We only cover Hydroponics and LED cultivation although some fundamentals are synonymous throughout.

Also, please feel free to comment.

We feel that before one decides to “go-pro” with either light spectrum and the tuning thereof or going advanced with a cultivation setup, get your environment tuned in as far as possible. Get your plants growing well, then optimise by making them grow better, whatever metric you decide as being “better”. These basics are critical before you venture into advanced light spectrums and cycles as the possible gains will likely not be realised or optimum if these parameters are not on point.


A word on the Nine Cardinal Parameters. We’ll term light to be the first, keep the others in check/optimised and we feel that you’ll be able to pump the light high, really high. Intensity is directly proportional to photosynthesis, hence dry biomass, hence yield and you’ll want to give your plant as much as they can possibly take. We’ll discuss the law of diminishing returns at another time but we are firm believers (as taught to us by the legend Dr. Bruce Bugbee and whom we gather a lot of our aggregated info from) that if you have the other eight parameters optimised (wind, CO2, temperature, humidity, root zone temperature, nutrients, O2, water), you can seriously up the light intensity to increase yield. We feel more so than accepted current literature dictates, no proof here though, yet (Anecdotal).




The sun … synonymous with life to just about anything living. Costs nothing and just keeps on giving. We do not have much experience in outdoor cultivation and can’t mention too much on the subject. Not that easy to “control” the environment but control what you can. Mostly not hydroponically grown perhaps largely restricted to greenhouses and indoors.

What we do know, in our opinion:

  • Sun, pick a location to maximise this, without compensating too much on the other parameters.
  • Cultivar, try and pick a strain/plant that is suited to outdoor cultivation.
  • Soil, we are not experienced enough to go into too much detail here but this is where a lot of your focus should be on and there is a huge amount of information on this out there on nutrients, aeration, etc. Pots, beds or containers, your choice. Do you want to move the cultivation around?
  • Pest control, preventative maintenance should be comprehensive, ongoing, targeted and organic (especially critical if the crop is for human consumption). Wildlife, well this will probably be the neighbours, keep them out.
  • Measure, take as many measurements as you can try to gauge what’s “good” and “bad” (also following literature), and possibly make predictions. Temperature, humidity, root zone temperature, ground moisture, soil pH, wind, rain, irradiance (if possible) and irrigation are a few. Albeit that you had no control over a perimeter, these measurements may tell you why something went right or wrong. Control what you can.
  • Air flow, not normally a problem for outdoor cultivation unless it’s a hurricane but be aware of possible stagnant air and minimise it.
  • Irrigation, get your water to the plant roots as effectively and efficiently as possible to minimise evaporation.


Indoors (hydroponics):

Spend a little more financially and get superior results. Often spending those few more rands leads to orders of magnitude more in return. We touch on a few parameters here and will go into more detail on each of these topics in time.

  • Genetics, don’t compromise. Indoor growing is expensive as it is, don’t waste time in skimping on this.
  • Lighting, there many more inferior LED fittings out there than there are good and only a few that are awesome. Spectrum and Intensity are the key two light metrics (in the Photosynthetically Active Range or PAR and extended range). The former controlling morphology and the later directly driving dry plant mass/yield. Lots more on PAR, ePAR, PPF (and more acronyms than the government) …. at a later stage.  A lot of ornamental and edible plants will just grow under almost any light. As mentioned, you’ve taken the “indoor leap”, it’s not cheap, don’t compromise. HydroExchanges’ lights will make your crop thrive. Our core/fundamental series of lights are efficient and effective to give you a consistently awesome yield, time after time. Get these basics right though, before you venture into our more advanced units. This is very important because if the parameters mentioned here are not on point, the optimisations to plant yield and morphology achievable with our advanced enhancements may not not be realised.
  • Neat and tidy, keep your environment spotless. We can not stress this enough.
  • Journal, keep a comprehensive record. It may start off as a pain but the fruits of doing this will be realised very soon and it’ll become habit. It’s vital if you want to get better and better with each crop or at least achieve consistent results. Try and record every measurement you make, what you do and how much of anything you add, daily. Pictures help as well. Keep 3 pens in the area, keep your notebook in the same place every time, make it easy for yourself. Have a “whiteboard” of sorts up if you can, recording the number of days that it took your cucumber to grow from flower to fruit. Invaluable information that you’ve paid for, will help you immensely, why discard this?
  • Measure, As far as the nutrient solution, measure pH, water temp, conductivity daily and adjust as required. Journal your work so you do not have to guess each time. Air temp and RH must be monitored daily and the Vapour Pressure Deficit (VPD) calculated, monitored and adjusted. This is critical and Transpiration in your plants is directly driven by VPD. Download the multitude of charts available for almost any crop and control this vital parameter without fail, as best you can. Humidify, dehumidify, heat, cool as required and as much as practically possible. Light measurements will help a lot too. We can give you distance measurements to gauge your PPFD with our fixtures. Daily Light Integral (DLI) is a vital metric to know, calculate this and record it. Sometimes this may seem as knowledge for the sake of knowledge and to some it may be just that, but to most, these journals will be cherished.
  • Circulation, critical in eliminating stagnant air around your leaves, bringing CO2 to them is vital for photosynthesis hence growth. It also helps the plant to develop stronger stems. Stagnant air around leaves causes all types of negative effects.
  • Air replacement, without a CO2 tank in a sealed room, as your plants use up CO2, it needs to be replaced from the outside. Replace your entire space every 1 to 3 minutes as a rule of thumb …. you can control your humidity and temperature by the effective use of fan speed as well.
  • Temperature, decide on what you want this to be and try and minimise large fluctuations.
  • Preventative Maintenance, simply said, do it. Schedule and record what and when you add, and diligently follow a regime. You’ve spent time and money on your cultivation, protect it. Only use organic when the crop is edible. Be proactive rather than reactive.
  • Nutrient strength, measure this daily and adjust accordingly. Use a conductivity meter and we suggest working in Electrical Conductivity (EC). This is what the meter empirically measures and the ppm readout is a calculation made from a conversion factor of 0.5 to 0.7, depending on the meter. i.e. two meters reading the same conductivity may give different ppm values depending on the conversion factor employed. It’s not that the one is correct and the other not, there is a reason for using these factors (either 0.5 or 0.7) but we not going into that now.
  • Power, measure your power consumption, get a grip on what you are spending on your cultivation endeavour. Although this may not directly affect your grow per se, it’s an integral part of the whole operation.
  • Cultivation system, we’ll briefly mention what we offer although there are a multitude more. Chose the system that you enjoy primarily, but factor of ease of use yield, space may also sway you. All of our systems are neat, tidy and optimised in their own right. Drip system, simple, automated, few hassles, great yields. (R)DWC, requires a little more attention, fantastic yields. Aeroponics, our system of choice, very efficient water use, fantastic yields.