I figured I would share more on what I meant by brighter lights / self irrigated pots from the purple haze malawi thread
for those who wanted to see what I've been playing with lately.
So the first thing I decided was that I suck at watering as effectively as drip irrigation systems, so I started looking around for set it and forget it systems that don't require drip trays or water run off. The answer I found was self irrigating pots (SIPs) or "Global Buckets
." I am hardly brilliant enough to develop a system like this, so here's a link to the original developers of these babies: https://www.globalbuckets.org/
They designed theirs on 5gal / 19L buckets, but I found 3.5gal / 13.25L buckets are way more than enough for my space. Inside, they look like this:
The bottom bucket acts as a reservoir while the top holds soil. The soil cup which nests in the top bucket and sits in the resorvoir wicks up water as the soil is dried out by the plant. I modified this design to include a sight gauge and where they have a hole for excess water to run off, I put a second tube so I know when the plant is topped off. Watering is now as simple as walk in, glance at gauge, fill till its full. (You don't have to cover the soil with white plastic like I did, but it does help to keep moisture in and reflect light back up at the canopy.) My plants haven't ever been this happy and I'm using 1/3rd as much soil as I used to.
The next thing I discovered is that screw in LEDs have come a long way. I stopped by my local home store and found screw-in 16w LEDs which put out an insane amount of light for the $6 I paid for them. They're about twice as bright as the 23w CFLs I was using, with 2-3x the effective penetration. Compared to my 240w Blackstar, they're about half as bright at the same distance, but because you can spread them out for even coverage, the plants can get really close to the lights.
Here's a shot of veg:
Light strength breakdown at distance with my ghetto swing style light meter:
.5" - 1400
1" - 700
3" - 350
6" - 175
12" - 80
.5" - 2000+
1" - 2000+
3" - 2000
6" - 1000
12" - 500
240w Blackstar LED
.5" - 2000+
1" - 2000+
3" - 2000+
6" - 2000
12" - 1000
STRONG growth from this upgrade, I'm doubling stem size weekly in veg.