Monthly Archives: July 2020

  • Growing & Harvesting Chives in Hydroponics

    Chives are a wonderful Perennial herb to grow if you are feeling like you might like to start your own herb garden. Chives are related to onions and garlic, with long hollow green-stems and a mild, not-too-pungent flavor are usually used fresh. 

    The small size and perennial nature of chive plants means they take up little space and can provide a continual supply of fresh leaves for cutting in both indoor and outdoor systems.

    Demand for pre-packaged fresh, hydroponically grown chives is growing rapidly as many consumers have come to realize the dried product just does not stack up against the freshly harvested foliage for flavour, aroma and appearance.


    Growing and Planting Care

    • 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.
    • Chive seed germinates easily and rapidly, usually within eight to ten days, but a constant moisture level must be maintained and a media with a high water holding capacity is recommended. Optimal temperatures for germination are between 16° – 22° C, with germination being most rapid at 21°C
    • Chives are a temperate or cool season crop, which prefer good light levels combined with average temperatures, although they will grow well in partial shade. 
    • Warm temperatures (above 27°C), promote the formation of flower stalks which restricts foliage development. If both foliage and flowers are required for harvest then a compromise needs to be reached in terms of flower or foliage production. 
    • Often groups of chive plants are set aside for flower harvest only so that total removal of the tough, fibrous flower stalks can be carried out on those plants used for foliage production.
    • Nutrient solutions for chives in hydroponics are similar to those recommended for other members of the Allium family, requiring good levels of sulphur for the production of essential oils and aromatics in the foliage. 
    • Care must also be taken with the balance of nitrogen so that lush, overly weak growth does not develop at the expense of foliage quality and shelf life. 
    • A Nitrogen deficiency will usually be characterized by reduced growth and nitrogen and calcium deficiencies, and reduced leaf quality and will speed up senescence of the older leaves and harvested product.
    • The pH levels are best maintained at a level of 6 to 6.5, with an EC of 1.8 – 2.0 mS cm-1.


    • The first foliage cut should not occur until the plants are at least 15 cm tall, and only a limited amount should be taken at the first harvest
    • All of the leaves should not be cut at any one time – 1/3 to 2/3 of the plant can be cut, leaving some foliage for the next harvest and to provide assimilate production for the plant.
    • Eventually the plants, after many harvests, can become less productive, so replacing plants every two-three years with new seedlings or divisions is a good idea.

    Selection and Storage

    • You'll find fresh, raw chives in the produce section of almost any grocery store. Usually, they are packed in bunches. Chives are available year round.
    • When choosing the best chives, look for full stalks that are bright green and evenly colored. Avoid chives that are wilting or starting to yellow as these are older and won't last as long.
    • When you bring chives home, don't cut them until you are ready to use them. Wrap them in a paper towel and refrigerate until you need them in a recipe. They should last about a week.

    Nutrient Composition & Health Benefits

    • Minerals in chives include calcium (3 mg), phosphorus (1.7 mg), and potassium (8.9 mg)
    • Vitamins in chives include vitamin A (3% of your recommended daily intake), vitamin C (3%), vitamin K (8%), and folate (1%). 
    • Chives contain vitamin K, which is important for bone health and blood clotting
    • The numerous phytochemicals in chives can boost your immune system. Chives also contain"selenium" in trace amounts, which is another important mineral that strengthens immunity. Immune cells deficient in selenium can have difficulty in producing proteins and transporting calcium.
    • Chives are rich sources of " folate ", and we don’t have to stress the importance of folate during pregnancy. Folate helps in the brain development of the fetus – it also aids "cell division and DNA synthesis".
    • "Folic acid" also helps to prevent birth defects, especially in the baby’s brain and spinal cord
    • Chives are good sources of "choline", which is one important nutrient that aids proper sleep.

    Culinary Uses

    • Chives can be featured in all sorts of recipes, from baked potatoes to soups, salads, sauces, and omelets. They're frequently mixed with cream cheese to make a savory spread
    • Chives are typically chopped and can be used as a garnish, although they do have a mild Oniony flavor, especially fresh ones.
    • Chives are good on just about anything. Their mild, oniony flavor pairs well with any savory dish, and the bright green color adds visual appeal as well.
    • Chivebutter, a compound butter made by blending chopped fresh chives into butter, is frequently served with grilled steaks or roasted poultry.
    • Chive stems are extremely narrow, which makes them particularly attractive as a garnish, whether chopped and sprinkled over a dish or draped whole across an entrée.


  • Growing & Harvesting Basil in Hydroponics


    Basil has been used some way in almost every place in the world and has collected its own interesting history throughout the ages.The woody herb can be sweet, savory, or peppery, and it smells amazing. 

    Herbs are much more profitable than leafy greens, and can be a fantastic crop line for market growers. The pricing you receive will vary depending on your market.

    Altogether , there are 150 different species of Basil , but the most common types are:-

    • Sweet Basil
    • Genovese Basil 
    • Thai Sweet Basil
    • Purple Basil 
    • Lemon Basil 
    • Lime Basil 
    • Lettuce Basil 
    • Spicy Basil 
    • Green Ruffles
    • Holy Basil
    • Cinnamon Basil 
    • African Blue Basil 
    • Cardinal Basil 
    • Greek Basil 

    Sweet Basil (aka genovese basil or common basil) - The most common and widely available form of basil, with a fresh, subtly sweet flavor and aroma. Sweet basil is typically used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisines.

    Thai Basil (aka licorice basil) - A variety commonly used in Southeast Asian and Chinese cuisine known for its smaller, darker leaves and spicy, anise-heavy flavor. Used frequently as a garnish in Thai and Vietnamese cooking.

    Cinnamon Basil - A mild variety of basil with a spicy, cinnamon-tinged flavor. Most frequently used in Asian cooking, including marinades, fried rice, and noodles.

    Purple Basil - A less-sweet variety of basil known for its deep purple tone and clove-scented flavor. Typically used as a garnish in Italian and Thai cooking, to add a hint of color and aroma.

    Lettuce Basil - With larger, wrinkled leaves reminiscent of lettuce, this basil has a milder flavor than its counterparts and is often used as a base for salads.

    Holy Basil - This form of basil is known for its religious uses rather than its flavor. Holy basil is revered in the Hindu religion as a symbol of the goddess Tulsi, and is traditionally made into basil extract that is placed around Hindu shrines. Culinarily, this variety has a bitter flavor and is most frequently used in Indian cuisine, particularly in teas and rich dishes.

    Lemon Basil - True to its name, lemon basil tastes like sweet basil with a hint of lemon, and can add a slightly acidic taste to a wide variety of recipes.

    Christmas Basil - This fruity variety of basil tastes like a cross between Genovese and Thai Sweet basil, and is typically used in drinks and desserts.

    All of the popular varieties of Basil can be grown Hydroponically , and then the choice to make is more associated with the flavor of the Basil itself.Today, it’s best known for its versatility and distinct flavor, adding herbaceousness to a wide variety of dishes all over the world.

    Growing and Planting Care :- 

    • 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 plant Basil in 2 ways , By germinating the seeds, or By cuttings, which form the roots within a week.
    • Basil is a warm - weather herb ,so it's best to maintain a temperature of between 70 to 80 degree F .
    • Basil seedlings can be started and grown in a wide range of substrates - Rock wool and phenolic foam are probably the most commonly used substrates for starting seedlings. Other popular choices are coconut coir and peat moss that have been stabilized with a chemical binder or with a mesh wrap.
    • Follow the link below for a complete guide on sowing the seeds in seedling-tray to transplanting the seedlings in Net-Pots and transferring to the NFT system
    • 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 a dark area or cover the seedling-tray with black/white polythene cover or with another empty seedling tray over it.You will see sprouts coming out in a 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 weeks and transplant in the NFT system / DWC system.
    • Every Plant variety has a separate Nutrient composition that's apt for the fleshy grown Basils.
    • As you see that the Basil has become mature than before, know that their nutrients ratio will change .
    • The mix of Potassium and Calcium are more in the feeding nutrients .
    • It is crucial to know that Potassium and Calcium have a direct association with the oil and flavour of Basil leaves and branches .
    • Also , Even Nitrogen and Magnesium are deciding co-factors in yielding leaves and certain essential oils & helps in Photosynthesis,respectively.


    • Basil plant has been bred to be a single - stemmed plant growing upward . For most Home growers and commercial growers , a bushier plant is better and a pruned plant looks better , yields more .
    • The upward growth is known as Apical growth. To change the way that basil grows , growers can trigger a secondary type of growth that moves outward and up instead of straight up . This is called Lateral Growth.
    • A young basil plant (5 - 10 cm / inches tall ) , has buds on the side of the stem that haven't grown out yet.Those are the lateral buds ; they're the back-ups that will only grow if the main stalk gets badly damaged or removed.
    • Clip the stem right above those lateral buds , the buds will be triggered to grow out .
    • By pruning Basil this way , growers can increase the production of that branch and control the shape of the plant.

    Harvesting and Storage 

    • Harvest the Basil leaves before Bolting to Flower .
    • Do not pinch . Invest in sharp sheers! You will damage or pull off a whole stem more often .
    • Harvested Basil must be lightly wrapped in plastic and stored at temperatures between 52 - 57 degree F . 
    • Cut stems can be located in a glass of water at room temperature to maintain shelf life for several days ..
    • To extend the shelf life further, fresh basil can be chopped up and frozen into ice cube trays filled with water or stock for future use. Once solidified, freeze basil cubes in a freezer bags to free up your ice cube trays. 
    • Dried basil will remain fresh in an airtight container for up to six months. 

    Medicinal Uses And Health Benefits 

    • Basil contains many chemicals. These chemicals might help get rid of intestinal worms.
    •  Basil is a good source of vitaminC, Calcium, Magnesium,Potassium, zinc Chlorophyll and Iron.
    • Use its fresh flowers for bronchitis.
    • Use the leaves and seeds, with black pepper, for malaria.
    • Use the whole plant for diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
    • Use the pill and ointment form for eczema.
    • Use an alcohol extract for stomach ulcers and eye diseases.
    • Use an essential oil made from the leaves for insect bites.
    • Many studies support the use of the entire plant of holy basil for human use and its therapeutic value.

    Culinary Uses 

    • This popular herb is used in a variety of Mediterranean and Asian dishes, ranging from creamy sauces to light, herbaceous salads and spicy curries.
    • Ingredients that are complimented by the addition of basil include meats like chicken and beef, olive oil, eggs, tomatoes, and herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano. 
    • Basil is most aromatic when used fresh, but fresh basil should be added at the end of cooking, as excessive heat will significantly deplete the flavor or even cause the herb to turn bitter. 
    • Dried basil is preferred for use throughout the cooking process, as the flavor won’t be significantly altered by the heat.
  • Growing Stevia (Natural Sugar Plant ) in Hydroponics


    The Stevia plant is a perennial that can be grown indoors/outdoors in the Hydroponic System. A single plant can play a big role in the reduction of refined sugar consumption.

    In most of the diet, sweetners, usually supplied by refined white sugar derived from sugar cane and sugar beet, are recognized as being the leading factors for chronic diseases such as diabetes and tooth decay.Just one half teaspoon of 100% pure Stevia extract powder equals the sweetness level of a whole cup of granulated sugar.


    Growing and Planting Care 

    • Gardeners can choose to start from Seed or by Root - cutting, and grow in either cocopeat and vermicompost mix grow media or in Hydroponic Nutrient solution alone
    • This Herbal sweetener is famous for poor germination rates as low as 50% or less and if the Stevia seeds germinated it is a slow grower .
    • Better you take a cutting from a new growth that is not too much green or too woody . If the cutting is too green and fresh it will wilt soon , and if it is too woody it may face trouble rooting .
    • Before propagating Stevia, make sure to check the plant from which the cutting will be taken. Ensure that no disease or pests are present that will be passed on to the new plant by observing the leaves, stems, and grow-media for any unusual spotting, insect presence, or fungal residue on the plant or in the grow-media. Once the established Stevia plant has passed this check, it’s time to grab some fresh cuttings to propagate.
    • Slice the stem with a sharp knife under the third leaf node , counting from the top of the plant . A leaf node is an active area where the leaves are emerging from the stem .
    • The cutting should be roughly about 3-5 inches long.


    Nutrients Applications :

    Stevia is not a heavy feeder and does not like much Nitrogen. Hydrilla suggests feed Stevia in a Hydroponic System with low nitrogen and high potasium Special formulation for growing hydroponic stevia plants and maintain the nutrient solution pH in the range of 6.0 to 6.5.


    Pruning and harvesting Stevia :

    • In the first year year , you can let Stevia plant grow and need not to prune the leaves , it will eventually grow into a tall plant with 7- 8 branches 
    • To maximize the leaf production , you will have to trim back your plants quite a few times to encourage branching.
    • Perform the first pruning when plants are about to 8 - 10 inches in height.
    • When grown year round you can harvest Stevia up to 5 times a year. It will keep growing new stems from where you have to cut it back .
    • It is recommended not to cut it back beyond half of the stem height.
    • To get more sweetness in the leaf ( more of Steviol glycoside content ) , make sure you pluck the leaves prior to flowering .

    Make the most of your Stevia harvest by storing all that wholesome sweetness for future use. There are two main ways to do this :- 


    By drying the leaves. 

    You can dry individual leaves or entire stems, but only the leaf has the sweetness you want to preserve. This can be done by hanging stems or leaves in bunches, as you would with other herbs. Or remove the leaves from the stems and spread them on a non-metal screen outdoors with plenty of air circulation. A day in the sun should suffice. You can use a food dehydrator, or even an oven on low - 140 degrees for about 20 minutes.


    By making a Stevia extract.

    Making an extract will require the use of dried Stevia leaves that are only lightly crushed - not ground fine. This method extracts the sweetness from the Stevia herb and concentrates it in “ Water or Alcohol ” for future use. Bring 1 cup of water to a near boiling, add 1/2 cup of lightly crushed Stevia leaves. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 40 minutes. Strain through cheese cloth or a coffee filter and pour into a sterilized dark colored jar. Store your Stevia extract in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. This yields 3/4 cups, equivalent to about 3 cups of sugar. Now you know how to make a Stevia extract!

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