Mar 07, 14
Your plants face multiple problems on a regular basis: too much water, not enough water, too much sunlight, not enough sunlight, etc. Besides the usual difficulties, there are also pests and diseases to contend with, both of which can greatly hamper your plants’ productivity and even kill them. Fortunately, there are a few ways to protect your plants, which we’ve gathered below.
Plants, like humans, are able fight off disease better when they’re stronger and healthier. So what does this mean for your plants? For starters, it means having proper airflow and not over or under-watering your plants. As we mentioned in an earlier blog post, too much water causes saturation, preventing the roots from uptaking the necessary nutrients.
*The products mentioned below can be used on all plants, whether indoor or outdoor.
Botanicare BCSIBQT Silica Blast
One way to strengthen your plants is through additives that contain potassium silicate found in Botanicare’s Silica Blast or in General Hydroponics’ Armor Si. The potassium silicate found in these products will thicken the stem and leaves, making them a less attractive target for pests and better equipped to fight off disease.
*If you’re growing vegetables, make sure you don’t overdo it on the potassium silicate. Using too much can impact the taste of your vegetables.
Another additive that will strengthen your plants and prevent disease is Hygrozyme. Designed to speed up natural chemical reactions in plants, Hygrozyme breaks down old root mass, promoting new root growth and allows your plants to absorb more nutrients, making the plant stronger.
The Guano Company GUST128 Super Tea Mix
Composed of all organic materials, such as earthworm castings, bat guano, and soluble seaweed, composted tea is great for plants as it serves as a vegetative and root stimulator. This nutrient solution promotes balanced growth and lush vegetation and can be used during all stages of the growth cycle.
Nothing is more maddening than coming out and seeing some bug-eyed creature happily munching on your plants. Spider mites, white flies, gnats, aphids, caterpillars, and grasshoppers are a few of the pests you’ll probably encounter in your garden. All of these are incredibly destructive and will ruin your hard work. The good news is that you can keep these creatures under control without using harsh chemicals. Below are some organic methods to control those pesky pests.
Liquid Ladybug is an all-natural miticide that controls all sorts of pests, from aphids to fungus gnats to thrips. Available in an assortment of volumes in either concentrate or ready-to-use, Liquid Ladybug is an excellent choice when you need to control a wide variety of pests.
Got a problem with caterpillars or grasshoppers? These are particularly devastating as they eat the leaves of your plants, but can be controlled with AzaMax. Safe to use on all plants in all stages of the growth process, the active ingredient in AzaMax is Azadirachtin which is a naturally occurring insecticide from the neem tree.
Seabright Laboratories HGSLWFT Sticky Trap
A great option for controlling flying insects such as gnats, white flies, and aphids are sticky traps. Non-poisonous and weather-proof, these traps hang in your garden at plant height and attract these winged pests with their bright yellow and blue colors. Once the trap is covered in either insects or dust, simply throw it out and replace it.
For more organic pesticides, including products that eliminate pests indoors, visit our pests and fungicides section.
What do you use to keep away the pests and keep your plants disease-free? Let us know in the comments below, or hit us up on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or Google Plus!
Mar 06, 14
Do you have boring, vacant wall space in your home? Have you been wanting to put your creativity and inner craftsman to the test but have had no idea where to start? Then you should definitely consider adding a personal touch to your home décor by creating your own unique LED rope light sign.
LED rope light is long-lasting and easy to configure into beautiful, loopy lettering. Plus, you can adjust the size of the letters to cover medium to large amounts of wall space that would otherwise require a large, expensive painting or various amounts of smaller artwork to fill. Spell out your family motto, an important value, or your child’s name and immediately alter the ambiance of any room to match it.
Here’s what you need:
Here’s how you do it:
- Once you have all your materials, plug your LED rope light into the wall to make sure it is working properly.
- Plan where you want to hang your word. Use a ruler, measuring stick, or other tool to draw a straight line where you want the bases of your letters to rest. (Keep in mind where the nearest outlet is and which end of the rope light you will plug into the outlet!)
- Configure the rope light into the word you want on the floor in front of your wall. Use weights to keep it your letters in position while you tape your letters in place.
- Attach your rope light word to the wall with more heavy duty tape, making sure the bottoms of your letters are touching the baseline you drew earlier. (Hint: You or your partner holds each letter in place while the other tapes it down.)
- After your word is taped to the wall, repeat the following steps for each letter:
- Choose a corner of the letter to start on.
- Remove the tape holding it to the wall. The other pieces of the letter that are taped to the wall should hold the majority of the letter in place.
- Remove the tape that was holding the letter in its shape and use zip ties to hold it together instead. If you opted to use an incandescent rope light, make sure all the tape is removed before leaving your word on for long periods of time.
- Visually gauge the places where you will need to attach your clips to the wall (usually where the tape was) and mark these places using chalk or a pencil.
- Place your clips into the proper positions and screw them in.
- Snap the rope light into the clips and pick another section of the letter to repeat the process until you finish your word.
- Once you’ve completed attaching your word to the wall, cut off any excess rope light that you don’t need (look closely at the cut marks on the rope light) and cap off the end of the rope.
- Plug in your LED rope light. Voilà! You’re done.
That’s it for this tutorial. Have you done any awesome DIY projects using ropelight? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest!
Mar 05, 14
We already know that lighting has a substantial effect on our moods, making us feel less energetic on dull, cloudy mornings than on bright, sunny days. But what if I told you that lighting also has an effect on our cognitive abilities, such as learning and productivity?
In a 2010 case study on students in a German primary school, the Philips lighting company put this question to the test with their SchoolVision dynamic lighting system. This system allowed teachers to vary the brightness or color mood of their classrooms according to the time of day or activity, the goal being to see if changing the lighting in certain situations would result in different classroom behaviors. Below is what they found.
There were four main light settings, Normal, Energy, Focus, and Calm, all of which were expertly engineered to encourage either a stimulating or relaxing environment.
- Normal had a standard intensity level and color tone, creating an ideal setting for regular classroom activity.
- Energy had a higher intensity level and a very cool color tone, helping invigorate students when they needed to be more active such as in the mornings or after lunch.
- Focus had the highest intensity light and a moderately cool color tone, aiding concentration during challenging tasks such as quizzes or tests.
- Calm had a standard intensity light level and a warm color tone, bringing a relaxing ambiance to individual work or quiet time.
Using the recommended settings over the course of one year, teachers saw a 35 percent improvement in reading speed with almost 45 percent less errors than the control group. Hyperactivity was also reduced by up to 76 percent under the Calm setting, a figure that the control group did not come even close to. These numbers definitely seem to support the conclusion that lighting produces psychological effects that impact our attention span, concentration, and behavior. Moreover, they also correlate with other studies that prove that the same is true not only for children in a classroom setting, but also for adults in the workplace. For instance, in the late 1980s, the lighting system in the U.S. post office in Reno, Nevada was renovated to swap its harsh, artificial light for softer, more natural light. The upgrade not only resulted in $50,000 in energy savings, but productivity increases (such as much faster mail sorters and lower error rates for machine operators) that were projected to boost company revenues by up to $500,000 per year.
Unfortunately, the effect of light on behavior is less easily measured or studied than energy savings, so findings like these are rarely considered when a school or business is implementing a new lighting system. Although interchanging warm and cool color tones and varying light intensities throughout the day like with the SchoolVision system would probably be ideal, even a simple swap from dim, harsh lighting to softer, more natural lighting in the workplace can clearly make a big difference in enhancing job performance.
Could your workplace benefit from dynamic or natural light? Does lighting affect you differently at certain places or times of day? Tell us in the comments below, or drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Google Plus!
Mar 03, 14
As you can imagine, office buildings consume a pretty substantial amount of energy. According to Southern California Edison, the average commercial office building uses about 30 percent of that consumed energy on lighting. Because lighting does make up such a large portion of energy spent in commercial buildings, the energy efficiency of office lighting is an important factor that should be taken into consideration. By making a few lighting updates, ranging from major to minor, your office could decrease its electricity consumption.
Update Overhead Lighting
If your office still uses incandescent or old fluorescent lighting in large overhead fixtures, it could be time for a much needed update. While fluorescent bulbs do consume less energy than incandescents, they still can’t match the energy savings of LEDs. LED lighting uses about 75 to 80 percent less energy than incandescent light sources and last much longer, too. To replace large fluorescent troffers, you can use LED light panels, which will work just as well and use only a fraction of the energy.
If you have T12 fluorescent lighting, upgrading to T8 fluorescent tubes will make a huge difference in energy savings and light quality. However, if you want to make an even bigger difference in energy savings, switch to 18-watt T8 LED bulbs to replace your 32-watt T8 fluorescents. Over the life of a T8 LED, you can expect to save $77 and make up the entire cost of the lamp in approximately 28 months. They also produce virtually no heat. The less heat being produced in the building, the less you’ll be blasting the air conditioning to try and balance the temperature. They are also available in color temperatures ranging from warm white to stark white to accommodate your particular preference.
Efficient Accent Lighting
Whether it’s track lighting to accentuate your company logo or wall sconces that give your conference room stylish flair, most offices use some form of accent lighting. LED technology has advanced to the point where you can find an LED replacement in a variety of bulb shapes, color temperatures, and lumen outputs to replace incandescents or fluorescents in just about any existing light fixtures. If your wall sconces use incandescent E12s, switch them out for LED candelabra bulbs. The same goes for MR16 track lights or your recessed downlights – the possibilities are endless!
For some ideas on innovative accent lighting, check out our previous blog on where to use LED tape light. It’s a perfect solution for lighting coves, shelving, and other places that will give your office space a modern and unique look.
Control the Lights
Because many people stay within the vicinity of their desk or a designated department to do their jobs, there are some areas of the building that don’t require constant lighting, such as restrooms, break rooms, or supply closets. Installing motion sensors in these less occupied areas is a convenient way to monitor the amount of light being used. If you’re lucky enough to have your own personal office, you could also install a dimmer switch to customize the light levels at any given time while curbing electricity use and extending the life of your office’s lighting.
Safety lighting, such as emergency and exit signs, are imperative to the lighting design of any commercial building. These signs are using energy 24/7, so why not find exit signs that use as little as possible? LED exit signs can last up to 25 years and come in an array of designs that will complement the design of your office space. An even more energy-efficient efficient option is photoluminescent exit signs. These signs don’t require any electricity use and recharge when exposed to external light sources.
What are some other ways offices could be more energy efficient? Leave us a comment letting us know, or send us a message on Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!