Archive for July, 2008

Hydroponic Gardening—Soybeans

Soybeans are one of the most versatile of crops. While they have been grown for some time as a possible alternative fuel source, they are finally being recognized for their nutritional value. As meat prices continue to rise, alternative sources of protein-rich food are being turned to—and soybeans fit the bill. Let’s explore some of the special growing conditions needed for soybeans in your hydroponic garden.

One of the first things necessary when growing soybeans is to inoculate them with special nitrogen-fixing bacteria. This is used to allow the beans to absorb nitrogen more readily. You dust the seeds with this special solution before planting. These inoculates come in both powder and liquid form. Fungicide treatments applied to seed before planting are designed to protect the plants from root rot diseases. Many fungicide treatments can be mixed with inoculation materials and applied at the same time.

Soybeans grow like many other beans, vining and needing some sort of structure to support them. Construct a support system in your hydroponic growing area by running a line from one end of the area to another. When this is done, provide lines from each plant upward to the main line. This will enable your soybeans to grow upward, providing more space for plants and allowing bottom growth to obtain enough light. Soybeans need a great deal of light to produce flowers, which will then become your soybeans. Without enough light, your plants will not flower.

While soybeans need a great deal of light, they do not like either high temperatures or great humidity. The growing environment would be ideal if it stays around sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Humidity in the hydroponic growing area also needs to be kept low to prevent causing your soybeans to rot.

A growing medium such as a peat/vermiculite blend is best for your soybean crop. You may also want to consider placing pebbles at the bottom of your growing container, as they prefer a well-drained medium that allows the roots plenty of room to breath.

Soybeans are an excellent choice for the hydroponic gardener. Provide them with a growing medium that drains well, plenty of light and a pre-treatment with a special nitrogen-fixing inoculate and you will soon have one of the most versatile crops available.

Finally, to help ensure your soybeans get the best nutrition possible, you should check out the seven best-kept secrets of hydroponics and subscribe to the Advanced Nutrients newsletter at Advanced Nutrients is the world’s foremost supplier of hydroponic nutrients to discriminating growers everywhere.

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Hydroponic Gardening – Leeks

Leeks are part of the onion family. They have a milder flavor, however, and are often preferred to their stronger tasting cousin. This vegetable is very versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked and both leaves and stems are edible. In addition, this cold-weather crop is so easy to grow, it is almost a must in any hydroponic garden.

Leeks do best in a perlite growing material. This allows the roots plenty of air by providing adequate drainage. The roots of the leeks are the most wanted part and you do not want to keep them too moist or you can cause root rot. An ebb and flow system will work perfectly while growing hydroponic leeks as it will enable the gardener to control how moist the growing medium remains between feedings. Leeks prefer a pH of between 6.5 and 7.0 for optimal growth and will benefit tremendously from added nitrogen.

One of the most preferred methods of feeding leeks is the drip irrigation method. This method allows for adjustments to be made easily should it be necessary. You want to keep the roots slightly moist, but allowing them to remain wet for too long can cause rot. The adjustment valves on the drip irrigation system are easier to maintain than some other hydroponic methods.

Leeks have very few problems with insects. Having your hydroponic garden inside either your home or a greenhouse should eliminate this pest problem completely. It is important to remember that commercial pest solutions are highly discouraged in the hydroponic garden. If absolutely necessary, visit your local hydroponic supply store and obtain a pest product specially formulated for hydroponics. These are developed to cause the least amount of damage possible to your leeks and other plants.

Being cold weather crops, your growing area temperature can be as low as twenty-four degrees Fahrenheit, but you really don’t want to allow this low of temperature for too long. During germination, set temperature at seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit and provide as much light as possible. Once your plants have become as big around as an average pencil, they will be ready to plant in their final growing area. At this point, the temperature in the growing area needs to remain between fifty-five and seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit, preferably at the lower end of this spectrum. Temperatures above seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit will jeopardize the growth of your leeks.

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