Friday, June 20, 2008

Move over Leonardo

Well the cucumbers are flowering and it is back to the artist brush to pollinate them. The little bug that was pollinating strawberries only showed up one day and has not been seen since. It is beginning to look like I will be spending more time using an artist brush than Leonardo Di Vinci. That, I guess, is part of growing vegetables in a hobby greenhouse. Commercial growers with large installations probably bring in bees. I know they use bugs to control other bugs, but I am really not about to invite bugs into my hydro environment on purpose.
Pollinating tomatoes on the other hand is a snap. Literally, just smack the stalk with the flowers hard enough to vibrate it and presto, you are finished.
Most likely not a lot of people grow cucumbers in a greenhouse during the summer, however, this is looking like it is going to be a success. A few days ago the local newspaper did a man on the street interview; and the question was concerning the opening of the local farmer's market which is supposed to be selling home grown vegetables. One person interviewed bemoaned the fact that the home grown cucumbers were gone by the time he got there. Having lived in this area all my life I know for certain that no one has home grown local cucumbers in mid June in Upstate New York. The local greenhouses do not grow vegetables, and none are hydroponic to my knowledge.
While I have been indoor gardening for a few years with some success I will be the first to admit that greenhouse growing is an entirely new experience for me and just about everything is an experiment.
Anyone beginning hydroponic growing, indoors or out, will find it difficult to determine the proper nutrient mix for different crops during different growth stages. For example, cucurbits, such as cucumber, squash and melons require low nitrogen and high potassium and phosphorous. Too much nitrogen will encourage vine growth and retard fruiting. Tomatoes, on the other hand, have entirely different requirements. To further complicate the situation, different manufacturers will recommend a different PPM for the same vegetable. The bottom line is to be prepared to experiment, watch the plants, and make adjustments along the way.

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