In the world of bugs and the Indoor Growing environment the grower has many problems to over come. The question is what is the best method of eradication? With so many products available and different needs for each gardener to address, the retailer’s may in some cases not be providing you with the best solution.
Generally, there are very few Insecticides that you should use for crops that you will ingest. The most common for ingestible crops are:
- Insecticidal Soaps
- And non-Insecticide Control
- Beneficial Insects-Integrated Pest Management
Of the three, if in a position to create the ideal environment including cleanliness, ideal temperature and humidity, using beneficial Insects are the way to go. However, this environment is very difficult to create, unless you maintain the ‘perfect ideal conditions’. Being able to use beneficial Insects is often inferior to applications of Insecticides and not nearly as cost effective.
Oil & Soap based insecticides have their benefits, but when compared to pyrethrums (for plant application & permethrins, for over all insect control within a growing environment) they are much more time consuming with inadequate results.
Oil based insecticides (Dormant Oil, Horticultural Oil) can cause stress and phyto-toxic damage to plants that they are applied to. I would like to mention Neem Oil in this category. Neem oil is a systemic growth inhibitor and not officially registered as an insecticide. Neem oil does have its benefits in that it will prevent some bugs from evolving. Neem oil is absorbed through the plant and into the plants vascular structure. When the plant has fully absorbed the active ingredient (about 10 days after application) and an insect eats the plant the neem oil will cause molting (prevents the host bug from laying eggs) which in turn will reduce the bugs in the environment, neem oil does not kill on contact without totally saturating the plant. This is detrimental to the plants as you slow the photo- synthesis process due to clogging the plants stomata.
As gardeners go in and out of the indoor growing environment they are continuously introducing new bugs to their growing area, the number one line of defense is to take the offense and apply residual based insecticides throughout the growing environment prior to introducing any plants to the growing area. After applying residual based products it is now time to create a regular maintenance program for the plants themselves. Using pyrethrum based products will provide you with excellent results, that will prove to be time saving and cost efficient.
Top 10 Indoor Gardening Bug Prevention Tips
- Start with a clean & sterile growing environment, this includes all equipment, pots, trays, liners, all growing medium and all other tools of the trade that will be used in this environment. After cleaning the area apply residual insecticide spray which provides weeks of bug killing with just one application-saving you time & money.
- Make certain that any fresh air intakes & filters are treated with a residual based insecticide inside and outside.
- Always use the same clothes that have been treated with a residual based insecticide, residual sprays in the USA are approved by the EPA for application on the outside of your clothing to prevent mosquitoes from landing and biting you – for those of you concerned about the West Nile Virus. This also means that you should not allow anybody or your pets in this environment unless they have been treated prior to entry.
- Be certain to start with BUG FREE PLANTS- apply a light misting of a pyrethrum based insecticide prior to introducing the plants to your sterile growing environment.
- When pruning and doing plant maintenance be certain to discard all green growth, leaves etc that you have removed or that have fallen from the plants immediately out of the growing area- this green growth is a prime breeding & feeding medium for bugs.
- Regularly check your plants for bugs. Particularly spider-mites, be certain to remove any webbing and crush any insects that you see with your fingers. After this apply a residual spray. A light mist is all that is required and pay special attention to the underside of the leaves.
- Refer to number 6 if you did see bugs, it would benefit you now to apply fumigators on 3-4 day intervals before you apply the residual spray for each application.
- Always apply any insecticides that you choose to use in the dark. Sunlight and artificial light dramatically reduces the effectiveness of all insecticides as well and more importantly applying in direct light burns your plants.
- The best time for an application of an indoor environment is about 3 hours after the lights have been turned off. The reason being is that when the lights are ablaze, the heat in the indoor growing area is too hot for bugs. They like to move around and chew plants when the temperature is in the 70’s. Consequently they are a lot more active when the room has cooled, so to save time & money and get the most out of any products that you choose for this application, apply the products well after the lights have been turned off.
- When fumigating your indoor growing environment be certain to put out all open flames particularly over head CO2 Generators & turn off all exhaust fans.
Mites are not insects and many insecticides will not adequately control them. Specially formulated products (miticides) are available for mite control. Check all insecticide or miticide labels before application as some plants are sensitive to these materials. Most will kill only adult stages and not eggs, therefore a second and possibly a third application may be necessary to control newly hatching mites. At room temperatures, applications should be 10-14 days apart.
Predatory control of two-spotted spider mite on cucumbers and tomatoes.
Aeroponic systems, which use a mist of nutrients over the plant roots, inside a growing chamber. Producing faster growth rates, high yields and healthy roots. As long as the plant rooting chamber is being kept between 62F – 71F consistently. Some of the more sophisticated commercial greenhouse systems are temperature linked. The temperature is continually monitored in the root chambers, when pre-set temperature is triggered the mister system is activated to bring temperatures down.
Simple Misting Time
One method of delivering nutrient spray in commercial aeroponic systems is the ‘regular, intermittent misting cycle’. This is a burst of nutrient solution, misting 3 minutes every 5 minutes. By using this technique, which does not change during the life of the crop, the misting cycle never causes the plant’s roots to dry out. The emphasis here, is on regularly delivery fresh aerated, temperature adjusted nutrient to the root zone.
Continual Misting with Proper “Conditions”
With proper oxygen and temperature ( 62F – 71F ) in the nutrient solution in the aeroponic growing chamber, the plant root system will not become water logged or root rot problems. The plants root system on continual misting cycle will produces extremely healthy roots and high yields of plant material. Continual misting eliminates the problems of roots drying out between misting cycles and is one way of ensuring temperatures in the root zone stay stable and do not fluctuate.
The Need for Tweaking
Aeroponic timers allow the grower ability to adjust the frequency of the on/off misting or spraying cycle as well as how long the roots are misted for. It has been discovered that by changing the cycle timer during the plant stages of life, we received overall better production without adding higher cost in the systems. This idea is based on applying more oxygen to the root system than continual misting cycle. When using this type of system the following points should be taken into account.
- There is not one set ideal misting program, the amount of nutrient mist time required, is largely depended on the plant, stage of development and more importantly the temperature in the root chamber during the plant stages.
- Each growing environment is different. The need for experimenting is crucial in receiving eXtreme harvest. Take your time, set your timer 1 minute on and 1 minute off. Then watch the program in action allowing to repeat its self a few times making sure the plant leaves don’t start to wilt from lack of nutrient mist. If no sign of wilting, increase off time for a minute. Continue until desired setting is reached or 10 minutes is reached. Repeat this programming once a week for that growing week. Ultimate would be 1 minute on and 2 minutes off, for first 2 weeks of vegetative stage. Then moving to a 1 minute on and 3 minutes off after shading the growing chamber and the whole duration of flowering a 1 minute on and 10 minutes off.
- The major benefit of an adjustable misting program is its flexibility in the growing stages of the plant. When propagated in an aeroponic chamber, newly clipped clones need to be constantly misted until rooted with a dome on top to trap humidity to the plant leaves. Once rooted, the root system needs nutrients. The nutrient interval cycles are determined in vegetative and flowering stages by root temperature. As the plant matures, the plant leaves will begin to shadow the growing chamber, reducing temperature, allowing decreasing misting time. By utilizing this procedure, the plant is allowed more oxygen intake to the root hair between feedings, achieving faster and bushier growth. In flowering, the importance of oxygen intake to the root system is staggering. Plants will go from looking beautiful to looking sick and death is inevitable from oxygen starvation.
- Always keep a close eye on the root system inside an aeroponic chamber – even slight drying of a portion of the root system will result in tissue damage and could lead to pathogen attack.
- Make sure to use a quality sediment free nutrient, as it’s very important not to have a mister plug up. Remember that in aeroponics, the ppm (EC) in the nutrient solution needs to be less concentrated, than other soil-less systems as the roots intakes the nutrients much more easier.
Nutrient Uptake – Day & Night
Most plants take up nutrients by both day and night. With night time being the more dominant side. Commercial hydroponic growers of ‘heavy feeder’ crops such as cucumbers and tomatoes, experience higher nutrient uptake in the evening and into the night as the temperatures cool down the plants are able to take up more water and nutrients through increased root pressure and more suitable environmental conditions. Warmer conditions during the day, the plant will shut down photosynthesis and transpiration and thus reduce nutrient uptake, and will then feed rapidly in the evening as conditions become cooler. Calcium is taken up during the night when root pressure allows more water uptake and transpiration within the plant, carrying with it calcium into plant tissue.
The Root System
Plant roots, which end up continually submerged in a ‘deep flow’ or constant drip systems will commonly be long, thin, relatively unbranched, yellowing or brown in color and seem to be lacking in fine, fluffy root hairs. The roots which develop up above the flow or pond of nutrient with a mist are typically whiter in color, more branched out and often contain masses of very fluffy, fine, bright white root hairs. FHD
Introduce the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis at the rate of 1 /plant at the first sign of spider mites or damage. Repeat at weekly intervals until established in the crop.