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What Are The Best Nutrients For Hydroponics?

From testing & studying various brands we believe it is Dyna-gro. The linked article below labeled “What Are The Best Nutrients For Hydroponics?” goes over complete plant nutrition and should give you plenty of information on why we feel this way about Dyna-gro. They have a trade-secret process and is the only nutrient that has figured out how to add all 6 essential macro-nutrients into 1 formula. Macro-Nutrients are required by plants in large amounts. This is why Dyna-gro advertises that they are the only complete formula in 1 bottle because no other nutrient company has been able to figure it out. Dyna-Gro Foliage Pro is complete, simple, and well balanced which is everything we were looking for when recommending to our backyard and commercial growers.

What Are The Best Nutrients For Hydroponics (pdf)

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How To Build A Vertical Garden

Vertical gardening or gardening in general has never been so fun and easy. I am going to teach you how to build a vertical garden with the Mr Stacky planters plus a few items found at your local hardware store.

Below is a list of item you will need:

1. 6-10 Mr Stacky Stackable Planters
2. 1″ PVC Pipe For 18″ Pots or 3/4″ PVC Pipe For 13″ Pots
3. 1″ PVC Coupling For 18″ Pots or 3/4″ PVC Coupling For 13″ Pots
4. 3/4″ Steel Conduit Pipe 5′ Long for 18″ Pots or 1/2″ Steel Conduit 5′ Long For 13″ Pots
5. Block of wood to put over conduit when hammering.

Step 1: Drive Conduit 2.5′ into ground; Use block of wood over top of conduit when hammering
Step 2: Cut PVC pipe 12-18 inches long & place over conduit
Step 3: Attach coupling to PVC pipe for pots to rest on and rotate
Step 4: Attached next PVC pipe 5′ long to coupling
Step 5: Stack your pots one by one on the pole

Finished! Yes it is that easy. Just Plant and Water The Top now.

Note: For extra support on the 18″ pots you may want to use a 1/2″ conduit and 3/4″ conduit driven into the ground.

Tomatoes Will Hang Down (Right)(2 Large Pots)
Greens (Left) (6 Small Pots)

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Growing Day Neutral Strawberries

Unlike the common June-bearing strawberries, the day-neutral strawberries flower and produce fruit anytime temperatures are between 35° F. and 85° F. These strawberries will not produce a single “bumper crop” of berries in June, but will instead produce berries throughout the summer and as late as October in some seasons. Unlike June-bearing strawberries the day-neutral types will yield well during their first year when they are planted. Day-neutral strawberries do not send out runners profusely like the June-bearing types and therefore you will be managing the planting differently.

Site Selection:
Day-neutral strawberries grow best in a sunny location on deep, well-drained, sandy loam soil with a pH of approximately 6.2. The day-neutral strawberries are also ideal for planting as “annuals” in containers. Strawberries do not tolerate extremes in pH (less than 5.5 or greater than 7.0). Limestone and other soil amendments that are used to adjust soil pH require at least two months of warm weather to work, so plan ahead to leave enough time to amend the soil if necessary.

Plants can be productive over a broad range of soil types, but extremes should be
avoided; clay soils retain moisture but are often poorly drained, and sandy soils
require irrigation. The addition of organic matter such as high quality finished
compost can help improve sandy or clay soils.

Adequate soil drainage is essential for healthy strawberries. Home gardeners
should plant on a ridge or in raised beds if soil drains poorly or consider selecting a
more suitable site. Strawberries are shallow-rooted plants and benefit from
irrigation. Raised bed plantings may dry out sooner that conventional planting.
Irrigation provides frost protection as well.

When plants arrive, keep them in the refrigerator until you are ready to plant. Just before planting you will want to soak the roots in water for a few hours.

Early Care

Planting:
Place plants in the soil as soon as possible in the spring. Avoid exposing plants to sun and wind. Cool, cloudy weather is ideal for planting. When plants are set, the roots should extend vertically into the soil and be completely covered just to the crown level; do not bury the crowns. It may be necessary to cut the roots back to 4 inches before setting. During the first few weeks after planting, be sure plants have adequate water. Fall planting is not recommended.

Cultural Systems and Runner Removal:
Day-neutral cultivars do not produce runners profusely, so attempting to establish a matted row is not practical. Plant them 5–9 inches apart in single rows that are spaced 42 apart. With this system
remove the runners for the entire first season, which will increase yields significantly. Another option, which will reduce competition and increase yields, is a staggered double
row planting system. With this system plants are spaced 10–18 inches apart, alternating them in two narrow rows that are just 8 inches apart. Space each staggered double row in your
garden 42 inches apart.

Flower and Fruiting:
Day-neutral plants produce flowers from the time of planting through frost in autumn. Fruits will form in about 30 days after flowers open. Cover the plants with 2 inches of mulch in the late fall when temperatures approach 20° F. Remove the mulch in early spring around the
end of March to mid-April after the threat of severely cold weather has passed.

Maintenance

Watering: Strawberry plants should receive 1 inch of water each week, either by rainfall or irrigation.

Mulching: Day-neutral strawberries perform best when mulched with straw immediately after planting. Mulched plants have cleaner fruit and suffer less drought stress.

Harvesting: For maximum sweetness and flavor pick fruit a day or two after they are ripe. Berries picked before they are completely red will ripen, but they will not sweeten off the vine. Slightly unripe berries can be used for making jam. Under favorable conditions, expect a total yield of about one quart of fruit per foot of matted row. Immediately remove berries that do not ripen because they harbor diseases and attract insects.

For long-term storage of fresh berries, select firm berries that are not yet fully ripe, cool them immediately after harvest, and wrap in plastic after cooling. Store as close to 33 degrees F. as possible, but be sure the berries do not freeze. Before using, allow the berries to warm inside the plastic wrap to prevent condensation from forming directly on the berries. When these steps are followed, strawberries will be of acceptable quality for several days.

Resource: Cornell Guide to Growing Fruit at Home. Cornell University. Horticulture diagnostic laboratory.

How Often Should I Feed My Plants?

For soil growers, plants can be fed once every second or third watering. If plants are fed with every watering then nutrient buildup and lockup becomes a problem causing stunted growth, “crows foot” (curling downwards of the leaves), leaf burn, deficiency symptoms, burnt and damaged root system and decreased yields.

For hydroponic growers, plants can be fed with every watering. The watering cycle will depend on plant growth stage, size, room temperature, growth medium and hydroponic system. Small plants, such as seedlings and clones recently transplanted and plants in early vegetative stage, growing in rockwool, will require watering only once every 4-6 hours. As the plant grows bigger and enters flowering and fruiting then the water requirements of a plant increases. The watering cycle will then be every 2-4 hours. TAKE YOUR CUES FROM YOUR PLANTS! A grow room temperature of 80 – 90 °F will require more watering cycles per day than a grow room with a temperature of 65 – 70 °F. This is due to the higher transpiration rate of plants at higher temperatures. Hydroton Rocks and perlite require MORE frequent watering than coco fiber, which requires more watering cycles than rockwool. For an outdoor drip system using coco fiber and growing strawberries a feeding schedule might be feeding for 3 minutes 3 times a day (10am, 2pm, 6pm).

1 tsp/ gallon – non-recirculating system
2-3 tsp/gal recirculating systems

Why is checking pH important?

pH stands for “Potential of Hydrogen” and is the symbol for the hydrogen ion (H+) in liquids. pH has a range from 0 (acidic) -14 (alkaline), with 7 being neutral. For hydroponics we are aiming for a pH between 5.5 to 6.2 (slightly acidic); this is suitable for most hydroponic crops. For soil, we want the pH a little higher but still slightly acidic; around 6.0 to 6.5. Ensuring that the pH remains within this range will help maintain good plant health. Keeping the pH in this range ensures that nutrients are readily available to the plant. Once the grower goes above or below this optimal range certain nutrients start becoming unavailable to the plant (e.g. iron deficiencies will appear at a pH of 6.5 and above).

All hydroponic growers need to test the pH of their nutrient solution for successful growing. The pH of a solution can be tested using a standard pH test kit (sample vial with drops of indicator solution), litmus test strips, or a digital pH meter. Litmus paper and standard test kits are cheap and easy to use; however, the degree of accuracy isn’t very high. Digital pH meters, although more expensive than the alternatives, are easy to use and very accurate.

Which Growing Medium Should I Choose?

COCO COIR – most suitable for: container gardening • drip systems • raised beds

Coco coir is made from the husk of a coconut. Coco can vary in appearance and type and may be purchased as pith, fibers or chips. Each coco blend varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. It may be heavy in fibers, light in fibers, contain chips, contain no chips, etc. Coco may just be the most forgiving grow media out there. Like soil, it acts as a filter for nutrients – this useful feature helps restrict nutrient burn to your plants. Additionally, coco coir has excellent water retention properties allowing you flexibility in your watering schedule. It holds on to water allowing a buffer if you forget to water your plants one day, but at the same time, coco makes it difficult to over-water your plants. Unlike potting soil, coco has a sponge-like quality that discourages compaction. It also has a great oxygen to water ratio and is naturally pH neutral. When choosing a brand of coco, you will want to look one that has been properly buffered and rinsed. Coco is known to bond with specific minerals and manufacturers have offset this with rigorous washing and buffering processes. When mixed with perlite, Hydroton or Growstones, coco is a preferred media.

ROCKWOOL – most suitable for: all types of gardening and hydroponic techniques

Over the years, rockwool has been a favorite growing media of many gardeners. Because of its clean, sustainable and easy-to-use qualities, rockwool is widely used in commercial hydroponics. It usually comes in the form of a block, but can also be found in bales and small cubes. Rockwool has a high water absorption capability, but like coco coir has great oxygen to water ratio – this helps keep plant roots happy and thriving. Rockwool can work as an aeration amendment to soil and has become a popular choice for soil or peat gardeners. Generally you do not want to re-use rockwool.

PERLITE – most suitable for: amending soil or coco

Perlite should not be used as a standalone grow media, but it is a wonderful media amendment. When blended with soil or coco, perlite provides excellent media aeration, does not affect water retention and helps to keep soil from compressing as it breaks down.

CLAY PEBBLES (HYDROTON™) – most suitable for: amending soil or coco • NFT systems • flood & drain systems • aeroponics • aquaponics

Clay pebbles (or Hydroton™) can be used as a standalone media or as an amendment to coco or soil. Because clay pebbles are easy to clean and re-use, they are popular among hydroponic growers. Similar to perlite, clay pebbles do not hold water well, therefore the use of clay pebbles allows gardeners who want to create an aggressive feeding schedule water as often as they like. Because of their low water retention, clay pebbles also act as a great media aerator while not affecting media moisture levels. While there are advantages to the low water holding capacity of clay pebbles, this may also be their biggest fallback. If for some reason, your pump fails and your plants don’t get watered, they are likely to be dead in a short time. It is wise to monitor your watering systems when using clay pebbles to avoid under-watering your plants.

SOIL – most suitable for: container gardening • drip systems • raised beds

Soil is the most common and most familiar growing media to both the hobbyist and professional grower. Potting soil tends to be the most affordable and easy to use. It can also create a great support system for large plants when planted in a suitable container with a premium blend. Not all soil or potting mixes are created equal. When shopping for
a potting soil, you want to consider factors such as aeration, fertilizer content, amendments, etc. The majority of the potting soils available are peat-based soils. Peat is not necessarily the best standalone grow media, but when mixed with quality amendments and charged with nutrients, it can be a good choice. Keep in mind that peat tends to break down and will compact, not allowing for adequate drainage. This will create a favorable environment for harmful pathogens and can restrict oxygen availability to plant roots. You want to look for a mix that is blended with perlite or some other amendment to help create a good oxygen to water ratio. You will also want to look at what fertilizers are mixed into the potting soil. Most added fertilizers and organic additives will be time released and should last you a few weeks. It is important to look at the manufacturer’s recommendations on when to start fertilizing your plants. If you choose to use a potting soil that contains only a few additives, there are several quality dry amendments available. Many potting mixes are pre-mixed with fertilizers and organic additives and are ready to use out of the bag. Pre-mixed blends will typically still require supplemental fertilization after the first few weeks. You want to be careful not to over water your soil. Overwatering can be detrimental to your plants. Even though the soil on the top of the container appears dry, it does not necessarily mean that it is time to water. To check for adequate moisture, lift up your container to check the weight – a heavier container can be a good indicator of moist soil. If you are still unsure, you can check the deeper soil with your finger or you can purchase a moisture meter at almost any garden store.

Hydroponics vs Soil

Why hydroponics plants?

People nowadays are highly focused on healthy diet procedures and consuming organic produce. This results in the growing demand for the hydroponic plants. Hydroponics is a wonderful system of agriculture which utilizes nutrient-laden water instead of soil for plant nourishment. The vegetables grown in this way contain more vitamins, the taste is amazing and is without doubt better than soil grown produce.

Today, many countries have adopted this wonderful scientific method to grow terrestrial plants and found incredible results. It is also quite important to note how this system helps the environment. This system really is doing wonders in the agricultural field allowing the recycling of water and hydroponic nutrients, so that no materials are wasted.

Important things to be considered

The essential ingredients required to grow hydroponic plants are:

Light
Carbon dioxide
Oxygen
Water
Nutrients

Hydroponics Vs Soil

Believe it or not, growing hydroponically is many times better than using soil. Below are some good reasons you should know why hydroponics win over soil grown plants:

Fast Results – This is an excellent benefit that you can enjoy. These plants grow 30-50% quicker than soil grown plants under the same conditions. It helps to save a lot of valuable time in weeding, pest controlling and watering. Definitely benefitting the hydroponic growers.

Pesticide and Harmful Chemical Free – The pests and diseases are significantly reduced in hydroponics. Eliminating soil really helps to eliminate different soil borne diseases and pests which cause plant health problems. In this type of growing field, farmers don’t need to use harmful pesticides. Also, there is no need to conserve water.

Space Saving – It is the major reason why there is a tremendous demand for these systems. As these plants do not grow in the soil, their roots don’t have to struggle to search and spread out to locate nutrients. All they need is a bath of oxygenated nutrient solution where they are placed. This helps to save an incredible amount of space when compared to traditional soil gardening. Due to this, you can get to pack your plants in a closer manner which results in a huge space saving.

Extreme Control for you – In this wonderful system, you are the master of your plant’s environment. You have complete control over these plants and it’s up to you to create the perfect temperature, humidity, nutrient mixture, and growing schedule.

Flexibility – With the extensive research done on these growing techniques, researchers finally came to the conclusion that they could also be used in places such as deserts. This shows the flexibility of this system.

Best Way To Grow Strawberries In Containers

Have you ever wondered what is the best way to grow strawberries in containers?  Strawberries are one of the most popular berries in the world.  They are also ideal for growing vertically. Strawberries grown vertically use less water and produce more fruit than those grown in traditional rows.  Another key element is drainage; you never want your roots to just sit in water so a flow through design is essential.

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For beginning gardeners, the best way to grow strawberries is to begin with plant starts.  Pick out your strongest plant starts and insert them into your plant containers.  Strawberries grow best where the soil is fertile, well-drained, and amply enriched with organic matter.  If you are growing outdoors hydroponically in a drip system you will want to use coco fiber.  Coco fiber holds moisture extremely well and also allow your roots to breath.  Hydroton clay pebbles can be mixed in with soil or coco fiber.  Hydroton has tons of tiny air pockets that will add more oxygen to the root system and prevent root rot.

After inserting the strongest plant starts in your containers, your strawberry plants will begin to produce fruit within 28 days.  These starts will also send off daughter plants that will be capable of producing fruits. Once the daughter plants are long enough to reach a lower container it will need to be set and pinned into the container to ensure rooting.  Using containers will keep your strawberries off the ground away from ground pest because as we know we are not the only ones that love to eat strawberries.

How Much Light Do Strawberry Plants Need? Strawberries do best with ten or more hours of sunlight a day. However, they can still be productive with a minimum of six hours of light a day.  The more light strawberries get the more fruit you will pick. Just remember, strawberries can’t get too much light!

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What Temperature Do Strawberries Grow Best At? Ideally the temperature for strawberries should remain between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and between 55 to 63 degrees during the nighttime.  Strawberries tend to prefer a pH range between 5.5 and 6.5 for this sweet fruit-producing plant.

When Is The Best Time To Pick Strawberries? Ripe strawberries should be ready for picking about 30 days after blossoms form.  Once the plant starts to produce fruit you will be able to harvest berries about three times a week.  Make sure you leave a small piece of the stem still attached to the fruit when you harvest.  The premium time to pick berries is in the morning when they are at their coolest temperature.