GREETINGS TO ALL from the southern coast of Oregon, USA; yours truly has been struck down by the seasonal flu that I seem to get every year here. I’m pretty sure I always get it from sharing doobies with peeps when I am out and about, but I love doing that, so … I guess I’ll just accept the flu … heh heh. I have gotten a lot of questions from you all lately regarding the use of C02 (carbon dioxide) indoors, and more specifically using it while growing in containers using soil and TLO (True Living Organics) methodology. I think I can help clear any of you up here that are confused by this with some basics.
C02 levels that are too high can kill you and your pets. Whenever using C02 tanks or generators in an enclosed environment make sure you have a C02 detector that will let you know if the levels of C02 could be dangerous in your room.
Using C02 with Hydroponics
For those of you that don’t know, I am an ex-hydro cropper, and I did that very successfully for about a decade. I designed my own hydroponic systems—a hybrid design that was a blend of Ebb and Flow combined with Shallow Water Culture—and I kicked major ass with them. I used C02 back then bigtime, and in my opinion if you are growing hydroponics style and NOT using C02, then you are screwing yourself out of phenomenal growth rates and yields. Don’t get me wrong, I despise synthetically grown cannabis these days and in my opinion it’s always repulsive to smoke, so I don’t.
But I figure everyone needs to decide their own path, and along that path hydroponics may be explored, as it was in my case. So, what I’m going to do here is explain—very basically—to you, how you use C02 successfully when growing using hydroponics. Woah, Rev giving hydro growing advice? That’s right folks, but I’ll keep it short and sweet.
Normal air you breathe is about 0.04% CO2 which works out to be 400 PPM (parts per million).
In essence, what using added C02 to your growing environment does, is increase the metabolism of your plants. The greater the levels of C02 the higher the plants’ metabolism will be. This is why using C02 growing hydroponics style is so effective—because you can supply the plant with elevated levels of food and water—much higher levels of food and water than plants can naturally acquire/process with roots in soil. Keep in mind that running higher levels of CO2 can be very dangerous to animals exposed to it.
You can get valves for using CO2 tanks that will regulate the output to a specific PPM level.
Now, if you want to take it up a big notch when adding C02 to hydroponics growing, make sure your temperatures are up in the high 90’s during daylight hours with humidity down below 45%; this is what we used to call “Accelerated Growing” back in the day. Because higher temps and dryer air both also raise the metabolism of the plants allowing them to really have explosive growth rates.
In an accelerated growing environment, you can keep your CO2 levels very high while still not being dangerous at around 1% CO2 (10,000 PPM). But even at 1% you don’t want to be in the room for extended periods and smaller animals will be effected more so.
If you run higher levels of CO2 in your hydroponics garden, keep in mind that as CO2 levels rise, O2 (oxygen) levels will drop from the normal 21% oxygen to about 17% oxygen. While this is no problem for the plants it can became detrimental to the plants’ roots, which need plenty of O2 … an easy way to combat this is to aerate your hydroponic nutrient solution with the air drawn from outside the grow room.
Specific Reasons to Use C02 Indoors with Soil
Like I mentioned above, adding CO2 to an all-natural organic grow indoors in soil can quickly become problematic and is really totally unnecessary as long as your gardens have good air exchange and air movement. But … if your garden has very limited air exchange, adding very small amounts of CO2 can be helpful—like maybe as high as 600 to 800 PPM—however, you NEED to have some air exchange because growing cannabis plants transpire (exhale) a ton of humidity, and if your humidity is very high along with adding CO2 you will get a lot of stem growth and stretching along with super airy buds.
You always want to keep an eye on temperatures and humidity in any growing room, and this can be done very inexpensively with a little unit like shown in the photo. This will allow you to see what your temps and humidity have ranged between over the last 24 hours. In any normal indoor garden using soil, there is absolutely zero need to add CO2 … and doing so will very often become problematic due to the fact that raising the plants’ metabolism unnaturally high (via the CO2 additions) will cause “starvation” because the plants are unable to supply themselves with enough food and water fast enough to keep up.
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DIY CO2 Generator Using Vinegar and Baking Soda
If you do want to add a very small amount of CO2 to your indoor soil garden due to less than perfect air exchange you can use some version like in the drawing above to accomplish this very cheaply and easily. The containers should be glass or food grade plastic and the vinegar container will generally be larger than the baking soda container. The piece of tubing where the CO2 actually comes out of should be placed up high above the plants, as CO2 is heavier than air and will fall—you will also want some air movement from a fan along with some type of limited air exchange. All you have to do is adjust the screw clamp so that the vinegar drips into the baking soda at a rate of about 1 drop per 2 minutes or so. I have used these little setups many times in the past, like when I needed to keep some clones in a closet for a few weeks, and all you need to do is have the vinegar container up higher than the baking soda container, and in the past, I have used plastic gallon milk jugs as my vinegar containers as they are easily hung up by the handles. [/perfectpullquote]
Until next time good Earthlings, REvski out…