Thursday, October 9, 2008

Using hydroponic gardening theraputically

When I first began hydroponic gardening my rationale was why bother to grow it if you can't eat it? Now I find myself spending more time in the flower section of the seed catalogs.
To be honest, probably 95% of what I am growing is edible, however it is still tempting to bend the seasons and grow flowers year round. They add a small amount of cheer during these dismal times when all the news is bad, and getting worse.

In selecting flower seeds I look for a variety that is unusual in shape or color, with a maximum height of 12 inches.
The flower above is calendula officinalis calypso, which I am growing in the greenhouse in an old Folger's coffee container converted to a hydroponic growing container.

I am finding some flower seeds much more difficult to start than vegetable seeds. For instance; calceolaria seeds are so small they are about half the size of a grain of sand. After several tries in rockwool cubes I gave up and sprinkled my few remaining seeds onto a pot containing the coco noir and perlite mixture I use in the AutoPots. To my surprise they germinated in about a week. Unfortunately, I accidentally knocked the pot over and only managed to rescue one seedling. And, I find that the only way I can germinate aster seeds is to place them in a moist paper towel for 24 hours until a tap root begins to form. At that point, I use a chop stick to poke a small hole in a rockwool cube, and place the seedling into the hole using tweezers.

I am still growing in the greenhouse, and I will continue to do so until the weather turns really cold. In the ebb and flow systems I have about forty net pots with Swiss chard, and variety of leaf lettuce and herbs and I am growing asters, calceolaria and candy tufts. Flowers add little more challenge, and there is the anticipation of seeing the first blossom. As an added bonus, the lady of the house loves flowers, so they are proving well worth the effort.

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