Climate

Climate plays a vital role in the growing of plant life indoors. But for a home hydroponic hobbyist, it would be both impractical and very expensive to try to control climatic conditions totally. This would necessitate keeping a tight climatic rein on the entire house, or at least a sealed-off room. The three main factors to consider are light, temperature and humidity, factors that you can control to an adequate degree for indoor growing. Given proper attention, the control of these three...

Determining pH

If we take a scale of 1 to 14, the centre point, or neutral position, is 7. Everything above neutral is alkaline and everything below is acidic. To determine accurate pH levels, each whole number is divided into ten parts. Thus we have 6.8, 6.9, 7.0, 7.1, 7.2 and so on. When growing several kinds of vegetables or herbs in one container, you will probably do best in the slightly acidic range of 5.6 to 6.5, because it is within this range that the nutrients are most available to the plants. For...

History

Hydroponics is at least as ancient as the Pyramids. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which are listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, used a crude form of hydroponics. The world's rice crops have been grown in this way from time immemorial. In 1934, however, a University of California professor adapted this time-tested technique to other crops. The results were twenty-five foot tomato vines that had to be harvested with ladders. Modern hydroponics was born and it has been advancing...

Cuttings

Black And White Tree Life

Any plants that will successfully root from cuttings can be placed directly into your soilless garden. Clean the leaves from the last two inches of stem, and, if possible, coat the stem with a root hormone. This procedure is not as useful with vegetables as it is with some herbs and decorative plants. Still, it is not only fun, but free, to collect a few cuttings from your friends. The possibilities are endless. For example, one good trick with tomatoes is to let a few suckers grow on a plant...

Transplants

When transplanting into a hydroponic garden, you'll notice some amazing facts. First, the transplanted plants keep right on growing without any shock, wilting or drooping. Second, you can successfully transplant not only small seedlings, but even fully grown plants as long as you do not damage their roots. An ordinary egg carton will serve as a homemade nursery for raising seedlings to transplant. Any egg box will do, but the waterproof, plastic type is best. This will start you off with as...

Seeding

You can seed directly into the rockwool and then transplant the seedling roots, rockwool and all, right into your hydroponic system. Plant your seeds closer together than indicated on store-bought packages. The roots of hydroponic plants don't have to compete with each other for nutrient and much closer spacing is possible. You can soak the seeds overnight in water for faster germination. Plant two seeds wherever you want to end up with one plant. If both come up, snip off the smaller one...

Seeds

When considering which vegetable seeds to plant, for example, some attention should be given to hybrids. These seeds have been carefully controlled in cross-pollination to create a type that fills a particular void or ensures variety. In every instance of hybrid seeds, an explanation is given on the package or in a seed catalogue detailing why the hybrid was developed. Selection of seeds depends on the limits of your system and your requirements. Your requirements might be any of a dozen or so...

Companion Planting

Companion Planing Chart

Plants don't make a sound, and you'd think that their world was all peace and harmony. Not so among plants there are definite friends and enemies. Some plants protect each other from insect infestations, while others provide shade for their friends. Still others just like each other and grow better if they are neighbours. In hydroponics, you will probably be asking two or more plants to grow happily together. Here is the list. Keep the friends and enemies apart. carrot cauliflower corn, sweet...

Pollination

Pollination Flowers Steps

Most flowering types of vegetables require some kind of pollination by you when they are grown indoors, unless you plan to keep bees or other insects in your home. Often, pollination can be carried out by a gentle breeze or a simple shake of the stem. Beans, eggplants, peas, peppers and tomatoes are all capable of pollinating themselves in this manner, because the flowers contain both male and female parts called hermaphroditic . A more certain method is to apply a small hand vibrator or an...

How Plants Grow

Some books on hydroponics give the reader a crash course on biology complete with diagrams. I would prefer that you get your own biology text, if you feel it's necessary in order to produce good cucumbers. It seems to make more sense to relate biology directly to hydroponics and the nutrients that make plants grow. Each plant is a natural workshop that builds organic matter in the form of roots, stems, leaves, fruit and seeds. Air and water provide more than ninety-seven per cent of this...

Formula Adjustments

Hydroponic Nutrient Formula

Whether yours is a homemade or a commercial nutrient, there will be times when adjustments are necessary. Formula adjustments are probably the trickiest part of hydroponics, and caution should be used at all times or you could destroy your entire crop in a matter of days. If you are using a well-balanced, commercial nutrient and a correction is necessary due to a deficiency that you can't identify, a foliar spray may be the answer. You can make the spray from a very diluted mix of nutrient and...

Hydroponic Herbs

Drip Systems Hydroponics

Not long ago, herbs grew in every garden and were sold by every greengrocer, but all we seem to use today is parsley as a garnish. Whatever happened to fresh chives, tarragon, basil and sage We used to know that herbs were natural flavour secrets that would give a lift to the simplest budget dish or the most complex gourmet creation. Perhaps we have forgotten because we have become accustomed to dried herbs whose flavours and fragrances have been destroyed by processing. One of the real joys of...

Ready Made Nutrients

If you have a very small hydroponic unit, whether homemade or bought, you may not feel that you wish to go to all the bother of making your own nutrients. If this is so, it is quite easy to obtain commercial nutrients in from one to twenty-five pound containers. Ordinarily, the novice hydroponic gardener knows relatively little of chemistry. Using a pre-mixed nutrient is the most straightforward way of assuring that your plants get a balanced diet. There are good hydroponic nutrients on the...

Nutrients

While you are deciding whether to build or buy a home hydroponic unit, it would be a good idea to do a little studying about nutrients. No matter what kind of system you choose, nutrients will be an integral part of your success, because your plants must be constantly supplied with food. Using the formulae given in this chapter, you will be able to mix your own nutrients in either large or small amounts. As in Chapter 2, however, I recommend that the novice begin with a commercially available,...

Selecting Your Seeds

Herbs And Spices

Be sure to ask for seed varieties especially suited for home growing. Commercial seed varieties have been bred for toughness and long shelf life in the supermarket at the expense of fragrance and flavour. You can plant more fragile, and more tasty, vegetable and herb varieties in your hydroponic garden. Because very few seeds have been developed specifically for hydroponics, there are some hints to keep in mind. As an indoor home grower, you are better off with a bush or patio tomato, rather...

Outdoor Hydroponics

Few books on hydroponics deal with the idea of moving a soilless garden outside. To my way of thinking, though, the whole point of hydroponics is to get the best possible year-round results. There is a great temptation for the home grower to lean back and say, Outdoor gardening Who needs it I'm going to keep my garden in the basement all year. No wind, no bugs, no problems. It really isn't necessary to move your garden outdoors in summer, but if you don't, you'll be missing the opportunity to...

What to Plant Outdoors

Pruning Tomatoes

Tomatoes are the prime choice for outdoor hydroponics. They recapture the flavour long gone from supermarket produce, and the theoretical maximum yield is very high, twenty pounds per vine. In your first season, though, you're doing fine if you get about half that much. A fast growing, medium-sized staking variety produces more and better quality fruit than the larger hybrids. Tomatoes are grown quite close together in hydroponics, four to six inches. A good arrangement in a sixteen by...

Cleaning Your System

Cleanliness is a must around, as well as in the system. Remove dead leaves before they rot, for this is an ideal place for fungus infection. Keep a close watch for red spider and white fly infestations. They are the two greatest insect problems in hydroponics. Insecticides will be discussed in detail later in the next chapter, but if you do use one, make sure it isn't the same brand all the time. Insects build up a resistance to one kind of insecticide very quickly. Also, try a little...

Humidity

Cucumber Plant

Humidity plays an important role in hydroponics, but if you are growing in a house or apartment, you will find that this is the one aspect of climate over which you have relatively little control unless you have a humidifier-dehumidifier. Too much humidity will probably be less of a problem than too little humidity. If your growing area is too dry, you could install an inexpensive humidifier. Because the growing area is usually small and confined, greenhouse hydroponics for the hobbyist makes...

Pruning

When growing indoors, do not allow the top of the plant to get too far away from the root system. Almost every plant will grow larger in hydroponics than in soil, because the plants are getting a full measure of nutrients, air and water. Bush or Tiny Tim tomatoes are the only kinds you should grow indoors, and you should be sure to pinch off the tops when the plants reach a height of about 2-1 2 feet. Cucumbers, on the other hand, should be pinched off after seven sets of leaves. Pinching off...