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Tips & Tricks

What is Hydroponics?

Posted by Roger Marshall on 6/18/2015

Hydroponics is the art and science of growing without soil. The term was first coined by William F. Gericke around 1940 who took the word from the Greek. Gericke was among the first to grow plants on what he called "litter" suspended above a tank of water containing a nutrient solution.Since Gericke's time hydroponics has come a long way. Instead of Gericke's leaky wooden tanks, we now have leak-proof plastic tanks. Instead of Gericke's "litter," hydroponic growers use expanded clay balls, rockwool, perlite, sand or other support medium. In Gericke's day, he made his nutrient solution from manure with chemical additives, but today we can buy a concentrated nutrient solution optimized to suit the plants being grown.

Selecting a Growing Structure for Fodder Production

Posted by Maxwell Salinger on 5/3/2013
Hydroponic Fodder

One of the common questions often heard at CropKing is the optimal environment for hydroponic fodder production. To begin to address this topic, one of the first catch phrases that come to mind is “controlled germination.” This term fits well with hydroponic fodder production because we are only concerned with the first seven to fourteen days of growth. These plants are relying very little on the sun to provide the energy they need to develop, and more on their “food” stores within the seed. This “food” or endosperm inside of the seed is most often in the form of starch. Starch can be converted to a more easily digested form for our livestock to consume through the process of germination. These facts alone can certainly influence the way we approach our environmental control.

Early Crop Production in Unheated "Poly Tunnels"

Posted by Cropking on 5/15/2008

While some growers are going into greenhouse vegetable production in a big way, with computerized, controlled environment greenhouses and soilless growing systems, others are slowly getting involved in "greenhouse farming" using conventional coldframes covered with a single layer of poly, often referred to as poly tunnels. Since no automated heating or cooling is used, this allows a low cost way of entering the specialty produce business that can yield an excellent return on investment.

Growing Tomatoes in Soilless Culture

Posted by Cropking on 5/15/2008

For many growers, tomatoes are the ideal crop to produce due to their tremendous demand and high market value. Since tomatoes are a universal item in the American diet, they are very easily marketed, even in outlying rural areas away from major markets. This ease of marketing all that a grower can produce is an important point to consider when choosing a crop. Also, with a ten-day shelf life, tomatoes need no refrigeration or special treatment prior to delivery to market.

Role of Perlite in Hydroponic Culture

Posted by Dr. David A. Hall on 5/15/2008

Horticultural perlite has a long and enviable record of performance as a propagating and growing medium throughout the world. It has been successfully used in virtually all horticultural applications including glass house growing, landscaping, lawn and stadium turf and in a variety of container applications. Time and time again it has proven its superiority in meeting the needs of commercial growers and home gardeners. Hydroponic culture is no exception. Extensive testing over a period of years at the West of Scotland Agricultural College has documented the superiority of perlite over other methods of hydroponic culture. For example, tomato crops hydroponically grown in perlite have produced average yields 7% higher than crops grown in rockwool. In addition to significantly increasing yields, perlite culture is particularly easy to manage and offers additional benefits.

Seed Selection

Posted by Cropking on 2/16/2008

As the seed catalogs arrive, the thoughts of starting plants for outdoor or greenhouse growing get an invigorating mind set established in any gardener looking out the window at leafless trees and possibly snow-covered ground. The anticipation of renewed plant growth is irresistible and compelling. Seed companies know when to time the arrival of their catalogs to get the highest level attention from gardeners. The sheer number of plant and seed choices, however, is often overwhelming. We shall not tackle the entire complex issue here, but we will look at some basic differences in the way some of the different cultivars were developed and what some of their features are. This way, you will be able to more readily determine what best matches your desires and expectations of the resulting plants.

Cultivars for hobby Greenhouse Production

Posted by Jim Brown, Horticulturist on 7/16/2007

YOU FINALLY HAVE YOUR OWN GREENHOUSE and it’s up and operational. The next decision, if you have not already determined this, is what to grow in your new greenhouse. The answer depends upon your purpose for having the greenhouse as well as some other factors. If part of your purpose for getting a greenhouse is to provide at least some of your own food, you will need to start by allocating space for those types of plants. Growers quickly find that their greenhouse is smaller than they realized once plants are in and growing.

Organic Fertilizers in a Soilless Growing System

Posted by Jim Brown, Horticulturist on 9/9/2006

Organic growing can be accomplished via either soil-based or lower-volume soiless systems. Soiless organic growing systems have been discussed in detail in previous articles. However, as a brief synopsis, soiless systems use materials such as perlite, pine bark, coconut core, compost and sawdust as a growing media, just to name a few, and these systems are usually found in a greenhouse growing environment. As in all growing systems, proper fertilization of the plants is key to healthy and vigorous growth and optimal production. In the case of a soiless media system, the type of media used plays a role in determining what fertilization is needed. The microorganism present in the media have the job of breaking down the various fertilizer components so that they are readily absorbed through the plant roots There are some challenges to supplying fertility in organic low-media-volume production systems.

Hobby Dutch Bucket Plant Production System

Posted by Jim Brown, Horticulturist on 7/16/2006

THE DUTCH BUCKET plant production system offers flexibility in size and layout. The system can be configured to fit a relatively small area in your hobby greenhouse, and will easily accommodate a few to several large fruiting plants that you can grow in the greenhouse for a few months up to a year. Because the size of the plants in the buckets will be large, you will want to place the buckets so that you can get next to each plant in the system to perform the needed cultural work and pick the fruit it produces.


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