Category Archives: Hydroponics

Hydroponics

Foliar Feeding in Hydroponic Systems!

What is Foliar Feeding?

Foliar feeding is a technique of feeding plants directly through leaves or foliage. Unlike that of root feeding, it is a fast way to provide nutrients, gases and moisture to plant canopy through leaves. The foliar feed can consist of one nutrient element or a combination of various elements which the crops are deficient in.

The technique was invented by Dr. S.H. Wittwer & H.B. Tukey in 1950. The development was carried in the department of agriculture at the Michigan State University.

Why go for Foliar Feeding?

Foliar feeding is undertaken in hydroponic systems to save your crops during water and nutrient deficiencies. If you mix the plant food in half of the nutrient solution, then you can avoid nutrient toxicity and leaf burn.

Foliar Feeding in Hyrdroponics

However, foliar feeding is used as a means to provide essential micro nutrients to the plants that they may not otherwise receive. It is an easy and fast way to give hydroponic plants an extra boost of necessary nutrients. Well, some of the important reasons why hydroponic gardeners choose this technique are:

  • Sometimes, the plant suffers from root diseases like root rot which prevents it from taking the nutrients. As a result, it will produce smaller yields. In such cases, foliar feed applied on a regular basis can bring those diseases under control.
  • Generally, in a hydroponic system, pH levels are either too high or low and the balance of nutrients that are fed to the plants isn’t that much optimized. Due to this, the crops inhibit certain nutrient deficiencies. These deficiencies can also be a result of poor rooting medium that doesn’t hold moisture well enough. In such cases, a foliar feed consisting of specific nutrient elements can help in overcoming those deficiencies after its application. To maintain an optimal pH level of your nutrient solution, you can consider adding Olivia’s pH Adjusters ‘Up or Olivia’s pH Adjusters ‘Down’.
  • Climatic conditions sometimes prevent the uptake of essential nutrients by the plant which can cause several nutrient deficiencies. This situation calls for the usage of foliar feeding.
  • Foliar fertilizing is also accomplished to give the plants some extra nutrients they require to thrive at their best. This is simply done to increase the yield in the most cost-effective way. All it takes is a spray bottle full of an efficient foliar spray!
  • To amplify the quality of hydroponic crops, many growers use seaweed extracts as a foliar fertilizer. Those additives consist of wide variety of nutrient elements in traces that can enhance the growth of plants.
  • Many plants go under stress when they are under watered or over watered. Even, if they recover from damage, they are less likely to receive all the essential nutrients because of the lost root mass. It is where foliar feed helps plants in getting sufficient nutrients.
  • Foliar feeding is also helpful in feeding the plants with the nutrients that don’t translocate i.e. move from one part (of the plant) to another. For example – iron and phosphorous are two examples of such nutrients that need to be fed through foliar spray.

How to Apply Foliar Feed?

The application of foliar fertilizer depends on the size of your hydroponic garden. Foliar feeding is generally done through a hand sprayer or a leaf blower backpack containing the solution. While foliar feeding, make sure that the solution is applied to both sides of the leaves. Moreover, try to apply the fertilizer when the climate is cool because at that time, pores of your plants are widely open and they will receive the solution more effectively.

Things to Consider Before Foliar Feeding:

There are certain factors one need to consider before treating hydroponic plants with foliar feed. They are:

  • First foremost thing you need to consider is the pH of the foliar spray. For optimum absorption, its pH should be around 5.8 as too acidity or alkalinity will not allow the leaves to absorb those nutrients effectively.
  • Another thing you have to keep in mind is that the grow room should not be too warm as this will make the foliar spray less effective. This is because those fine mist will tend to evaporate much quickly if the temperature of the grow room is too high.
  • It is also required to achieve an optimal value of pH of your nutrient solution. The reason here is that a foliar feed does not replaces a nutrient solution even if one is using a good quality spray. So, it is crucial to check the pH balance of your nutrient solution too.

Even your hydroponic plants receive adequate amount of nutrients, they can still be benefited from foliar feeding. Just experiment on a part of your crop before treating the whole plant with foliar fertilizer.

Factors Influencing Plant Cloning Success Rate!

Plant cloning may appear as a daunting task for many novice growers. But the truth is that anyone can indulge in this plant propagation method to grow clones successfully. It is not all at difficult if you utilize the right conditions to make it happening. Well, there are surely certain factors that can influence cloning success rate to greater extent. Here are some of them:

Factors Influencing Plant Cloning Success Rate!

  • Parent Plant: Cloning success rate is highly influenced by the condition of parent stock. Before taking your cutting from it, you need to make sure that it is disease-free because even if it genetically suitable but is infected, it is useless. Never select a mother plant that has dead spots, wilted or discolored leaves as it will produce bad clones with poor health. Instead, choose the parent stock that shows the best resistance to pest and diseases, has greenest and firmest stems and offcourse a good yield. Also be sure to take your cuttings from a new plant every year as cuttings taken from new plants root faster. If you want to take cuttings from your favorite plant that is bit older, just take the cuttings from its base.
  • Rooting Hormone: The quality of rooting gel you use greatly affects the propagation of cuttings. Best is to use Olivia’s Cloning Gel for fast and rapid root development. It is also known to eliminate transplant shock from cuttings that you grow indoors or outdoors.
  • Presence of Leaves/Buds: Presence of leaves and buds on parent plant are crucial for root formation in the clones. Many researches have claimed that parent plants that do not have any buds or leaves cease the process of root development in cuttings. This is because absence of foliage will not let photosynthesis happen and the absence of the process will not produce necessary carbohydrates essential for cloning. So, you should pick a young stem that has sufficient green leaves and buds.
  • Rooting Medium: A good rooting medium is the one that has the capability of retaining moisture or air well enough. Besides this, it must provide a firm support to the cuttings. It should also supply essential nutrients to cuttings for their successful propagation. If you are cloning plants in hydroponic system, choose more advanced media like Rockwool.
  • Light: Giving correct lighting to cuttings is another factor that influences success of cloning. Generally, when the cuttings are new and no root development has taken place, they require soft light which can be given through fluorescent lights or compact fluorescent bulbs.
  • Humidity: Adequate range of humidity, about 70 to 80% is also crucial for successful cloning. This is because when you take cuttings, you cut the supply of water for them. And to supply them adequate moisture, you have to elevate the levels of humidity in grow room. For this, use humidifiers or humidity domes. If you can’t afford to buy those humidifiers, routinely spray your cuttings with a mist.
  • Temperature: You should maintain an optimum temperature range of 72°F – 80°F for your cuttings. And also, the root zone temperature should vary between 76°F and 80°F. This warmer zone makes cuttings take root faster. If you are cloning during winters, place your cloning system on a heating mat with its temperature set to 80°F. As far as water temperature is concerned, keep it to 83°F in summers. For winters, make sure water in the pipes reach room temperature before it is given to your cuttings.

Challenges While Gardening Indoors!

Indoor gardening becomes a great alternative when people lack gardening space to cultivate their crops. Either you decide to grow hydroponically or in containers & troughs, growing indoors is always amazing. It can even yield bigger produce and healthier crops than you can get from a traditional garden. But planting indoors involves some challenges that can deter crops from growing well. Study these obstacles that can pop up in your way and try to remove them as you plant indoors:

Indoor Gardening Challenges

  • A large irrigation system is utilized for crops grown outdoors while with gardening indoors, the story is other way round. You are either growing in hydroponic systems or in pots which cannot be watered this way. Also, crops grown outside are less likely to rot in case of over-watering because soil acts as a drainage system for them. Even when you underwater, condition of crops don’t deteriorate as soil holds water in it and delivers it to plants whenever there is a scarcity. But indoor crops whether grown hydroponically or in soil allow very less margin for error. These plants have to be ensured that they are not receiving water less or in excess.
  • Environmental upgrades must be made to indoor gardening as required. This is because you are only responsible for creating an ideal atmosphere for your indoor garden that need to be updated as plant’s needs change with time.
  • Unlike outdoor crops, indoor crops won’t be getting natural light to initiate photosynthesis. Instead, you would be giving artificial lighting to help them thrive. And when it comes to lighting, fluorescent lights or table lamps won’t work because these lights lack the full spectrum needed to carry out photosynthesis. So, to give your indoor crops the right lighting, you will need full-spectrum florescent bulbs or high-density grow lights.
  • If you are growing outdoors and using high-quality soil, it will satisfy all the nutrient needs of your plants. But if you are growing your crops indoors in hydroponic way, you need special nutrient solution to meet the nutrient requirements of those plants. To let your plants thrive successfully, consider feeding them with Olivia’s Growing Solution.
  • When you are gardening outside, any odor produced there quickly dissipates in open air while indoors, this problem can become worse. If you are not using sterile hydroponic equipment and also not keeping your indoor growing place tidy, this will only cause germs which will give bad odor.
  • The crops growing inside won’t be getting natural air like outdoor plants so it’s required to arrange fans to provide adequate ventilation. If you are growing hydroponically, you will need air pumps to provide air movement inside the reservoir.