13Jun/12Off

Which plants do you grow now?

Those new to the indoor growing experience often ask what plants can be grown hydroponically.  The answer is both straightforward and expansive – if it’s a plant, it can be grown through hydroponics!  Of course, some specific plants require certain conditions in order to grow to their fullest potential.  Here at the BIG Shop we thought we’d give you the lowdown on some of the most popularly grown crops, with a little growing advice thrown in!

Flowers, vegetables, fruits and more are all able to be cultivated through hydroponics, but if you are growing crops at home, think about what you will do with your harvest before you begin.  It’s no use producing thirty cucumbers if neither you nor anyone you know likes them!  It may seem like common sense but do take the purpose of your crop into consideration.

Good choices for first-time growers are generally herbs, fruits or vegetables – think about what you and your family make the most use of before deciding what to start with.  Herbs are a popular choice based on how relatively small the resulting plant is compared to how widely used the crops are.  If you don’t think you use many herbs and spices in your cooking now, just wait until you start growing hydroponically – you’ll find yourself adding more and more complex and sophisticated flavours to your favourite dishes in no time at all.

Anything with roots can be grown hydroponically, but it’s best to plan ahead and design your growing space around which crops you plan on cultivating.  If, for example, you’re looking to grow tomatoes (probably the most popular choice overall) or other vine-based plants, it’s recommended to provide your hydroponic system with a trellis structure or other type of support to provide an anchor as they grow.  These plants tend to grow upwards as well as outwards, so do remember to give each a fair amount of room.

Other growers may prefer to start with fruit, as fruits can only usually be grown and harvested at specific times of the year.  Especially with our usual unpredictable climate, many hydroponic growers across the UK have started cultivating strawberries, blueberries and grapes – as well as more tropical examples like watermelons and pineapples!  Strawberries are so popular because of their relatively high sale value compared to how little space they take up, and as a result are widely cultivated in commercial setups.

Even root vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips and radishes can technically be grown through hydroponic means, if you submerge the crop itself in the solution instead of attempting to grow it above.  This is, however, a more expensive way of growing something that grows perfectly fine in natural conditions, so most growers steer clear as there is no generally accepted difference in the quality of hydroponic root vegetables over ‘regularly grown’ equivalents.

Make sure to stay tuned, you can be sure we’ll be back with more golden nuggets of advice and guidance on how to make the most of your hydroponic system.  For now – happy growing!

13Mar/12Off

Control the environment of your growroom – pH Levels

If you want to make the most out of your plants, you need to understand how they react to their environment.  The environment they are being cultivated in directly affects your growing results.  Broken down, the major points of consideration are;

  • Temperature
  • Smell
  • PH Levels
  • Water treatment
  • Nutrients

We’ve already addressed some of these issues in previous blog posts, so now we’re taking a closer look at...

pH

The pH scale refers to how acidic or alkaline a substance is, and is one of the most important things to consider when maintaining your growroom.  The scale runs from 1 to 14, with 1 being extremely acidic and 14 being extremely alkaline – a pH of 7 is referred to as neutral and is most commonly found in pure water.c

As any plant cultivator should know, nutrients are important for plant growth and development.  It is the pH level around the roots, though, that defines how well these minerals can be absorbed by the plant.

Most plants thrive in a slightly acidic growing environment – between 5.8 and 6.8 pH – but different times in a plant’s life cycle will require different levels of minerals, which could affect the pH of your growing area.

It is, therefore, important to keep watch over the pH levels of your crops – The Big Shop has several testers in stock from reusable electric varieties such as the ETI Horticare Digital pH Tester to traditional liquid tests like the Flairform pH Test Kit.

A pH test should be regularly conducted – we suggest once a day when first starting out with a growroom until you’ve reached and kept an optimum level, after which you can afford to test once a week purely to make sure the pH levels don’t fluctuate too far.

To stabilise your pH, check your levels and add a small amount of an acidic or alkaline substance, depending on whether you need to respectively lower or raise your pH.  Check again within an hour, then adjust again accordingly.  Start by adding one millilitre per gallon of your hydroponic solution to make the effects of each treatment clearer.  Repeat this process a few times and you should start to get a feel for your system and understand how much altering solution is needed to change your levels appropriately.

We also stock Growth Technology’s pH Up and ph Down substances to help you maintain the most productive growing conditions as possible to really make the most out of your growroom.