The Best pH Level For Your Garden

A list of recommended pH levels for different plants in your hydroponic garden. More »

How To Clone A Plant

Simple walk through on how to clone a plant More »

How To Grow Hydroponic Lettuce

Growing hydroponic lettuce is easier than you think. More »

9 Advantages Of Hydroponic Gardening

What are the advantages of hydroponic gardening? More »

7 Steps To Starting Your Hydroponic Garden

Find out how to start your hydroponic garden More »

 

How To Harvest Basil To Increase Yields

Many people wait to harvest their basil plants until they are large. Waiting to harvest will give you more at one time, but harvesting early and often increases growth and allows your plant to produce much more overall.

When Should Basil Be Harvested?

Basil can be harvested at just about any time. Instead of harvesting a whole basil plant at one time, it’s best to harvest on as needed basis. The first several harvests start off small, so we typically use them as garnishments. Over time you will be able to harvest enough to make things like pesto.

How To Harvest Basil To Promote Growth

Aquaponic Basil Plant

The before and after of a pruned basil plant.

When it comes to basil, harvesting and pruning are going to be pretty much the same thing.  First, allow your plant to produce at least 2 sets of leaves. Next, clip the plants stem just above the 2nd set. I typically allow my basil to grow a little so I can at least have a small harvest. Below are some pictures of a basil I’ve started in an easy to build mason jar aquaponic herb garden.

Cutting the stem this way will cause the sets of leaves to shoot out like they are the new tops of the plants. Allow them to grow and cut those as well, repeating the process over and over again.

When it comes to harvesting the actual leaves of the basil, you can either pinch them or use clippers to clip them away from the stem.

With each leaf you clip or shoot that you top off, it will produce more new growth from your basil. Be cautious not to over harvest.  To prevent the plant from dying after harvesting or pruning, leave about a 3rd of the plant growth, so the plant can create energy for new growth.

How To Use Rapid Rooter Plugs To A Clone Plant

In addition to using Rapid Rooter plugs for seed germination, they are also great to use for starting clones. Rapid Rooter plugs provide the great water/ air ratio to promote rooting from the cutting. Rapid Rooter is versatile, they can be transplanted both in hydroponic systems and into the dirt.  Here’s how easy it is to use Rapid Rooter plugs to clone a plant.

What You Need To Clone A Plant Using Rapid Rooter Plugs

Using Rapid Rooter To Clone Plants

Before you start you will need to gather a few supplies:
A clipping of the plant you want to clone
Clean razor blade
Rapid Rooter Plugs
Rooting gel
A tray to hold your cubes/ clones (buying a tray made to hold Rapid Rooter cubes will save you from a headache)

 Steps To Cloning Plant Using Rapid Rooter Plugs

Before starting,  soak your Rapid Rooter cubes in distilled water to rehydrate them. Some soak them up to 24 hours; I typically only soak them for about an hour and have had no issues. After soaking, place the cubes in the tray you will be using to hold your clones.

Next, you need to take the cuttings from the plant you want to clone. Cuttings should have a stem of at least 2 inches and have a few leaves. Remove any leaves from the bottom of the stem leaving a couple of inches of stem bare. Cut the very bottom of the stem at a 45-degree angle.Preparing hydroponic cloneAfter preparing your cutting, it’s time to dip it in some rooting hormone. I don’t recommend dipping the clones directly into your jar of rooting hormone.  Put some rooting gel in a separate container that you will use to dip your cuttings into to prevent contaminating for future clones. I use a plastic spoon and dip some out on the end. Take your cutting and coat the stem in rooting hormone.

Using Rooting Hormone To Clone Plant

After coating, place cutting directly into the hole in the Rapid Rooter cube. Press the stem down into the cube so it stands straight up.

Placing Clone In Rapid Rooter Plug

Now take your clone and place it into your Rapid Rooter tray and place it somewhere where it will get low-intensity light. The Rapid Rooter plugs need to be kept moist by keeping about a 1/4 inch of water in the bottom of the tray.

Clone In Rapid Rooter Plug

After a few weeks, you should notice roots showing out of the bottom of the Rapid Rooter plug. When roots start forming outside of the Rapid Rooter plugs they are ready to be transplanted into your hydroponic system.

Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro Hydroponic Nutrient Review

About Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro

Dyna-Gro is a one part nutrient solution geared towards the vegetative phase of the plant’s growth cycle. Since it is a one part nutrient solution there is not need to mix with other nutrients. Foliage-Pro is high in nitrogen, promoting excellent leafy growth. It can be used for all plants in the vegetative stage but works especially well when used to grow leafy greens like lettuce. Since leafy greens to go through the flowering or fruiting stages, Foliage-Pro is the only nutrients you will need to grow them.

How To Use Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro

Since Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro a 1 part nutrient solution so there’s no need for measuring or mixing of different nutrients. For recirculating hydroponic systems add 2-3 tsp per gallon of water or for non-circulating systems 1 tsp per gallon. If your growing leafy vegetables this is the only nutrients you will need. If you’re growing something that will flower/fruit, then you will eventually need to switch to Dyna-Gro “Grow” or “Bloom”.

In What Quantities Does Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro Come In?

Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro is sold in quantities of:

  • 8 ounces
  • 1 quart
  • 1 gallon
  • 15 gallons
  • 55 gallons

Cost

Many nutrient regimens involve mixing several parts causing a larger upfront cost. With Dyna-Gro you will only need to purchase 1 part and it’s affordable, starting at about $15 for 8 ounces or $25 for a quart.

Conclusion

While using a 1 part nutrient solution takes away your ability to customize your nutrients, you can’t beat the simplicity and minimal investment. Don’t let the ease of use fool you, in my experience, Foliage-Pro works great for vegetative growth, especially in leafy greens and herbs. Check out different varieties of lettuce I grew in my garage flood and drain system using Foliage Pro hydroponic nutrients.Hydroponic lettuce grown using Dyna Gro Foliage-Pro Hydroponic Nutrient


How To Build A Glass Jar Aquaponics Herb Garden

How to build a glass jar aquaponics herb gardenThe biggest advantage to aquaponics is not having to purchase nutrient solution. Typically aquaponic systems are larger scale, but with the right supplies, you can build a simple single plant system to grow herbs. It’s simple to build and easy to maintain. Here’s how to build your own glass jar aquaponics herb garden.

What You Need To Make A Glass Jar Aquaponics Herb  Gardensupplies to build a glass jar aquaponics system

  • A large glass jar with lid ring
  • 3-inch net pot
  • Grow medium, I will be using hydroton clay pebbles
  • Beta fish
  • Aquarium water conditioner
  • Plant, clone, or starter cube with seed
  • Decorative rock (optional)

Steps To Building A Glass Jar Aquaponics System

You first need to determine what you want to grow. Herbs work best for this system. I will be using basil that I started from seed in rapid rooter. You can also use a clone or transplant a dirt plant.

Fill your large glass jar with water. If you plan on dumping the beta into the jar make sure to account for water that will be dumped in along with the fish. There should be about an inch of air left at the top to allow the roots and the betta to take in oxygen. Add the recommended amount of aquarium water conditioner for the amount of water in the jar. This is a good time to also add the decorative rock or beads if you’re going to use them.

After the water is in order, it’s time to add the beta fish. Since your aquaponics system is new it’s best to wait for about a week to let the fish waste start to build up. This is especially true if you’re transplanting a store-bought a plant that’s already several weeks old. If starting seed in your system, then it has plenty of time to build up nutrients. To start seed take your

When ready, make your plant and place it in the net pot. Spread the grow medium evenly around the plant roots. Place the net pot into the glass jar and screw the lid ring over the net pot.

Place your glass jar aquaponics herb garden in a place where it will get adequate sunlight and watch it grow.

Aquaponic Herb Garden

How To Maintain Your Glass Jar Aquaponics Herb Garden

Maintaining your aquaponics system is as simple as it gets. Feed your betta fish a small amount once morning and again in the evening.  Top off the water as needed, keeping some of the plant’s roots submerged.

Anytime you have nutrient rich water there is going to be algae growth. If your aquaponic herb garden starts developing algae, it’s time to rinse out the jar with warm water to clean it out. You can also run water over the plant’s root system to remove algae growth. When finished cleaning, refill the jar with water, add some water conditioner and put your fish and plant back in the jar.

How To Transplant A Hydroponic Plant Into Dirt

I have many different hobbies that I enjoy. I sometimes use those hobbies to raise funds for projects that I’m doing. One way I’ve found to make some extra money is by selling some of the plants I grow. In the summer I take cuttings of our mums, clone them, and then transplant them into dirt pots to be sold in the fall. Aside from making some extra cash, cloning is also a great way to take a plant with desired characteristics and create copies to be used to beautify your yard and home. This is how you transplant a hydroponic plant into the dirt.

What You Need To Transplant A Hydroponic Plant Into Dirt

  • A plant from a hydroponic system, I will be using a mum that I cloned
  • A pot
  • Dirt
  • Water for the plant

Steps To Transplanting A Hydroponic Plant Into Dirt

Take the pot you are going to transplant your plant into and fill it with dirt. After filling, dig a hole in the middle that is bigger than the plant’s root system.

Next, take your clone and place it in the hole you dug. I used to net pots with foam inserts so will be removing my clone from them before planting, Plants don’t have to be bare roots to transplant. Rapid rooter plugs also work well for cloning a plant and can be transplanted into the dirt as well as hydroponics.  After planting cover the root system with dirt.

After the plant is transplanted it’s important to water it immediately. Hydroponic plants are accustomed to having water at all times so it will shock them at first. You should make sure to water the plant often with longer durations in between watering to get it accustomed to being in the dirt.

Often the sun is too intense to leave your plant out in permanently at first. It’s best to ease it into life outdoors by putting it out in longer durations of a period of a week to get it used tot he intensity. If you find your plant wilting, watering immediately can bring it back, waiting too long and it could be lost.

If it looks like the plant is lost, don’t get rid of it too quickly. Plants can be resilient and it still may shoot new leaves to replace the ones lost.

Here’s a short video walking you through how to transplant a hydroponic plant into dirt.

How To Transplant A Plant From Dirt To Hydroponics

I am not a patient person, it’s something I’m working on. I don’t always like to wait on germinating seeds and growing seedlings to start my hydroponic garden. To cut down the time I have to wait, I often purchase plans from the garden store then transplant them into my hydroponic system. It’s an easy process that cuts down time and ensures your starting with a strong healthy plant. Here’s how to transplant a dirt plant into a hydroponic system.

What You Need To Transplant A Dirt Plant To Hydroponics

A plant, I will be using a tomato

Container to discard dirt

Water to rinse root system

Hydroponic system or net pots with grow medium

Steps To Transplanting Plant Into A Hydroponic System

Before starting, have your hydroponic system or net pots ready with the grow medium that you’re using. Gather your supplies into 1 area. Transplanting can be messy so I recommend doing this project outside or put something down on the surface you’re using.

Plants that have not been watered recently work best. Dry dirt is easier to remove from the root system. Remove the plant from the pot or container that it’s in. Placing the plant over a container, gently start breaking up the dirt with your hand. Careful not to damage the root system too much. Continue until most of the dirt is removed from the root system.

After removing most of the dirt, dip the plant’s root system into some water to rinse away the rest of the dirt. The cleaner the better, you want the least amount of dirt as possible making it into your hydroponic system. If you’re using drip systems or small hoses, small particles will clog them.  It’s sometimes next to impossible to get off all the dirt off the roots and a small amount won’t affect the hydroponic bucket this plant is going in.

Place the plant’s roots in the hydroponic system or net pot and cover with your grow medium. Now I just hook up the airstone, plug it in and it’s ready to grow.  For more of a visual check out the video below.

 

Understanding N-P-K Ratio Of Hydroponic Nutrients

An understanding of  N-P-K ratio is especially important when hydroponic gardening. Since we’re not just supplementing nutrients like in traditional dirt gardens, it’s critical that the correct nutrients are added in proper amounts for optimal growth. Fortunately, understanding N-P-K ratio is not complicated.

What Nutrients Are Needed For Hydroponic Plant Growth?

Before discussing N-P-K you must first understand what a plant needs to grow. Plants require different nutrient amounts throughout their life cycle but need more of some nutrients that others. Nutrients that plants require more of are called “macronutrients” and those nutrients that are required in smaller amounts are “micronutrients”.  N-P-K stands for Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium. These are 3 of the 6 macro nutrients that plants require to live. The other 3, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, are provided by water and the air. While hydroponic nutrients also contain the micro nutrients, the focus is on the macronutrients. The numbers of N-P-K represent the percent of each nutrient in the solution.

For example, if the N-P-K ratio of a hydroponic nutrient is 7-9-5, then the nutrient contains 7% nitrogen, 9% phosphorus, and 5% potassium. The rest of the solution is made up of micro nutrients.

The Nutrients Hydroponic Plants Need In Each Stage

During the vegetative stage, plants need higher amounts of nitrogen for foliage production. Nitrogen is the reason for the deep green color of your plants leaves when they’re healthy. Higher nitrogen levels speed up a plant’s growth rate.

vegetative nutrients

This 7-9-5 ratio is a great all around vegetative nutrient for growing hydroponic vegetables.

During the flowering stage, plants require a higher amount of phosphorus for flower and fruit production. At this point, the plant doesn’t need to keep producing leaf growth, so you decrease the nitrogen level while increasing the phosphorus level. (Phosphorus is also needed for healthy root production so can be important in the early stages for root development also)

Flowering nutrients

This 3-12-6 ratio is good for vegetables that flower.

During the different stages of the plant’s life, you can also give your plants a supplemental boost.  For example, plants in the fruiting stage use larger amounts of potassium and can often benefit from a potassium booster supplement. Potassium also assists with cell wall strength and overall health of the plant.  This is only one example of the many supplements available to customize the N-P-K ratios and give your plants a boost.

Potassium nutrient supplement.

This 0-0-3 ratio potassium supplement boosts fruit production and overall plant strength.

There are many different types of hydroponic nutrients and supplements on the market with different N-P-K ratios. If you’re unsure what would work best for your garden I would suggest starting with a simple 1 part nutrient solution such as Dyna-Gro “Grow ” and “Bloom”, like pictured above. When you have a better understanding of N-P-K ratios and the specific nutrient needs of the plant type your growing, you can use a more customize-able nutrient solution such as General Hydroponics “Flora” series to tailor the nutrients to your garden.