Garden & Greenhouse October 2017 Issue - Page 38

Light System Maintenance Another important contributor to the available light energy of an indoor garden is light system maintenance. Some light technologies require an- nual bulb replacement to ensure high levels of light energy are available to the plants. Indoor horticultur- ists who wait for their lights to “burn out” will see a continued decrease in yields due to the declining available light energy emitted by the lighting system. In order to maintain the highest level of usable light energy, most HID lights (with the exception of some of the newer duel ended bulbs), will need replace- ment bulbs every 8-12 months. Cleaning or wiping off reflectors, reflective materials, and/or the glass in air-cooled reflectors to remove dust, dirt, or other debris will go a long way in maximizing light energy. Newer technologies, such as LEDs and induction fluo- rescents, will not require bulb changes, but should still be wiped down to remove dust or dirt that could otherwise reduce the system’s light energy output. Something as insignificant as cleaning a lighting sys- tem once a week can make a huge difference in the lighting system’s efficiency. Dust or dirt left on the surface of a lighting system can reduce the light en- ergy by 10% or more. In other words, do not discount the significance of cleaning or maintaining a lighting system. Experienced indoor horticulturists understand the importance of maximizing their given light energy. By placing the plants as close as possible (without causing damage) to the light source, a grower can capture the full power of the lighting system’s “sweet spot”. The more plant material a grower can get in the lighting system’s “sweet spot”, the higher the yield will be. Gardeners who make use of the tools capable of increasing light energy efficiency, such as light movers and/or reflective materials, will also be rewarded with larger fruits and flowers. Finally, hor- ticulturists who take the time to maintain their light- ing systems by regularly changing bulbs and cleaning will get the most bang for their bucks out of their indoor gardening equipment. Since the sun cannot be brought indoors, the world of indoor horticulture must revolve around the artificial lighting source. A gardener that makes the most efficient use of their artificial lighting system, by understanding the inverse square law and imple- menting the various tools at his or her disposal, will be able to truly maximize the efficiency of his or her garden’s lighting system and will be rewarded come harvest time. GG Eric Hopper resides in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula where he enjoys gardening and pursuing sustainability. He is a Garden & Greenhouse senior editor and can be contacted at Ehop@Garde- LIQUID ROOTING HORMONE • Choice of professional plant propagators • Roots everything from hardwoods to succulents • As low as 5 cents per 100 cuttings EASY TO USE TM DIP’N GROW, INC. ® Clackamas, Oregon 97015-1888 Toll Free: 866-347-6476 • FAX 503-445-0101 email: Distributor Inquiries Welcome 38 Available in 3 convenient sizes for the professional nurseryman and the home gardener at leading nursery supply outlets. October 2017