Top 10 Growing Tips for 2020
Greenhouse cultivation involves a lot of time, money, and labor, so getting things right is always a top concern. Optimizing your greenhouse and growing systems not only saves money, time, and labor, it also helps you save money and increase profits. Here are our top ten growing tips for 2020 to help you make sure that your grow is on the right track!
Focus on proper watering and dry down-cycles to eliminate micronutrient deficiencies. Flushing and making sure residual nutrients are not left in the flower buds is an important step. With the rise of dry herb vapes for flower, residual pesticides leave a more noticeable bad chemical taste. Flushing is also an important cultivation technique to know when it comes to addressing nutrient issues like nutrient lockout. While hydroponic cultivation systems do not offer much forgiveness, flushing plants in a soil medium can help correct nutrient overages and can also be a helpful practice when switching from veg nutrients to flower nutrients. As far as nutrient selection goes, keep it simple, and don't get too caught up in trends (see #4 Soil and Growth Mediums).
2. Drying, Curing, and Harvesting
It doesn't matter how good your crop is on the stalk if you can't cure it properly and get it into a jar. Proper drying and curing are essential to having a high-quality end product. Even great buds can be ruined when they are not dried and cured properly, so don't start slacking when you get the end of your grow and be sure that packaging keeps out light and air to preserve your hard work. Finally, when it comes to trimming, try using the CannaBrush. It is a unique brush with specially shaped silicone paddles that saves time and labor when compared to trimming buds with scissors. The special design of the paddles and silicone material leaves trichomes intact while removing excess leaves.
3. Irrigation and Water Supply
Sub-irrigation with drip tape is a great replacement for hand watering. It cuts down on labor and ensures that plants are watered on schedule and do not become water-logged. Hand watering is very labor-intensive, time-consuming, and imprecise. You will see more reliable results and fewer issues if you use drip tape and a timed irrigation system. Be sure that you are replacing and checking water filters on your irrigation system to prevent clogs and contaminants, and your water supply should be tested at least twice a year to make sure the mineral content does not interfere with nutrient schedules and to ensure purity.
4. Soil and Growth Mediums
Don't get too caught up in trends when it comes to growth mediums. The best growth mediums are the ones that have been around and withstood the test of time. Investing in a composter for your greenhouse is a great way to recycle plant waste. With proper care, your waste compost can later be mixed in with soils for free and natural soil enrichment. In any case, it is a good idea to test your soil (even if it is purchased) to make sure it has the quality it claims and no other surprising ingredients. You'll also want to make sure to test your water source to make sure it does not interfere or negatively impact your nutrient formulations or growth medium.
5. Ventilation and Heating
Seal your structure to make sure your ventilation and heating are working at peak performance. Monitoring your cultivation environment is very important because when there are fluctuations in temperature and humidity it causes stress to plants. One of the main goals in operating a greenhouse is to maintain the controlled environment within set ranges for environmental conditions like temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide. Using automated ventilation that is wired to environmental controllers can help you keep conditions consistent without adding extra labor.
6. Light Deprivation
100% light-proofing is a must. To accomplish this you'll need to make sure that light dep curtains keep the crops under complete darkness with no light leaks. Light deprivation comes with many challenges like managing temperature and air circulation. If there is room in your budget, you may also want to consider automated light dep vs manual light dep since automation will help ensure sensitive plants are deprived of light at the same time, every time. Retro-fit light dep systems can be more challenging to accommodate, so if you have not yet built your greenhouse it is something to consider investing in up-front. The light deprivation greenhouse video below shows how external light dep curtains are pulled over the greenhouse.
7. Strain Selection
Genetics are important, and in the end, can make or break your grow. Be sure to buy high-quality genetics with proven track records and closely evaluate the associated testing data to make sure that it is valid and up to date. Test analyses should not be more than a year old and should have a batch number specifically associated with the batch you are purchasing (or you will need to have testing done yourself). If you are working with seeds, again, make sure that the feminization rate tested is specific to the seeds you are purchasing. Many producers do not test as frequently as they should! For clones, be sure to isolate them for an observation period before bringing them into an area with other plants that could be contaminated with any pests or pathogens that the clones have carried in.
8. Greenhouse Plastics
Keeping your greenhouse as clean as possible is not only beneficial for plants, workers, and pest prevention, it also helps avoid dust and debris build-up that can block light transmission through greenhouse plastics. Simply keeping the greenhouse clean can prevent numerous issues and will help expand the lifespan of your plastics and ventilation equipment.
9. Pest Management
Host plants like kidney beans make great companion plants in the greenhouse. If you get spider mites or aphids, they will prefer the host plant over your crop and will attack that plant first, giving you more opportunity to get pests under control before they infest your crop. The use of host plants is just one of the many pest prevention strategies used in Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is based on pest prevention and with the limited types of pesticides that can be used in greenhouses, prevention is truly important for avoiding infestations.
10. Commercial Cultivation
Crop scheduling is critical to getting more harvests per year. Consider investing in cultivation software that can help you manage your grow and keep crops on schedule. Make a cultivation plan and stick to it! In lieu of using cultivation software, a daily journal entry can really help. Write down all of the environment stats, day of flower/veg you are on, and detailed notes on plant care activities and greenhouse conditions.
Final Thoughts on Cultivation Tips
Hortitech's Senior Grow Expert Jerad Lauzier advises, "Don't let top influencers on social media sway you without doing your due diligence." Understanding plant biology and greenhouse operation are fundamentals and when you stick to the fundamentals you will be able to repeat your processes better and achieve predictable and reliable results. It is also important for greenhouses to plan and budget for the entire grow with some breathing room, stuff breaks, and mistakes happen so be sure not to financially overextend yourself. Hortitech Direct can help you stay on budget with versatile greenhouse kits and all the growing supplies that you need. Jerad's final recommendation is to "establish friendships and treat all growers in your circle with respect, a second or third opinion on a problem you have can potentially save your crop with a phone call."