Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Edible flowers

The photo above is another plant growing happily along with the lettuce. This is the second year I have grown this variety, and I like it as it is colorful and compact. The plant is:

Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Calendula
Species: officinalis
Cultivar: Calypso Orange

Along with a number of other flowers the calendula is edible, with the taste being described as: Tastes like: poor man's saffron, spicy, tangy, peppery, adds a golden hue to foods.

Somehow, I just can not bring myself to eat flowers, but for those willing to try here is a good link for more information:


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Changing direction

I decided to terminate my tomato grow and use the tri-band UFO LED for salad greens.

My original objective in using the light for tomatoes was to see if it would induce flowering, and I have satisfied my curiosity in that regard. Accidentally I knocked the growing tip off the patio tomato, and though I cloned the tip into a new plant, I decided it was really not worth the effort to continue. Although the totem plant was doing great and had started to flower, it would still be several weeks before I had any fruit, and small fruit at that.

One of the local hydroponic dealers said he doubted that 90 watts was enough light to produce flowering, so I wanted to test that opinion. It is enough, and it did.

Another consideration was that when growing salad greens you can eat the whole plant, except for the roots. Tomatoes, on the other hand, are large plants producing a limited amount of fruit, and take 70 or 90 days to do so. In that amount of time I can grow several crops of salad greens.

When growing salad greens I concentrate on loose leaf varieties avoiding head lettuce. Additionally, I mix colors and textures to add interest and eye appeal to the salads.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Flush system

As I had some excess capacity I decided to use one of my systems for flushing vegetables prior to harvesting.

The green plants in the above system are gentilina lettuce, and the bronze colored plant, I think, is flame.

The plants will remain in the system for a minimum of two days prior to harvest. They are being bathed in Flora Kleen clearing solution using a cycle of one hour on and two hours off.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thinking spring

The above photo is a melampodium plant that I am also growing indoors this winter.

The plant is:
Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee)
Genus: Melampodium (mel-am-POH-dee-um)
Species: paludosum (pal-oo-DOH-sum)
Cultivar: Showstar

The seeds were purchased in the spring of 2009, and I attempted to grow them outside in a flower bed, however insects destroyed the plants before they had a chance to flower.

Another plus for indoor hydroponic gardening is not having to deal with bugs! Flowers can really attain their full potential when grown indoors hydroponically. The zinnia I wrote of previously continues to produce so many buds that we have a small vase full of flowers to enjoy on our dining table each day.

Two varieties of marigold, a calendula, and a dozen bulbs are presently beginning to bud, so we will have a continuous supply of flowers for quite sometime. They certainly make January in the northeast more bearable.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Getting technical with tomatoes

The patio tomato seedling growing under the wide spectrum UFO LED is progressing nicely. Although the light does not appear bright; this seedling is receiving 3,000 foot candles, and the plant is very compact.
The light is very disconcerting, as it appears that the parts of the plant in the shadows are turning brown, but that is not the case, the entire plant is a deep healthy green. The deep green tango lettuce plants growing under the red/blue LED appear to be pitch black. I am waiting for my granddaughter Ava's reaction when she sees them for the first time....

For the technically minded I have included the specific growing conditions, which are averages:
pH 6
Avg. temp. 73
Avg. root temp. 73
EC 3.33
RH 48%

That is about as close as I can come to ideal conditions for a tomato seedling indoors. According to the Ohio State Interactive Tomato model all of my conditions are ideal, except the RH, which should be above 70%. To achieve that level indoors I would be inviting mold and other nasty organisms into the growing area, not bloody likely. I figure four out of five is not bad, so the tomato will have to struggle along at 48% RH.

Below is a link to the interactive tomato model for those wishing to grow the perfect hydroponic tomato.