Monday, February 8, 2016

Journal February 8, 2016 - Planting beet greens in a flood and drain system

Today I set up and tested a flood and drain system for a growing project.  It has been sometime since I have used these systems, so I had to do a complete setup and test.

The grid and screen on the bottom are intended to prevent the roots from laying in standing water.  The grid is from Home Depot, and is used to defuse lighting.  It is inexpensive and can easily be cut to size.

 The beet green seedlings had grown to the perfect size for planting, so I decided to plant them before they got much larger.

 For beet greens and chard I like to use a flood and drain system and plant in 4" net pots.  When placing the seedling in the pot, I cover as much as the stem as possible to provide support and stabilize the seedling.  Also, I moisten the expanded clay pellets prior to using them to prevent them from wicking moisture from the horticubes.

The photo below shows a seedling after being placed in the system.  As you can see I have buried as much of the stem as possible to provide support to the tiny seedling.

When I placed the plants into the flood and drain system, I filled all of the space around the pots with expanded clay pellets.  The photo below shows the system while being flooded.  The extra layers of pellets keep the top dry, which prevents algae from forming, thus eliminating the possibility of fungus gnats.

The greens will be grown under a multi spectrum LED grow light with a photoperiod 14 hours.  The pump cycle for the nutrients will be fifteen minutes on every four hours.


K said...

Have you found fungal gnats can be a thing even in soil-less conditions?

Jack Bulmer said...

No, I have no problems with fungus gnats with hydroponics. Notice how I placed the hydroton pellets so that there are no moist areas. That eliminates fungus, and thus the gnats. Gnats need a moist surface with organic matter to lay their eggs, so they are not going to lay on the pellets. They are a slight problem with the olives in the grow tents, however, I have them under control. Below is a link with suggestions for control of fungus gnats. The cider vinegar does not work, so don't bother with it. For a single pot, the hydrogen peroxide may work. Yellow sticky traps definitely work, but don't waste your time with vasoline or corn syrup to make your own, they never worked for me. If you can get tangle trap it does work, but as of now the only one who has it Amazon, but only as an add on item. I use gnatrol, which is available on ebay in small quantities. The gnatrol cuts down the numbers, but I did not find it completely effective. If you have a small area, sticky traps are available on ebay also. I placed 1/2" of sand on the top of the media with the olive trees and that cut down on the gnats. Still, I see an occasional gnat, perhaps one or two a week. So, to answer your question, using a flood and drain system as I have in the post you will not get fungus gnats, neither will you get them with an aeroponic system. For my olives, I use several of the above methods to control them.

Jack Bulmer said...

I should add that the photo in the post was taken when I was planting, so you can see some moisture on the surface. There is no longer any moisture now that the system is operational.