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THE MAKING OF HYDROMAG... Editor Cosmo Mackenzie

Check out the fascinating photo journal of Chernobyl on page 34...



hen we started HYDROMAG it was with the primary intention of maintaining our independence. It’s not an easy road by any estimation and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t occasionally wish we’d canned the grandiose aspirations in favour of a steady income.

There are considerable up sides to our position though. Promoting something you don’t believe in can be soul destroying. Our independence means that we can tell you about the products we really like, some of which you’ll find in the ‘favourites’ section of this, and future issues. We don’t have to cram our Mag with every advert under the sun either, which means we can use the space for other things we care about. Even if you don’t have a passing interest in subject matter, you should be able to take some pleasure in the spectacular photos of Chernobyl in our new photo journal section. We’re widening the scope of our expert input, too, with Bill Sutherland guiding you through getting the most out of your crop and also joining other industry experts for our latest feature, aptly named ‘Expert opinions’. As our new writer, Buddy Mason, points out in his first article for us; on a bike there is a direct correlation between effort and reward. The same is true of gardening in all its forms, and the same is true of writing a magazine. When we hear that you like what we’re doing with this magazine, we can finally take pride in what we’ve achieved and find the energy to keep going. So many thanks to our growing fold of regular readers. Special mention goes out to those of you who’ve gotten in touch with us. We’ll be taking steps to do more to promote the wider industry over the next year by introducing you to the specialist stores and suppliers local to your area. Get polishing those floors good shopkeepers of the UK and remember, these first few issues are free (for now) so start handing out copies to anyone you think will benefit from joining our growing community.

Cosmo Mackenzie Enjoy!

Cosmo MacKenzie, Editor

Technical Assistant Editor Bill Sutherland Lifestyle Patrick Swift Lifestyle Christian Mason Lifestyle Buddy Mason Photojournalism Jamie Giles Managing Director / Sales Pete Turner Art Director Russ Sealey PR Executive Nick Stokoe Art / Illustration Emma Godley Design / Photography Andrew Clegg Accounts Claire Kennedy

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All editorial is copyright. All rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced or be stored in any retrieval system in any form without the prior permission of the Publisher. Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy no responsibility will be accepted for inaccuracies however caused. Contributed material does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Publisher. The Publisher cannot accept responsibility for any unsolicited materials. It is assumed that any images taken from sources that are widely distributed such as the Internet, are in the public domain. However, since such images are passed between sources such as websites, the original source is not always possible to trace. The editorial policy and general layout of the publication is at the sole discretion of the Publisher and no debate will be entered into. No responsibility will be accepted for illustrations, artwork or photographs while in transmission with the Publisher or their agents unless such commitment is made in writing prior to receipt of such items.


ISSUE NO. 003 01.2013

Featured In This Issue... 30 08

THE KNOWLEDGE Automated Growrooms

They’re stealing our jobs and they run the economy, now the machines are taking over your growroom.

THE FEED Coral Gardening – A Polyp Apocalypse

Stemming the tide of oceanic deforestation.


FEATURE ARTICLE Expert Opinions: Flushing




DISTRACTIONS 100 Films to Watch…





‘Chernobyl, Obliteration by Time: Jamie Giles’ photographic account of the infamous dead city.

Three industry experts each talk us through the necessity for a good flushing agent.

22 24


The HYDROMAG team picks out products which should soon be a staple of your growroom.

THE KNOWLEDGE Bill on Bigger Yields

Your direct line to thirty years of accumulated knowledge plucked from the mind of industry veteran, Bill Sutherland


THE KNOWLEDGE Growing Systems

A beginner’s guide to choosing the system that’s right for you.


Animated Greats, better watched once the kiddies have gone to bed.

A peek under the wide reaching umbrella of Bass music.

One man’s account of being at the bottom of the food chain on London’s traffic ridden roads.

The Value of Coral Ecosystems

FOOD & TOURISM People depend on coral reefs to provide jobs and income to local economies from fishing, recreation, and tourism.

CULTURE Over 13 sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List contain coral ecosystems, including, among others, the Great Barrier Reef.

STORM DEFENCE Coral reefs protect coastlines from storms and erosion.

MARINE BIODIVERSITY Coral ecosystems are hotspots of marine biodiversity providing habitat, spawning and nursery grounds for economically important fish species.

MEDICINE Deep sea corals are being used in the search for new sources of medicines.


Alas, the oceans aren’t full of fictional characters from children’s books or television. These days they tend to be full of imperilled species, sewage, six-pack rings, chemical waste, and the odd Somalian pirate. Neither is a coral garden something you’re likely to see Charlie Dimmock and Alan Titchmarsh mincing their way through. It is in fact a serious technique being employed to combat the grave danger posed to the world’s coral reefs. HYDROMAG takes a closer look at some of the sterling work being done to protect these poor endangered bastards. For those who aren’t aware, coral is neither rock nor plant, but a living species. These tiny animals, called coral polyps, rather macabrely reside on the skeletons of their forefathers. As each generation dies, so another layer is added to the reef – and so on over the millennia (some reefs are estimated to be 10,000 years of age), slowly developing into the beautiful, vibrant structures we see today. They are often called the “rainforests of the sea”, as they are teeming with over 4000 species of fish, and provide a home for 25% of all marine species. They attract scuba-diving tourists, create jobs for local communities, and provide essential storm cover for many vulnerable coastlines. All of this is at risk, however, thanks to Man’s inherent tendency to piss on his doorstep. According to a 2011 World Resources Institute report, 75% of the world’s reefs are under threat from overfishing, coastal development, pollution, and global warming. Every day it’s estimated we pump 90

million tonnes of carbon pollutants into the environment and a third of that goes straight into the sea. The net result is our oceans are experiencing higher temperatures and levels of acidity than ever before (at least since the days when Earth was awash in toxic soup and monkeys were just a gleam in a tadpole’s eye). According to the WRI our coral reefs are the proverbial canary in the coalmine, and the canary is starting to turn green (or rather white – coral is being bleached on a massive scale; the increase in temperature and pollutants preventing the necessary photosynthesis for coral to generate its natural kaleidoscopic array of colour – a classic early sign of stress). The fragility of coral polyps and their skeletal cities means they are also extremely susceptible to any physical pressure, such as blows from anchors and keels. Then there are the meddling hands and clumsy feet of swimmers, tourists, and coral poachers (fish tank owners beware)! And if the polyps thought human hands and feet were bad, they also have to cope with literal waves of our effluvia. Diseases derived from sewage contamination are apparently on the rise. But before you go despairingly to buy a bottle of whiskey and a pistol, know this: the fight-back has begun. Nonprofit organisations such as Counterpart International, Corals for Conservation, the World Wide Fund for Nature and many others are mobilising and leading the way in the emerging field of coral restoration (or “gardening”).

The method is two-pronged, involving caring for existing wild reef populations; and creating underwater propagation stations to grow new coral from coral “cuttings”. One of the pioneers of coral gardening is award-winning Austin Bowden-Kerby of Corals for Conservation, and he prefers the holistic approach to coral restoration – managing predator numbers, inserting marine species when stocks are low, even inspecting algae levels. But for Bowden-Kerby the key to a successful long-term strategy is collaborating with local communities. While locals can’t be held entirely accountable for rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere, they are more responsible than most for harmful activities such as dynamite fishing or simply taking more than their fair share from local waters. The trick is to persuade them that slaying the goose that laid the golden egg isn’t the way forward. Far better to get the goose breeding and maybe laying some golden eggs that could hatch into more golden-egg laying geese. Now THAT’S sustainability. And the communities have responded – sharing knowledge, volunteering their time and skills, and warding off rogue fishermen. Groups such as Counterpart have focused their efforts on propagation as a means to restore diminished coral numbers. Trimmings from existing wild parent populations are taken and transplanted to underwater structures (rope or metal frames on the sea bed). This coral is then grown in a controlled environment and propagated at set times through the year – with the original coral trimmings generally increasing ten times in size each hit. This second generation coral is then reintegrated into the wild and routinely monitored to check on its progress. The success of these efforts can be measured in the impressive yields at each site, with reef sizes increasing by between five and 12 times thus far. A happy consequence of this has been an increase in fish and shellfish numbers by up to five times their earlier populations. And the nurseries themselves should one day evolve into reefs of their own. Encouraging a ground-up revolution and giving the locals a sense of ownership over the restoration projects is also an essential element of Counterpart’s efforts. The long term success of these programs very much depends on these unpaid volunteers picking up the baton and running long after the NGOs and international scientists have been forced to move on to the next endangered site. But with coral reefs covering an estimated 109,000 square miles of territory, there’s still a lot of work to do. Mermaids and Spongebob may only exist in fantasy, but we have to hope organisations such as Corals for Conservation, Counterpart, and the legions of other coral gardeners out there, can work some magic on the world’s imperilled reefs before it’s too late.


It’s easy to forget that aeroponics was first posited way back in 1942. It wasn’t until 1983 when GTi released the ‘Genesis rooting machine’ that aeroponics took its first significant steps into the commercial marketplace... Currently in early development stages, the ‘Pod’ unit has the potential to put fogponics into the homes of even the least green fingered gardener, thankfully without the forty year wait. Adam Ben-Dror, Nick Johnston, Casey Lin and Robert Skenea, known collectively as ‘Greenfingers’, are all second-year Industrial Design students at Victoria University of Wellington. They researched several options for a nutrient/ watering system before arriving at the concept of fogponics. For those of you who don’t know, where aeroponics differs from hydroponics is that it does not require a growth medium. The fogponic system is similar to aeroponics, in that the nutrient solution is vapourised, meaning that the roots of the plant can absorb it more efficiently. Fogponics utilises an ultrasonic fogger to create an extremely fine mist. Because the optimum particle absorption rate for plant roots is between one and twentyfive microns in size, the foggers used in fogponics are very effective, typically creating mist from five to ten microns. Fogponics systems usually require minimal maintenance, the main thing you need to remember to do is refill the nutrient solution as the plant absorbs it. Occasional cleaning of the ultrasonic fogger is also required, as sometimes a build-up of salts can occur. The suspension medium that supports the plant also needs to be replaced, in order to remove all traces of the previous crops. Ultrasonic foggers usually have a lifespan of around six thousand hours; therefore they would need replacing every nine months or so if you were using them continuously.


Proponents of fogponics claim that, compared to traditional hydroponic and aeroponic systems, fogponics can achieve higher yields whilst utilising less water and energy overall. As with aeroponics, plants grown using fogponics don’t require a large root system. Not having to contend for space with a growth medium means that the root system doesn’t need to expend anywhere near the same amount of energy to grow. Obviously the Pod unit isn’t designed

“The fogponic system is similar to aeroponics, in that the nutrient solution is vapourised, meaning that the roots of the plant can absorb it more efficiently.”

with mass farming in mind, but the principles that underlie the project aren’t small by any measure. The Greenfingers team have managed to incorporate the workings of fogponics into their simple, stylish and captivatingly accessible design. That’s no mean feat. Each of the individual plant containers can simply be picked up and swapped with anyone else with their own Pod unit at home, which the Greenfingers team hope will encourage a sense of community. Exactly how you’re going to deal with the one neighbour who insists on hogging the rosemary has yet to be divulged. The implications of fogponics becoming a widely known household staple can’t help but benefit the wider Hydroculture industry in general. Good luck to them.

You can check out Greenfingers’ Pod video on Vimeo, or follow the link on our facebook page.

Expert Opinions:

FLUSHING How do you choose which products you use? Thankfully we’re well beyond the days when a pair of tits plastered across an advert is likely to influence you into buying anything other than a bra or a can of stank deodorant.

But, more often than not, people tend to play it safe by sticking to what they know. By that logic you’re never likely to move away from the first product you try, which means you could well be missing out on a better alternative. Of course you could go to the internet for help; in all honesty the Hydroculture community are a very generous collection of people. But, who’s to say that ‘xGr0wma5tr1995x’ isn’t arguing his little heart out in favour of one product, simply because he hasn’t tried any others? Even if he has worked his way through everything available in his local hydroponics shop, there is any number of environmental factors which could differ wildly from his setup to your own. We’re all about the expertise at HYDROMAG. Each issue, we’ll be lining up a number of experts to talk us through a particular type of product. Obviously they’ve all got something to sell, but that’s the point; if you’re going to make a living off a particular product, you need to be damn sure that it’s up to musterand the only way you can do that is through years of tireless research and development.


“We’re all about the expertise at HYDROMAG. Each issue, we’ll be lining up a number of experts to talk us through a particular type of product.”

In our first round of ‘Expert Opinions’, Tom from Plant Magic, Gemma Burke from Vitalink and Bill Sutherland from Growing Edge Technologies have all agreed to introduce us to their Flushing agents.


Owner Of Growing Edge Technologies 30 Years+ Growing Experience

Plants need the essential mineral elements to construct all cells which leaves, stems, roots and flowers consist of. If you take mineral elements away during the last couple of weeks of flowering (by removing your nutrient and flushing with plain water), plant growth will slow down. Plants need all environmental factors and nutrients to be there for them to grow; taking away the mineral elements from the roots to leach nutrients out of the leaves, flowers and fruits, takes away the plants ability to produce higher yields. It is complete madness to use plain water in these last two weeks. This is what all manufactures of Rinsing agents are trying to do. We want you to give your plants the much needed elements to bloom right up till a few days from harvest, then switch to one of the products that speeds up the plant metabolism allowing the plant to utilize fertilizer salts inside the plant. It is very important to keep giving plants what they need to grow for as long as possible, because once fertilizers are removed, plant growth and yields start to dwindle. It is very difficult or near impossible to actually take a mineral out of the plant, each and every nutrient that got into the plant got there because the plant needed it. Plants can only feed on mineral elements and only when they need each element can they get that particular element. If the plant needs one element to create a certain cell it draws that element inside the plant body. Only when the plant needs each element does it get an invitation to be picked up. It is not because you have too much Iron (or indeed other elements) within plant that you need a rinsing agent, it is all elements that have not been

‘The Rinse Solution’ from Growing Edge Technologies is available from your local grow store in 1ltr and 4ltr bottles.


utilized by the plant that must be leached out. Dark green leaves usually indicates, that the plant has too many minerals that have not been utilized and needs more time to build a particular cell. Yellow or light green leaves 1 to 4 days. Normal green leaves 3 to 5 days. Dark green leaves 4 to 7 days. Blue-black very dark green 8 days. Some rinsing agents can be used during growth times others should not be used at any time other than before the complete harvesting of your garden. Find out first what type of rinsing agent you are using, one that can be used any time or just at harvest. Try a few plants first, then next crop treat your whole garden to the one that you liked best. Not all rinsing agent work the same way.

“It is complete madness to use plain water in the last two weeks of flowering.”

The Rinse Solution from Growing Edge Technologies is made up of elements that instantly provide food energy to bacteria, fungi and moulds. This instant energy for these organisms interrupts the process of providing minerals for the plant to feed on. Up till now plants have been feeding heavily and all of a sudden they have lost their food source. This causes an interruption in the flow of elements through the epidermis, allowing the remaining elements within plants to be utilized, reducing the unused mineral elements leaving only plant material. The Rinse Solution also agitates the roots and when the roots or plant is agitated this will send a signal to the plants’ leaves to produce more of the plants’ natural defences.


Plant Magic Plus BioChemist

When your crop enters the last two weeks before harvest, it enters a critical phase. But amongst many growers an increasing sense of hesitancy creeps in as to what to give your plants. Some keep feeding up till the last few days, some flush with plain water, some reduce feed to minimal levels. An increasing number of growers are turning to tailored flush products for the last week or two. Have they been persuaded into buying something they don’t need, or are they in fact wisely helping to give their crop the ideal finish? The answer is that they understand the needs of their plant for the beginning of harvest time. As a plant reaches the end of its flowering cycle a special type of nutrient is required. Firstly it has to contain some NPK. This is essential as the shock of moving from full feed to zero feed can be too much for it to cope with, forcing the plant to use up the sugars that should be going towards the fruits. Secondly hormones should be present to help the plant to use up any excess nutrients in the plant sap and complete the ripening of the fruits and increase the plant’s production of sugars. Thirdly the nutrient should be keeping the pH in an ideal window with little or no acid. Additional acid at this point can create a chemical taste in the fruit whilst the addition of phosphoric or nitric acid upsets the NPK, and a high pH can lead to harsh flavours derived from alkaline molecules like chlorophyll. Finally a flush nutrient allows any beneficial bacteria or fungi to remain unaffected where using de-mineralized water can lead to microbe starvation and death.

“An increasing number of growers are turning to tailored flush products for the last week or two. Have they been persuaded into buying something they don’t need, or are they in fact wisely helping to give their crop the ideal finish?”

Plant Magic Plus® Flush has been designed to provide enough nutrition to plants to maintain their health and contains natural plant hormones to help the plant finish fruiting and produce carbohydrates such as sugars to assist with flavour. PMP’s Flush is available in soft or hard water variants to stop the need for any pH modification and has been designed based on samples taken from all around the UK. As well as helping your plant in the final phase of the fruiting cycle, PMP’s flush can also be used after over-fertilization. Emptying the reservoir tank and replacing with a solution containing a flush nutrient can help the plant to release the excess nutrients and regain health. Flushing with water to combat over-fertilization can stress the plant and the signs of over- and underfertilization can be confused, leading to continual flushing when the plant is actually showing signs of hunger!

‘Flush’ from Plant Magic Plus is available from your local grow store in 1ltr and 4ltr bottles.

Gemma Burke

Vitalink Marketing Manager

As most growers are aware, flushing single harvest crops at the end of the plant’s life cycle can improve flavour and quality. A lot of growers will flush using just water, but scientific trials show that using a flushing agent will help the plant to redirect the leftover nutrient and elements to where the plant will benefit from it most, giving a better overall yield. Flushing helps the plants to cope with this sudden shortage of nutrients, resulting in healthier final stage plants and potentially increasing yield.

“As most growers are aware, flushing single harvest crops at the end of the plant’s life cycle can improve flavour and quality.” The benefits of flushing do not end here. Flushing will help to transport any nutrients still within the plant to where they will be used, which helps to promote faster ripening of the plants. This is because ripening can often be delayed if unused nutrients are stored within the plant during the final stage of their life cycle, when they could be used elsewhere. Flushing facilitates the easy transportation of these leftover elements towards the reproductive organs, which helps to maintain the overall plant quality and improves yield.

VitaLink Flush is available in both 250ml and 1L bottles, RRP (inc VAT) of a 1L bottle is £10.99.

“Flushing will help to transport any nutrients still within the plant to where they will be used, which helps to promote faster ripening of the plants” We have all been guilty of over-feeding our plants at one time or another. This can seriously stress the plants, resulting in stunted or malformed growth and in extreme cases, potentially killing them. Stopping feeding and just using water will not enable the problem to rectify itself as quickly and may also lead to a deficiency at a later stage. Using a flushing agent helps to rebalance the nutrient within the plant and allows for a smooth and rapid return to a normal feeding regime.

VitaLink Flush can be used at any time during a plant’s life cycle to correct over-fertilisation, freeing the clogged up nutrients within the plants. Made from natural minerals and plant extracts, VitaLink Flush is particularly useful when the taste and texture of the crop is important. This product is most commonly used in hydroponic systems, but also gives great results when used with soil as well. All of the VitaLink products have been developed by highly qualified plant scientists in collaboration with a UK university; they are scientifically proven to give plants healthy growth and maximum yield. For more information about VitaLink Flush, any of their other products, or to find your local stockists, please visit or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.


Flushing Products

A selection of other ‘flush’ nutrients currently available on the market...













Conclusion... You’d be forgiven for being hesitant, as Tom from Plant Magic points out, about introducing something new to your crops in those critical final weeks. For that reason, we suggest you prepare early; pick which flushing agent you plan to use and get familiar with it long before you get to that final stage.

Gemma Burke from Vitalink isn’t wrong when she says ‘We have all been guilty of overfeeding our plants at one time or another’, even if we aren’t keen to admit it. A mid-cycle flushing does offer you the perfect, albeit fraught, chance to familiarise your plants with whichever flushing agent you’ve chosen to use.

For the best chance of success, you need to try out a range of products to figure out which works best for your situation. Bill Sutherland’s advice is, as ever, indispensable; test each product on a sample group before introducing it to the rest of your crop.

As ever, a good working knowledge of the quality of your water source is essential. The qualities of your water source can change overnight, not just from season to season or place to place, but from something as seemingly minor as heavy rainfall.



GEOPOTS You may not realise it, but often magazines are owned by specific distributors. The major advantage of being owned, much like the renowned trophy wife, is financial security. The disadvantage is that, naturally, your sugar daddy is going to want you to push his products over those of his competitors. It’s the nature of business and we’re not slamming distributors, they keep the wheels of industry turning and offer writers the chance to live off something other than cold beans. At HYDROMAG we made the decision to walk a different path. Time will tell if we made the right decision. The advantage of our lone gunman status is that we can offer you truly independent and honest appraisals of products within the industry. You’ll notice we don’t advertise Russian call girls or DDT; that’s because we’re in the lucky position of being able to pick whom we feel comfortable working with. Each issue, HYDROMAG Favourites will highlight the pros and cons of hand-picked products of which we have first-hand knowledge. If it features in our favourites section, then that’s exactly what it is.


We first met Geoplanter owner and Geopot inventor, Dennis Hunter, at Grow Expo 2012 in Manchester. You can see his interview with at the link provided below. Since then the HYDROMAG team have taken delivery of a number of samples. We’ve taken the time to get familiar with them and, since we’re being honest, wore them as hats whilst doing Bill and Ben voices. They don’t work well as hats, but they do serve their purpose well. The past couple of years have seen the industry flooded with Fabric Plant Containers (FPCs), tipped as the replacement for their stale old plastic cousins. FPCs are billed as being environmentally friendly, take up less storage space, utilise air pruning and, best of all, due to their longer lifespan they’re much better value for money in the long run. Unlike plastic pots they aren’t prone to cracking or shattering either. With all this in mind you have to wonder what’s stopping people from making the change to FPCs. God knows we could do with less plastic in our lives. So, how do Geopots stand out from their many competitors? PROS


FPCs are generally made of high quality fabric, but Geopots in particular feel definitively substantial, with a heavy, sturdy weave. The bonded polyester thread and stitched seams, which knit the pots together, make them altogether more rigid. Because they’re made from UV protected, marine grade bonded polyester (the same fabric as ship sails) Geopots are more resilient to the harsh grow environment.

In the interest of a balanced evaluation, it’s only fair that we point out the Geopot’s drawbacks. Naturally the optional extras are more expensive than some of the other FPCs on the market- but, as ever, you get what you pay for. On a minor note, there’s a noticeable discolouration of the tan coloured pots when water is added to them, so if aesthetics are important to you then go for the black option. On the plus side, the tan pots don’t heat up quite as much as the black pots.

Handles come as an optional extra, which make a huge difference when manipulating your plants and transporting large numbers of plants. FPCs are generally more cumbersome to work with than plastic pots when the time comes to transplant your plants into a larger container, whilst at the same time they’re not as prone to taking damage in the process. Geopots come with the additional optional extra of a Velcro seam from the lip to the base, giving you quicker and easier access your plants’ root structures and minimising the chances of transplant shock.

Other FPCs on the UK market... (Known to HYDROMAG)

SmartPots Root Pouch Hortipot Watch’s Interview with Dennis at Grow Expo 2012...


The HYDROMAG team scoured the internet to compile a rundown of the average power consumption of six inch clip fans, and then we calculated the cost of running one for twenty four hours a day, for an entire year. Take a look at the box if you fancy checking our maths.

The clip itself is really strong; we tested it on various bits of kit around the HYDROMAG office and it didn’t have any trouble staying put, even on round bars which normally give clip fans a fair amount of trouble. Vibrations are imperceptible if they’re there at all and the noise output is extremely low. To top it all off the Hortiline clip fan looks the business. Hortiline have purpose built a great product in the shape of this fan. It’s cheaper to run, lasts longer, looks cooler and does less damage to the environment than its notably lesser counterparts. How any worthwhile shop keep could not stock this product is beyond us. Here’s hoping the Hydroponics industry embraces the little fellah in the same way we have. What’s not to love?

Watch’s Interview with Fernand at Grow Expo 2012...


PROS Clip fans normally rely on oil for lubrication. In the altered environs of a growroom that oil dries up in no time at all, leading the fan to stutter under an unstable rotation and eventually burn out altogether. Hortiline’s clip fan uses a magnetic motor which minimises friction between the motor and the blades, increasing the fan’s lifespan exponentially. This reduction of friction means that the fan can run at lower power without sacrificing air movement- and that’s the kicker.

CONS After looking hard at this fan we could only find one thing wrong with it – and it’s more a backhanded compliment than a put down. The fan produces up to 40kg less CO2 in the atmosphere, this might seem good, but what about our plants? They love CO2. Sorry Hortiline, but we had to find something wrong with it

22 20 18 16 14 12 10 8

0.0017KW X 15P 0.225P X 24 = 6.12 PER DAY

Clip fans usually tend to fall into the category of cheap and cheerful products which aren’t designed to last for a lifetime, let alone in the unforgiving environment of a growroom. Hortiline have designed a product which scoffs in the face of high humidity and elevated temperatures, with an additional kicker to boot…

24 0.005KW X 15P 0.075P X 24 = 1.8 P PER DAY

The HYDROMAG team met Fernand from Hortiline at a European show in late 2012. He made some very bold claims about Hortiline’s products being the best in the industry. We took delivery of a goody-bag packed with products from Hortiline just in time for this issue. After a lot of poking and prodding we came to the conclusion that his claims were far from outlandish.




In a nutshell, a single Hortiline clip fan will save you around £16 a year in electricity consumption- which, funnily enough, is about how much you’re likely to spend on an average clip fan, but chances are it won’t last for a whole year.



6 4 2





5.4p 1.8p Based on kw/h price of £0.15 per kw/h

The Clip Fan from Hortiline is distributed by HIGHLIGHT HORTICULTURE and will be available from January 2013 in all good growshops Keep an eye out on the competition page where we’ll be giving away Hortiline’s product samples.

If you have a product which you think will stand up to our scrutiny and earn a place in this section of HYDROMAG then please get in touch with us...



Fig 1. Periodic table of the sixteen mineral elements that we understand to be essential for plant growth.

What goes on in your plant pot – do you actually know? Some people dedicate their entire life to studying this, like our own technical advisor Bill Sutherland of Growing Edge Technologies. To make it easier for you, here are a few words from Bill explaining how plants live and how you can achieve higher yields.

Plants are much more complex than first thought of. They are the only living or non-living entity capable of extracting raw mineral elements from a growing medium, utilising them for their own growth and then providing back these same minerals in a form that all mammals can consume and receive life energy from. Where would you get your nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron, calcium or any other minerals from, other than from plants? Not from a pill made up of plant food elements; very little of a vitamin pill can be absorbed into your body. So we better take good care of our plants. Now, how can we make a plant happier and make it grow faster? Simply put, by allowing the plant to grow as naturally as possible. But, is this a question of organics or chemistry? Plants do not feed on organic material; they feed on raw mineral elements from a water solution consisting of thirteen elements from the periodic table. In order for a plant to feed, organic matter must be broken down by bacteria, bugs, moulds and mycelium into the inorganic elements which they’re composed of. This is the process of decomposition and the resultant inorganic chemicals are more commonly known in Hydroculture, as well as many other fields, as fertilizer salts. Because plants feed on base chemicals, where those chemicals are derived from


largely doesn’t make a difference to the plant itself, whether it’s the back end of an animal, decomposed plant matter or a bottle of chemical fertilizer salts. Of course, managing the precise quantity of chemicals in a bottle of plant feed is much easier than from other sources. What does make the difference in your plant food of choice is the way it is used. Fertilizer salts are very concentrated and don’t require breaking down. They are in a form that is immediately available to plants, so be careful not to go overboard when making your measurements for application. Organic plant foods are very forgiving as they require breaking down before they are actually available to plants. As such, organic matter is the obvious choice for inexperienced growers, but using fertilizer salts will usually result in larger yields than the organic option; having said that, soils utilized by organic

farming methods build up a base load of minerals over the years, and as such can offer similarly sized crop yields over time. None the less, fertilizer salts usually offer the best chance of bigger yields for containerized growing methods. There are ninety-two natural mineral elements on the Periodic table (fig 1) consisting of Atoms, Lanthanides, Actinides and Halogens. Sixty of these elements have been found in various plant tissues. An atom cannot be destroyed or made, unless a reactor that humans have built destroys or creates a new element. We, at present, only understand sixteen of these mineral elements and are beginning to understand how they react within plants. What we are concerned with here are the sixteen natural mineral elements that plants need for essential growth; remove one of these elements and a plant or plants will die. Without

well as for defence. Defence from what? All living things enjoy a certain pH zone for comfort. Plants will lower the pH of the growing medium to uncomfortable levels in order to repel pests, whether these pests are bugs or pathogens. Now that we understand the importance of pH swings it is easy to read a plant. The pH going up in value is an indication that plants are happy and feeding, pH value going down from the set pH value indicates that plants are under attack from pathogens or bugs. With bugs, pH value is easier to control as bugs will quickly look for more suitable pH zones. But if the pH constantly drops then it is pathogens that have started to make the plant sick. We must take action to make sure that the pathogens are being reduced in numbers; time to inoculate the growing medium with good bacteria in order to kill off the deadly pathogens.

these sixteen elements, plants do not have the ability to complete their life cycle because none of the elements can make up for the lack of another. The plant can neither create another element to be more available; nor is it an essential enzyme producer. Silicon (Si), nickel (Ni), aluminium (Al), cobalt (Co), vanadium (V), selenium (Se) and platinum (Pt) are some of these sixty elements whose function within plants we are starting to understand better, yet they are not needed in nutrient solutions to complete the life cycle. Nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium and zinc are all mobile elements. Mobile elements are able to translocate from their original site of deposition to new growing points within the plant; these elements will show their deficiency on older leaves first. Calcium, iron, sulphur, boron, copper and manganese are all non-mobile elements. Non-mobile elements cannot translocate from their original site of deposition to new growth, so when there are not enough of these mineral elements available, deficiency will occur in newer growth first. Plants tolerate a pH of 4.5 to about 8.5 but will grow if the pH is kept between pH 5 to pH 7.5. It’s best to keep pH between 5.5 and 6.5 as more mineral elements are readily available. Phosphorus, iron, manganese, zinc and molybdenum will lose their availability at pH 7. Now it gets interesting! Take a look below the growing medium and above it. We now understand that plants have natural defence mechanisms above the soil. Plants will secrete pheromones, sending signals through smell to certain bugs who consume other bugs, advertising that there is a lot to munch on. Below the growing medium, plants secrete acids via the root system to increase the availability of the thirteen elements, as

“Plants do not feed on organic material; they feed on raw mineral elements from a water solution consisting of thirteen elements from the periodic table. In order for a plant to feed, organic matter must be broken down by bacteria, bugs, moulds and mycelium into the inorganic elements which they’re composed of.” There is another reason that plants adjust the growing medium pH; namely to bring each mineral element to their desired pH value thereby assisting the uptake of mineral elements. It is very important to keep the growing medium surrounding the roots. If the roots are layered on top of each other the plant’s chemistry will be adjusting the pH of each root hair, not the elements. If there are growing medium particles in between root hairs then the mineral elements will be adjusted, allowing more minerals into plants. When growing in hydroponics you might see a higher fluctuation in pH value. This is expected as the plants are doing exactly what they are supposed to do, expanding roots (minimally) in search of those ideal plant foods. And thus the pH will swing as your plants grow!


Hydroponic Systems: It Began With A Watering Can...

We all started in the same place; with three simple questions. Which is the easiest? Which is the cheapest? Which is the best? Well, like so much in life, these questions are all subjective. If you take up hydroponics and foster a passion for it, you’re likely to spend much of the rest of your life debating these very questions. This guide should act as an introduction to the basic systems you’re likely to come across, as well as provide you with helpful tips in general. It’s all about building a knowledge base. The best way to do that is through experience and research. There’s nothing to stop you watering your plants by hand. Hand watering isn’t easy to get right though, and in the confines of a growroom it can be an absolute nightmare. Irrigation systems allow for a greater level of control and regulation. All systems share one thing in common- a reservoir, or tank in which the nutrient solution is stored. Different systems are distinguished by the way in which that nutrient solution is delivered to the plants.

“DWC systems tend to be self-contained units servicing one plant at a time, making them very popular for use with specimens and mother plants. ”


The Wick System The Wick system is the simplest hydroponic irrigation method. If you’re planning to build your own system at home, this is the easiest kind to build (with a drip feed system not far behind). It also serves as a great jumping off point for anyone aiming to understand all the other systems. You start with a tank or reservoir in which to put your nutrient solution. On top of the tank you construct a tray in which your plants sit. A wick, like a candle wick, is then fed from the tray, directly into the nutrient solution. In theory the wick sucks up only as much nutrient solution as the plant needs to grow. In practice it’s very hard to properly regulate the pace at which the nutrient solution is absorbed. Admittedly there are no moving parts, so the chances of a mechanical failure are nil. If you have the time, it’s well worth setting up a wick system at home for an individual plant- if for no other reason than to see how the hydroponic process has evolved. Then again, you could just take it as read and move on.

System Type: Wick System Name: A Homemade Wick System

The Deep Water Culture system In a DWC system, the growth medium sits in a net pot above the nutrient solution, with the root system growing downwards, directly into the nutrient solution. Air is fed into the root system by way of a bubbler set into the bottom of the tank. This oxygen rich environment encourages large root growth. DWC systems tend to be self-contained units servicing one plant at a time, making them very popular for use with specimens and mother plants. They don’t take up much space and they don’t have too many moving parts, meaning there are fewer chances of mechanical failures and potentially less of a need for maintenance. Low maintenance systems can breed laxity. Whichever system you choose to go with, abiding by a regular schedule of standard checks (pH, EC, humidity, temperature) is essential and, where possible, should be done daily. pH levels can change incredible quickly. Read Bill on: Bigger yields (p24) to better understand how and why plants alter the pH of their environment. In a DWC system, those changes can have a fast acting effect. The chance of stagnation is a very real threat, should your air pump fail.

The Dripper or Drip Feed system The dripper system is the most accessible system for anyone with even a passing familiarity with conventional gardening techniques. The nutrient solution is fed from the tank, via a pump, into a system of pipes and tubing. Feeding tubes, or drip lines, are tipped with stakes, which are stuck into the growth medium from above. The retention level of your chosen medium determines which type of stakes you should use, with different stakes releasing water at different speeds, or at varying volumes. There are two different classes of dripper system. The recovery system, or recirculation system, feeds the excess, or run off nutrient solution back into the reservoir, allowing it to be recycled back into the system. The non-recovery system, or run to waste system, feeds any runoff out of the system, either into a drain, or usually into a second tank. The recovery system is more economical, whilst the non-recover system sacrifices savings in costs in favour of a healthier and more manageable process. The relative savings of the recovering system needs to be weighed up against the higher potential for problems to arise. The dripper system is simple to use and adaptable. Most growth mediums can be used in a dripper system and individual plants can easily be switched in and out of the system when required. Soil based substrates retain a large amount of water; this means that if there is a problem with your system you have a relatively large window in which to fix the problem before your plants start to dry out. This is by no means true of all systems. The dripper system’s main advantage is also its biggest disadvantage; all of the plants in the system are fed from a single tank. Whilst this makes maintenance a whole lot easier, it does call for a consistency in your crop. Even if you’re growing a single crop of the same plant, there’s a chance that different System Type: dripper environmental factors in the System Name: Aquafarm/ different parts of your growroom Waterfarm will influence individual plants Distributor: GHE to have different needs from one another. If one of your plants is showing the signs of nutrient deficiency, but another is showing signs of nutrient toxicity, you’re somewhat scuppered by the fact that both plants are serviced by the same nutrient solution. If you haven’t got the facilities to remove a particular plant and attend to it separately, then your only real option is to choose which plant you plan to save and scrap the other. The high level of automation in a dripper system means you can have more accurate and regular control over feeding schedules. Plants benefit greatly from consistency, and who’s to say you’re going to be free to feed your plants at six in the morning, every single morning? It’s also a great benefit if you plan to go away for a few days; just remember that leaving your system unattended for any great length of time is a decidedly bad idea. dripper systems are prone to salt build ups, which can cause blockages in the pipes. There’s also a chance of some of your growth medium being washed into your reservoir, which can also cause blockages.

“The high level of automation in a dripper system means you can have more accurate and regular control over feeding schedules. ” System Type: dripper System Name: Wilma Distributor: Nutriculture

System Type: Deep Water Culture System Name: Oxypot Distributor: IWS

“With NFT systems the risks are higher, but so too are the rewards.”

Ebb & Flow / Flood & Drain System Type: NFT System Name: Grotank Distributor: Nutriculture

Nutrient Film Technique The NFT system is seen by some growers as the preserve of enthusiasts. Those same enthusiasts have a tendency to claim NFT isn’t really all that taxing. If you have an NFT adherent to help you along the way, then you’re onto a good thing. If you don’t then your best bet is to stick with the simpler systems to start off with. Still, it can’t hurt to build your knowledge base. NFT works by pumping nutrient solution from the tank onto a spreader mat, which lies on a sloping tray. Nutrient solution spreads as a thin film across the mat. Plants are rooted in rockwool cubes and roots spread freely across the tray. This gives the roots a large and ready supply of oxygen. NFT systems require precision and experience. All the problems you potentially face with the other systems are manifold with an NTF system, and the pace at which those symptoms can spread is also increased. NFT systems do allow you to elicit greater control over growth conditions; everything from oxygen levels to varying the pH during the growth cycle in order to stimulate better uptake of individual elements. The risks are higher, but so too are the rewards.

Nutrient solution is pumped up from the reservoir into the bottom of a shallow tray, or growing bed, which the growth medium rests in. The tray fills to a particular level, at which point the pump switches off and the nutrient solution begins to drain back down into the tank. This process pushes stale, poorly oxygenated air out of the root zone, then sucks in highly oxygenated, fresh air as the solution drains. The ebb and flow motion has a natural washing effect on the root zone which acts to minimize excessive salt deposits and offers exceptional aeration of the roots, encouraging large, healthy levels of growth. Unfortunately, this high level of root growth can work against you, with roots clogging the pipes. Excessively high temperatures have the potential to dry out relatively exposed roots- which isn’t a state from which your plants will quickly recover. The relatively shallow depth of the tray can also be a major problem for bigger plants. It’s a problem which is easily resolved- by offering additional support to your plants- but it is a problem none the less. Algae forms when excess light, or light pollution, falls on the surface of your nutrient solution. Flood and drain systems are susceptible to algae, as indeed are most systems to one extent or another. Wherever possible, you should cover your nutrient solution to protect it from the light. Also, like the dripper system, ebb and flow systems are susceptible to growth mediums breaking up and clogging the system. System Type: Ebb & Flood System Name: Ebb & Flood Distributor: Nutriculture

System Type: Flood & Drain System Name: Flood & Drain Distributor: IWS

“The ebb and flow motion has a natural washing effect on the root zone which acts to minimize excessive salt deposits and offers exceptional aeration of the roots.”

On our YouTube Channel you’ll find instructions on how to setup some of the systems featured in this article. Visit:


System Type: Autopot System Name: Autopot Gravity Feeder Distributor: FDP Wholesale

“The fact that the Autopot doesn’t use electricity means that it is completely noiseless” Of course a number of different systems exist, and more are being developed every year. If you visit your local Hydroponics store, you likely run into these two;

The Recirculating Pot System RPS is a derivative of the flood and drain system, but instead of using the conventional tray system, it utilized a ‘brain box’ which feeds individual pots connected to a larger system. RPS has all the benefits of a flood and drain system, with the added benefits inherent to individual pots, and offers the potential for better utilisation of your available growing space.

System Type: Flood & Drain recirculating Pot System & Brain System Name: Multiflow System Distributor: Highlight Horticulture

Autopots The Autopot system uses gravity and a smart valve to feed your plants. Low quantities of water are fed to each plant, which are only allowed access to more water once they have utilised that which is already available. It is a non-recovery system so the pH and EC levels are generally constant. You can expand the system to your heart’s content (increasing the size of your reservoir according to the number of pots) and the fact that it doesn’t use electricity means that it is completely noiseless. By all accounts, refilling your reservoir is about as taxing as the process gets, which is bordering on self-sufficiency.

Aeroponics The fabled bastard brother of hydroponics; Aeroponics is strictly not for beginners. Aeroponics utilises a fogging or misting process to feed the root system. We’ll be covering aeroponics in greater depth over the coming months as we go into greater detail about all the other systems as well. For now, you might enjoy the Fogponics article in the Feed section of this issue of HYDROMAG (p10).

System Type: Aeroponics System Name: Aerotop Distributor: Platinium

Cosmo’s Conclusion... The best way to understand any system is to see it in operation. Your local Hydroponics shop should be more than happy to show you how a system works and give you advice on which system will best suit your needs, and if you’re going to invest in a system they’ll be even happier. They don’t bite (well, except this one guy in Liverpool, but that’s a whole other story). Investing in a new setup can be a sizable outlay, so it’s well worth doing your research before putting any cash down. Reading this article is a good start, subscribing to HYDROMAG would be an even better one! Finally, if there’s one thing I wish someone had told me when I started out it’s this; it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to have failures along the way. It’s part of the process. There are hundreds of things that can go wrong; experiencing them first hand is the only way to properly learn about them. It’s when the same things keep going wrong that you need to start asking some hard questions. Questions HYDROMAG would be more than happy to answer for you.

AUTOMATED GROWROOMS Do Androids Dream of Automated Growrooms? A brave new world is dawning in the United States. Pioneering new technologies are appearing in the nation’s growrooms. HYDROMAG takes a look at some of the incredible new products on offer, and asks: “Why can’t we get all these cool things in the UK, Godammit!?” Imagine the following: you arrive back from the off-world colonies in your hover-car, maybe a bit brassed off because your favourite brand of beer and curry pill had sold out at the Interstellar hypermarket. You’re greeted at your front door by a talking iris-scanner and the door dematerialises to let you in. Your android girlfriend climbs out of her pod and gives you a peck on the cheek. After an energetic “welcome-home” root, your seminal deposit is hygienically teleported to a deep bio-space dump somewhere in the vicinity of Arcturus. You Velcro up your flies and check on your plants. No-one’s been near them for almost three weeks. They look fantastic. How? They’ve been growing in an automated growroom – all their needs taken care of: soil sensors; light levels; drainage; pH levels; intruder alerts… The works! A week ago you received a


message on your mobile phone (which is probably now just a chip in your freaking skull, beaming images straight onto your retina!). A warning of high levels of relative humidity in your growroom: a click of a button and the problem was instantly solved. Sounds amazing, right? Something from the world of science fiction? Well brace yourselves: the scenario painted here is SCIENCE FACT. (The bit about Arcturus recently featured on that show with the guy who acts like he’s always on an E. What’s his name? … Brian Cox!) But this is a hydroponics magazine so we’ll stick to what we know. Much as we’d like to prattle on for 1,500 words about pleasurebots, in this issue we’re going to be banging on about automated growrooms (as you may have guessed from the title). We are living in the freaking future, man. But if you want to get a setup for yourself, you’ll have to turn to the U.S. of A - because here in Blighty the winds of change may be picking up, but our stockists aren’t in any hurry to raise their sails. In this article we’ll be taking a look at four automated systems, most of them tragically hard to get hold of here in the UK (readers, if you’ve somehow got your hands on such a system please send us your stories). They broadly fall into two different categories – systems that drop into your existing growroom, with multiple sensors rigged to a central computer; or systems that require transplanting your growroom into an enclosed all-purpose unit. They are:



PurGro (Grobot)


Growtronix Of all the automated growrooms out there, Growtronix is probably the one for the real geek. It’s extremely customisable, very much computeroriented, but a bit pricey to boot once you’ve accumulated all the add-ons to build an exhaustive system. Growtronix can turn off your lights if smoke is detected; switch off your pumps in the event of a flood – and text message you instantly. Co2, humidity, pH, irrigation, lighting, temperature sensors, and exhaust fans – you name it – everything can be automated or controlled remotely from your phone – in real time. They even stock motion sensors so you can finally catch your flatmate in the act of stealing your tomatoes on webcam should you wish. If you don’t fancy splashing out for the full caboodle, you can always do a bit at a time while you save. If you do have the funding – why not go crazy and run multiple growrooms simultaneously? Growtronix has that option. Therein lies the beauty – you can go as big or small with it as you like. The hub of the system is your computer – just your run-of-the-mill home PC will do (not yet available on

The CO2 base system normally retails at $1299.00. Additional sensors range from $34.99 to $489.00 each. Visit Mac OS I’m afraid). From there, connected via Ethernet, are your Controllable Power Outlets. These can then be set to turn on or off in response to various events, and can be remotely controlled. What you wish to attach to these outlets is up to you. Although a base system from Growtronix comes with just the capability of running temperature and humidity sensors, there are the aforementioned, almost innumerable, add-ons that can be purchased. Your imagination is the limit (and maybe your bank balance). If we’re searching for a downside or two, additional parts can take a long time to reach the buyer – sometimes three months or more. Customer support is supposedly superb, with agents on IM through the night to help you through whatever technology crisis is making you tear your hair out. Secondly, you’re going to need a lot of Cat-5 cable (one for each separate sensor) – and a powerful mutha of a computer (especially if you’re going big with your growroom). If you’re one of those types with a phobia about messy cabling, this might not be for you. Finally, the Growtronix is an addition to your existing system – you’ll still need to buy lights, your watering system, air filtration and all your other fundamental, less flashy pieces of kit.


The standard Super Locker system normally retails at $1695.00. The higher-end options such as the Trinity 3.0 retail at $4295.00. Visit

This isn’t a location from which Clark Kent’s alter-ego can burst to reveal himself as a homosexual. No, the San Francisco-built Supercloset (aka SuperPonics) is something of a spearhead in the world of growcabinets, winning several awards for innovation and design (2008’s Best Cabinet of the Year award, and Best Overall System in 2009 amongst others). Supercloset products are, as they sound, enclosed spaces for your plants, seeing to all their needs with minimal intervention. They come in the form of cabinets, pop-up rooms, tents, and even trailers for those that might want to take their growroom with them on the road… Seriously. But we’ll focus on the cabinets. Undeniably sleek in their 18 gauge powder-black steel body, Superclosets are super-reflective, antimicrobial and pretty damn sexy. Unlike the Growtronix and Z-Wave systems, these units are all-in-one, standalone grow-spaces with adjustable yo-yo lighting, filtration systems, a carbon scrubber, vast reservoirs and all the essential sensors you’d need to start growing indoors. They’re perfect for beginners, don’t require a degree in computer sciences and did I mention they’re pretty damn sexy? All you have to do is watch the included training DVD, and before long will be growing like a seasoned expert. The Supercloset Trinity 3.0 has a complete, full-cycle triple chamber grow box. It allows you to germinate, clone, vegetate and flower your plants all at the same time. They also claim their state of the art watering system leaves no clogged drippers or dead plants, meaning less time spent cleaning. There’s much to commend here – Supercloset really do have some fantastic looking growcabinets. But as you’d expect, they don’t come cheap. And while the technology is superb, there aren’t the eye-catching remote control features via phone and Internet you find with Growtronix. But when you’ve got a piece of kit that looks this good – would you mind that much?

Puregro Grobot The Grobot normally retails at $2990.00. Visit

“Just plant your seed and walk away”. While this may sound like a call to arms for philanderers, it is in fact PureGro’s catchy tagline for its Grobot system (combining much of the functionality of Growtronix but with slightly nicer aesthetics). It’s essentially a box with four removable dosing containers protruding from the top. There’s no software to install, no additional hardware to plug in; everything is selfcontained. And a major perk is that the sensors connect to your system via wireless relay – so no writhing mess of cables to manage. It even has its own Web server and WiFi hotspot for, in their own words, “easy, zero click” setup (whatever that means). According to the Grobot shtick, setting up your system is more user-friendly than setting up a Facebook account. It also works as a hydroponic system (minus the reservoir). It has all the in-built sensors and wireless plug-in relays you need to go fully-automated, including mixing and injecting nutrients into your solution. All you have to do is prune your plants and refill the pump rack when required. As with Growtronix, the Grobot keeps you fully informed of developments via alerts to your mobile. But unlike Growtronix, they have a sexy girl on their website demonstrating their Web interface. While the Grobot is undoubtedly an easier system to manage, there is a maximum of eight userconfigurable alarms, so if you want to go completely Aspergers with your configuration, you may be disappointed. Otherwise, this looks a fantastic piece of kit.

Opticlimate Next up: we’ll take a look at Opticlimate – finally a European company (in this case Dutch) taking on the American hegemony in the world of automated growrooms. The good news for UK growers is these boys can be bought locally. Opticlimate’s products are designed more for temperature, air circulation, humidity, CO2 and light control than full automation (no nutrient injecting, and while there is a comprehensive alert logging system, including mobile alerts, it’s not something you can yet access via the Web). The emphasis instead is – as you may have guessed from the company name – climate control. Something it achieves with minimal fuss and with maximum energy efficiency. By using water, rather than air, for cooling, less electricity is burned up and no outdoor unit is required (less chance of bacterial spores infiltrating your growroom). And with a built-in ceramic heater no additional heating units are required. The kit build looks highly professional – military quality almost. Undoubtedly Opticlimate is better for the larger growroom and the serious grower. On an aesthetic front you could imagine their units in some secret CIA underground base. These guys mean business. Stay tuned because HYDROMAG will be taking an in depth look at Opticlimate in the near future.


Opticlimate systems range from €2380.00 to €4575.00 Visit

Conclusion: So are these marvellous machines simply playthings for the idle or the ignorant? Or are they strictly for the pros or those growing on an industrial scale? The systems we’ve looked at range from the small scale (such as the basic Growtronix kit) to the grandiose (Opticlimate). Is full automation the future even for the amateur grower? And would this technology simply encourage the lazy and impatient? Is this another symptom of modern culture’s increasing brain rot, of fried attention spans, MTV and Ritalin prescriptions? The business of invention has always revolved around saving time and labour: the jet engine, printing press, steam engine, computers, the Spinning Jenny, the car, the television, the wheel... All of them conceived at least in part because they enable us to cut corners, and in part because, as Jules Verne once opined “anything that one man can imagine, another man can make real”. No, it’s not laziness. It’s called PROGRESS. And whether we like it or not the cat’s out the bag, and as usual it’s running amok first in the US, still a country of pioneers and path beaters. For those of us in the UK itching to get their hands on some kit but reluctant to pay exorbitant delivery charges, we’ll just have to wait a bit longer. Slowly, inexorably, this new field of technology will make its way this side of the Atlantic.





A Journey into Chernobyl

Dr. Patrick Moore, one of the founding members of Greenpeace international, talks about a logical disconnect in many people’s minds when arguing in favour of tackling climate change, but against nuclear power.

He isn’t the only one. Like it or not, empirical evidence shows that nuclear power is a mathematical imperative in any model of a sustainable future in which the increasing needs of an exponentially expanding populous are met. Over the coming issues, HYDROMAG will be looking into the many facets of humanity’s increasingly fraught, and some would say already lost, battle to keep the lights on. This summer, ‘iPhotographer’ Jamie Giles thought it would be a good idea to take his first holiday away together with his new girlfriend in Chernobyl- that’s Jamie for you. His photos show what the very real and long lasting ramifications can be when the beast whose glowing heart sustains us, the beast of our own creation who we cannot live without, is allowed to escape his lead lined cell.

RIGHT PALACE OF CULTURE, PRIPYAT Palaces of Culture were large community centres during the Soviet era. There were more than 137,000 in the Soviet Union by 1987. Each had its own name, this one being “Energetik” - a play on words, since it means both “energetic” (as in vigorous and healthy) and “power plant worker”.

LEFT DODGEM CARS. PRIPYAT WORLD AMUSEMENT PARK, PRIPYAT Although the intended opening date is a matter of controversy, the park opened on April 27, 1986, the day when the city was evacuated due to the Chernobyl disaster (Reactor No. 4 - a mere three miles from here - suffered a catastrophic nuclear meltdown at 1.23am on April 26, 1986). It is thought that the park was to be opened on May 1, 1986 in time for the May Day celebrations (decorations for this event are still in place in Pripyat today), and that the park was opened early to keep the city people entertained before the announcement to evacuate the city was made.


ABOVE SWIMMING POOL, PRIPYAT Our guide, Igor, was swimming in this pool until it eventually cracked and drained in the late 1990s.

LEFT ABANDONED The residents of Pripyat were given minutes to evacuate. Having been told they would return within three days, they packed next to nothing. Nobody has ever returned.


ABOVE NUCLEAR SARCOPHAGUS A new sarcophagus is presently under construction to replace the hastily built (and heavily leaking) one presently covering Reactor No. 4.

See more on Chernobyl... HYDROMAG YouTube channel will be full of playlists to supplement our articles. Visit:


A new sarcophagus is presently under construction to replace the hastily built (and heavily leaking) one presently covering Reactor No. 4. When this ‘New Safe Confinement’ is complete (latest estimate 2013) it will be the largest movable object ever constructed (so as to avoid radiation exposure during fabrication) and will have cost roughly $1.2b dollars. Over 500,000 people have worked on the project so far: Some for as little as 5 minutes total. Natalia Manzurova spent over four years cleaning up at Chernobyl. She has multiple health problems due to the radiation and is the only one of her team still alive. She has a “Chernobyl necklace”, scars on her neck where her thyroid was removed, and advocates for radiation victims everywhere. What message do you have for Japan?... “Run away as quickly as possible. Don’t wait. Save yourself and don’t rely on the government because the government lies. They don’t want you to know the truth because the nuclear industry is so powerful.”




Upon his deathbed Sir John Betjemen, summoning up one last breath, chose to cast off his mortal coil not with words of great beauty or profound insight, but to lament a lack of sex in his life… Okay, he wasn’t quite on his deathbed but the sentiment stands – regret was first and foremost on his mind. Learn from this, readers. Undeniably more sex would be welcome, but not all of us can work the line: “I’m Poet Laureate. Would you like to read some of my poems up in my hotel room?” What he should have regretted was not watching more films. Sex requires wooing partners, privacy (usually), and planning. Watching a movie, however, is achievable with a click of a mouse button. You can do it now. You can even put on a few classics while on your deathbed (if you’re not already lost in a morphine fog of confusing memories and visions of angels). Whatever you do, don’t die without seeing the films listed below. This edition: Animation. A film shot using… For Christ’s sake you don’t need us to tell you what an animation is. WORDS BY: CHRISTIAN MASON


Waltz With Bashir DIRECTOR: Ari Folman (2008) Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman is the star and director of this brilliant animated mystery / documentary about the Lebanese War of 1982. Inspired by a comrade’s post-traumatic nightmare about being chased by dogs, it dawns on the now middle-aged Folman that he’s developed amnesia about his own role in the Lebanese uprising. As he tries to piece the puzzle together he’s forced to confront some horrifying truths. Told in a series of interviews with fellow ex-soldiers, psychiatrists and friends, Waltz With Bashir floors the audience with a gut punch as powerful as any you’ll find in cinema. Harrowing, original and essential viewing.

“Told in a series of interviews with fellow ex-soldiers, psychiatrists and friends, Waltz With Bashir floors the audience with a gut punch as powerful as any you’ll find in cinema.” 40


Spirited Away DIRECTOR: Hayao Miyazaki (2001) Studio Ghibli’s Oscar-winning tale of a young girl lost in a bizarre fantasy world is a timeless work of genius. Like a classic fairy tale, it feels instantly familiar and yet unlike anything you’ve ever seen (unless of course you’re already a Ghibli fan). A surly ten-year-old is moving, against her wishes, to a new home. This disquieting step into the unknown is crystallised when her parents are transformed into pigs and she finds herself trapped in a bizarre alternate reality of bath houses, spirits, witches, and vomiting monsters. Spirited Away is a superlative coming-of-age tale and a great testament to the enduring relevance and beauty of handdrawn animation.

“Like a classic fairy tale, it feels instantly familiar and yet unlike anything you’ve ever seen (unless of course you’re already a Ghibli fan).”


The Incredibles DIRECTOR: Brad Bird (2004) A family of superheroes are forced to be “normal” and hide their true identities in this superbly animated tale from Pixar veteran Brad Bird. Dad is losing his hair, packing excess pounds, while remembering his past heroic exploits with warm, fuzzy nostalgia. Demoralised by his insurance firm job, cowed by his tiny pencil-necked boss, an offer to squeeze into his old costume and do what he does best is too strong a temptation. Keeping it from his wife, she begins to suspect an affair - cue a touching domestic drama spliced with flawlessly choreographed action sequences, brought together in one of the best scripts to have ever graced an animated feature film.

“Set in a dystopian future where half the population is on drugs, Keanu Reeves plays an agent going undercover to infiltrate a group of local suppliers, becoming hooked on the product he’s investigating in the process.”


A Scanner Darkly DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater (2006)


Watership Down

Richard Linklater introduces the rotoscope to sci-fi legend Phillip K Dick with spectacular results. Set in a dystopian future where half the population is on drugs, Keanu Reeves plays an agent going undercover to infiltrate a group of local suppliers, becoming hooked on the product he’s investigating in the process. It’s an absolute head-fuck of a script with themes of identity, paranoia, betrayal and addiction. Robert Downey Jnr and Woody Harrelson play Reeves’ raving drug-buddies to perfection. Enjoy the tail-chasing madness of the plot or just sit back, inject yourself in the eyeballs with some heroin and giggle inanely at the trippy visuals and Downey Jnr’s scene-stealing virtuosity.

DIRECTOR: Martin Rosen (1978) There’s a strong undercurrent of spirituality coursing through this tale of rabbits fleeing their doomed warren for a kind of leporine Promised Land. Never has being a rabbit seemed like such a terrifying undertaking. The animators don’t hold back; torn fur, crimson blood, limp bodies, terrifying visions… This film is at once darkly horrifying and beautifully uplifting (encapsulated in Art Garfunkel’s Bright Eyes, a tender “I … I’ve just been chopping onions” song about change and death)… Finally credit has to go to the casting director for assembling possibly the finest array of vocal talent of all time; including such luminaries as John Hurt, Ralph Richardson, Joss Ackland and Michael Hordern… Voices of such gravitas the studios would have collapsed if they’d all tried to speak simultaneously. A wonderful film!

See the official trailers for these movies. HYDROMAG YouTube channel will be full of playlists to supplement our articles. You can also see sponsored playlists from our advertisers. Visit:


Bass music is a huge umbrella term for many different styles of urban and electronic dance music these days and under this umbrella you can find dubstep, UK funky, 4x4 garage, dancehall, footwork, trap, moombahton and kwaito amongst others. Bass music’s origins are largely associated with dubstep, and the term ‘bass music’ was created when producers and artists who were being labelled with the dubstep term no longer wanted to be associated with it. The whole thing is still open to debate and can change depending on who you are talking to, and this is what makes it so interesting. WORDS BY: PATRICK SWIFT


“Burial’s second album ‘Untrue’ went on to receive numerous accolades including a Mercury Prize nomination in 2008”

UNTRUE (HYPERDUB) 2007 Mysterious producer Burial released his second album ‘Untrue’ on 5 November 2007 via esteemed UK record label Hyperdub. The album went on to receive numerous accolades, such as Resident Advisor’s third best album of the decade, number one in Fact Magazine’s Top 100 Albums of the Decade and a Mercury Prize nomination in 2008. ‘Untrue’ signified a development in Burial’s sound, as it employed pitch-shifted and time-stretched vocal samples in a lot of the tracks on the album, when previously the producer had not really used vocals in his music. Slowed down vocals now feature heavily a lot in bass music, and Burial arguably was one of the first to use this technique extensively in dubstep.


“Words can only go so far in describing ‘Room(s)’, you really need to listen to it for yourself to get the full picture.” Scuba DJ-KICKS (!K7 RECORDS) 2011

Hotflush Recordings founder Scuba, real name Paul Rose, put this stellar mix together for Berlin imprint !K7 Records’ legendary ‘DJ-Kicks’ series on 17 October 2011. A longstanding and well-respected DJ in his own right, Rose began by making dubstep in around 2007 and then moved into house and techno after forming close links with the established Berghain nightclub when he made the move to Berlin. His ‘DJ-Kicks’ mix shows the true enormity of bass music as a whole, and joins the dots between dubstep, bass, house, techno and garage. Rose also demonstrates his ability to pick up cutting edge music, as the tracklist features the likes of George FitzGerald, dBridge, Trevino and Marcel Dettman.


Machinedrum ROOM(S) (PLANET MU RECORDS) 2011

A veteran of New York’s electronic scene, Machinedrum released his multifaceted ‘Room(s)’ in 2011. Machinedrum, aka American producer Travis Stewart, leans more toward the footwork and drum and bass persuasion with this album in comparison to some of the other producers in this article, but nonetheless he is still intrinsically linked to the world of bass through his use of frenetic rhythms, piano house and dancehall inclinations. ‘Room(s)’ is almost cinematic in its production, as some of the songs even resemble bass ballads, and of the other albums is closest to Rustie’s ‘Glass Swords’ due to its maximalist tendencies. Words can only go so far in describing ‘Room(s)’, you really need to listen to it for yourself to get the full picture.

GLASS SWORDS (WARP) 2011 Scottish producer Rustie is in the same class as his fellow countryman Hudson Mohawke and released his debut album ‘Glass Swords’ on 10 October 2011. Rustie has become associated with the creation of the subgenre of aquacrunk, which is an experimental take on hip-hop. It features low-slung beats, electronic phrasing and deviating basslines and is evocative of the different routes bass music can take. Rustie can definitely be described as a maximalist producer, and often in his productions there are a lot of different things going on which means his records sound like nothing else out there at the moment. Flagship single ‘After Light’ took off after a rework that featured vocals from AlunaGeorge, receiving comprehensive Radio 1 airplay and it was used in an Adidas television advertisement ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.


“Footwork falls into the bass category and takes a lot of inspiration from hiphop in its use of vocal samples, snares and hi-hats. ”

Young Smoke

SBTRKT, aka Aaron Jerome, released his debut self-titled album via Young Turks on June 27 2011. The album marked a new, more accessible avenue into the bass music scene through a masterpiece by Jerome that transcends several different genres including electronic, dubstep, breakbeat, house, soul and UK funky. With the help of long-time collaborator Sampha on vocal duties, SBTRKT managed to carve out a brilliant album that represents a halfway house between the bass music and pop worlds. ‘Ready Set Loop’, ‘Wildfire’ (featuring Little Dragon), ‘Pharaohs’ and ‘Hold On’ were all released as singles and are essential listening from a producer that needs to be kept a close eye on.


Once again revered record label Hyperdub pops up, and this time it’s the turn of London trio LV who released ‘Sebenza’, which was their second album, in August 2012. The album sits somewhere between UK funky and kwaito (South African house music), and employs the skills of Johannesburg rapper and producer Okmalumkoolkat extensively. The inclusion of a South African MC makes this record sound like something you have never heard before immediately. The album also veers towards garage in tracks like ‘Ultando Lwaka’ and possesses some seriously funky grooves within it. ‘Sebenza’ feels more like collaboration between the producers and the rappers, and this gives it a more organic feel to some of the other albums in this list.

SPACE ZONE (PLANET MU RECORDS) 2012 From veterans to newcomers, Young Smoke is the production alias of 18 year-old Chicago footwork producer David Davis. Davis produces footwork that experiments with synth-heavy, techno-influenced sounds, and for a person so young is a very impressive debut effort after only having a couple of tracks put out on Planet Mu’s 2011 ‘Bangs & Works Vol. 2’ compilation. Footwork again falls into the bass category and takes a lot of inspiration from hip-hop in its use of vocal samples, snares and hi-hats. ‘Space Zone’ was released on 24 September 2012, and it is refreshing because it focuses on and is preoccupied with the themes of outer space and science fiction.



Every issue the team at HYDROMAG bring you a chance to win a prize kindly donated by one of our advertisers, and we’re not talking a pack of sticky fly traps or a pair of latex gloves - to make it worth your while we’ve asked our competition prize sponsor to think big!

This month’s prize is: Flairform products, courtesy of Erith Horticulture

FLAIRFORM PRODUCTS Suggested Retail Price £105.00

INCLUDES: GreenDream Grow 1ltr GreenDream Bloom 1ltr Grow Storm 500ml Silika Magic 250ml Phythoff 500ml StopBloc 500ml Budstorm 1ltr CMX 1ltr


You can enter this issues competition by using one of two methods: 1. Find the competition image on Facebook ( 2. Send a postcard titled HYDROMAG COMPETITION to the address below: No.5 The Old Bakery, 90 Acre St, Lindley, Huddersfield, HD3 3EL If your postcard arrives after the competition draw date, we will enter you in the next issues competition. Full terms available at: The competition winners will be drawn before the release of the next issue.


The rain is lashing down. I risk taking my eyes off the road for a life-threatening glance at my watch and my fears are confirmed - I’m going to be late for work. The morning’s been a failure. I picture the disapproving look on my boss’s smug face and instantly I feel a wave of adrenaline surging through me and I use it to push harder and harder. There’s terrible traffic and a driver somewhere is holding his car horn for no obvious reason other than to vent some frustration at the fact they aren’t moving, which no one is. My mind wanders as I push through the gridlock. I start thinking of the Butterfly Effect and how this one selfish act of horn-honking could send another driver into such a state of frenzy that as soon as they get onto a quieter road, they’ll put their foot to the floor. An absent-minded mother pushes her pram into the road; she’s stressed … her phone rings as she’s crossing. The car can’t brake in time and it hits her child.


That child had they not been killed today, would have gone on to discover a cure for cancer, or maybe the world just lost the next Jim Morrison. The tragedy doesn’t end there. The distraught mother can’t help but blame herself, she throws herself from a rooftop and by chance lands on biomimicry expert Michael Pawlyn, whose revolutionary research was only a few years away from preventing the hole in the ozone layer growing to an apocalyptic

Know the signs: size. The Earth is burnt to ashes. Great. The End of Days could have been avoided, if only for that inconsiderate f**kstick. This is what I love about cycling. Despite the obvious perils of riding a bike, it seems to have a strangely meditative effect. Much like time spent in the bath, it’s one of the few times in the day when your mind can exist uncluttered; money in the bank for anyone who enjoys thinking creatively. Albert Einstein, who was a huge advocate of the benefits of cycling, claims to have come up with the theory of relativity whilst riding his bicycle. HG Wells wrote: ‘Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race’.  Nearly all of us recognise that childhood rite of passage cliché, of our first unaided cycle ride with our parents. Perhaps you remember some summer holiday many moons ago, where you spent countless hours alone with your bike, going up and down hills, exploring and experiencing boundless joy, not wanting to go home as it got dark. Whether you know it or not, you love cycling. Your love for it may have been deadened by inattention over the years, but in your psyche somewhere, that beautiful, two wheeled, steel dream weaver once gave you the sensation of flying.   I started riding simply because of how much practical sense it made. When considering the rising costs and various longeurs of using public transport daily, the bike is a great alternative, not to mention completely reliable. A journey always takes the same amount of time give or take a couple of minutes. The same cannot be said for driving, where a couple of miles could take anywhere between five minutes and an hour. As everyone well knows, driving anywhere these days, especially in the rush hour, is an absolute arse, capable of transforming even Buddhist monks into twitching, screaming, angry funks of hysteria. Cycling certainly helps you get around without becoming the worst version of yourself… A lot of people ask me if I cycle because it’s good for the environment and most of the time I’m honest and I say no. An opportunity did once present itself however, for me to score some serious eco points with a certain type of female (whose parents lived in Islington, read the Guardian and went on the odd CND rally…) who I may or may not have agreed with over 9/11 being orchestrated by the Americans. Most people feel a lot of goodwill towards cycling, which does make it a pursuit ripe for exploitation. Just saying…       Cycling is easily done on the cheap, saving you money for that new automated growroom you’ve always wanted, it keeps you physically fit and looking good, it helps your creativity and what’s more, its proper bo for your overall psychological well-being. So what’s not to like?   In life, there is not always a direct correlation between effort and reward, in fact that can be said about every job I’ve ever had. On the bicycle though, the fruits of one’s labours are felt in a direct and immediately obvious way. The bike is fair. The harder you work, the faster you go. No ambiguity. Just satisfaction…   Cycling has seen a meteoric rise in popularity recently. Every day I see tourists and locals riding the Barclays rental bikes, or Boris Bikes as they have been termed. It seems like it has already become a major part of the ‘London Experience’ for sightseers and holiday makers. It’s been a great addition to the capital. They are also quite useful for getting home when absolutely shit faced in the centre of London, when you aren’t up for a £30 cab… We’ve seen big investment with these rental bikes and in the recent creation of these giant, blue, cycling super highways that have been painted all over London, which is a positive step in the right direction. We still have a long way to go to make travelling around by bike as safe and pleasurable as it is in the cycling capital of the world, Amsterdam. One way in which that could change, is a remarkable idea that has the potential to kickstart a revolution in urban transport around the globe. Sam Martin and Oli Clark of Exterior Architecture, have come up with something called SkyCycle, which is “an elevated cycle way, only for cyclists, that would follow the existing geography of the overland railways,” Mr Martin explained. If it is a success, imagine what the future may hold? A mass of cycling only skyways, above the roads and buildings, networked across the city. I can see it now; cycling in encased glass, lit by neon, in the warmth, riding across the London skyline with the sun going down. This could finally be when London starts to look like a Blade Runner style, city of the future.

“ HG Wells wrote: ‘Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race’. ” Urban cycling begun in Victorian Britain, with the iconic Penny Farthing becoming a bit of a fad. It was somewhat of a status symbol back then, costing roughly six months of an average salary and as such was mainly popular with wealthy, adventurous young men. These Victorian hipsters, rather comically, due to the enormous size of the front wheel, were said to suffer the odd ignominious and somewhat hubristic fall pretty regularly, much to the amusement of the market traders and street sweepers. You’d be forgiven for not thinking too much about the seemingly mundane, ubiquitous bicycle, but it has been given credit for the emancipation of women in Victorian Britain, (it served as a catalyst for greater independence and for the ditching of corsets, which frankly would be quite hard to wear on a bike!) for helping liberate the lower classes from social oppression around the world and interestingly for galvanising the Dutch nation during a period of social fracture, whose government in 1880 saw in the bicycle a symbol of the great Dutch values of ‘independence, self-control, and consistency’ and in an attempt to uphold these values in uncertain times, they aggressively marketed the bicycle to its people as a ‘tool for the manly, grownup citizen’, adding that cycling helped to form ‘self-controlled, balanced individuals’. It’s a hugely treasured part of Dutch heritage and it’s why if you go to Amsterdam today, the bike is still the king of the road and its moral superiority causes cars and people to give way to them wherever they see them. Some of the best advice I was given that helped me when starting out, is to imagine you are totally invisible to everyone. It sounds extreme, but if you literally cycle like no one can see you, then people won’t drive into you and you won’t be surprised when people step in front of you. The other golden rule if you want to be ultra careful, is don’t drive alongside cars, where there is an approaching left turn. If you slow down or speed up to

Bicycle Safety & Maintenance...

go in front of or behind cars at junctions, you minimise the risk of a car turning left without seeing you and wiping you out. Watch out for parked vehicles opening their car doors too. That really sucks….   Despite my love of cycling, there are times when I ride past the perfectly coiffured men and women, looking composed and relaxed in their taxis and cars in the mornings and wonder what the Hell I’m doing, schlepping away on my single speed bike in the cold. When I start to resent cycling, I say to myself ‘are you ridin’, or are you hidin’?’ (in a toughguy Texas accent). It’s a motivational quote from the once celebrated, but now disgraced Lance Armstrong’s book, ‘It’s Not About The Bike’ (which in hindsight should have been called, ‘It’s All About The Drugs’). Cycling takes courage, it takes skill, it requires cardio-vascular fitness, physical strength and balance, it takes good orienteering skills and it takes mental toughness to execute good judgement and grace under pressure. Anthropologists will tell you, our ancestors have developed these abilities to keep the species alive and thriving. I don’t think we should turn our back on them now. We’d all like to live in a beach-fronted mansion in the sunshine, with enough money to never have to work, being spoon fed Belgian chocolates and regularly fellated by Nathalie Portman, but personally I think it would get, well, kind of boring after a while wouldn’t it? Read about Nietzsche’s theme of eternal recurrence. Our lives need a bit of strife! We need a bit of hard work and challenge every now and then, to keep us honest and what better way to put yourself to work, than to hammer it out on the open road, just you and your trusty metal steed. So what’s it going to be? Are you ridin’, or are you hidin’?

HYDROMAG YouTube channel will be full of playlists to supplement our articles. You can also see sponsored playlists from our advertisers. Visit:



The HYDROMAG surgery is open for business... Get in touch with us by writing to us at: 5, The Old Bakery, 90 Acre St, Lindley, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England, HD3 3EL or alternatively email Bill directly

“Don’t get taken down the garden path…” As both a store owner and product manufacturer, Bill Sutherland believes in honest advice. If he buys too much of one product for his store, he doesn’t try and offload it or force it on his customers; he’ll give them the product that works and disregard the useless stuff. It’s this approach that makes him the perfect person to answer any questions you have about Hydroculture.

BORED OF GROWING? I have been growing for years now, I have pretty much perfected my techniques and I am happy with the crops that I have been getting. However - I feel like I am losing my growing mojo, it’s all become a bit mundane. I have been using Clay pebbles in a flood and drain system - I am happy with this. I use Lumatek Digital ballasts, HPS lamps and Air-Cooled reflectors - these I am also very happy with. I am confident my nutrition, temperature, and pH are all spot on. What I am looking for is something to add a little more ‘VaVa-Voom ‘to my grow room, something to reignite my passion and perhaps give me a little more yield and flavour. What sort of things would you recommend I add to my grow-room in order to achieve this? Thanks Bill, Caroline ................................................................... Since you have perfected everything within your growroom and you seem bored with the method you are growing with, there are a lot of new growing systems such as scrog, aeroponics, autopots, deep water culture and wall growing, big or small plants, maybe it’s time to try another way of growing? Perhaps try different ways of taking cuttings, such as single cell growing, where you have to be very sterile. I have been teaching the same thing over and over for the last twenty-eight years and, yes, it gets boring answering the same questions every day. I make it interesting by bringing on new challenges every few months, perfecting different methods of growth. Maybe it is time for you to try different nutrients; you would still be learning what makes each plant food manufacturer different or the same. Then, once again, you’re likely to become bored with this in a few years too. Now at that time maybe it is time to switch careers and join the Hydroponic Gardening Industry, we are all looking for people with a passion for all things Hydroponical. Bill,

Bill: “I make growing interesting by bringing on new challenges every few months, perfecting different methods of growth.” 52

You can also get in touch via Facebook & Twitter:

COLOUR COORDINATED I found what you said about watching the leaf colours very interesting. However, on my plants I am noticing a very inconsistent and different leaf colour from top to bottom. The leaves at the top are lighter (not just because they’re closer to the light source), and the leaves at the bottom are extremely dark. From looking at these leaves I can’t tell if I am over feeding or under feeding. Should my leaves be the same colour from top to bottom? If so, why aren’t they? PS: My plants are otherwise very healthy, and I am very happy with their progress, but of course, I always want MORE! Grace, Layland ............................................................ From the description you have given I would have to say strongly “your plants are underfed”. Plants leaves’ should be the same colour throughout the plant with the exception to damaged leaves or older leaves and younger leaves. Within plants nutrient needs’, there are mobile and non-mobile nutrient elements. The mobile elements can be moved about the plant to help correct mineral deficiencies and non-mobile elements that cannot be moved from where they were first deposited. This gives us an indication of what is going on with our plants. Since you are happy with the overall growth of your plants, this sounds to me that you do not have an individual element problem. You have mentioned the darker leaves at the bottom of the plants, this indicates you have a lack of Phosphorous as Phosphorous deficiency starts in older leaves first. The light green in your growing tips also indicates that your plants are under fed. Now you never mentioned if your yield is good; whether your garden is coming in on time or delayed by a number of days; what the size of your leaves are; whether the space between the branches is short or long; whether the leaves are shiny or dull: - all these things need to be analysed as well when trying to understand what mineral is not being utilized by the plant correctly. Please remember that there are over five hundred different organisms and sixteen mineral elements that can hurt your plants’ ability to produce great yields and trying to identify any problem is not going to be easy, even for the experts. Bill,

HYDRO-NEWBIE I am new to hydroponics and although I have received some advice I still have some worries. I am growing in Aquafarms using clay pebbles. I hope that my problem has rectified itself by the time you answer this letter however it would be handy if you could advise me so I know for next time. When my cuttings arrived they were small, about 3 inches high, however the roots were clearly visible through the Rockwool and looked healthy. On putting them in the larger Rockwool cubes, I find the water is struggling to get through to the roots of my cuttings within the larger Rockwool cubes. My question is, how much water do cuttings at this stage require, should I have the drippers running constantly or intermittently and is it worth getting some sort of meter to test the moisture in the Rockwool?

BUGGED-OUT I have a problem in my cellar where small black flies seem to appear out of nowhere. I haven’t seen them on my plants but I can’t watch them all the time. Will these bugs cause me any issues and if so how should I fight them? Jon .........................................

This is going to be quite interesting as you have two distinctly different watering requirements. Rockwool can be watered as little as once per day and clay pellets need frequent watering. If we were to put the drip lines in the clay pellets the capillary wicking will not have enough wicking capabilities to keep the Rockwool moist. From your statement it sounds like you placed a cutting cube of Rockwool inside a 4 X 4 X 3 inch cube. I am going to recommend to you next time to just place your rooted cutting into clay pellets, place drippers about 1 inch from Rockwool on both sides and feed continually until the roots are well spread out through clay pellets. Once roots have established themselves into clay pellets then the pump may be turned off for short periods of time. Clay pellets can almost never be oversaturated with water, you can actually take 50 gallons of water and pour it over pellets in one hour and never have too much water left in the growing medium. With all growing mediums they have their own watering requirements when placed in a proper growing system. In this case we have two distinct watering requirements. Cuttings that are rooted in Rockwool can be placed easily into clay pellets but not so easily into larger Rockwool as we can easily break the fragile roots. If roots are over 2 inches long it is best to cut them back to the Rockwool cube instead of trying to lay them down into holes in the Rockwool. This will only double up the roots from cut point outward.

Sciarid Flies or Fungus Gnats like living in moist dead leaves that are decomposing in your growing pots. The adults are not really the problem; it is their pesky offspring that are the problem. The adults lay eggs in the live leaves and dead leaves, larvae are about ¼ inch long with a black head. Once these eggs hatch the larvae feed on soil fungi and decaying organic matter. Dead leaves should be removed immediately upon falling into growing pots. As their population grows and food becomes scarce they will feed on live roots, root hairs and dead leaves lying in moist growing materials. Sciarid flies can kill full grown plants within days once their population gets out of control. Because of weakened roots Pythium and Phytophthora can get a foothold and cause further damage. Sciarid flies are brought into homes by vegetables and fruits and can quickly become a problem. Inspecting vegetables and fruits can be tricky; larvae are quite difficult to see as they are usually found inside the produce. The use of yellow sticky traps can reveal populations of insects in your garden. The predatory mite Hypoaspis mites feed on Sciarid small larvae and eggs. Steinernema carpocapsaea nematode can control Sciarid by entering body openings in larvae. Using Neem oil in soil and/or leaves reduces populations as does spraying pesticides with Pyrethrins. Use partly filled bottles of wine; they love the fruity smell and since the adult does not seem to fly in a direct line they will have a hard time finding their way out of the bottle.



Jock, Edinburgh ..............................................

NICE POSTCARD We like letters and we love postcards, so when this one came through to enter the Issue 002 competition, we were well chuffed (and MD Pete is partial to a bit of Benedictine as it happens). So just for being creative with your postcard selection we thought we’d send you a pack of “HortiHangers” courtesy of Hortiline.


Bio Bloombastic As the public increasingly opts for organic farming, Atami has combined this fact with the quality of Bloombastic resulting in Bio Bloombastic. This highly concentrated organic stimulator is basically all additives in ONE, accelerator, hardener bling bling creator, bloom enhancer and is suitable to add to your water supply from the 4th flowering week. Bio Bloombastic consists of a cocktail of high-quality Bio minerals and Bio stimulators of molasses with a base, and there are no ballast substances contained in the proces. This has a particularly good effect on the flavour and scent on the finished product. Besides the excellent taste, Bio Bloombastic makes a thick compact sweet smeling flower and has an enzymatic action on several fronts. In short Bio Bloombastic has all the benefits and all the extras from Bloombastic combined with organic farming. For more information go to


Blossom Builder - Now In Liquid Form Atami’s latest product is the Blossom Builder Liquid. Since plants in the flower phase have a greater need for phosphorus and potassium, Atami has developed as a follow up for the Blossom Builder Tabzz a liquid product namely Blossom Builder Liquid. Because of the unique ratio of phosphorus and potassium, respectively 20% and 32%, Blossom Builder Liquid ensures strong, healthy, beautiful and well scented flowers and or fruits. The desired result you get by this unique formula (P:K > 1:1.5). Blossom Builder Liquid is highly concentrated (0.25ml to 1 ltr or 1 ltr makes 4000 ltr irrigation water) and because of this is very economical in use. Do you want to try this Hi Tech product yourself? Ask your nearest hydroponic store for a trial bottle or call Atami BV 0031 (0) 73 522 32 56. For more information go to


Final Flush - Try Adding Some Flavour... Some flavourful new additions have hit the Grotek Final Flush line up just in time for the New Year. The essences of Grapefruit and Sour Green Apple have been bottled to provide added low-level carbohydrates with a time tested flushing agent. These flavours now compliment our Blueberry, Pina Colada and Strawberry Final Flush Family. Smell these options out in your local hydroponic shops and expect even more excitement from Grotek in 2013. For more information go to


Grow Gear gives you a taste of our advertiser’s premier products, from popular classics to new-fangled curiosities. We can’t guarantee that they’re right for you, but we can tell you that we wouldn’t have them in HYDROMAG if we didn’t respect their work. Even if you aren’t in the market for something new, Grow Gear is well worth a read.


Northstar Reflector - The Jewel In Hortiline’s Fleet Makers of the NORTHSTAR consider it to be the best reflector ever designed for the Hydro-Industry. Its innovative yet simple system of NATURAL EXTRACTION, allows the heat from the bulb to dissipate freely, reducing the temperature by up to 13.8°C and allowing you to get the light source much closer to the plants. Its inner profile has been developed to give homogeneous reflection in the shape of a square, making the NORTHSTAR the perfect reflector to grow successfully in a grow tent. Hortiline’s tests show up to a 35% increase of the reflection at the corners. Northstar is manufactured with Prime and ultra reflective European Aluminium (97%).


This small sized system is one of the most simple but effective products on the market. Straightforward to use, the plants grow in a clay pebble filled tray placed directly on to the tank of solution. This is irrigated via the pump to a distribution ring as shown. The solution flows through the pebbles into the tank and fills with oxygen for explosive results. Available in 3 sizes (40x40, 60x60 and 80x80cm)


The Super Plant HYBRID is a lamp with both Metal Halide (MH) and High Pressure Sodium (HPS) combined in the same lamp for both the grow and bloom stages required. The Super Plant HYBRID from IKON International is also available in 250 and 400w


The Gaia range of nutrients for soil growing is produced from a wide range of biological nutrient resources and complex organic chain molecules. Gaia nutrients supply a complete and balanced spectrum of all the essential plant nutrients, bio-stimulants and growth enhancers required for strong growth and maximum fruit and flower development. Gaia nutrients have been tailored for use with New Age Aqua Mix. When you choose New Age Aqua Mix and Gaia nutrients you have the optimum combination of growing medium and nutrition for your plants to truly reach their full potential.


Power To Bloom - A Powerful Bloom Enhancer

Power to Bloom is not just another bloom booster, 1 gram of Power to Bloom per 10 litres of new nutrient solution makes for a powerful bloom enhancer. Why? Because G.E.T has attached extra carriers to our Phosphorous and we get you 2 atoms of Phosphorous into your plants instead of one! This extra Phosphorous atom causes your plants to build more leaf/flower tissue. Remember to use the Umph Power for even better flowers.


Umph Power - For healthier Plants

Umph Power what does it do? Umph Power builds up the health of a plant. In order to do this, simply mist Umph Power onto your leaves and flowers. One of the biggest concerns by growers is misting water onto their plants and the worry of getting moulds. Rest assured that healthy plants do not succumb to moulds. And healthy plants produce more flowers, essential oils and produce heavier fruit for your labour. GET your plants “Umph Power healthy� and produce more flowers!


ADVANCED NUTRIENTS Bud Ignitor - Transitional Period From Growth To Bloom This Advanced product is going from strength to strength and its popularity continues to sore; Now available in 2 NEW sizes 250ml and 500ml (Along with the normal 1ltr) now makes the product more affordable to use for everyone. Used during the first 2 weeks of the bloom phase, Bud Ignitor is the perfect product to help push your flowers into the bloom phase more seamless, whilst giving your plants exactly what they need during this critical period.


Cyco Platinum ProKit The Cyco Platinum ProKit is the perfect choice for the serious gardener. This is a complete package of products designed to give you everything you need from start to finish. The ProKit contains an easy to read growth and bloom chart for all mediums. Both charts are based on a week to week colour coded system, making the ProKit one of the most user-friendly kits available.



CANNA has it’s own state of the art research facilities to be able to provide you with the best products. CANNA Research has been putting your product through several levels of controlled studies and thorough tests. At CANNA we understand that you as a CANNA customer expect nothing but the best of the CANNA products. Therefore you can now check the quality of all the CANNA TERRA and CANNA COCO substrates. Simply surf to cannalyse and complete the batchcode which you can find on the bags of the CANNA substrates.


Calendar 2013

Like every year CANNA has produced a pretty spicy calendar for 2013! We have spend many hours to give you the most seductive CANNA calendar edition to date! The CANNA Calendar 2013 is available at your nearest hydroponic store or check the CANNA website at



Sugar Royal

Plagron has a comprehensive range of additives. These UNIVERSAL products can be used with all substrates and fertilizers from Plagron. One of these unique additives is Sugar Royal. Sugar Royal is a very powerful organic stimulator based on amino-acids. It enhances the production of chlorophyll increasing the making of resin / crystals. This results in a strong end-product with the best smell and taste. For a good strain of healthy plants that have the possibility to develop in optimal conditions, the total time from seedling to harvest could be reduced by one week using Sugar Royal. Available in: 100 ml, 250 ml, 500 ml and 1 litre. Pass it on! More information can be found on our website, Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page -


Green Sensation Stimulates flowering for the highest yield and best taste. HPlagron has a comprehensive range of additives. These UNIVERSAL products can be used with all substrates and fertilizers from Plagron. One of these unique additives is Green Sensation. Green Sensation from Plagron is a powerful booster that guarantees a high yield. This stimulator was developed especially for the final 4 to 6 weeks of the flowering phase. Because of its well-balanced composition Green Sensation provides all the nutrients the plant needs. It ensures profuse flowering and cropping, a hard cell structure and the very best flavour. Available in: 100 ml, 250 ml, 500 ml, 1 litre, 5 litre Pass it on! More information can be found on our website, Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page -

ROJA Flores Introduced to the UK in 2012, Roja has been popular in mainland Europe for over a decade. This 2 part nutrient is the complete feed your plants will ever need across the whole plant cycle, through grow to the end of bloom. Enriched with red ferrochelate which helps in micronutrient delivery. Due to the ferrochelate we are able to ensure that the important micronutrients are kept soluble for longer, even though subtle PH shifts may occur. Canna Roja is proving to be popular to growers in hard water areas where PH shifts are more commonly seen.



In this issue of Hydromag, the UK's most popular Hydroponic Magazine... Coral Gardening Flushing Nutrients - Expert Opinions A Beginne...

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