LEC 315 Light Emitting Ceramic Fixture

Light Emitting Ceramic Grow Light

Light Emitting Ceramic 630w Grow Lighting Fixture

What’s that new light I have been hearing about? Not LED, not plasma, not induction, oh yea it’s LEC.  LEC stands for light emitting ceramic grow light technology. When I first started looking into Sun System’s LEC 315 light emitting ceramic fixtures I was admittedly skeptical.  As I started to do more research I changed my tune. The LEC 315 is a relatively new iteration of a classic Metal Halide.  The superiority lies in the ceramic tube which allows the bulb to burn at a higher temperature, creating light that is much closer to light from the sun.  This is important to keep in mind when evaluating the spectrum and light quality of a bulb.

Other forms of lighting technology (HPS, Metal Halide) are bright in terms of lumen output.  However lumens are meant for measuring brightness in terms of human perception.  Plants perceive light brightness in a different way- in the amount of energy the light is valued at based on wavelength.  Spectrum plays a key role in this because at different wavelengths, light carries vastly different amounts of energy.  The more blue, violet and ultra-violet light becomes, the shorter its wavelength is and the more energy it carries.  Orange, red and far red have longer wavelengths and carry less energy.  But energy isn’t everything, plants evolved to use the entire range of sunlight, both long and short wavelengths.  Changing seasons bring with them different light spectrums.  That’s why we use blue light in veg, it mimics spring and summer.  And we use red light in flower, it mimics late summer, fall.

Currently the LEC 315 is available in two different spectrums, and delivers superior light quality.  There is a full spectrum 3100K bulb that is best utilized during the flowering growth phase of a plants life.  Philips also makes a 4200K bulb, which they call blue, this bulb performs better in the vegetative growth phase. Correlated color temperature is the measure of a light source color appearance, measured in Kelvin.  Red and far red have lower Kelvin measurements, HPS lamps are about 2000 Kelvin and appear orange-red best for flowering.  Metal Halides range from Daylight blue 6000 Kelvin to Violet, Ultra-Violet 10,000 Kelvin best for use during vegetation.

Another advantage of the LEC 315 grow light system is the Philips square wave ballast, which ensures a more stable beam of light hitting the plants. All ballasts create an electromagnetic frequency and operate at different Hz.  The form that this electromagnetic frequency takes is most commonly a Sine wave with peaks on the top and bottom. The number of peaks is measured in Hz.  Ballasts operate anywhere from 60Hz, to 100,000Hz.  If you look at the shape of a Sine wave most of the time is spent traveling to and from peaks, with very little time spent at the peak, which is wear the energy is being output.  A square wave travels to and from peaks instantly with no time spent between so the amount of energy a bulb receives is not fluctuating.  It looks like this:  _-_-_-_-_-

Arguably the most important attribute of any bulb is its yield per watt. Yield per watt is a measurement of efficiency.  Traditional 1000 watt HPS bulbs are generally considered extremely efficient if you’re getting anywhere near 1 gram of produce yield per watt of light used – or 1000 grams from a 1000 watts – this is just over 2lbs per light.  With the LEC 315 I’ve seen some people be able to pull down 450-500 grams per 315 watts.  That’s 1.4-1.5 per watt!  If you had 3 LEC’s putting off almost 1000 watts you may be close to 1400 grams per 1000 watts. The yield per watt alone makes this system extremely efficient and cost effective.

Another perk of this light is the low heat factor, which enables it to perform well in small spaces like tents, closets, and spare rooms. It is important to keep your grow room at an ideal temperature, typically 70-80˚F. To keep your growing environment at this ideal temperature and obtain desired yields, air cooling is often required. This is where the heat factor becomes not only a plant happiness factor, but a cost factor as well. A light’s heat output is what you will want to consider when taking into account the size of the air conditioner you will need.  There’s a couple ways to look at it.  One 1000w HPS creates 4000 BTU’s of heat which needs to be cooled – about 4 BTU’s per watt.  If you can get essentially the same yield with only two LEC’s pulling 630 watts that’s only 2500 BTU’s of heat to account for. This added bonus, of having to manage less heat, especially during the hot months of the summer further increases the efficiency and cost effectiveness of these lights.

The bottom line in most indoor growing scenarios is yield per watt. The LEC 315 or 630’s superiority here, coupled with their light quality and low heat factor make them perfectly suited for both small tent grows, and huge commercial production applications. Again it all comes back to yield per watt; give the LEC 315 or 630 a try to see for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gavita Pro E-Series: Advances in Grow Light Technology

Gavita Pro E-Series

Double Ended Lighting Technology Gavita Pro E-Series

Gavita Pro E-Series Grow Light

 

Double Ended Lighting Technology Gavita Pro E-Series

Gavita Pro E-Series Grow Light

Double Ended Lighting Technology

Of all the new lighting technologies available, double ended HPS bulbs and specifically the Gavita Pro E-Series Ballasts that drive them have garnered the most attention. Rightfully so, as these new fixtures are delivering the increased light output and efficiency the manufacturers claim. What are the key differences that set these lamps apart? More importantly, are they right for your application and is the extra performance and features worth the premium price?

Tech Overview:

These lamps are an evolutionary improvement over the traditional mogul base HPS bulb and digital or magnetic ballast. Let’s go over the three important differences of these fixtures versus a traditional electronic ballast and single ended bulb.

The Bulb

The main design difference in a DE bulb is that the electrode enters the bulb from each end, eliminating the need for a wire frame around the arc tube and reducing the distance that electricity needs to travel within the bulb. This also allows for a smaller diameter bulb with improved optics that can run hotter at higher voltage.  These bulbs run hotter and at higher voltage, the upshot to all this is improved spectral output and efficiency.

The Reflector

The first thing you notice when you see this reflector is what’s missing, it’s a beautiful example of simplicity in design. It has no vent ports to lose light from, eliminating the need for a steel frame and allowing bulb heat to dissipate upward from the thin aluminum reflector. The reflector is designed to be replaced annually avoiding loss in output due to oxidation of the aluminum. Lastly, but perhaps most important, the open bulb design means there is no glass lens, which can block 5%  or more of the light output from your lamp even if it’s perfectly clean.

The Ballast

One person can easily handle and install the all-in-one fixture, and the lack of remote ballast cord eliminates RF interference. The ability to run all of your ballasts (up to 80!) from a single EL2 Master Controller with sunrise/sunset, heat based auto dim and shutoff, and external notification (txt/e-mail/alarm) is icing on the cake.

Sounds great right? Not so fast!

Before you rush out and plunk down your hard earned green, there’s a few things to consider to determine if these lamps are a good match for your application. While very efficient and good at dissipating heat, it doesn’t magically disappear, the heat goes straight up.  You will need 2-3’ open above the fixtures to provide enough airspace for them to cool properly. The next question is how to remove that heat from the grow space. Gavita’s knowledgebase recommends 2600 BTU of cooling for a 600watt Pro-line and 4000 BTU for each 1000watt. If you’re running a fresh air room you will probably need to increase the CFM of your exhaust (and perhaps size/number of filters) to exchange the air quickly enough. If you are in a sealed room with CO2 and A/C, those BTU’s add up fast so make sure your climate control is up to the task.

Okay, but are they really worth it?

The goal of this article isn’t to convince you to buy new DE style lamps, but rather to help you become familiar with the technology and be able to make an informed decision. That said, if your environment will support these lamps, it would be very difficult for me to recommend a traditional air cooled reflector and digital ballast over a Gavita Pro E-series. These new fixtures may still carry a premium price, but compared to buying a separate air cooled reflector, digital ballast and HPS bulb, the cost is comparable. The real open question may be is it worth upgrading old style HPS fixtures early (before failure) or wait? There are many factors to consider obviously, but the additional light output and efficiency of these fixtures does translate into increased yields, so for many of our customers the answer has been yes.

Air Pruning & Nursery Pots

With so many different types of nursery pots to choose from, you may be left wondering what is the difference or why does it matter? The answer is simple, performance. One of the biggest influences on performance is air pruning.

Air Pruning

Air pruning is the introduction of dry air into the root system. When this happens the apical cells at the root’s tip become dehydrated. The plant responds by growing a pair of secondary roots that branch off of the initial root. Each time the media dries out, the process repeats itself creating literally thousands of offshoot roots. This vigorous root system is much better at mining soil and increasing nutrient uptake. Air pruning also prevents the plants roots from literally strangling each other, a process known as spiraling.

Nursery Pots

To break it down for you, below is a list of popular nursery pots, and how they stack up with regards to air pruning.

  1. The Nursery Container: This is the standard planter on the market, and one of the
    Nursery Pots & Air Pruning Nursery Pot

    Nursery Pot

    least effective. With little air access, the pots effectiveness at air pruning a healthy root structure is limited at best. That being said, it is hard to find a more cost effective planter on the market, and it is widely available in a variety of sizes.

  2. The Rootmaker: These pots allow air access into the root structure on multiple levels, promoting vigorous air pruning and dynamic roots. Since the air access holes are not
    The Rootmaker Pot & Air Pruning Nursery Pot

    The Rootmaker Pot

    exceptionally big, this pot is suitable for fine media such as coco coir. In addition, the Rootmaker’s design tapers down, making this container ideally suited as a transition container before final transplant. One negative is the limited size availability of this container.

  3. Hercules Pot: These pots allow even more air access
    Hercules Pot & Air Pruning Nursery Pot

    Hercules Pot

    than the Rootmaker pots. This allows for exceptional air pruning. The Hercules pot design uses larger square shaped holes for air penetration that run vertically around the pot. Such large holes make this pot not well suited for fine media.

  4. The Air-Pot: These pots require a small assembly, but are
    Air Pot & Air Pruning Nursery Pot

    Air Pot

    perhaps the pot that “breathes” the best. The outside is a large plastic sheet with multiple holes throughout. The sides wrap around a circle grid base. Plastic screws connect it all together. The Air-Pots design promotes fantastic air pruning, but as such isn’t well suited for fine media.

  5. Root Pots: These containers are constructed of fabric. Since maximum air penetration and air pruning is achieved, these pots create outstanding
    Root Pots & Air Pruning Nursery Pot

    Root Pots

    root systems. They are well suited for all media, and reusable. Though one thing to consider is when reused multiple times the fabric has a tendency to hold onto salts.To alleviate this problem, rinse in Nutrilife’s H2O2 Liquid Oxidizer before a hot water bath between uses. As a transition container, transplanting requires more finesse and a bit of practice.

  6. Smart Pot: The sides of these containers are constructed of fabric. However, the bottom is made of capillary matting which draws the roots down. Maximum air penetration and air pruning, combined
    Smart Pot & Air Pruning Nursery Pot

    Smart Pot

    with capillary pull creates superior root structure. Smart Pots are also available in a tan color. This reflective pot makes them ideal for outdoor growing, by helping to prevent the roots from getting “cooked”. These containers are well suited for all media, and reusable. However, as with other fabric containers, Smart Pots have a tendency to hold onto salts when reused multiple times. To alleviate this problem, rinse in Nutrilife’s H2O2 Liquid Oxidizer before a hot water bath between uses.  As a transition container, transplanting requires finesse and a bit of practice.

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Read This Fogmaster Jr. 5330 Review If You Spray Much

Confession: I love an inanimate object, the Fogmaster Jr. 5330.

It’s a compact hand-held sprayer with a 1/4HP 120V motor.

fmasterJR

For some time I had considered buying an industrial sprayer/fogger/atomizer but most seemed like overkill, especially when inexpensive pump-style sprayers would suffice. The Fogmaster Jr. 5330 however, appealed immediately due to its manageable size. When I asked a trusted friend about it, his eyes opened extra wide as he looked directly at me and said “they rock”. He was right.

I know of one other convert, so, for the record, there are at least three Fogmaster Jr. groupies in Colorado.

Jr.’s output is adjustable, from a coarse spray to a mist that is so fine it is practically invisible. Many times I’ve sprayed my hand to double check and make sure that liquid is still coming out, and, every time a layer appears. The output is EXTREMELY EFFICIENT. This saves you water, input costs (foliar sprays, pesticides, etc.), and labor costs (less time mixing, spraying, pumping and pumping and…).  The tank only holds one quart but it LASTS SO LONG THAT IT SEEMS LIKE GALLONS (especially if you’re used to less efficient sprayers). The same trusted friend told me that I’d be surprised at how long a tank would last. He was right again – it’s pretty amazing. Really, next time you come in to the store, ask to do a demo. Chances are you’ll be impressed.

Junior’s small particle size, from 15-40 microns, means that you also get outstanding plant coverage in addition to making a little liquid go a long, long way. And… due to the powerful motor, it literally goes a long way. The 5330 doesn’t produce “fog” like you might imagine. Instead, it rather forcefully emits a fine mist/spray in a focused straight direction for a good distance (4-5’+). It’s like a liquid atomizer/blower. The spray is powerful enough to provide useful extended reach and canopy penetration as well as allowing you to effectively cover lots of ground. Be careful with it around young or fragile plants, the output is that strong. For these reasons, Junior may be oversized for some applications.

Other uses for the 5330 include: disinfecting/sanitizing, mold remediation, dust settling, and humidification.

Tips for using the Fogmaster Jr. 5330: when the tank runs low and you are spraying at an up or down angle, ensure the feed tube is still submerged in the remaining liquid. Or, just fill it up before it runs low. You’ll see what I mean. Also, the replaceable gasket between the tank and the main unit can wear out over time, but Jr. still works without it. It took extensive use/abuse before mine failed and I could’ve perhaps prolonged its life had I known and gone easier on it. That’s my only gripe – it’s minor, it’s fixable, and likely preventable. It would be a bonus if the blower force was adjustable but…

I lllllove my Fogmaster Jr.5330 just the way it is.

More to come in a sequel describing how Junior and GreenCure organic fungicide helped me save an otherwise beautiful crop from powdery mildew disaster.

 

Get Out(side)!

Were you tempted to grow outdoors this year? You still can. Summer solstice is 6/21, so there’s still some solar powered “veg” time remaining. Remember to plant varieties that will finish before it gets too cold and gradually transition them from artificial light to intense sunlight. Minimize the need for applying fertilizer via the irrigation water by preparing your soil with ample nutritive amendments.
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DTE (Down To Earth) offers a complete line of specific soil additives and mixes which are perfect for customizing organic gardens. Many of their products are OMRI listed and already contain beneficial microbes (fungi & bacteria). If you’re looking for a simple way to significantly enhance your soil, Roots Organics combines multiple ingredients into their Uprising products which may either be mixed into soil or added as a top dress.
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More outdoor growers have also been using hydroton in place of perlite since it provides soil aeration without getting blown or washed away as easily. If planting directly into the ground (versus containers), line your hole with a layer of amendments to help nourish plants towards maturation/ripening. Finally, combine plenty of Colorado sun and water with cooperation from mother nature and your harvest might even last until it’s time to do it again next year. Good luck and bumper crops to all!

 

 

What is OMRI?

When it comes to agriculture, the definition of “Certified Organic” can be contentious. Farmers, lobbyists, activists, PR firms, etc. have different standards and stakes in a growing multi-billion dollar per year industry.The non-profit Organic Materials Review Institute has been helping to formally define “organic” since 1997, years before the industry took off and our government got involved.

OMRI

If an input (like a fertilizer or pesticide) appears on OMRI’s Products List, then it is approved for use on certifiable organic cash crops. Sounds great if you’re in the business of making organic nutrients or pesticides… but it’s not easy to get on the list. To do so, a product must pass OMRI’s expert reviews which are technical, scientific, and political. There are multiple levels of review by representatives from all facets of the industry. Point being, if a product earns the OMRI stamp of approval, you can be confident in its organic integrity. Gardening with OMRI listed products can help ensure that what you grow is truly as “organic” as it can possibly be. Find out more at omri.org which includes a very cool and useful search function that lets you surf the OMRI Products and Materials Lists. Got a nutrient or chemical and want to know if you can use it on an organic crop? Looking for organic products? Check the OMRI lists.

Here are a few high quality OMRI listed products…

Soil_Bast_wm__41671_zoom Pushing your plants? Colorado based Supreme Growers offer numerous products to ensure that they excel. Soil Blast is a “biological supercharger..formulated for high performance gardens”. If you garden with beneficial microbes, do yourself a favor and look into Supreme. They also offer products for hydroponics.

biobizz Biobizz offers a complete line of nutrients for organic gardens and “is fully dedicated to researching, developing, manufacturing, and marketing organic gardening products that have a positive impact on our society and ultimately the world we live in.”

synergy

Synergy is an excellent biocatylyst…”an organic supplement comprised of fermented seaweed and plant extracts to enhance nutrient uptake and plant vigor”.

sugareeSugaree from Cutting Edge Solutions “provides an organic carbohydrate and electrolyte source to stimulate amino acid production and..it’s specially designed  organic formulation targets increases in fruit set, retention, and sugar production”

 

 

Light Optimization with Bulb Adapters

If you use a 600 watt bulb (or smaller), then there’s a good chance it doesn’t fit your light reflector/hood as well as it could. Since most hoods are designed for 1000 watt lights, smaller bulbs commonly require a “mogul to mogul” adapter to extend the bulb out into the center of the hood.
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Proper bulb position allows you to take full advantage of your hoods reflectivity by delivering more uniform light and decreasing hot spots. This simple and inexpensive modification can help you get the most from your bulbs and electrical bills. Installation tip: screwing the bulb into the adapter first gives you a nice base to hold onto for cleaning and/or installing the bulb without having to touch it.

Kill Fungus Gnats with Tan Lin from CX Hydroponics

Ever seen fungus gnat larvae firsthand? These little beauties look like maggots and eat your plant’s roots.

gnatlarva

Adult fungus gnats aren’t much better. Slightly smaller than  fruit flies (and minus the red eyes), they look like miniature mosquitoes flying around half drunk due to their erratic flight patterns . If you see them once in a while, then you will continue to see them (until you do something) because they lay hundreds of eggs at a time. Left unchecked, they can quickly multiply into a migraine on top of decreased yield.

Tan Lin is a natural, effective, and innovative product that can end your fungus gnat headaches.

tan lin

With Tan Lin, CX Hydroponics has developed a unique mode of action to do away with fungus gnats. This biological control ends the gnat’s life cycle by killing larvae faster than they can develop. It is completely safe for plants and has a higher kill rate than other biocontrols like Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis serovar israelensis).

If you have a serious gnat problem, drench your medium with Tan Lin every 3 days until things are under control and then once a week for maintenance. Tan Lin excels as a preventative when used on a weekly basis.

When applying the product it is important to completely saturate the growing media, so if you water using flood & drain it may be necessary to apply Tan Lin from the top to ensure that the upper layer of medium is drenched. Since it is a living control, do not combine Tan Lin with hydrogen peroxide.

How To: Sustainable Plants For Your Colorado Garden / Landscape

Pedocal or pedalfer? What? Generally speaking these are the two types of soil in the U.S. with a dividing line down the middle of our country.

150px-Pedocalpedalfer_bdy

The implication for growing native plants in Colorado is that our soil is more rocky and has appreciably less organic matter than what usually comes to mind when you think of potting soil. Since our ground contains a lot of sand and gravel it is a good idea to break it up in order to allow roots to get sufficient oxygen. Pedalfer soil is more like the common conception of what makes dirt desirable for plants, lots of organic matter. Another thing to consider when planting native/adapted plants is the use of rocks as mulch (if you look at the Plant Select gardens you’ll notice a lot of rocks). Different types of mulch can be used strategically depending on the plants, their locations, etc. For more information and plant specific tips consult the Plant Select website and/or one of their retailers.

Back to the plants…

denver_daisy_rudbeckia

Rudbeckia, Denver Daisy. This tender perennial has great long-lasting flowers (until late summer) and commemorates the 150th anniversary of the founding of Denver.

Osteo_DanJohnson

Osteospermum, ‘Avalanche’ White Sun Daisy. Another South African native adapted to Colorado, this one is super hearty with “greater disease resistance and heavier summer bloom than the other hardy sun daisies. Giant blossoms close at night to reveal a metallic reverse of ray flowers”.

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Hesperaloe parviflora, Red Yucca. This is a big (3-4′ x 3-4′) graceful yucca. “Tall spikes of brilliant rose-pink, yellow-throated tubular blossoms curve skyward with elegance and are an instant magnet for hummingbirds from early summer to autumn. Red yucca is virtually maintenance-free and perfectly xeric once established”.

Echium amoenum 3 BA sm

Echium amoenum, Red Feathers. This perennial will “produce spikes of feathery, russet-red flowers in spring, re-blooming again in summer and fall if deadheaded“.

Crambe maritima _Pat HaywardCrambe maritima_close_Pat Hayward

Crambe maritma, Curly Leaf Sea Kale. “This robust, traditional European perennial potherb forms impressive clumps of gorgeous, wavy, waxy blue foliage all summer long. In spring, clusters of dazzling white flowers grace the garden. Tough and permanent once established, this beautiful perennial offers larger-scale, summer-long interest for dry gardens”.

Vitus x 'St_ Theresa Seedless' 11Vitus x 'St_ Theresa Seedless' 4

Vitis x ‘St. Theresa Seedless’, St. Theresa Seedless Grape. A vigorous woody vine. “This hardy, mostly seedless, purple slip-skin grape with excellent flavor is an early season table grape… Wonderful for arbors”.

There’s are a little look at some sustainable selections for your pedocal plot. There are many, many more for you to explore at plantselect.org.. enjoy!

Thanks again to Plant Select for permission to use their pictures and words!

Chemical Controls for Powdery Mildew

Past posts have looked at cultural and biological controls for powdery mildew. These, along with Greencure, are all typically approved for use in certified organic agriculture.

Now it’s time to talk toxics. So get out your PPE (personal protective equipment), take a deep breath, and prepare to kill…

Synthetic chemical fungi killers come last in this series because, ideally, they are a last resort. While undeniably useful components in an integrated disease management plan, they should not be relied upon as a substitute for good gardening practices.

You may be familiar with foggers or “bug bombs” for pests like spider mites. They also exist for fungal diseases. Fungaflor TR‘s active ingredient is imazalil. TR stands for Total Release, once you trigger the fogger the entire contents of the canister are emptied. One small 2oz. fogger treats up to 1,500 square feet (1,000 for powdery mildew). As with other bombs, thoroughly read and follow all directions on the label. The fog is flammable so make sure there aren’t any open combustion sources like a pilot light. Once the treatment is over, ensure ventilation has completely removed the product from the space prior to reentry.

Fungi bombs work especially well as a preventative when preparing a new garden or to treat a space that previously contained pathogenic spores. Foggers provide excellent coverage over a large area and don’t leave behind residue as can happen when burning sulfur.

While Fungiflor can be used in a garden while plants are in it, be careful: do not trigger a bomb too close to plants or they may be damaged. In their Keys to Success, the maker of the product says to “clear out a three-foot area around the canister to prep for application”. Remember, one small can is intended to treat 1,000-1,500 square feet which is larger than many indoor gardens. If used in too small a space, the increased concentration could also damage plants.

Alright, now for the big gun, Eagle 20EW.This product is effective and, therefore, popular with many. The active ingredient is myclobutanil. Eagle 20EW acts as a systemic with a residual presence in the plant. For this reason, treating a plant once or twice in its vegetative stage is often sufficient to successfully suppress powdery mildew. This is also the reason to avoid treating plants with it during the latter stages of growth.

Eagle 20EW can be used as a preventative treatment when introducing new plants to your garden from outside sources. It can also be an effective knockdown treatment when other options have failed to break the pathogenic cycle. That being said, it should not be overused. Science has proved that overuse of fungicides like Eagle 20EW can result in some fungi becoming resistant to them. For this reason, the product label recommends alternating it with other products after two consecutive uses.

Carefully read the label/instructions prior to using the product. Since you shouldn’t require too many applications for the lifecycle of a plant, make them count by combining Eagle 20EW with a surfactant (like Coco Wet or Humboldt Sticky) to maximize plant coverage and keep it in place. If plant size permits, consider mixing enough solution to dunk the entire plant in order to guarantee complete coverage.

That brings us full circle in our look at ways to grow in harmony with powdery mildew spores. While there are many gardening approaches and products when it comes fungal diseases, we’ve looked at some of the most effective.

Integrated pest/disease management is a prevalent theme in agriculture. It is a very broad topic and one that keeps coming up (perennial in nature if you will) for good reasons. As the use of the word ‘integrated’ suggests, no single action or product will, by itself, guarantee victory in the fight against powdery mildew. Long term success comes from a combination of techniques, products, and, of course, hard work.

When it comes to fighting garden diseases like the phantom menace that is powdery mildew, may the spores not be with you.