Seeking Help - Grow Room Has Turned Into Plant Killing Room Following Forrest Fire

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drgonzo2k2

drgonzo2k2

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Long time lurker, first time poster...

TL;DR - Everything was going fine with my grow room until we were evacuated due to a forrest fire. While our home received no damage, any attempt at using my grow room since returning has killed 3 different batches of commercial clones within 48 hours, and I can't find the culprit.

First a bit of background. I've been a novice indoor grower for ~18 months now, successfully harvesting around a pound per grow for all 4 of my grows. My grow setup is as follows:
  • Standard 4x4 grow tent located in a secure outbuilding on our property
  • MarsHydro LED light on standard outlet timer
  • Saturn Titan 6 controller driving the rest of the system
  • Intake is 6" in-line fan vented through rough of outbuilding and coming into the bottom of the tent
  • Exhaust is 6" in-line fan vented through rough of outbuilding and exhausting out of the top of the tent with an inline carbon fiber filter
    • These are both plugged into the cooling outlet from the controller
  • Eva-Cool dehumidifier inside the tent
    • Dehumidifier setting on controller is also set to power the exhaust system when dehumidification is needed
  • CO2 enrichment is via controller on bottled CO2, set to 1250ppm
    • Which is configured on the controller to not enable CO2 and exhaust at the same time
  • I grow 4 plants at a time, each in 10 gallon smart pots, using FoxFarm Ocean Forrest as the medium
So what happened? Like I said, I'd grown 4 fairly successful times, and was about 2 weeks away from harvest on my 5th where everything was looking great, but then there was a forrest fire. We were evacuated from our home for just over a month, and when we returned that crop was toast. As far as I know everything continued to run as it should have for a little over 3 days, at which point our backup generator shut down so everything lost power. Since I couldn't return to water the crop, they all died, and basically dried on their stems. During that time I'm sure it must have sucked in a fair bit of smoke, as the air quality here was terrible. When I checked everything out, the fabric cover on the carbon fiber filter was really dirty.

So I cleaned everything up, removed the carbon fiber filter since I really don't need it (it just came with the setup, so I set it up, but I'm not really concerned about the smell where I live), and went and got 4 clones from the local dispensary and 3 new bags of soil (and used a 4th one I had on hand). 48 hours later they were all dead. I'd done everything exactly as I'd done before. They looked fine after planting, but before long they turned from bright green to a very dull/faded green, then yellow, then wilted and died.

I checked out all the equipment to make sure things were all working, and when they were, I assumed I'd just received some bad clones (there's a super high demand for them here now due to all the crop losses from the fire so I thought maybe they'd been rushed or not treated properly), and thought I'd try again. 4 new clones of a different strain, and... dead within 48 hours with the same pattern of deterioration.

So at this point I got serious, and I really checked everything out, at which point I found a slight amount of residue on the intake ducting, and I thought it must have been problems with the air quality due to the smoke intake, so I replaced all of the ducting with the exception of a 2' segment which I cleaned extremely thoroughly, took apart the intake fan to the extent possible and also cleaned it thoroughly, and gave the walls, circulation fans, and anything else inside the tent a very thorough cleaning. Then I tried again with yet another strain of clones, and the exact same thing is happening again. I planted them two days ago, and now 2 of them are already gone with the other 2 on the way.

Assuming that cleaning might just not be enough and that my air quality was still the problem, I moved my PurpleAir sensor inside my tent and monitored the air quality for quite some time, and it was always at extremely good quality.

So now I'm stumped and looking for advice on how to proceed. None of our other houseplants, etc. are having any issues, so I assume it's not a water problem as they are all getting the same water (and these clones only received a little with no nutrients added). I'm testing to see whether the CO2 sensor has been damaged and might be causing issues, but readings at normal levels seem fine (450-480), so I'm not hopeful.

Any suggestions? It's extremely frustrating given the last grow was all lost, and I really just want to get back to growing. Thanks for reading!
 
Aqua Man

Aqua Man

Staff member
Supporter
Long time lurker, first time poster...

TL;DR - Everything was going fine with my grow room until we were evacuated due to a forrest fire. While our home received no damage, any attempt at using my grow room since returning has killed 3 different batches of commercial clones within 48 hours, and I can't find the culprit.

First a bit of background. I've been a novice indoor grower for ~18 months now, successfully harvesting around a pound per grow for all 4 of my grows. My grow setup is as follows:
  • Standard 4x4 grow tent located in a secure outbuilding on our property
  • MarsHydro LED light on standard outlet timer
  • Saturn Titan 6 controller driving the rest of the system
  • Intake is 6" in-line fan vented through rough of outbuilding and coming into the bottom of the tent
  • Exhaust is 6" in-line fan vented through rough of outbuilding and exhausting out of the top of the tent with an inline carbon fiber filter
    • These are both plugged into the cooling outlet from the controller
  • Eva-Cool dehumidifier inside the tent
    • Dehumidifier setting on controller is also set to power the exhaust system when dehumidification is needed
  • CO2 enrichment is via controller on bottled CO2, set to 1250ppm
    • Which is configured on the controller to not enable CO2 and exhaust at the same time
  • I grow 4 plants at a time, each in 10 gallon smart pots, using FoxFarm Ocean Forrest as the medium
So what happened? Like I said, I'd grown 4 fairly successful times, and was about 2 weeks away from harvest on my 5th where everything was looking great, but then there was a forrest fire. We were evacuated from our home for just over a month, and when we returned that crop was toast. As far as I know everything continued to run as it should have for a little over 3 days, at which point our backup generator shut down so everything lost power. Since I couldn't return to water the crop, they all died, and basically dried on their stems. During that time I'm sure it must have sucked in a fair bit of smoke, as the air quality here was terrible. When I checked everything out, the fabric cover on the carbon fiber filter was really dirty.

So I cleaned everything up, removed the carbon fiber filter since I really don't need it (it just came with the setup, so I set it up, but I'm not really concerned about the smell where I live), and went and got 4 clones from the local dispensary and 3 new bags of soil (and used a 4th one I had on hand). 48 hours later they were all dead. I'd done everything exactly as I'd done before. They looked fine after planting, but before long they turned from bright green to a very dull/faded green, then yellow, then wilted and died.

I checked out all the equipment to make sure things were all working, and when they were, I assumed I'd just received some bad clones (there's a super high demand for them here now due to all the crop losses from the fire so I thought maybe they'd been rushed or not treated properly), and thought I'd try again. 4 new clones of a different strain, and... dead within 48 hours with the same pattern of deterioration.

So at this point I got serious, and I really checked everything out, at which point I found a slight amount of residue on the intake ducting, and I thought it must have been problems with the air quality due to the smoke intake, so I replaced all of the ducting with the exception of a 2' segment which I cleaned extremely thoroughly, took apart the intake fan to the extent possible and also cleaned it thoroughly, and gave the walls, circulation fans, and anything else inside the tent a very thorough cleaning. Then I tried again with yet another strain of clones, and the exact same thing is happening again. I planted them two days ago, and now 2 of them are already gone with the other 2 on the way.

Assuming that cleaning might just not be enough and that my air quality was still the problem, I moved my PurpleAir sensor inside my tent and monitored the air quality for quite some time, and it was always at extremely good quality.

So now I'm stumped and looking for advice on how to proceed. None of our other houseplants, etc. are having any issues, so I assume it's not a water problem as they are all getting the same water (and these clones only received a little with no nutrients added). I'm testing to see whether the CO2 sensor has been damaged and might be causing issues, but readings at normal levels seem fine (450-480), so I'm not hopeful.

Any suggestions? It's extremely frustrating given the last grow was all lost, and I really just want to get back to growing. Thanks for reading!
I see a few issues but do you have pics of the plants?
 
Aqua Man

Aqua Man

Staff member
Supporter
First co2 will be a waste.

The dehumidifier needs to come out of the tent and humidity controlled in the room that the tent intake is. This is because the dehumidifier will blow very hot air on the plants and could cause your issues.

The best way to control co2, temps and humidity in a tent is through air exchange and controlling the air temp, humidity and possibly co2 of the room is small enough (but still very wasteful) that the tent is in.

No equipment should ever be in the tent.
 
drgonzo2k2

drgonzo2k2

5
3
Hey, thank you so much for your response and trying to help. I really appreciate it! Like I said, this is a terribly frustrating problem.

I understand your perspective on the CO2 enrichment and the dehumidifier, and while I definitely respect the input there, I don't think either of those issues are causing my current problems, as:

1 - Like I said, I was 2 weeks away from harvesting my 5th successful crop before the fire with this exact same setup, and there have never been any issues with the setup at all. It's all always worked great.

2 - Regarding the dehumidifier, due to the recent hot, dry weather, it's actually not needed to turn on for any of the recent grow attempts. Just to be sure though, I did go ahead an unplug it this morning, and since the air exchange does such a great job controlling humidity in there I will probably just remove it altogether per your suggestion.

3 - Regarding the CO2, I've been running without it for ~24 hours now with no noticeable improvements. Despite that though, I will leave it out of the setup until I've got this current issue figured out.

Happy to post some photos if they help troubleshoot further. Here are the plants from best state to worst state currently, and this is ~72 hours after transplanting the clones.

1.jpg
2.jpg
3.jpg
4.jpg


As you can see, that last one is toast, so I decided to pull it up and see if there was anything up with the roots or the rockwool cube. Not really sure what to look for here, but here is what it looked like:

5.jpg
6.jpg


The lack of roots and that green stuff near the base of the stem seem a little concerning, but as I've not looked at plants like this before, like I mentioned I'm not really sure what I'm looking at.
 
Beachwalker

Beachwalker

Your medium looks very dry and it's possible your plants dried out. It can be very difficult to water small plants in big pots, I would start them in smaller pots and then up pot them as they grew; glad you escaped the fire, hope things work out, good luck!
 
drgonzo2k2

drgonzo2k2

5
3
Your medium looks very dry and it's possible your plants dried out. It can be very difficult to water small plants in big pots, I would start them in smaller pots and then up pot them as they grew; glad you escaped the fire, hope things work out, good luck!

Thank you so much for your response and trying to nudge me in the right direction! Regarding soil moisture, I agree that the top surface looks a little dusty from drying out under the lights; however, just under that everything is very much okay. I've been checking soil moisture twice a day using two different soil moisture meters, and the readings all over the pots, as well as in the rockwool cubes themselves have been fine. I've always been very cautious that the soil can actually draw moisture out of the cubes, so I try to keep a very good eye on that.

They all received a little bit of water when I initially transplanted them, and this morning (roughly 72 hours after planting) is the first time the moisture levels have been low enough on the cubes to water them again. Looking back at my records from other grows, this is pretty consistent with my setup.
 
Aqua Man

Aqua Man

Staff member
Supporter
I agree seeing the plants and soil i agree with @Beachwalker

I would suggest smaller pots and transplanting.

Also water to saturate the entire media then let dry
 
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drgonzo2k2

drgonzo2k2

5
3
I agree seeing the plants and soil i agree with @Beachwalker

I would suggest smaller pots and transplanting.

Also water to saturate the entire media then let dry

Thanks again, I really appreciate folks taking the time to try to help. Everything got a good dose of water today, so I'll keep checking in and see if things perk up.

Again though, multiple moisture meters, as well as my own visual inspection indicated that moisture levels were not an issue.

FWIW this is the same method I've always followed, and there have not been any issues whatsoever, but understood that there are a lot of variables at play, and I really appreciate the opinions and advice.

Quick edit to say that when I pulled apart the rockwool cube on the one that was a goner this morning it definitely had acceptable moisture levels, but was not overly wet or anything.
 
Beachwalker

Beachwalker

Those probe meters are no good, even though you're trying to use 2; just by looking at your plants I can tell they dried out, start them in smaller pots for best results. If those were my plants I would carefully dig up the survivors and put them in smaller pots
 
tomatoesarecooltoo

tomatoesarecooltoo

Those probe meters are no good, even though you're trying to use 2; just by looking at your plants I can tell they dried out, start them in smaller pots for best results. If those were my plants I would carefully dig up the survivors and put them in smaller pots

I agree that they are drying up.

I personally wouldn't dig them up, but would go ahead and water them with some microbes, and start in smaller pots next time.
 
drgonzo2k2

drgonzo2k2

5
3
Thank you all for all your help and feedback. Curious it would be a water issue this go around, when I've followed exactly the same procedures every-time, but hey, I freely admitted I was a novice in my initial post, so happy to have the input.

I'll continue watering them and report back with any progress updates.
 
Beachwalker

Beachwalker

I agree that they are drying up.

I personally wouldn't dig them up, but would go ahead and water them with some microbes, and start in smaller pots next time.
I would, because keeping them watered properly would be like a second job 🤣 but agree probably not the best for OP at this point

OP small plants in big pots means walking a fine line between over-watering and drying them out, difficult for even a more experienced grower indoors
 
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tomatoesarecooltoo

tomatoesarecooltoo

With small plants in big pots I like to water a circle around the the plant rather than the whole pot, then make the circle slightly larger each watering, luring the roots to the edges of the pot, then once the plant has filled in the pot start watering the whole pot.
 
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