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I started my garden about a month ago. It's pretty small and the grow beds are only about 2-3 inches deep.  Here is the plan I used:

Since getting things up and running I have got things cycled and the plants planted.  The problem is that the plants are kind of lame looking and slow growing.

The nitrite levels seem to be in the 40-80 range (although the color chart is kind of iffy here.  I must be colorblind.).  I don't have grow lights, but have the garden set up in my office window which faces west, getting a few hours of direct afternoon sun.

Any ideas for increasing growth rate?


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Can you tell us what your PH, ammonia readings and nitrates are? I also wonder if you're getting enough light. It's really hard to tell with your picture. Is this the brightest part of the day?

pH is about 7.5.  Ammonia and nitrites are at 0, and the nitrates are between 40 & 80 somewhere.

There is indirect light most of the day and direct sunlight for a few hours in the afternoon.


I'm no expert but I was always told that a PH above 7.2 can lock out a lot of nutrients. I have a small system that's 150 Gal. FT and my grow beds are Hydrocorn that is approx. 11" deep. I've never dealt with grow beds at 3"

Even if you were growing outdoors in a greenhouse in Denver you would be experiencing slow growth at this time of year. Most plants need 6 - 12 hours of full sun and it sound like your only getting 3 hours or so.


Should I consider lights, and if so what kind?

That depends on your budget, T5 fixtures are the best option in the mid price. CFL is the cheapest option. LED, Induction, HID and HPS are the higher ticket fixtures. I did a video on the subject a few months ago : Click Here

or watch below

Joe Phillips said:


Should I consider lights, and if so what kind?


Thanks for the very informative video.

I ended up getting a cheap 2' T5 lamp just to see if it would make a difference.  If it does, I'll get more to cover the other 2 tiers.  If it doesn't make a difference, it'll be back to the drawing board.

Also, I would say just to give it some time. Only a month in? If you're not actively inoculating beneficial bacteria and whatnot, they can take a while to show up into your system. Once you have a healthy population of bacteria, things will really get going. And I'm not just talking about your nitrifying bacteria, there are myriads of other beneficials that will be helping your plants.

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