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Flowering Plum Trees

For the past few weeks at GH in Sebastopol, we have been anxiously anticipating the opening of the swelling blossoms on our beautiful ornamental plum trees. The presence of flowers is surprising to see since winter has barely begun, and fall is still lingering in the background (apparent by looking at our Liquid Amber trees at the peak of their display of brilliant leaf color). While it is unusual to see trees flower so early, this is not necessarily an indicator of global warming, but instead the result our ability to breed trees that have very little dormancy requirements. As you know, some plants flower due to photoperiod (the amount of uninterrupted darkness it receives at night), while others simply flower after a certain amount of time has passed. Many trees go dormant in the fall/winter and drop their leaves, and are only able to overcome dormancy based on how many chilling hours they receive. In other words, they are ready to flower once they have been exposed to a certain temperature (typically between 45ºF and 32ºF) for a specific amount of time. Breeders have been able to reduce or extend  required chilling times  by selectively crossing varieties that flower under specific numbers of chilling hours; development of varieties with altered chilling  requirements allows for crops to be cultivated in regions where they would otherwise never grow. 

Before the winter blues get you down, just take a moment to enjoy what nature( and thousands of years of human driven breeding) have given you. Spring will be here before you know it.

Chorisia speciosa at GHE

Chorisia speciosa, also called “Palo borracho” is a tree that grows up to 25 m in its native environment, in Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina. It is part of the kapok and baobab family, also called “Silk Floss” tree because of the silky white fluff that burst out of its exploded pod when it is ripe enough. They say that Chorisia will not seed out of the tropics, so we may never see them in our greenhouse in Fleurance… and then again, we have witnessed lots of unexpected and happy experiences in our greenhouse over the years.

We germinated our Chorisia speciosa in 2003. Only one plant grew to become a young tree, which we kept in soil for maximum protection. It grew quite fast, considering that it was way out of its climate… developing a strangely shaped trunk with strong, triangular, and quite aggressive thorns. Last year we got one flower, and were totally marveled! But this year around September, we noticed a certain number of little green buds, which transformed into a multitude of beautiful 12” flowers. The whole canopy was covered in pink, orange, and purple. A real feast!

There is an Argentinean legend on Palo borracho, about a young woman and a proud warrior, who lived in a tribe in the deep forests, and were very much in love. One day he went to war and never came back.  She became totally downhearted and decided to let herself die in the forest. Some time later, she was discovered by a group of hunters. When they tried to move her body, they realized that from her arms grew branches, her head had stemmed into a trunk, and her fingers were transformed into a multitude of white flowers, the color of her tears that later turned into purple, in honor of her lover’s blood. (If you understand Spanish, go to Still today, in those same forests, people use chorisia to make ropes, dig canoes, and treat headaches. 

Our Chorisia tree grew in soil, with the best of all mixes: Flora Series, and the General Organic line combined, and adapted to the different stages of its growth. This is a great success! Looking forward to the next season! 

Noucetta Kehdi – GH Europe

Nuggets are nice, Fuggles are finicky!

The harvest for this year’s hops are finished. We took in over 15 pounds of fresh hops.

After last years rain/mold disaster it was good to have some nice cones to give to the company beer brewers.

The Fuggles variety from last year did not survive. Over half the Nuggets did. We cloned some more in the spring to replace the ones that did not make it. Also tried 3 of the Mt. Hood variety (4″ pots from local nursery) and they did well. All of these were grown in bato buckets on trellis with drip irrigation. Hydroton,with a little coco,was substrate and FloraNova was the nutrient used in the reservoir. Mt. Hood are in the photo.

It’s the Great Pumpkin…

Mid fall’s cooler weather is a time when many areas can plant cool weather vegetables like carrots. lettuce, garlic, and bok choy. This can be done by either by direct sowing, or by first starting in Rapid Rooter plugs. It is also the time to harvest cauliflower and bring in the last of the squash, peppers, and perhaps most important to Halloween, pumpkins.

Pumpkins are a bit like squashes, and a bit like gourds. They have a firm outer shell that encases a mesh of seeds and tissue. It is a common tradition to take one of these large orange vegetables and carve holes in it to serve as a lantern. These are frequently lit with a small candle or more safely, a small battery powered LED. According to folklore a character named Jack used to carry such a lantern everywhere he went. As the legend goes, he became known as Jack of the lantern, which is why theses carved pumpkins are now commonly known as Jack o’ Lanterns.

Saving seeds from pumpkins is reasonably easy. Collect and rinse the seeds well, dry flat on paper towels, then place in a small paper bag. Allow to continue to dry for an additional week or two, shaking daily for the first week. Pumpkin seeds can also be salted and roasted in the oven for a healthy and tasty treat.

Chill out with General Hydroponics

Harmony by the Bay

General Hydroponics is happy to sponsor the Official Chill Zone at Harmony By The Bay this coming Saturday, September 29. Come find us in the Harmony Village and kick back. Whether you’ll be there to see The Shins, Matishuya, Tegan & Sara, Alison Krauss or the great Jimmy Cliff, GH will be there to let you max and relax.

Opening up the throttle with Gen Hydro

This past weekend Hawk from Nighthawk Racing out of Warwick Rhode Island had an event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, GH is proud to be a part of Hawks passion for both racing and for gardening! Hawk is also part of Grow With Us, a wonderful garden retailer in Rhode Island, if you are in the area stop by the shop!

GH had a blast with Hawk at the event, and we were able to share in the love with many of our retail and manufacturing partners in the hydroponics industry. Many of the countries top retailers were at the event, and we want to thank Dennis at Can Filters and Michael at Nickel City Garden Center for their support as well.

We are excited to be a part of the Nighthawk Racing Team, which will be coming to blaze through a city near you!!! Look for the bad-ass Oldsmobile and the GH tent at a speedway near you! Check Hawk out at

What’s going on in the GH greenhouse?


Quinoa is an ancient grain grown in the Andes mountains of south America near the equator. It was called the “the mother of all grains” by the Incas and there are records of it grown 3000 to 4000 years ago. It is not really a grain, but a “pseudocereal” and a member of the Chenopodium family of plants – the same as beets, spinach and lamb’s quarters. The seed heads are the part that are generally eaten and are very nutritious.

There are many different varieties of quinoa, this one is Brightest Brilliant Rainbow from Botanical Interests seed company. It is beautiful when ripe with seed heads colored from hot pink to burgundy, orange, yellow and green. This variety will grow to 6 – 7 feet tall. They grow in temperatures from 25 F at night to 95 F during the day, but prefer the cooler end of the temperature range – the plants were not happy in the 100 degree weather we were having last week! They are in our PowerGrower systems (one plant in each) and need about 2 gallons of water/day. I don’t think they will get much taller, hoping the weather does not get too hot so they will finish ripening over the next month. I will post a photo when the plants are blooming.

The United Nations has declared 2013 International Year of Quinoa. I have 3 more varieties of quinoa growing in different hydroponic systems. An ancient food grown with modern technology, looking forward to seeing how they grow.

Those with sharp eyes will note the plants are growing in GH Solar Systems.
More on them to come……

A Different Kind of AeroFlo

GenHydro Dirt Track

Things got exciting this past Saturday in Watsonville CA for Dustin Baxter’s Gen Hydro sponsored CRA 410 Sprint Car. As Dustin explains it:

“Entered the turn high and on the hammer and there wasn’t enough racetrack to hold me. Clipped the wall and the went for a wild ride. Glad to be okay. Thankful for all the safety equipment we use and thankful to have GH on board.”

Nothing wrong with planting in soil.

Introducing the FloraSeries Performance Pack

Flora Series Performance Pack

Dear GH-
Your products are highly recommended and I want to try them, but I don’t want to have to spend a bunch of money to see how well they work. Any suggestions?

It is with this in mind that we have created the ultimate all-in-one nutrient kit: the FloraSeries Performance Pack. We threw in everything but the kitchen sink and are positive that you will see outstanding results whether you grow in hydro, coco, or soil. We have made this kit bullet proof by starting with the world’s best selling and most popular hydroponic base nutrient – FloraSeries. You will provide your plants with all of the essential micro and macro nutrients with FloraGro, FloraMicro, and FloraBloom. As the goal is to give you the full experience from the cradle to the grave we also supply you with RapidStart and FloraBlend for your roots, Liquid KoolBloom and Floralicious Plus for your fruits and flowers, and FloraKleen & a pH test kit for maintenance. So, if you are a skeptic and don’t want to believe what thousands of others already know, head down to your local hydro shop and pick up a FloraSeries Performance Pack. Performance does not have to come at a price.

GH kicks off the festival season at Lightning in a Bottle

Summer is almost here! How can I tell? There are beautiful (outdoor grown) strawberries, the sun is setting later, and there is a different festival every weekend. Oh festival season, how I love you! Time to hunt through my garage for camping gear, the hall closet for faux fur jackets, and my room for the fishnets, face paints, and LED lights that will awaken from their winter hibernation to glow through the season. Bring on the late night bass music, the early morning open-air yoga sessions, the overabundance of feather earrings. Me and GH are ready for you.

I spent the weekend of May 24-28 at Lightning in a Bottle in Silverado, California researching the possibility of GH having a  full booth next year.  (Um…yes please!) This is hands down one of my favorite festivals in California. The southern Californian location is gorgeous, the Do Lab always goes all out with incredible art installations and live painting, and the vibe is just so much fun.

I, of course, got my groove on to the big names: Bassnectar, Glitch Mob, Random Rab, Opiuo, Gaudi; but I had the most fun reciting poetry to late night didgeridoo sessions and renegade DJ sets (shout-out to VITAMINDEVO) then I did on the crowded dance floor. I got my yoga on up the hill at the Temple of Consciousness. I painted faces and hula hooped in the grass during the day. I watched the sunrise a few too many times. I saw lots of old friends, and made too many new ones to keep track of. I had an absolute blast.

My favorite part?  Promoting GH, believe it or not.  The week before the festival the Hydroponic Gods threw various obstacles at me which prevented me from getting a giant box of stickers to hand out to promote the Stick It To Win It sticker contest. I ended up showing up at the festival empty handed with no GH materials on me at all except one size small women’s tank top from Gaia Festival last year.  So what did you think I did Sunday morning at sunrise?  I marched around and found the best looking people still dancing past dawn, asked/demanded they put on my shirt, and took pictures of them for your viewing pleasure. 

Thank you GH for sending me to Lightning in a Bottle!  I’m so excited to be working closer with you this year helping to bring hydroponic knowledge, new product information, bacon, and good vibes to festivals this summer.  Look for me and GH at Sonic Bloom, Electric Forest, Gaia Festival, and more. (I promise to have stickers on me.) 



High Tech Garden Supply

HTG Supply is a retail indoor garden center that began life in Pennsylvania. Today the company has expanded to 10 stores in 7 states. There stores have a great selection of products and educated staff members.

The GH train recently stopped by their location in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts for a visit. What a nice store with great plant displays, side-by-side trials, even a fish tank that looks like a clone machine! Or is it a clone machine taking advantage of a highly oxygenated water pool for happy fish? Either way it’s pretty sweet!

HTG MA staff is doing a detailed trial of several of the industry leading nutrients, check out the article and more on the HTG Blog:

FLORA DUO, the 21st century nutrient from GH, the NEW NEW from the leader in hydroponic nutrient technology. Expect nothing but the highest quality from the General….always in all ways.


This is not a tagline, this is the lifeblood of what drives each of us at GH, and we are so happy when we are able to share our success with the world.

Flora DUO – amazing results with NO supplementation….stacking plants, short intermodal distance, lush green, white amazing roots and this is by itself!!! What is going to happen when adding a little touch of RapidStart in vegetative, Floralicious Plus throughout the cycle, and Liquid Kool Bloom during regeneration? Even more amazing results.
We are very happy with the results and are excited for the details that follow with this trial from HTG Mass. If you are in the Massachusetts area, head over the HTG and check’em out.

Peas are a snap with Subculture M

I have been growing some Sugar Snap Peas on the porch here in Detroit for about a month. All the peas were started from seeds that I germinated in a cup of water and planted directly into ProMix with no cuts or additives. I decided I wanted to do a side by side with the Subculture M for a blog post and here are the results.

I planted about 20 total Sugar Snap Peas and added Subculture M to two of the 20 plants when the seed was potted. They all have been kept outside (temps ranging from as low as 38ºF and a peak of 89ºF) since the seeds were planted and been watered with nothing but tap water (except a few spring showers) that was bubbled and left out to evaporate any chlorine.

As you can see the Subculture M had a very noticeable affect on both the size/height of the plant as well as node spacing and lateral branching. The difference was so great that the ones provided with the beneficial bacteria needed to be staked up due to the vertical growth and array of side shooting branches. The two testers without Subculture M (as well as the other 16 planted originally) are about half the height of the Subcultured peas and are also slowing a slight nutrient deficiency. Some of the side shoots from the peas with Subculture M are just as tall as the entire plant without subculture! Proof is in the pudding and anytime I plant something in soil, Subculture M will surely be included in the premix!


Ah yes, crisitunity!

There is a common motivational trope that the Chinese word for “crisis” is also “opportunity”. Well, boy did I have a crisitunity late last month. With the quick arrival of summer-y weather in Northern California, I thought I would give my basement WaterFarm tomato plant a relocation into the warm, sunny clime of my back deck. The snow fairy tomato plant had been growing and thriving pretty well throughout the winter, but I figured some fresh air would do it good.

Sadly, in the relocation process, the stalk snapped in two. Fortunately, my green-thumbed wife decided it was not the end of the world. We planted to the main stalk and root system into a CocoTek planter. We cut the healthy stems off and dropped them into some jars with a light FloraNova Grow solution and a drop or two of RapidStart.

After a week, the main stalk perished in its new environs. However, the stems in their jars were flourishing. So one evening after the day had cooled off, we transplanted one of the stems in to the planter, and after a few days, it seems right at home (center of image below). I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how they fare the rest of the season.

Gen Hydro and The Greenhouse Project

NY Sunworks Project Greenhouse

General Hydroponics has been working with NYSunworks for a couple years now, sponsoring their efforts to implement hydroponic education in NYC public schools throughout the city. So many valuable math and science lessons can be used as learning tools for children (and adults!). Over the past year GH has donated nutrients and systems to various public schools throughout NYC – the most popular systems are the AeroFlo systems.

Last Monday night was a benefit fundraiser to raise funds and awareness to the amazing work NYSunworks is doing. At this gala event, one of the featured products for auction was GH Rainforest system. Big names like Russell Simmons and Cameron Diaz were in attendance. Gen Hydro also provided gift bags to all the attendees that featured our FloraDuo nutrients.

We are so happy to be a part this wonderful organization, for more information:

The Green Monster

Do you have slimy primordial hydroton or green Secret-of-the-Ooze growing media? I have a cheap fix for you. CocoTek Mats!

Algae can form on media when a top drip system provides water and you or the sun provides the light. Throw in some delicious nutrients and you have a green goblin loose in your system.

Last summer I had a WaterFarm and a PowerGrower on my back deck. As the temperature started to rise I noticed algae was developing on my hydroton. I had some leftover pieces of a 1/4″ thick CocoTek mat so I cut out a square and a hexagonal shape. I then poked a hole in the middle and cut a straight line down the center of the piece so that I could wrap it around the base of the stem. This covered up the hydroton which prevented the algae from being able to photosynthesize the sunlight and multiply. Just a week later the slime was no more.

The protection from light supplied by the CocoTek mat is an additional benefit to the root zone as the darkness encourages root growth. I was surprised to find that only 3 weeks after fitting the mats I had roots that were growing up into the bottom of the coco mat through the hydroton. The coco was providing additional area and support for my roots and since it was wet and dark the roots started growing vertically. The CocoTek also allows for air to easily circulate back into the plant and this prevents the root zone and top layers from getting excess heat.

Let me know if you have any other tricks up your sleeve to prevent algae growth. Grow green, but only in your canopy!

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