Hype in Hydroponics

Ever since medical marijuana growing has been OK’d in a few jurisdictions in this county, there has been an explosion of interest in indoor gardening.  Most of the products for sales are targeted at people who want to grow their “tomatoes” undetected in the privacy of their own barns.   With many amateurs jumping into hydroponic and greenhouse gardening there are always those ready to sell sham products and other flim-flam. 

I cannot stand all this pseudoscience floating around out here.  Here is a direct quotation from a gardening magazine full of methods and products for growing “tomatoes”.

     “Phosphoload utilizes a new technology which extracts unique isolates from coal derived humates.  These humatic isolates are powerful rare earth elements that when combined with Phospholipid technology unlocks the floodgates for a fast and powerful flowering response.  The Phospholipid technology then incenses or switches the flowering receptor sites on, which then allows these Humatic Isolates to exert their powerful flowering effect.”

Oh come on!  “coal derived humates”?  “Humatic isolates”? ” Rare earth elements”?  “Flowering receptor sites???”   What a bunch of bunk.  I’ll tell you how to grow “tomatoes”.   First and foremost, the most important growth regulator in Horticulture is water.  Be sure your plants have adequate water and correct drainage. 

Second important factor in growing “tomatoes” is sunlight.  The sun has the correct wavelength distribution along the spectrum to grow plants.  Chlorophyll evolved to use it.  You use it too unless you do not want the cops to see you growing the “tomatoes”. 

Third thing you need is Nitrogen.  N makes plants big and strong and dark green with good cell walls.  Use Nitrogen.  The plant does NOT care if the N comes from a chemical fertilizer or from animal poop.  N is N.  You need the correct amount to push the plant but not to oversalt and burn with it.

Next you need Phosphorus.  Phosphorus is in soil.  You would be hard pressed to find soil in the United States that does not have a suitable amount of P in it for plant growth.  Adding more will not really create flowering when the plant is not going to flower.  Try more sunlight for that (see #2).

Finally, you need Potassium.  Also in dirt.  (Also known as soil) Use dirt.  Dirt also has micronutrients shown to augment growth, flowering, ripening and color in plants.  Do not try to add artificial micros because they are expensive specialty fertilizers and you will probably overdo it and burn everything. 

To summarize, I hate puffed up non-science horticulture as much as I hate homeopathy, creationism, and climate change deniers. ( I also can’t stand organic gardening due to much “non-science” too.)  So if you want to grow “tomatoes” at home, plant them in a soil mix that includes some soil from outside, and give them sunlight and water.  To fertilize, use a high Nitrogen fertilizer with correct dosing.  Nitrogen will not turn off the “flowering receptor sites” because they do not exist.  Or you can just buy Phosphoload fertilizer but I think it is just a load.


1 Comment

  1. Theron said,

    March 15, 2010 at 4:36 PM

    I too hate pseudoscience!!! Keep up the good work.

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