I’m about to lose control and I think I like it.
By Hydrofarm's Kelley Ryan
Hands free gardening? Could it be true? What’s up with all of these controllers on the market? Can I buy one of those Master Greenhouse controllers, walk away and things will take care of themselves? Can I set up my garden, take a two-week vacation, and come back to find everything flourishing? The answer, unfortunately, is no.
I have always been planted firmly in the “an involved gardener is a successful gardener” camp. I say this to any new gardener and it’s always been good advice. This is especially important for beginners. They need to be able to recognize plant problems such as bug damage, molds, stress, deficiencies and toxicity. Controllers are designed to help, under the watchful eye of an involved gardener. As gardens get larger and larger, unless gardening is your full time job (and even if it is), it might be helpful to have some digital hands to help you. Technology has seeped it's way into every aspect of our lives, so why not our gardens? The controllers on the market now are like having super helpful friends around who don’t take up any space or eat the last piece of pizza. They’re gardening tools, just like a spade or a net pot. I am still an involved gardener, I just have a little added help.
So, let’s talk about control. Temperature, humidity, lights, air and CO2 can all be controlled; this is the beauty of indoor gardening! We are able to give our plants optimal conditions for extreme growth all year-round. We can deliver CO2 directly to our plants in the daylight hours. We can reproduce ideal outdoor temperatures and humidity, recreate the sun, and even how long it “shines”. We can make it cool in the desert in the middle of summer and create dry air in a rain forest!
Most of the controllers on the market are user friendly. Many come with optimal preset settings which allow for quick ‘plug and play’. This is super helpful when you are new to controllers. They can be intimidating right out of the box, with all the buttons and plugs and wires, but don’t be scared away. The manufacturers preset the controller for generally accepted optimal settings, which is great to get you started, but as you get more familiar with your controller, you’ll learn how to fine tune the settings to suit yourself and your garden.
All in all, just like most aspects of gardening, there are many options, and as I have said before, there is no ONE right way. Use the methods that feel right to you, but remember, sometimes losing a bit of control can be great!