Hydroponic conclusions

This is the place to discuss not just allotments but all general gardening problems and queries which don't fit into the specific categories below.
(formerly allotments and tips, hints and problems)
User avatar
Odsox
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4887
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:21 pm
Location: West Cork, Ireland

Hydroponic conclusions

Post: #287455 Odsox
Sun Jun 19, 2016 3:03 pm

As most of you know I've been dabbling with hydroponic systems for 8 years now, and it has been quite interesting to discover it's quirks and which vegetables grow better and which dislike it.

Of the plants that I grow, the ones that grow better than in soil are Peppers, Lettuces and Strawberries. Those 3 are pretty much all that I will grow hydroponically in future.
There are others that also grow very well, such as onions which grow to a huge size, but as I don't grow for the show bench it is rather pointless growing football sized onions for the kitchen. Carrots also grow well and with no root fly damage, but you are restricted to the ball type ones. French beans grow well too, but in my set up I can only grow the dwarf types and I much prefer the climbing variety. I would imagine the dwarf Runner beans would grow equally well, but I never tried them. Cucumbers grow well too but as they are climbing plants, I have the same height problem that I have with beans

Tomatoes are an exception. They grow exceptionally well hydroponically, and I have grown many different varieties over the years and comparing them against the same varieties growing in soil. The hydroponic ones had more fruit per plant and bigger fruit than the soil grown ones, but in every case the hydroponic ones had little or no flavour in comparison to their soil grown siblings.
That's probably the reason most shop bought tomatoes are pretty bland as I would imagine nearly all commercially grown tomatoes are hydroponic now.

Out of pure interest I did grow other things just to see ...
Peas grew well, as did broad beans, melons were OK, radishes and spring onions also did well.
I grew mangetout peas and they grew very differently to soil grown ones. They grew well, produced masses of pods which were all picked. Then a few days later it started to sprout new growth and a couple of weeks later was loaded with flowers again. This happened 3 times in all and might have continued but it was late in the year and by the third time it was nearly winter.
Of those above, only radishes were worth the bother of growing hydroponically although I just might experiment with mangetout next year and start them off earlier this time.

Plants that didn't do well for one reason or another were Cauliflowers which do really well if you persevere with making sure the calcium levels are right, but in reality that's too much trouble when all the other types of plants in the pipes are perfectly OK without the extra faffing about.
Calabrese are weird in that they grow well, produce nice sized heads, but never make any side shoots. Soil grown ones go on producing side shoots for weeks or even months after the main head is cut, so are much more productive.

Overall the down side of growing hydroponically is the small extra cost of the electricity to run a pump three times a day for about 10 minutes, plus the extra cost of buying the nutrient. (I haven't got to grips yet with making my own)
Another point is it's not organic, although I did dabble with making an organic nutrient with compost, seaweed and comfrey, something I shall continue experimenting as I would like to have the nutrient as pure activated compost tea.
The upside is that it just about runs itself without supervision. I have to top up the nutrient every 3 weeks and empty and refill the tank every 9 weeks, other than that just pick the produce. No weeding involved and all at a comfortable waist height.

So, this winter I will dismantle the pipe in the polytunnel and reclaim 20 sq ft of growing area and I might relocate it in the big greenhouse, making it a three pipe system, but it's becoming a question as to what will I grow in it. There's only so many peppers, lettuce and strawberries that two people can eat.

Sorry for the rambling epistle. :iconbiggrin:
Tony

Disclaimer: I almost certainly haven't a clue what I'm talking about.

ina
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 7708
Joined: Sun May 22, 2005 9:16 pm
Location: Kincardineshire, Scotland

Re: Hydroponic conclusions

Post: #287456 ina
Sun Jun 19, 2016 7:12 pm

Don't be sorry - it's highly interesting! :)
Ina
I'm a size 10, really; I wear a 20 for comfort. (Gina Yashere)

User avatar
Flo
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 1549
Joined: Sun Mar 30, 2008 10:12 am
Location: Northumberland

Re: Hydroponic conclusions

Post: #287457 Flo
Sun Jun 19, 2016 7:27 pm

Dwarf runner beans aren't worth the effort of growing anywhere - well up here we have found that they are the most unproductive of all beans and none of the allotment holders bother with them after trial and error.

User avatar
Green Aura
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 8383
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:16 pm
latitude: 58.569279
longitude: -4.762620
Location: North West Highlands

Re: Hydroponic conclusions

Post: #287458 Green Aura
Sun Jun 19, 2016 7:32 pm

I'm really surprised that it was only tomatoes that don't taste particularly good, compared to soil grown.

There's a lot of interest these days in the bacterial content in soil and its role in producing healthy and tasty produce. I would imagine that bought in nutrient will have been pasteurised - I wonder if toms grown with your homemade compost tea would fare better.

Aquaponics next?
Maggie

Never doubt that you can change history. You already have. Marge Piercy

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. Anais Nin

User avatar
Odsox
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4887
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:21 pm
Location: West Cork, Ireland

Re: Hydroponic conclusions

Post: #287459 Odsox
Mon Jun 20, 2016 4:14 pm

Flo wrote:Dwarf runner beans aren't worth the effort of growing anywhere - well up here we have found that they are the most unproductive of all beans and none of the allotment holders bother with them after trial and error.

I agree with you Flo (and fellow allotment growers), they are certainly only suitable for container growing, although probably all commercially grown French beans are dwarf so that they can machine harvest them.
Funnily enough I spotted some notes in my 2014 garden diary where I commented that I was picking a kilo of beans every other day off of 8 Fasold climbing French beans.
Tony

Disclaimer: I almost certainly haven't a clue what I'm talking about.

User avatar
Odsox
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4887
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:21 pm
Location: West Cork, Ireland

Re: Hydroponic conclusions

Post: #287460 Odsox
Mon Jun 20, 2016 4:20 pm

Green Aura wrote: I wonder if toms grown with your homemade compost tea would fare better.

That's an interesting point, that might just spur me into trying it to find out.
Green Aura wrote:Aquaponics next?

Err, no. Not unless it's possible to grow haddock to full size in the small tank that I've got. :lol:
Or lobsters ....
Tony

Disclaimer: I almost certainly haven't a clue what I'm talking about.


Return to “Allotments, Veg Patches and Container Gardening”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests