the very least sterilizing it. After a season the media is usually suffering from built up salts anyway and its to your gardens advantage to simply throw it away.

The best way to control fungus is through ventilation. Ensure that your hydroponic garden has good continous airflow with an effective ventilator fan. A number of pedestal fans located throughout the room will move the air around the room and promote strong stems. Use a low fan setting as you dont need your plants to withstand a gale. You should be able to feel the air moving through the room with your hand but the plants should never be in danger of blowing over. If you find that despite your best efforts you still have a fungus problem readdress the factors that led to the problem in the first place. Is there adequate airflow. Are you keeping the room clean enough? Some fungus or moss is normal on some media particularly rockwool because of its perfect water retention qualities however it should not ever get to the point where it is taking over the whole garden.

There are many commercial fungicide sprays available that may be used if the problems gets out of hand but if what you are growing is to be consumed make sure that it is safe to be used on food crops. Most fungicides will have a withholding period wherein you cant eat the plants for a certain period of time after treatment.

Eliminating insects from your garden entirely is an impossible task and the majority of the time the best you will be able to do is keep their numbers severely in check. A friend of mine always grows garlic as a companion plant in his indoor garden wherever it is not detrimental to the main crop. Many insects despise garlic and it can keep them out of the garden very effectively. Although there are many insecticides available on the market that may significantly reduce the number of pests in your garden once again you must be carefull where food crops are concerned. Only use insecticides that are marked as safe for human consumption and observe any withholding period religously. Consider biological control as a viable alternative. Every insect has its enemies in nature and there are companies that specialise in providing live predators to combat a given infestation. As an example spider mites are a very common indoor pest that attach themselves and their eggs to the bottom of the leaves and literally suck the life out of your plants. Predatory mites are commercially available in most countries and once established they will eat the spider mites population down to nothing. The more food that is available the better the predators will thrive. A lucky gardener will find a state of equilibrium is achieved and may only have to introduce predators once a year. Spiders should not be discouraged in the garden room as they will actively hunt down pests larger themselves.