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10 Reasons to Grow the Hydroponics Way

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      10 Reasons to Grow the Hydroponics Way

      1. Faster growth: Plants grown hydroponically tend to grow faster than those grown in soil because they receive a constant supply of nutrients and water.
      2. Increased yield: Because plants grow faster and have access to a consistent supply of nutrients, they tend to produce more fruit or vegetables when grown hydroponically.
      3. No soil required: Hydroponics allows you to grow plants without the use of soil, which can be beneficial if you have poor soil quality or limited space.
      4. Reduced pest and disease issues: Because hydroponics systems are closed and controlled environments, there is a reduced risk of pests and diseases compared to soil-based gardening.
      5. Water conservation: Hydroponics systems are more efficient with water usage because the water is recirculated and not lost to evaporation or absorption into the soil.
      6. Nutrient control: In a hydroponics system, you have complete control over the nutrients your plants receive, allowing you to customize the nutrients to specific plants and optimize their growth.
      7. No weeding: Because hydroponics systems do not use soil, there is no need to worry about weeds.
      8. Year-round gardening: With a controlled hydroponics system, you can grow plants year-round regardless of the outdoor climate.
      9. Space-efficient: Hydroponics systems can be set up in a small space, making it a great option for urban gardening or for those with limited outdoor space.
      10. Environmental benefits: Hydroponics systems have a smaller environmental footprint compared to traditional agriculture because they use fewer resources and produce less waste.

      Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using nutrient-rich water instead of soil.

      It can be an efficient and sustainable way to grow a wide variety of plants, and it’s a great option for beginners because it’s relatively easy to set up and maintain. Here are a few ideas for beginners looking to get started with hydroponics:

      Lettuce: Lettuce is a great plant to start with because it grows quickly and is relatively easy to care for. You can grow lettuce in a variety of hydroponic systems, including nutrient film technique (NFT) systems and deep water culture (DWC) systems.

      Herbs: Basil, parsley, and cilantro are all popular herbs that are easy to grow hydroponically. They can be grown in a variety of systems, including aeroponics and drip systems.

      Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a more challenging plant to grow hydroponically, but they can be a rewarding choice for beginners who are willing to put in the extra effort. They require a lot of light and nutrients, so it’s important to choose a system that can provide these things.

      Strawberries: Strawberries are another challenging but rewarding choice for hydroponic beginners. They require a lot of light and nutrients, as well as a well-ventilated growing space.

      Leafy greens: Kale, spinach, and other leafy greens are easy to grow hydroponically and can be grown in a variety of systems. They are a great choice for beginners because they are relatively hardy and can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions.

      It’s important to do your research and choose the right plants for your hydroponic system. Make sure to consider factors like the size and type of your system, the amount of light and nutrients your plants will need, and the space and resources you have available. With proper planning and care, you can have a successful hydroponic garden in no time!

      Growing Hydroponics Refresher

      Growing Hydroponics Refresher

      Growing Hydroponics Refresher

      Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using nutrient-rich water rather than soil. This method can be used to grow a wide variety of plants, including vegetables, herbs, flowers, and fruit. Some plants may be more difficult to grow using hydroponics than others, but in general, most plants can be grown using this method.

      It is important to consider the specific needs of each plant when setting up a hydroponics system, as different plants may have different requirements for light, temperature, and nutrients. It may also be necessary to provide additional support for some plants, such as trellising for vine plants or staking for tall plants.

      Overall, hydroponics can be a very effective method for growing a wide range of plants, with the potential for higher yields and faster growth compared to traditional soil-based growing methods

      Hydroponics systems can be used both indoors and outdoors. Indoor hydroponics systems are often used in controlled environments, such as greenhouses or grow rooms, where the temperature, light, and other growing conditions can be carefully regulated. Indoor hydroponics systems can be a good option for growing plants in areas where soil conditions are poor or where the weather is not suitable for outdoor growing.

      Outdoor hydroponics systems can also be set up in a variety of locations

      Of course, such as in a backyard, on a balcony, or in a community garden. Outdoor hydroponics systems may be more vulnerable to weather-related challenges, such as extreme temperatures or pests, but can still be a successful way to grow plants. It is important to carefully consider the location and setup of an outdoor hydroponics system to ensure that the plants receive the necessary light, nutrients, and other growing conditions.

      Overall, hydroponics systems can be used both indoors and outdoors, depending on the specific needs and preferences of the grower.

      To set up a hydroponics system, you will need some specialized equipment.

      The specific equipment needed will depend on the type of hydroponics system you are using and the plants you are growing. Some common pieces of equipment that may be needed for a hydroponics system include:

      • A container or system for holding the plants and nutrient solution. This could be a simple tray with a lid, a more complex system such as a nutrient film technique (NFT) system or a deep water culture (DWC) system, or a multi-level system such as a vertical tower.
      • Grow lights, if the system is being set up indoors or in an area with insufficient natural light.
      • A water pump to circulate the nutrient solution through the system.
      • A timer to control the watering schedule.
      • A pH meter or test kit to ensure that the nutrient solution has the correct pH level for the plants being grown.
      • Nutrient solution specifically formulated for hydroponics systems.
      • Net cups, rockwool cubes, or other materials to hold the plants in place.
      • A growing medium, such as perlite, vermiculite, or coconut coir, to help anchor the plants in place and provide some support.

      While some of these items can be purchased specifically for use in a hydroponics system, it is also possible to repurpose or modify items that you already have on hand. It’s important to learn as much as you can about the needs of the plants you’re growing and to choose equipment that fits your system.

      house hot spots

      Keep Your Growing Room Warm

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      Keep Your Growing Room Warm

      Keep Your Growing Room Warm

      So to keep in line with my last post, here are a few ideas to keep your growing room warm for your plants this winter. Many grow rooms are situated in modern homes with central heating.

      Even though this year’s autumn has been pretty mild, temperatures are starting to drop, especially at night, as winter approaches. As a result, every indoor gardener will be looking for ways to maintain grow rooms at the ideal range of 25–28°C when the lights are on and 18–21°C when they are off.

      Low grow room temperatures can harm your plants; one of the first symptoms is purpling of the stems, which is followed by sluggish or stunted development as nutrient intake and photosynthesis levels fall. Since, let’s face it, nobody wants a subpar harvest after all the hard work you’ve put in over the previous weeks, the outcome will not only be a bad final output but also a lower-than-expected level of harvest quality.

      So, the simple way would be to keep the central heating on 24/7. The problem with this is that it would probably be too warm for us humans to tolerate. Individual radiator thermostats are a great idea, as you can control each radiator. including the one in the growing room. If the radiator is set to a certain temperature, it will change how much heat it sends out to match. Don’t forget that heat is given off by your lighting and ventilation, so some sort of control will be required to maintain a certain temperature.

      Heat control can be easy to maintain, provided there are no dramatic temperature changes.

      Some methods of heat control

      By using some of these ideas, you can keep the temperature from dropping too much. thus resulting in poor-growing plants and a smaller harvest. Earlier, I mentioned the lights. Of course, this depends on what lights you are using. Older lighting systems emit a lot of heat and can drastically change the temperature. LED lights burn at much lower temperatures and are more controllable, in my opinion.

      Unfortunately, we have a large number of Victorian houses in the UK. These larger stone terraced houses are much more difficult to control, even with central heating systems. Therefore, there should be a couple more safeguards to look at.

      1. Fan speed controllers can be used to reduce the amount of air intake and extraction (making things hotter or cooler)
      2. For older properties you could add extra heating such as electric fan heater with an in built thermostat if possible.
      3. Its always a good idea to Insulate your grow room floor, wall and ceiling (there are many products on the market at good prices)
      4. In a water tank then use a water heater for large volumes of nutrient solution (dont put cold water onto your plants ! remember the 19c rule)
      5. Buy a maximum and minimum temperature gauge and regularly check the humidity readings.
      6. Dont pull in freezing air so obtain your intake air from a different room (Keeps the temperature ambient)
      7. Ensure your nutrients are stored at the correct room temperature
      8. Change round day and night by running your grow lights during the night and lights off during the day.
      9. I hope this will help new growers in particularly.
      cold weather

      Hydroponics Winter Basics

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      Hydroponics Winter Basics

      Hydroponics Winter Basics

      Winter is now upon us in the northern hemisphere. Here in West Yorkshire, we have already experienced several frosts and a snowstorm. thus making it impossible to do any outdoor gardening.

      Most plants that are hardy have already closed down for their winter break. The deciduous trees have lost their leaves, and only the conifers still have green leaves. In my case, my lemons and other citrus fruit are sitting happily in their cosy greenhouse, together with LED lighting to lengthen our dark winter days.

      So, indoor hydroponic growers can experience temperature fluctuations during very cold spells of weather. Roots are very intolerant of temperature changes. Changes in growth can make significant changes to the growth rate if the temperature is allowed to drop below 19 °C. So at this temperature, the plant’s root zone could easily be damaged. The growth begins to slow, and the outside of the root can be damaged.

      Even plants in the right zone can be harmed by the cold.

      Why do plants suffer from cold

      The causes of this are numerous and depend on the location, soil, length of the cold, and other elements. Depending on the type of plant and the aforementioned criteria, different plants respond differently to cold. The USDA’s recommendations for plant hardiness are simply that—recommendations.

      A plant’s real hardiness will vary depending on its microclimate, exposure, water and nutrient uptake, and general health. There are several reasons why cold might harm plants, but we’ll focus on the most obvious ones.
      A plant’s health and hardiness are impacted by every circumstance that it encounters.

      Plants that aren’t getting enough water may droop and even die. Negative plant health can also result from too many or too little nutrients. In a similar manner, meteorological conditions can harm a plant’s vitality. Plants are damaged by the freezing of their cells, which also obstructs the movement of water and nutrients.

      Many experts believe that the ideal root temperature is between 20 and 21 degrees Celsius. So, to enable the plants to absorb nutrients correctly, Providing a nutrient solution that is strong enough to stimulate new growth is important for the development of a healthy plant. Keeping good oxygen levels and content is imperative for good results.

      Concrete floors can be a problem

      When writing this blog,

      I was thinking primarily about temperature variations in a building with concrete floors. We all know about the cold feeling we get when we walk inside a building with a concrete floor. Particularly in the winter. So, if plants are grown under these conditions, then there is likely to be a large temperature variation. This could be overlooked when starting out your growing season in the spring.

      Even a small garage used for growing will suffer variations in temperature in the winter. As a result, many growers use some type of rubber mat to help insulate their precious crop. Personally, I would raise the plants off the floor to prevent them from getting “cold feet” and ruining the crop at a later stage.

      Cold can also affect the temperature of the water tank used to mix and provide the nutrients. Growing rooms must be well insulated so the air temperature does not change significantly in a cold spell. As I previously stated, the 19th century standard should not be compromised. Your plants will be open to attacks from many pests and diseases. The weaker your hydroponics plant is, the more likely it is to have been attacked.

      Of course, all this will lead to a poor crop and disappointment. So prepare for winter by making your plants as cosy as possible to avoid disappointment and a poor harvest. Heaters are the answer!

      .




      Hydroponic stores are legal

      Hydroponics and the Environment

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      Hydroponics and the Environment

      Hydroponics and the Environment

      So as my readers will know, I am relatively new to hydroponic gardening. I have since learned that hydroponics has advantages over growing in soil. Plants grown using the hydroponics method will probably grow around 50% faster than their soil-grown counterparts.

      Of course, this will usually end up with better crop production. Including the extra supply of oxygen to the roots when using hydroponics as a growing medium.

      Better root systems will encourage more oxygen to enter the plants. As a result, they absorb nutrients more quickly. Because the plants are growing in water, they don’t have to spend time in the soil looking for the nutrients they require to grow correctly.

      Those nutrients are being delivered to the plant throughout the day. Finding and breaking down food requires very little energy for the hydroponic plant. The plant then uses this saved energy to grow faster and to produce more fruit.

      Less bug infestations

      Another advantage that plants have when grown using hydroponics is that they are less likely to have infestations of fungus and plant disease. Of course, this must be combined with cleanliness and general garden hygiene!

      Soil gardening, believe it or not, uses much more water than hydroponics. thus offering many benefits to the environmentally friendly Gardner. Starting with top soil erosion, it does not exist in hydroponics.

      Including the use of peat as a growing medium. Peat, as we all know, will be phased out in the near future with coco-husk taking over. Hydroponics uses a constant amount of nutrients, therefore using less water. Brown mosses, Sphagnums, sedges, and semi-aquatic plants’ skeletal remains are among the partially decomposed organic materials that make up peat moss.

      Although peatlands can be found all over the world. They are more prevalent in the Northern Hemisphere’s temperate, boreal, and subarctic regions. Here in West Yorkshire there is abundant peat ln wetlands like bogs, fens, mires, and especially on the moors, where peat builds up. Vegetation that is submerged beneath the water decomposes in anaerobic – or airless – conditions that cause the process to go slowly.

      However, Like peat moss, coconut coir has many applications. It can store a lot of water with ease. Although certain plants could prefer soil that is a little bit more acidic or a little bit more alkaline, it has a pH level of 6.0, which is near to ideal for most garden plants.

      The texture of peat moss is soft and spongy.

      It has an amazing capacity to retain moisture and air . While enabling extra water to drain without restriction. It’s often devoid of diseases and pests. And the price is reasonable.

      Peat moss has been utilised as a soil improver, in soilless mixtures, and as a seed starting medium since the 1940s. Peat is a common ingredient in triple mixes and commercial potting soil.
      It creates the ideal climate for developing robust root systems, which is why gardeners adore it.

      As much as we enjoy utilising peat moss in our gardens, doing so has a significant negative impact on the ecosystem. It belongs in the peatland, where it should remain for very good reasons.

      Another advantage is that there are fewer pests, and therefore fewer pesticides are used (once again, this must be combined with cleanliness and general garden hygiene). Hydroponics on large scales will be the norm in the future. The future is already here, looking at the size of the giant glasshouses you can see dotting Europe and North America. Global warming is expected to become the major cause of soil erosion in parts of the world. turning fertile areas into deserts.

      Glass houses the size of large towns will become the stuff of science fiction.

      Growers now have complete control over the amount of water and nutrients used for growing huge crops. Even in warmer climates such as Spain, hydroponics plays some sort of role in controlling water usage.

      The purpose of a growing medium is to aerate and support the root system of the plant and to channel the water and nutrients. It will be interesting to see how things pan out going forward. However, we have still made great strides in developing our growing methods for whatever crops we decide to grow. A Good Look at Hydroponics and the Environment by Eric Roberts

      Plant Growing on your roofs

      Plant Growing on your roofs

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      Plant Growing on your roofs

      Plant Growing on your roofs

      I must confess right now that I have never been a city dweller. Because of this, I have picked up ideas from other people who know about this subject. However, I have seen many great gardening ideas in built-up areas and city centres in many countries on my travels.

      Even in huge cities like New York then things can be seen growing from the roof tops of the lower buildings. My own capitol city of London has splendid roof gardens. Growing many things in the micro climate created by the heat and shelter coming from the many buildings.

      City dwellers dont have the space

      So, when walking through our city streets, it is easy to see that a conventional garden would be out of the question. Most people have paved over any space that they may have for parking their cars.

      Whilst many UK houses have a pitched roof, so it would not be possible for a roof garden. However, small apartment blocks do have access to a flat roof. Inner cities are full of suitable apartment blocks on which a roof garden could be growing flowers and vegetables for them.

      Canal boats can also be used to grow plants using lighter hydroponic methods. But I think that’s another story.

      Soil, of course, could be a problem! Due to the weight and accessibility on to the roof top. So why not try the hydroponics method of growing without soil. A hydroponic rooftop garden would be an excellent choice for you if you want to have a hassle free gardening experience.

      All sorts of plants can easily be grown and cared for from your balcony. We often see this in Mediterranean countries with many balconies growing wonder geranium plants and of course bougainvillea’s trailing down with their wonderful purple and red flower bracts shining in the sun.

      Tomatoes and excellent choice.

      Of course, tomatoes would be an excellent choice to grow using hydroponic methods. Along with peppers and herbs. Importantly though it is always a sensible idea to check for any weight restrictions or building regulations before going ahead with your growing plans.

      Newer buildings have special roof areas to carry extra weight. So it would be well worth checking! So, to start rooftop hydroponic gardening. Then, you should decide on what plants or herbs you want to grow and how many of each.

      In a rooftop garden, containers are where you can showcase your personal flair, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on them—although you certainly could. When selecting the size of your rooftop containers, weight and material should also be taken into consideration in addition to aesthetics.

      Weight is paramount

      Whatever plants you choose, you’ll need containers big enough for their roots! But if you’re concerned about how much weight your rooftop can sustain, the weight of the container becomes a problem. Keep in mind that when you water the plants, the pots get extra heavier. Clay, terra cotta, and cement are examples of conventional materials that can be fairly weighty.
      For a novice gardener, the soil is frequently the least interesting component, but it is the most crucial one. Healthy plants grow on good soil, which means less work for you. You will benefit from being able to bring in soil if you are growing in raised beds and containers rather than having to use what is already on the ground. The amount of soil required will vary, so do your study before planting your options.

      Remember when Plant Growing on your roofs, that weight is of the upmost importance. including calculating additional weight for when it snows or at least rains.

      Once you decide the number of plants you want to grow, you need to get plastic containers or plastic tubes to grow your vegetables or herbs. Next, you need to cut holes in them to place your potted plants properly. You can either buy seedlings from a reputable garden centre or grow your own seedlings. Perhaps on your windowsill! Once you have your seedlings, take them out of their pots and rinse the roots to remove the dirt.

      After washing them properly, you need to place your plants in some sort of growing medium, such as rockwool, vermiculite, or any other suitable growing substrate, and then feed them with a nutrient solution to make them grow.

      sprouting seeds for chickens

      Poultry Food from Hydroponics

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      Poultry Food from Hydroponics

      Poultry Food from Hydroponics

      So I first read about this idea in a well-known Indian hydroponics blog! As a keeper of poultry, I found the story very interesting. Firstly, I am lucky enough to have a large lawn. This, of course, is more than enough greens for my chickens. When they eat the grass and clover, I simply move the coop to a fresh, green area. I am fortunate enough to use the “Eglu” chicken coops.

      However, many chicken keepers only have the same run for their birds. So, this is soon eaten away, and the birds are usually scratching on the bare earth or any substance that the owner puts down as bedding. Of course, straw or wood chips of some sort. Poultry, like any other bird, thrives on greens of most kinds.

      Greens are organic and full of protein!

      Many poultry keepers will feed their birds green kitchen scraps, which is fine! However, it is possible to grow your chicken’s green feed hydroponically and at an inexpensive price. Feeding your chickens hydroponically grown greens will produce better quality eggs with nice, bright yellow yolks.

      Hydroponic fodder is rich in protein, beta-carotene, trace elements, and enzymes. Sprouts can be easily grown in trays. In fact, about 2 kg of seeds can produce around 10 kg of edible chicken fodder. Plastic trays are available from your local hydroponics store. These trays come in many sizes. from the normal seed tray size to large trays for holding a number of plant pots. These can be used for growing the sprouting seeds.

      chicken eating fresh greens
      © Can Stock Photo / blackboard1965

      Seeds suitable for sprouting include mung, alfalfa, and mustard. Different types of lentils and mung seeds are also good choices. The seeds are simply spread with water onto a layer of tissue paper. The seeds are then spread on top of the wet tissue and placed in a light, warm place. For continuity, this should be spread out over a period of time. A greenhouse would be a perfect growing environment. However, a window sill on a south or east window would be fine.

      These sprouting systems will be mature in a little over a week. Importantly, this is also a good winter treat for your chickens, as well as a summer supplement.

      Many plant growers and gardeners I know are also avid poultry keepers. The two go hand in hand. So it may just be worth thinking about growing some nutritious seeds hydroponically for your precious egg providers.

      Hydrostore-Which Tomatoes for Hydroponics

      Which Tomatoes for Hydroponics !

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      Which Tomatoes for Hydroponics !

      Which Tomatoes for Hydroponics !

      I must confess that tomatoes are probably the best and most rewarding things that you can grow. Also, they are a great choice for hydronic gardeners as well as conventional growers. Because of this, many growers think that they would do best in a hydroponic environment. Compared to being in a greenhouse or outside, I have tried all methods! This year, I grew in my usual greenhouse and have had mixed results.

      I use two plastic water tanks to supply the pots, which are filled with a mixture of clay pebbles and coco peat made by Canna. So, you can buy this at your local hydrostore. However, I’ve discovered that it’s now available pre-mixed and ready to use. I will probably get this for the next growing season.

      One of the most important vegetables in the world is the tomato. Many of our favourite dishes utilise tomatoes, a tasty produce that is also healthful. Who eats French fries without ketchup? Everything Italian appears to have a tomato base. Red, plump, vine-ripened, and spotless tomatoes are most desirable. Hydroponics is an intriguing, non-traditional method of growing tomatoes with these characteristics.

      Numerous fruits and vegetables can be grown with hydroponics very effectively and efficiently. It entails raising them in water that has critical plant nutrients dissolved in it, known as a nutrient solution. You can carry out this either with or without an artificial medium. Sand, gravel, rockwool, peat, sawdust, and vermiculite are some examples of these mediums. Greenhouses used in hydroponic systems are enclosed, temperature-controlled, and help prevent pest infestations.

      One important thing to remember is when choosing the type of tomatoes to grow using the hydroponics method.

      Then, you should only choose the “indeterminate” varieties of tomatoes. These grow like vines and can be trained to climb a cane. The flowers that produce the tomatoes will sprout in-between the leaf axils. This can be best seen on this excellent video-

      apart from tying them to the canes as they grow. Then the only thing to do is to pinch out any growth that appears to be sprouting on the joints of the branches and main stem. These tomatoes are said to be “truss varieties” because they grow on trusses.

      The efficient use of fertilisers and water intake, extremely high yields, lack of seasonality, and pest removal are benefits of hydroponically cultivating tomatoes. By not growing them in soil, factors like pH, salinity, infections, or poor drainage are eliminated that can impede growth. The farmer has complete control over the environment, ensuring that the tomatoes are growing in the best possible conditions. These tomatoes can also be planted all year long to always have fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes available.

      Hydroponically cultivating tomatoes has a few drawbacks. Energy and capital inputs are very high. Additionally, success requires above average managerial abilities. Hydroponics is only used for high-value crops like tomatoes due to these drawbacks.

      To properly grow tomatoes hydroponically, a variety of outside elements must be managed. Light, temperature, humidity, and air flow are a few of these. Fertility, solution pH, and pruning are additional factors. These are all essential to the plants’ success and require precise, cautious management to function properly.

      As the plant grows upward, you will be rewarded with bunches of green and then red tomatoes. As the plant reaches the top of the growing area, nip out the growing tip. thus allowing the plant to stop growing and put all its energy into producing a good tomato crop on the lower stems.

      Just a mention that the determinate tomato varieties grow as a bush and are more suited to other types of growing methods.

      Which varieties!

      Cluster (Truss) Tomatoes

      Because of my age (now very old), these are my first-choice tomato varieties. These are the types that look like regular tomatoes or vine tomatoes. As I have said, they grow in trusses and attain the regular-looking size of tomatoes. Of course, most gardeners recognise the names of these varieties because of their regular good performance and dependability. Old favourites such as Alicante, Ailsa Craig, and Moneymaker are still very popular varieties. Also, I grow a few F1 hybrid varieties such as “Shirley” and “Cristal.”

      However, if you want to save the seeds for your next year’s crop, F1 hybrid seeds will not come true to variety. Finally, I find that the truss tomatoes have an excellent taste and are perfect for the salad bowl. I also like to cook them for breakfast with some eggs and bacon; they taste delicious.

      Beefsteak Tomatoes-

      So, these are my second-preferred variety to grow. These can grow very large, and I must admit to showing off their size when we have visitors to the house! I first saw this type of tomato when I was a young man and went to Spain for my summer holidays. They were not available in the UK at the time and were considered exotics. They looked great sliced on a lovely Spanish salad.

      Later, when I visited France, I bought some “Marmande” seeds in a local garden centre. These were not the giants, but they were very similar to the beefsteak tomatoes found in Spain. Beefsteaks can also come in F1 varieties, so beware of saving the seeds as they won’t come true. This year, I tried a variety called “Pink Brandywine.” So, when sliced, they just fit into a slice of bread. The flavour is good, and they are excellent sliced with a pinch of salt and some good “virgin olive oil” sprinkled on top.

      I would try your one choice, though. Sometimes it is worth buying a couple of different plants from your local garden centre to find your one preference. Believe me, it is well worth the effort, and there is nothing tastier than your own homegrown tomatoes.

      Plum Tomatoes gaining popularity-Which Tomatoes for Hydroponics

      Italy is becoming a very popular tourist attraction, and I believe it is the true home of the “plum tomatoes.” Again, these would only be found in canned tomatoes and would be inaccessible to UK gardeners. However, they are now widely available and are worth a try. They grow in the same way as a vine and are popular for their delicious flavour and plum-shaped fruit. I love to grow plum tomatoes and have been successful with the varieties “Roma” and ” San Marzano.”

      So, both these varieties have grown very well next to my regular crops and the flavours are very tasty. I love these cooked with a little oil and two fried eggs on top for my breakfast. Fresh from my greenhouse then life could not be better!

      Now there are many different colours!-Which Tomatoes for Hydroponics

      During the past few years, “cherry tomatoes” have become a popular choice for salads and also for mixing with mainly Italian dishes. because they can be kept whole and remain in shape when cooked. However, I am not a fan of these, and so far I have not grown any. There are types that can be grown in a hanging basket and cascade from the basket called “Tumbler” . I may try these, but so far I’ve given them a miss.

      Anyhow, to make the salad bowl more interesting, it is possible to buy tomatoes that have many different colours. Hence, orange-coloured varieties are now popular, including “Orange Santa” and “Orange Wellington.” Dark-coloured tomatoes don’t look right to me ! They have very dark skin, despite not being completely black. Varieties such as ” Black Opal” are available, but these are not for me.

      A very nice looking striped tomato is available called “tigerella“. hence with a red back ground and yellow stripes. I have grown these, but my family thought they looked sick! Not for everyone, but certainly unique.

      Finally all your growing mediums and plant care materials are available online from all over the UK via the “Hydrostore” website.

      peppers

      Beginner Peppers

      Beginner Peppers

      Beginner Peppers

      Hi here is my second Hydrostore blog for the month of April 2021. Once again there are many things that I am learning on my into the world of growing without soil, hydroponics!

      So if tomatoes are my favourite salad crop then peppers are certainly my second. Peppers provide a massive variety of colours and flavours. Of course from the red hot chili peppers such as “Scotch Bonnet” to the milder bell peppers that we use in regular salads. So some of the hotter peppers grown do in fact require hotter temperatures to grow them. Here in the North of England it depends on the type of summer that we are experiencing!

      The spicy peppers are used mainly for cooking spicy dishes and are popular for spicy Indian dishes and West indian cooking. Of course we can buy a spicy pizza covered in spicy hot peppers if we like that kind of thing. However I generally stick to the mild flavoured bell peepers that come in many shapes and colours. Most peppers start off as green coloured fruit and later turn into the colour of choice. Hence, from bright red to yellow and even dark purple. Of course all these colours add brightness and colour to a great mixed summer salad! My mouths watering as I am writing this!

      Try growing peppers the hydroponics method

      Peppers are easy to grow and only suffer the usual pests. White fly and other aphid species are the general worst enemies. These can be controlled by the usual methods of spraying with soapy water or using a commercial brand such as “plant magic” bugicide from your local Hydrostore online, in different sized containers. So, a good way of determining the colour of bell peeper to grow is to buy one in your favourite colour. Say in this case yellow. The seeds can be removed and generally the plant will turn out to be the same colour as the parent plant, in this case yellow.

      This year I am going to try germinate the seeds using the paper towel method. This is a popular way of germinating many plant species. Including peppers and tomatoes. The seeds are carefully wrapped between two lairs of tissue paper and placed in a saucer of water. The paper must be kept wet and not allowed to dry out!

      The seeds will eventually germinate and small green shoots will appear. So, these small plants will then be placed singularly inside of a rockwool cube. Always try to handle the seedling with great care. The rockwool is then to be placed inside a 3ins net cup. It is important to buy net cups with a lip around the top so that it fits snug inside the plastic tanks lid. Incidentally, I will be growing four pepper plants inside my 18×15 ins black plastic tanks (Totes) .

      The tote lids have four holes cut in to take the 3 ins plastic net cups. I will then add “nutrients” into the water and place the cups and pepper plants into the tank lid and therefore the tank of water. In my case it will be CX hydrobase. So, I will be trying this out for the first time and will keep my readers up to date with the results. I shall also be using a small aquarium pump to circulate oxygen to the plants via the tanks water supply.

      My set up will be in my greenhouse once the weather warms up. There will be plenty of light at this time of year! Of course this method can be used indoors by adding a LED lighting unit to your growing kit.

      Cherry Tomatoes

      Long Winter in 2021

      Long Winter in 2021

      Long Winter in 2021

      So, this year has been a long cold winter. Especially for us growers who should be getting growing around this time of year. My own situation is that I have a heated greenhouse for my citrus trees. However it is too cold to move them outside onto a sheltered spot. Moving them gives me space to plant out my seedlings and prepare for the tomato plants into their final planting spot.

      Accordingly, I have not yet planted my seeds and realise that I am running out of time. This year I have decided to try some different seed varieties. I love to grow the big size tomatoes that are generally very tasty and a good choice for summer salads (Thats if we get a summer this year?)

      I am a great fan of watching “YouTube” videos and I think they offer some great advice. Especially the different choices of tomato seeds that I have never heard of before.

      Kellogg’s Breakfast and F1 Super Mama

      This year I will be trying five different varieties from Nickys Seeds. Consequently these will include the much raved about Kellogg’s breakfast and another heirloom variety the F1 Super Mama.

      These seeds will be planted this time by using the soil-less method of “Rockwool Blocks” . These are only £7.50 for 150 blocks to sow your seeds into. Of course the seeds are then placed into the blocks singularly. Hence they are then covered with a small quantity of “vermiculite“. Vermiculite, can be bought in small or large quantities. However I prefer to buy the larger bags because this is something that is important when growing hydroponically.

      The blocks are always to be pre-soaked before placing one seed in the centre hole. Some growers advise placing two seeds and then selecting the strongest seedling when they have germinated. However these seeds are very expensive any you only get ten seeds per packet. So to me you should just plant a single seed. The blocks are then placed into a tray of water until germination. I prefer to use a heated propagator unit for better results as long as the area where the seedlings will be grown on is also heated.

      Dont forget the in this weather then rooms in houses can become very cold without any form of heating. I am sure that there will be growers pout their who have made this mistake in the past. Losing plants due to stress because of a drop in temperature in the middle of the night. When the seedlings have germinated they can be grown on to whatever system you prefer.

      Auto Pot System

      This year I am going to grow my larger crops using a flexi water tank that feeds an Autopot system . These systems come in many sizes but the nine pot system is ideal for my space in the greenhouse.

      Once the system is set up it just a case of training your plants as they grow, (I prefer to use large canes). Water tank levels must be watched with the added A and B nutrients also added to the correct dose. This year I will try out CX Hydro base from Canada. So, when your plants start to grow you must remember to taking out any side shots, between the stem and the main branches.

      Also remove any dead leaves and give the plants plenty of room to grow flowering buds for a good crop. All the products necessary to grow a good crop most plants are available online from “Hydrostore” in West Yorkshire.