Monthly Archives: April 2020

  • Hydroponics Vegetable Garden Guide

    Ready to jump into Vegetable gardening Hydroponically? Gardening might seem daunting at first, but it can be most rewarding given you grow healthy nutritious greens in the most hygienic way. You give nutrition, safety and immunity to yourself and your loved ones! Everyone knows about this however many do not take up gardening because of many reasons – lack of time, space, effort, vacation etc. Hydroponics offers solution to a lot of these factors. While gardening needs dedicated effort, Hydroponics reduces the time spent, automates irrigation, gives best nutrition to the plants thus giving you enough motivation to stay put with your gardening efforts. In addition to providing healthy food, vegetable gardening is an interesting hobby, healthy outdoor exercise, offers productive activity for the retired, handicapped, or physically challenged, and is an excellent teaching tool for children. Our Vegetable Gardening Guide for Beginners will help you plan a garden self-sufficient for your family and get guidance on growing vegetables from seed to harvest in Hydroponics.

    Make Good Use of your location 

    Success of your garden depends greatly on location. The advantage of hydroponics is that it is soilless. The space you have identified might be your apartment balcony or your house terrace. There is no need to shift loads of soil nor is there need of waterproofing. There is a water saving of 90% because of which urban gardening can still be visualized.
    Sunlight is absolutely necessary to produce healthy high-quality vegetables. If your space is limited to a balcony that does not get enough of sunlight, your options will be limited to few leafy greens that do not demand heavy sunlight.

    Plan your Garden

    • Deciding the size and arrangement of hydroponic systems depends on the space you have. If your space is limited to a small balcony of your apartment, you can give preference to Hydroponics NFT system.
    • These systems can be designed to fit into small spaces such that indoor gardening is also possible with these systems. If you have enough space like your home terrace, start with making a list of greens and vegetables that your family enjoys. Also, make sure that they can be grown successfully given the climate of your area.
    • Once you make the list, please note that there are variety of hydroponic systems suitable for different plant varieties.
    • NFT systems are suitable for growing all leafy greens, herbs and small vegetable plants. For growing large vegetable plants please choose a Dutch bucket system which gives good root space and support needed for the large plants. You can find information on plant varieties suitable for a given season below.

    The list of leafy-vegetables and Herbs that can be grown in NFT

    Warm Season Crops Cool Season Crops
    Spinach Broccoli
    Baby Spinach Lettuce - all varieties of lettuce
    Coriander , parsley , Celery Cauliflower & cabbage
    Amaranthus ( Red,Green & Bi-color variety ) Strawberry - Perennial in nature , requires, cool season for flowering and fruiting.
    Swisschard Kale
    Mint and most of Indian herb varieties Bokchoy , Watercress

    The list of vegetables that can be grown in Dutch bucket/Grow Bag system:

    Warm Season Crops Cool Season Crops
    Tomato Carrot
    Chilli Radish
    Okra Winter Squash
    Beans - Dolichos beans, Peas, Cluster bean , all leguminous crops . Onion, Garlic , Leek & Spring Onion
    Brinjal / Eggplant Potato
    Cucumber Turnip
    Summer Squash Beetroot
    Muskmelon & Watermelon Capsicum - Coloured variety except Green variety
    Gourds - Bitter gourd, Bottle gourd ,Snake gourd ,Ridge gourd  
    All herbs - Mint,  Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, Insulin, lemongrass, Bonesetter, Ashwagandha, bhringraj, Stevia etc  
    • By seeing the growing season of different vegetable crops ,  plan in a staggered manner  so that you can have at least uniform weekly harvest of all vegetable crops for the kitchen.
    • Successive plantings are desirable if you wish to have a continuous fresh supply of certain vegetables. Don't plant too much of a crop at any one time. Two or three small plantings of leaf lettuce and radishes may be made a week to 10 days apart.
    • Tomatoes and Chillies may be planted every two weeks until you have used up all your dutch buckets reserved for that plant variety. At least two plantings of other vegetable varieties should be made on a monthly basis to have enough produce. Several plantings can be done throughout the season based on your requirement.

    Obtain good seed, plants, equipment and supplies

    • Seed selection is the key to success of your gardening effort. Careful selection of seeds that are disease-resistant and good yielders of high-quality, nutritious produce is recommended.
    • You can purchase seeds from nearby organic stores or online by checking for good reviews. Hydrilla also has good supply of exotic variety of seeds please check
    • Some herbal plant varieties like Mint and Rosemary are grown using propagation as germination from seed is difficult. For such plants, purchase plants from nearby nursery.Once planted you can also practice taking a cutting from grown plant and propagating further.
    • pH meter, EC meter, hydroponic nutrients, cans for stock solution are must have for your hydroponic garden. Organic neem oil, hydrogen peroxide, a generic biopesticide and biofungicides in small quantities can be kept to use if necessary for pest and disease management.

    Sowing of seeds

      • Follow the link below for a complete guide on sowing the seeds in seedling-tray to transplanting the seedlings in Net Pots.
      • After sowing the seeds, water the seedling-tray twice a day and keep in a dark area as sunlight should not fall on them until they germinate. You can keep the tray in dark area or cover the seedling-tray with black/white polythene cover or with another empty seedling tray over it. Based on the plant variety, you will see sprouts coming out in few days to a weeks’ time.
      • Once you see small true leaves, place the seedling-tray in a partial sunlight area. Moisten the seedlings with either plain water or 10% nutrient solution (around 200 PPM) twice in a day. Remember that throughout the germination period, watering should be just enough for the cocopeat to be moist. Never overwater or the seeds will not germinate and rot. Continue the plants in the tray until the plant roots reach the bottom of the cube in about 3-4 weeks.
      • The temperature for seed germination and transplanting period varies with different crop varieties.
      • Transplanting of seedlings in different Hydroponics systems mostly depends on the Root system of the plant , growth pattern & growth cycle of the plant.


    NFT (Nutrient Film Technique)


    Hydroponics NFT System

        • Nutrient Film technique growing is primarily used for growing Leafy green plants. In this system a thin stream of water (Nutrient solution) flows through rectangular channels. Because the nutrient solution stream forms a thin film in the bottom of the channels it gives the method its name .Follow the link for unpacking and installing the NFT system
        • When you see roots at the bottom of the cube or when the seedling produce 2 leaves, transplant into NFT channels and fertilize until the plants reach harvestable size. Try to do the transplanting of seedlings during the late afternoon/evening. The transplanting period is varies with vegetables varieties and climatic factors.
        • The seedlings can be placed directly in the net pots and expanded clay medium can be filled to close the gaps and also provide anchorage to the plant. Follow above the video link for transplanting of seedlings in the net pots.
        • The net pots are then placed in the NFT channel. They are placed such that the bottom of the net-pot touches the top of the nutrient solution. This is essential for the first few weeks when the root system of the seedlings are still developing. This is very important for the young plant to grow. If the seedling in the net-pot doesn’t touch the nutrient solution, the roots will not grow, eventually the plants will dry out and plants die away!
        • The nutrient solution flow in the channel should be in continuous mode and the circulation pump should be running 24×7 hrs because of recirculation there is a fall of the nutrient solution from the return pipe to the reservoir, the fall also causes aeration.
    • By seeing the growing season of different vegetable crops, plan in a staggered manner so that you can have uniform weekly harvest of all vegetable crops for the kitchen. For example, if you are using an NFT system with around 50 grow spots for your family, you can plan for above listed varieties in the system. Based on your family consumption and likes, you might want to grow more Spinach plants. If you have set aside 10 grow spots for Spinach, don’t sow for all 10 at once. Sow on a weekly basis such that you can have ongoing harvest for your kitchen.

    NFT system maintenance

        • Hydroponic reservoir should always be closed with a lid. Any unused grow spots in the channel also should be covered using a net cup. Sunlight should not hit the nutrient solution else Algae develops in the channel.
        • If temperature is very high, cooling of nutrient solution is important. You can paint reservoir with a reflective paint. Drop some ice water bottles into the reservoir.
        • If you see root rot issues, mostly a result of high temperature and low oxygen levels, make sure your pumps are running enough to replenish oxygen. To solve the rot issue, use some hydrogen peroxide solution.

    Cleaning Your NFT Channels

        • After each crop your NFT channels have to be cleaned to prevent any pathogens moving on to your next crop. Hydrilla has openable NFT channels that are relatively easy to clean as the cover of the channel can be opened exposing the channels for cleaning. To clean the channels, you can use Bleach powder or Hydrogen peroxide. By cleaning your channels regularly, you will not transport bacteria or pathogens from one crop to the next.

    Dutch Bucket system


        • For indoor gardening, a hydroponic Dutch bucket system gives growers a way to grow large nutrient demanding crops separately. In this system we are going to grow large-statured vegetable and fruit plants like Tomato, Capsicum, Chilli, melons; Herbs; large-rooting plants like Turmeric, ginger, potatoes etc.
        • The design of Dutch buckets systems is quite simple, with multiple variations on irrigation and equipment. A reservoir pump runs nutrient solution through a straight line over the buckets. Drippers control the flow to each bucket, and the solution runs through the media and then drains out of the bucket.
        • The more conservative drainage option is to run your Dutch buckets on a recirculating system. In a recirculating system, the buckets are irrigated and drain into a return line, a PVC line at a tilt that brings water/nutrient solution back to the reservoir for reuse.
        • Clay pellets, coco peat, perlite, and vermiculite can be used as grow media in the buckets. When using granular media like pellets the water can be recirculated between the dutch buckets and the reservoir. This gives excellent nutrient supply and aeration to plant roots.
        • If using porous growing media, open to drain or drip irrigation system has to be used.
        • For certain crops like herbs and root crops, mixing grow media also gives good aeration while keeping water level in the right amount so that the roots don’t rot.

    Grow bag system

    Hydroponics Grow Bag System

        • Grow bags can be economical alternatives to dutch buckets however they will not have long life and durability like buckets.
        • Granular media like clay pellets cannot be used with grow bags. Any porous media like cocopeat and perlite can be used, hence only drain to waste or drip irrigation system is used with grow bags.

    Cleaning Your Dutch bucket/grow bag system

        • If there is any Algae formation in reservoir, it can be disconnected from the hydroponic system, cleaned and filled with fresh batch of nutrient solution.
        • Buckets and grow bags are cleaned at the end of crop cycle. Plant along with the media is removed from the bucket, left for drying so that the media which is stuck to the plant roots dries up and can be removed.
        • Media is then sterilized with warm water to remove any accumulated salts, pathogens etc.
        • Inside of the Buckets can be cleaned with bleach and filled with clean media for next crop.

    Hydroponic Nutrients

    Hydrilla provides 'Grow' and 'Bloom' formulas containing all macro and micro nutrients necessary for plant growth. Grow formulation is used to promote vegetative growth. You can use this nutrient for all leafy greens and for the first few weeks for vegetable plants to promote good leaf growth. Bloom formulation has to be used approx. from second month after transplant for flowering, vegetable and fruiting plants to promote bloom and fruiting process.

    Preparing Stock solution of nutrients


    Nutrient Mixing, Balancing PH and EC

        • Follow the below link
        • There are meters to measure both the parameters. pH meter measures, well, pH!. Electrical Conductivity meter measures EC which can be indication of the total dissolved salts in your solution. It is good to have both of them if you want to manage a system properly. It also helps to learn about hydroponics by studying the effect of plant growth on EC and pH and vice versa.
        • Understanding what the plant takes is important. When the plants are small, they take less nutrients and as they grow their consumption goes higher. Also, in summer, plants consume more water and in winter the consumption of water is less. This is mainly due to temperature and relative humidity impact on transpiration.
        • Measuring the conductivity daily will help us to figure out the nutrient absorption patterns in plants.
        • If the EC of the solution keeps coming down, the plants are taking more salts so you have to replenish the nutrients accordingly.
        • if the EC is climbing up, the plants are taking more water. We should refill the tank with plain water and reduce the EC of the solution to avoid salt build up.
        • Measure the volume in the tank every day. Refill the tank if it goes below the required volume. Once it is refilled check the EC and pH adjust so that the final values fall in the optimum range needed for the plants.
        • For Different vegetables the nutrient application method and concentration of nutrients would be different ,To know more about the EC and PH of vegetable crops follow the link and for Herbs  follow the link

    Deficiency in Hydroponic plants

        • The main cause of deficiency in plants is water hardness. Due to water hardness the plant roots are unable to take up the nutrients. It is important that a water test is conducted before going for Hydroponics.
        • Water containing too much calcium and magnesium (called "total Hardness") may create serious problems. Contact your municipal water supplier who can provide you with an analysis of your water supply. If you are using well water or any source of water, many laboratories can provide you with an analysis if you send them a sample.

    There are other reasons too resulting in deficiency

        • Acidity of the nutrient solution
        • Alkalinity of the nutrient solution
        • Root disease such as root rot causing plants to not take up nutrients.
        • Environmental stress such as extreme temperature, humidity etc

    Plant protection in Hydroponic plants

    Vegetables are affected by a number of pests and diseases, but the severity may vary according to locality. Insects and diseases can cause much damage to your crops if precautions are not taken before these pests arrive in your garden.  Select good disease resistant seed varieties for planting.

    Control of pests & diseases naturally/Organically

        • Use Yellow and blue sticky traps for early pest and disease detection
        • Remove dried and affected plant parts
        • Neem-oil extract
        • Pyrethrum spray
        • Pongamia extract
        • Alcohol spray at minor concentration
        • Herbal water spray
        • Garlic / pepper spray

    Harvest at Peak Quality

        • The quality of your vegetables cannot be improved after harvest. It is therefore important to harvest your crops at the proper maturity. For example, tomatoes have to be picked when they are crossing orange and turning red however if the temperature is high pick them a little early and allow them to ripe in little lower temperature.
        • To maintain quality after harvest, handle vegetables carefully. Avoid bruising or damaging them, for injury will encourage decay.

    Note :For further help and support in gardening Call/WhatsApp on +91-9108498102.


    Stay healthy! Stay safe! Happy gardening!



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