A fascinating story came out earlier this month about NASA astronauts growing their own vegetables in space using LED grow lights and consuming them for the first time ever (I’m a space nerd, sue me). Doing anything in space is very complicated, and I’d imagine that’s especially true for growing plants. And not just growing them, but growing them well enough that they are consumable. Per Space.Com:
The collapsible and expandable Veggie unit features a flat panel light bank that includes red, blue and green LEDs for plant growth and observation. Using LED lights in order to grow plants was an idea that originated with NASA as far back as the late 1990s, according to the agency’s lead for advanced life support activities, Ray Wheeler, working in the Exploration Research and Technology Program Office at Kennedy.
“Blue and red wavelengths are the minimum needed to get good plant growth,” explained Wheeler in a NASA release. “They are probably the most efficient in terms of electrical power conversion. The green LED [lights] help to enhance the human visual perception of the plants, but they don’t put out as much light as the reds and blues.”
The green LED lights help make the plants look like edible food rather than weird purple plants.
Obviously the resources in space are much more limited than they are on earth, and the conditions on earth are more favorable, but I think that the marijuana industry can learn a lesson from NASA. Energy resources are limited here on earth, and any energy saving measures that can be adopted by the marijuana industry are going to be vital going forward because the marijuana industry is going to be one of the largest users of energy in the future. Anyone who thinks that there is a never ending supply of electricity out there for indoor gardens has their head in the sand.
I know a lot of people that grow using LED lights now, and they are very happy with the results. It’s not just about yield, it’s about input versus output. Plus there’s the bonus of less hassle, as everyone who has grown using HPS and MH lights knows the struggle of battling heat. LED lights can practically touch the plants with no heat or burn issues. Not all LED lights are created equal. My friends who have had the most success with LED grow lights use Heliospectra. Their lights are specifically designed for cannabis plants, unlike a lot of cheap knockoffs who just use the cheapest LEDs they can find.