Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cool as a cucumber

Today I transplanted the cucumbers into the AutoPot, and the more I use them the more impressed I am with the concept. Most likely the Aussie that invented the valve made a fortune. (Wish I thought of it) For the above photo I left the cover off to display the valve during the initial filling. An airline gang valve was installed for this unit also, as it makes it a lot easier to manage.
The medium is half perlite and coco noir, and after the rockwool cubes and plants were placed, I poured two quarts of nutrient solution into each container to begin the wicking action.
Most likely the reason I like these units is that; basically I am a lazy person.. Four gallons of nutrient solution mixed for the growth stage of cucumbers was placed in the reservoir and the TDS and pH were recorded as 930 and 6.0 respectfully. The real nice feature is that: I do not have to take periodic readings just simply check and refill the reservoir as required. When the bloom and fruiting cycle begins I will let the reservoir level drop to an inch or so and then add four gallons of a mix appropriate for that cycle.
Growing cukes in a greenhouse may seem like a nutty idea, but my soil is just about pure clay, and no matter how much peat I add it still bakes and drys like brick. When planted outside the plants droop badly in hot weather to the point that they must be stressed most of the time. The AutoPot will ,at the very least, maintain an even moisture level in the medium, and I may get decent cucumbers this year.
There are two varieties in the system, Picklebush and Saladbush. Both plants require less than two square feet of space and the bamboo at the top of the photo will be used to construct a trellis so they can grow vertical and not fight for space with the swiss chard which will next to them in the DWC system.
So far excessive heat has not been a problem with the greenhouse. It has not yet been necessary to place shade cloth on the unit to control the heat, as the two vents in the roof and the fan in the open door have not allowed the temperature to go above 87 or so. Although lettuce is a cool weather plant, is seems to be doing real well in the greenhouse so far.

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