CO2 and you

CO2 is known as the "greenhouse gas" which traps the sun's heat in Earth's atmosphere. It is responsible for global warming and a host of environmental changes that include altered weather patterns and rising tides. CO2 causes these problems by insulating the Earth from heat loss and reflecting some of the suns heating rays back onto the earth. Many of you already know that plants require CO2 to manufacture food within their leaves. Many of you have also heard that adding CO2 to the growing environement can significantly increase the growth rates of most plants. This is 100% true. However, managing CO2 is tricky because of the factors preceeding this topic. For example, if you are constantly exhuasting the air from your greenhouse or growroom, how would you supply a never ending supply of CO2??? - You could perhaps add a CO2 cylinder with a regulator as shown below. The regulator can be set to slowly "leak" CO2 into the air flow of a reciprocating fan in order to evenly distribute it across the growing environment. You could hook the regulator up to an electrical valve called a "solenoid" which is then controlled by either a timer - to go on when the exhaust fans are off, or to release every X minutes for X minutes (another use for the cycle timer). You could hook the solenoid valve up to a CO2 measurement and

delivery system that would deliver CO2 once the levels dropped below those you set as minimum. There are many crafty ways to add CO2 to your garden, the trick is to make it cost effective and safe. CO2 is not a gas you want to be inhaling in high concentrations. Your garden will only benefit from so much before you wind up choking it up with too much. For these reasons I suggest using either a metering system or a mathematical formula to detemine exactly how much to add and at what intervals.

CO2 is measured much the same way as nutrient in solution -PPM (Parts Per Million). Most gardens and crops will benenfit significantly when the concentration of available CO2 is kept between 1000 and 1600 PPM. You will need a CO2 test kit or meter to accurately monitor this value, however, you can use the charts that come with CO2 injection systems to determine exactly how to achieve these levels using their equipment. Without using an integrated measurement/injection system, you will basically need to determine the size of your room in cubic feet, using this volume, the manufacturer will specify something along the lines of "set the regulator to "X" PSI and open the valve for "X" minutes every "X" minutes between exhaust cycles. Since every CO2 system is inherently different, you will have to rely on the manufacturers recommendations to insure accuracy and proper delivery of this growth boosting gas to your growing area. CO2 can also be generated by using propane and natural gas burners as these gases when burned result in the dsischarge of CO2 and water vapor. Of course keeping an open flame in any unsupervised area is dangerous so these CO2 generation systems are designed for safety and must be operated with extreme caution. The advantages to using a natural gas CO2 generator are that they are generally cheaper to operate and can double as heaters for colder area applications. Indoors, the heat generated by these units is usually a problem that neutralizes their effectiveness since to exhaust the aditional heat you will also wind up exhausting the additional CO2. If you are a beginner I strongly advise leaving CO2 for once you gain experience and have your garden completely under control. There are a number of excellent books on CO2 - pick one up!

One of my readers wrote in explaining a simple way to create and distribute CO2 indoors using just a few inexpensive parts.

You'll need a 1 gallon milk jug, a pound of sugar, enough water to dissolve all the sugar, a packet of yeast, and some tubing. Begin by drilling a small tight hole in the cap of your 1 gallon jug, pass a length of 1/4" air tubing through it just enough so that it hangs inside the bottle. The other end should be placed near your plants, preferably behind a fan that will evenly distribute the CO2 throughout your garden.

Fill your container with 1 lb. of sugar, add warm water and stir until completely dissolved. Add 1 packet of yeast, replace cap and stir. CO2 will be released gradually as the Yeast begins to digest the sugar.

Growing Soilless

Growing Soilless

This is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to growing organic, healthy vegetable, herbs and house plants without soil. Clearly illustrated with black and white line drawings, the book covers every aspect of home hydroponic gardening.

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