I’ve had the Growcraft X1 up and running for about a month now. Despite some bumps, not due to the light, I’m finally seeing some results and wanted to share them with the Chilled readers.
For some reason, the day the Growcraft X1 came, I was ready. I heard the knock on the door and immediately thought, “you get a lot of mailed deliveries, but you should throw your pants on and check to see if the light is here”. It was, and thank god I checked because it required an aural signature.
No stranger to growing under LEDs, I have big plans for my modest X1 Growcraft right out of the gate. I’ve dabbled into hydroponics before — mostly drain-to-waste — but this Xmas, the In-laws coincidently gifted the wife and me an Aerogarden. The deepwater culture setup sparked an itch that had to be scratched. The Aerogarden has been great so far, but let’s face it, the light intensity and reservoir space are severely lacking. So I decided to set up some DIY DWCs.
Growcraft XL is hanging in a 2x4x5 grow tent that houses 2-4 gallon DWCs and various container sizes with reused soil.
A couple of years ago, after a long stint of growing in coco, I decided to return to my roots (oh boy) and go back to soil. Honestly, it was nice. However, I have yet to reuse any of the potting soil, and it’s just been collecting in a big bin. I’ve had great success in the past reusing coco, but I’ve read a lot of mixed reports about reusing potting soil. So what better to do than run some tests?!
I will be running a clown-car with this tent, and I expect to grow the following plants under it: rosemary, thyme, cilantro, spinach, chives, catnip, curly parsley, Italian parsley, bell peppers, a Carolina Reaper, tomatoes, Thai basil, Genovese Basil, tomatoes, cantaloupe, and cucumbers.
That’s a crammed tent, but my plan is to move the bigger plants outside. The reaper will stay inside because I don’t feel like explaining to angry parents why they should teach their kids to not take stranger’s plants.
The spinach plants are currently dictating the lights-on time to no more than 15hrs to prevent them from bolting.
I had planned to start heavy out of the gate by germinating and running 10 different crops under the Growcraft. Throughout the years, I’ve collected several seeds from a range of crops and wanted to just use them before buying anything new. Feeling confident and perhaps lazy, I simply planted all seeds directly into their final media. 20 seeds and 2 weeks later, let me tell you my garden was a wasteland.
So to not be discouraged, I said screw it, grabbed 5-10 seeds per species, and tried the ol’ paper towel method to germinate. It took a bit of time, but it was a success, and I got about a 1 in 5 germination rate per crop.
Along with my newly popped seedlings, I decided to transfer two of my Aerogarden crops to the Growcraft: the Thai basil and thyme.
So currently, we have 3 spinach, 2 cilantro, 1 parsley (I think), 1 catnip, 1 rosemary, 1 thyme, and 1 Thai basil. I have spinach and cilantro in both the DWC and potting soil, which should be fun to compare — the basil and catnip are in soil, as well.
First Month Thoughts
While I haven’t been able to use the Growcraft in the first month as I would like, I only have good things to say about the light.
First, setting it up was incredibly easy. There are no written instructions that come with the light, but it’s so intuitive you can’t accidentally connect the wrong parts. Plus, there are online tutorial videos, but you likely won’t need them unless it’s your first light.
Second, the Growcraft is cool, literally. While sitting in a basement that hovers around 60-65F — a problem in itself — with no direct airflow on it and running at max, the fixture stays cool to the touch. I’ve considered introducing the driver into the grow tent to push temperatures above 72F, but I want to be careful creating such a large DLI.
Third, plants look cleaner (as if under natural sunlight) and less washed in yellow when comparing the 3,000K 87CRI Growcraft to my DIY 3,5000K 80CRI White LEDs. I can’t express how nice that is! Don’t let yellow-tinge in my photos fool you, my camera is bringing it out.
While there are currently only two adult plants and a bunch of seedlings, I can say everyone has been a fan of the light.
Moving both the Thyme and Thai Basil from the Areogarden didn’t go great. When I transplanted the Thyme into a new DWC, I didn’t break up the roots first. Some leaves went yellow and roots turned brown (no smell). But after going back, breaking the roots up and pulling them through the net pot slots, the Thyme is back at it and putting out lovely white roots. Transplanting the Thai Basil into soil from hydro was rough; after seeing little growth for a week or so, I popped it out of it’s current pot for it’s final one and saw that the roots had not grown or spread out. It did recover, and is putting out some lovely flowers — I’m not a big fan of the flavor so I’m pretty lazy with this crop.
Thankfully, the Growcraft X1 hasn’t been harsh on any crop despite being on max with plants in different life stages.
Since the one area where I had issues was germinating, I popped some fresh seeds under the light to make sure the issue was just due to old seeds that have been laying around the house. All seeds popped just fine.
Plans For The Future
Spring is here, and I need to start thinking and prepping for the outside garden. If I can manage the space, I’d like to start tomatoes, cucumbers, and cantaloupe early under the X1. As well, I have one last net pot that needs to be filled, and I may try an AG transplant again to redeem myself.
As you can probably tell, my unfinished cold and dry basement isn’t the best place for a garden. Growth isn’t fast as such, but crops are staying healthy. However, I’m not looking to do everything right with this grow. I want this garden and the results to feel achievable to newcomers, those without a lot of time on their hands, or those that want to keep costs low. So, I’m going to make mistakes, I’m not going to rush to correct issues, and I will attempt to not constantly check up on my garden.