Eggplants giving massive Harvests..

Eggplants giving massive Harvests..

eggplants harvest

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Hydroponic Essentials..

Hydroponic gardening is a fun hobby. Some of the fun comes from experimenting by growing different plants in water, that too without going thru all the dirt, sweat, complicated compost making processes, uncertainties surrounding the use of conventional fertilizers.

Even though hydroponics is fun, preparation is also important to success. There are several things you need to do to get your garden setup.

Plants —

First of all one obvious thing you need is plants. Either a seed or plant that is already started growing is needed. Almost any plant with the right care can be grown hydroponically. A good plant for beginners would be tomatoes.

Supporting Medium-

You also need some kind of support against gravity to replace soil. Usually a container that has supports for the plant stems will work well for hydroponic gardening.

Common supporting mediums are- Coco-peat, Hydrotons, Rockwool, Sand, Perlite etc. depending upon your requirement & the availabilty/cost etc. you can decide on which one to go with.

The size of the container you need will depend on the size of plant you are growing. Since even single plants will need room to grow it is better to usually go with a larger container.

Water-

Water is the most important thing in hydroponics. Note that the water doesn’t have to be distilled and in fact it’s even better for the plants to use water with minerals in it. It is important for the water to be sterile however so be sure to boil it if needed.

Aquarium Pump/Air Pump (For pure DWC,NFT,Ebb& Flow Systems)

Next you will need to aerate your water since the roots need oxygen. A pump from an aquarium will suffice. Not needed for growing in grow bags.

Light-

Another important consideration is getting light to the plants which require about 7-8 hours a day of it. If you can’t supply the plants light needs with natural sunlight then you will have to use artificial lights that are designed for hydroponics.

Nutrients-

Making nutrients is also a fun part of growing hydroponically, when you know all the elements for a plant to thrive are in their in your nutes mix you know you are bound to succeed. Making the right nutrient solution is very important for growing hydroponic plants. The most important are elements in a nute solution are nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. There are also other trace elements that are important. For the plants to grow the balance of the three main nutrients is important. To ensure that the plants thrive I recommend nutrient solutions made by yourself. NPK is not a good solution for this purpose as it doesn’t contains Calcium & Magnesium, unless you have a formula to add them separately which is again a tedious process. Use hydro-buddy to create your own mixes, PPM values are available in a lot of hydroponic books & is also available in other websites.

Pest Mangement-

Neem sprays & garlic juice will help you keep most of the bugs in control. Buy neem based pesticides, they even work to get rid of pests like mealy bug, aphids etc. Look for caterpillars & worms they do more damage than anything else. If you have a greenhouse you wont be much worried of pests.

PH Meter-

The pH of the water needs to be checked regularly. You need a PH meter for that purpose, ideal PH ranges from 5.5 to 6.2 for most vegetable plants.

Temperature-

Water temperature needs to be kept around 25-30 degree Celsius. The environment where the plants are growing should not be exposed to high temperatures for very long, idle high temps should not go beyond 35 degree cel. If the climate is unfavorable then some sort of protection needs to be provided in the form of shade net, poly house or a controlled green house, even misting plain water helps a lot during hard summer days.

Drip, Reservoir & Drain collection-

You definitely want to look at these aspects even if you have a small setup, automating the irrigation process saves a lot of effort and recycling the nutes is the only way to survive in hydroponic world as the salts used in the nutes are not cheaper, I’ve learned that the hard way. Setups like NFT, Dutch buckets etc are the way forward. Passive hydroponics is not the sustainable way of doing it. Even to survive the heat in summers you need continuous feeding for which a setup like NFT is needed.

TDS/EC-

TDS & EC tells the strength of nutrients in your the water feed that is supplied to the plants. Nutrients deplete over the feeding cycle as the plant uptakes most of it from the water. A TDS meter will tell you how much nutrients are present in the water at any given point of time, fresh made solution will have more TDS than a solution which is in use by the plant, based on the TDS readings you can decide to add more nutrients or even make a fresh nutrient solution. For starters just go ahead and buy a TDS meter, if not now later you will understand why you need it..

Those are the basic requirements of getting a hydroponics garden setup. Following them will help ensure successful plant growth.

Personal Advice : Please read as much as you can about this subject before you start, watch a lot of videos available on you-tube & there’s lot of resources available on internet, many blogs, sites etc. Please do your homework well it can save you money, time and embarrassment 😉

Various Tomatoes

Ever wondered, why so many people grow tomatoes.. reason  is simple they are tasty & fun-to-grow vegetable it’s exciting to see small buds forming then becoming flowers & fruits, then you wait for them to ripe, growing tomatoes is a wonderful experience. All this doesn’t comes in easy for many of us, as tomato needs lot of care, they need the right amount & kind of fertilizer at the right time, good amount of sunlight & the right climate for optimum results. I guess giving them the best conditions & care is only possible is a controlled green house environment, but for us we can just hope & try to ensure that our conditions are closest to the best for our tomatoes. My first experiment with tomatoes was horrible, I thought they are the most difficult kind of plants to grow & I decided not to grow tomatoes ever, later changed my mind, once failed I did my homework well & this season changed my views about tomatoes for ever. I’ve always dreamed of having wonderful tomatoes growing on my terrace & have bountiful harvests, which is yet not a reality, but looks like a pretty close one ;).

These cherry tomatoes are definitely going to give a mega harvest–Cherry Tomatoes almost ready for harvest

Other than this I’ve got many different varieties coming up in on my terrace– a glimpse on their growth starting from the beginning till now…

I took a few out of the seeding tray for transplanting into grow bags.

Caro Rich seedlings on 2nd Dec 2012

Caro Rich seedlings on 2nd Dec 2012

Into the grow bags, these plants were transplanted at the right time so they did not exhibit any transplant stress and kept on growing at the right pace.  In the picture these are Caro Rich, Stripped Abundant & Poland Pink cultivars of tomato.

In the Growbags.. 6th Dec 2012

In the Growbags.. 6th Dec 2012

After a while I moved them into their final spot along with several other bags growing tomatoes, other varieties that I am growing along are Golden Delight & Arka Vikas, Golden delight is a medium sized yellow plant, determinate & Arka vikas is a medium sized hybrid of semi-determinate type.

These plants are manually fed as of now, my drip supply is missing some components, which I’ve ordered & I am waiting on the delivery, as soon as they come I will setup the drip for these plants, makes life very easy.

As of 12 Dec 2012

As of 12 Dec 2012

The plants are thriving up the sky, pretty soon they need some kind of support tied on to the top.

As of 17 Dec 2012

As of 17 Dec 2012

You can see the drip is almost ready, just waiting on the 2mm feeder pipe..

17th Dec 2012

17th Dec 2012

I already see many plants have blossoms, those at the right size will be able to contain them others I am afraid will loose these flowers.

Blossoms.. As of 17th Dec 2012

Blossoms.. As of 17th Dec 2012 (Caro Rich)

Drip & Support threads attached..

As of 20th Dec 2012

As of 20th Dec 2012

19th - Dec 2012

19th – Dec 2012

19th dec 2012

19th dec 2012

Some plants have formed tiny fruits, but it’s difficult to get a picture with my bad camera ;)..

more later..

Manu

Cherry Tomatoes Fruiting..

Cherry Tomatoes are looking beautiful.. don’t know if its the weather or something which is helping them grow…

these are the plants that i thought would not be able to survive this long & give any fruits..  i discarded some at an earlier stage to make way for another plants, but these plants proved me wrong.. here they are in their full glory..

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the best truss so far.. hope to see them turning red in another week or so..

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