More and more people are choosing the varieties of food they will grow based on two very important factors often overlooked today: Flavor and nutrition! These qualities rank among the top priorities of the modern gardener looking to enrich their diet with natural, flavor-full and non GMO foods. The answer lies with heirloom vegetables. Heirloom vegetables are old, interesting varieties of the foods we eat today. They come in all shapes and colors and flavors, and are a throwback to a time when less emphasis was placed on yield and shelf life but rather taste and nutrition. This is why Homegrown has selected some unique heirloom varieties and made them available through our stores.
Below of a list of some heirlooms and other plants we propagated for sale this season:
Earl of Edgecomb Tomato– When the 6th Earl of Edgecombe died in the 1960’s, the heir to the title was a tomato lover and rancher living in New Zealand. He traveled to England to claim the title, and took this extraordinary tomato with him. The smooth, beautiful 3-inch round, orange, mango-colored fruits are perfectly globe-shaped, growing in clusters of two or more. Flesh is smooth, meaty and marvelous, with sweet, rich flavor, rather tropical and fruity. Indeterminate 73 days.
Indigo Rose Tomato -The blackest tomato yet. Acidic taste and deep plum interior. They show good field resistance to fungal disease and blight. Growing in clusters of 6-8 fruit weighing 2-2.5 oz. Very, very productive. Indeterminate.
Marianna’s Peace Tomato – It is said that Marianna’s Peace is among the 3 finest tasting tomatoes inexistence. Creamy, dense, red flesh is intensely rich, with perfect sweet-acid balance, great old fashioned tomato flavour. Large 12 cm (5”) fruit. Czech Heirloom from early 1900’s. 80 days Heirloom. Indeterminate.
Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomato – A very old tomato, possibly an originator of the modern tomato. Very tall vines can grow to 300-400cm. Harvest an immense amount of delicious, very small tomatoes right up to frost. Indeterminate, Heirloom 1889.
Black Zebra Cherry Tomato– Perfect for smaller gardens and containers, the Black Zebra Cherry is unique and flavorful. It’s a Heirloom and open pollinated Tomato variety which produces slightly larger cherry tomatoes (1-1.5″) with a firm consistency. Great for slicing!
Yellow Brandywine Tomato – A large Yellow Brandywine tomato. Good, sweet flavour, producing 1-2lb fruit on potato leaved plants. Pick just before ripe to avoid cracking.90 days. Indeterminate. Heirloom.
Roma Tomato – The Roma tomato is a determinate, oblong variety that is very meaty with a low number of seeds. Average fruit size is 5 ounces. Great for cooking, canning and making sauce, this heirloom dates back to 1958! Average time to maturity: 76 days.
Yellow Stuffers – These big, blocky, thick-walled tomatoes are the best beefsteaks for stuffing and baking. The tasty 200g (7 oz) fruits are like bell peppers, with large interior cavities. Plants perform just as well outdoors as in the greenhouse. Matures in 80 days.
Little Bells – These are very early sweet bells with thick walls, densely set onto dwarf plants. At the green stage these are apple yellow, ripening through orange to a dark red at maturity. Great pepper for northern climes with short seasons.
Poblano (Ancho) – These hot peppers are very, very popular in Mexico. They are called Poblanos when fresh and green but Ancho once they are ripe and dried. Green peppers turn reddish brown. They are mildly hot with a sweet taste 100-2000 SHU’s. Can be roasted and stuffed for chili rellenos (don’t forget to remove the skin after roasting). Dried, they can be ground for chili powder and added to mole sauces. Fully mature at 80 days.
Thai Sun Pepper – Perfect pepper for apartments and small Gardens. The miniature plant only grows ten to twelve inches high and about one to one and a half feet wide. The one inch peppers grow facing the sun. One plant has literally hundreds of these fireballs. This little devil packs a big wallop. The leaves are tiny so the plant is almost all peppers. It is easily grown in containers put on a porch, patio or deck. Anyone, anywhere can enjoy plenty of hot peppers with the Thai sun pepper. They ripen early and produce all season long. Each pod has a few scarce seeds.
Korean Gochu Pepper – Tired of making kimchi too spicy by accidentally putting in one too many Thai peppers? This pepper is here to save the day & make the best authentic kimchi. Not quite as hot as a Thai or cayenne, which means you can make your kimchivery red (tons of chili) without killing the people who eat it. Still fairly hot so be careful. The real greatness of this pepper is in its earliness to turn red in cool conditions & its enormous yields (No, really. So many peppers you won’t know what to do with all of them.) Dries easily & is great for ristras. Fruit are similar to a cayenne in shape but a little shorter & wider.
Carolina Reaper – GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS DECLARES THE CAROLINA REAPER THE “WORLDS HOTTEST PEPPER” Large plants produce loads of the hottest peppers on the planet. Beware! Peppers average 1,569,000 Scoville Heat Units.
For customer’s who would prefer to start their own plants, Homegrown provides a full range of information and products to help you achieve your goals. Stop by, or call your local store for details!
According to NASA, a new development in expanding in-orbit food production offers the tantalizing prospect of astronauts enjoying fresh food on the International Space Station. Called the Veg-01 experiment, the plant growth chamber will ride aboard the Dragon capsule on the SpaceX-3 resupply mission to the ISS. You can be sure they’ll use hydroponics.
To read the full article click here
Worldwide markets are poised to achieve significant growth as the food supply for the world starts to adopt automated process. Grow lights have become more sophisticated and less expensive to run as solar and wind energy are adopted by greenhouses and plant factories.
To read more click here
This article outlines a proposed technology to use sunlight and water from icebergs to power and irrigate crop production in oceans.
Wild pollinators are beneficial in themselves. They can also be harvested to do a farmer’s bidding. Both ideas were explored during the Guelph Organic Conference on February 1. Peter Kevan and John Sutton of the University of Guelph talked about the bee-vectored biological control of agricultural crop diseases. The technology is already being used in Essex County pepper greenhouses and now it’s being introduced for a variety of outdoor crops. Read more here: http://www.hortibiz.com/hortibiz/nieuws/bee-vectored-biological-control/
By Alex Dymon
Winter is still upon us, but this has no bearing on your ability to grow delicious hot peppers in the comfort of your own home. Whether you are growing indoors from sprout to harvest, or simply starting off your seeds for the outdoor season, both can be accomplished with great success.
In part one of this series I will discuss the best methods used for sprouting your pepper seeds. Although it is possible to sprout your seeds in soil, we will be focusing on the hydroponic methods in order to take advantage of the many benefits of hydroponic growing. These benefits include increased growth rates, faster maturity and fruit production as well as increased yields.
What you will need:
Lets get started:
The first step in sprouting pepper seeds is to give them a presoak. This means you should soak your seeds in water overnight to kick start the germination process. A shot glass or similar device works well for this practice. Remember to separate seeds based on variety in order to be able to identify which plant is which down the road.
The next step is to prepare your growing medium. Jiffy 7 propagation plugs are best suited to soil or soilless growing as they have fine particles which can become loose and clog or soil active hydroponic systems. Rockwool starter plugs can be easily transplanted to either soil, soilless or hydroponic gardens making them the most versatile. Both of these types of growing media require a presoak before they are ready to receive the seed. Using your pH tester and your pH Down, set the pH of your water to 6.5 for the Jiffy 7 method or 5.5 for the Rockwool method. Do this by first testing the pH of your water and then adding a few drops of pH down and retesting until your pH is in the correct range. Be sure to stir the solution well before taking your adjusted pH readings. Once your pH is set to the correct level, it is time to soak your media. 10 seconds is sufficient for Rockwool and the Jiffy 7’s will require more time to expand since they come in compressed form. Once your media is soaked it can be transferred to your propagation tray. The Jiffy 7’s will require some shaping and removal of excess water before they are placed in your propagation tray. Propagation media should be moist but not soggy or else your seeds may rot.
Now that your tray is full of propagation media, it’s time to insert your presoaked seeds. Best practice is to place three seeds per propagation plug. If your seeds are far more valuable than the cost of the propagation media, you may elect to plant only one seed per plug. Seeds should be planted at a depth of 1/4″ and tamped gently to ensure coverage. Sometimes it is necessary to tear off a small piece of Rockwool from the edge of the cube to cover the seed. Once seeds are planted and tamped, they are ready to be sealed in their propagation dome to establish a warm humid environment to aid in germination. A Seedling Heat Mat can help speed up the germination process, however, be sure that the media does not dry out due to the added heat (ideal seed temperature for germination is 80-85 Degrees Fahrenheit).Ensure that there is no standing water in the bottom of your tray and then the propagation tray/dome can now be placed in a sunny location or under a grow lamp to speed up the propagation process.
A general rule of thumb is that a single T5grow lamp can be sufficient to sprout seeds, however, multiple lamps will produce better growth once germination has occurred.
Suggestion: Coloured small paper clips make for excellent plant identifiers. Other low cost items can be used as well, just be sure that they do not absorb moisture such as wood or paper or they will be prone to grow mould while sealed in your propagation dome.
Note: some pepper seeds can take up to 4+ weeks to germinate.
Once your peppers sprout and begin to grow, the strongest of the three seeds should be left to live, and the weaker plants culled from each propagation plug. This can be achieved by simply clipping the weaker plants with a pair of scissors at the base. It is not recommended to grow more than one plant per plug as they will compete for resources for the rest of their lives. Also at the time of germination, the vents on the propagation dome should be progressively opened each day to slowly expose the seedlings to the less humid atmosphere. Once the first set of true leaves appear (not the first set of rounded leaves called cotyledons) it is time to apply your fertilizer at 1/4 strength. For DNF Gro this means 1.5 ml of part A and 1.5 ml of Part B to one litre of H2O. Only water once plugs become dry and light weight, however do not wait too long for your delicate sprouts to wilt or the damage may be irreversible.
Congratulations, if you made it this far then you are well on your way to producing a healthy pepper harvest!
Stay tuned for the next installment which will focus on the lighting and growth methods available to grow these sprouts to the size required for an abundant harvest!
If you require additional information on seeds and germination click the links below:
by Cindy R
In previous articles we have explored various types of sex! Now don’t rush out to find the pornographic back issues of seed catalogues. If you weren’t fortunate enough to have read the articles we were talking about plant sex! (Exciting if you’re a grower but not too sexy if you’re expecting porn!)
Sexual reproduction, the germination and propagation of a seed, and asexual reproduction or cloning are two excellent procreation methods used for plant duplication.
We have successfully created a proliferation of new plant material either from seed or cuttings. Our objective now is to keep the plants healthy and productive in a hydroponic environment. A healthy root zone and strong pest resistant vegetation will help to produce an abundance of flowers and fruit.
Plants are what they eat, therefore the nutrient solution you feed them plays a very important role in determining the success of your crop. There are twenty mineral elements that are essential to plant growth. Years of studying these elements have led researchers to hydroponics by combining these water soluble nutrients in specific amounts to meet various plant’s needs.
|Macronutrients are required in large amounts
||Component of all organic compounds
||supplied by air & water
||Basic building block of hydrocarbons
||Part of chlorophyll, amino acids, proteins
||Used in photosynthesis and almost all aspects of growth
||Activates enzymes, used in formation of sugar and starch
||Used in cell growth and division, part of cell wall
||Part of chlorophyll, activates enzymes
||Part of amino acids and proteins
Base nutrients are the most important nutrient choice with your plants.
Two part formulas work better than one part formulas. In one part, there are many agents in the formula that cause build ups and especially in hydroponics systems will lead to clogged tubing. With two part formulas, the agents are not present as they are not necessary. This also means that the nutrients are made more readily available for the plants to intake.
Also be sure to look for a nutrient with no dyes or additives. These are not beneficial for your plants and can often do more damage than good. From our testing, we have found that Dutch Nutrient Formula takes care of all the plants needs in the healthiest way…remember…they are what they eat!
© Copyright 2013 Homegrown Hydroponics, Inc. All rights reserved
A Plant Fertilizer Recipe for the Control of Algae in Planted Aquaria
This method of fertilizing the water column in planted aquaria uses phosphate as the limiting plant growth factor. In this method, larger order plants are able to out-compete algae for this limited resource and thus control the appearance of algae. Use of this method entails regular (possibly daily) dosing of small amounts of fertilizer to ensure an abundance of nutrients and a limited supply of phosphate. Simply put, if you see algae, you are using too much fertilizer. If your plants are going yellow, you are using too little fertilizer. Use common fertilizer tests for nitrogen to gain an accurate level of nutrients within the water column. There is a possibility that micronutrients can become toxic if a 25% water change is not done every second week.
There are main micronutrients. They include Boron, Calcium, Chloride, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Sulfur, Zinc. These nutrients are often found in small amounts in tap water, and in low growth conditions, it isn’t necessary to supplement them. But with improved plant growth, these nutrients will be quickly depleted from the water, and plants will suffer. For the Micronutrients, there are many commercially available fertilizers. The micronutrient mix provided by Homegrown Hydroponics Inc. contains iron, manganese, magnesium, sulfur, boron, zinc, and molybdenum. Alternatively, many people make their own.
Mix with water to make a 1500 ml solution,
(Six Pack # 2) 2 Teaspoons (14g) K2SO4 (potassium sulfate)
(Six Pack #3) 1 Teaspoon (6g) KNO3 (potassium nitrate)
(Six Pack #5) 2.5 Tablespoons (33g) MgSO4
(Six Pack #6) 1 Tablespoon (9g) Chelated Trace Element Mix (7% Fe, 1.3% B, 2% Mn, 0.06% Mo, 0.4% Zn, 0.1% Cu, EDTA, DTPA)
300 ml (1.5 cups) distilled H2O
by Matt Lebbanister
We as human beings are notorious for trusting our eyes. This tendency has lead to many phrases such as, “Never judge a book by its cover”, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, and “Out of sight, out of mind”. We as gardeners are no different. Many indoor gardeners, professionals and hobbyists alike, have a habit of only caring to the health of the plant that is visible to us. Overlooking the importance of root health can not only lead to shortcoming at harvest time, but can invite unwanted pests and disease into the grow room.
With root health being so vital, proper care is necessary to maintain vigorous root growth throughout all stages of plant development. Now, not all roots grow underground in soil. Orchids are an example of plants whose roots grow in the air. Such plants are known as “aerials”. For the sake of keeping things simple, the more common plants with a root system that does grow underground will be discussed in this article. As well a brief description of the root system and how it works will be given. It will be explained how proper technique and some ‘must have’ products will allow your roots to reach their maximum potential throughout all phases of plant growth. Explosive root growth below ground will always mean explosive plant growth above.
Roots in vascular plants begin when a seed germinates or a cutting is coaxed into growing roots. The single root from a seed will grow down into the medium in search of water and nutrients and begins to branch out rootlets. As the roots grow into the soil/soulless or hydroponics medium, the roots act as an anchor to keep the plant stable. Roots at this early stage of growth are smaller and more delicate than the roots of established plants. This means that special attention is needed when caring for young plants.
Young roots cannot be dried out, where established plants can survive awhile when dry. Whether starting your cuttings in a soil/soulless mix or in a hydroponics medium like rockwool, be sure to water often. Take care when watering. Roots at such an early stage of development can be drowned easily. When over water, plant root-hairs cannot take in any oxygen. Microscopic root-hairs will only absorb water and nutrients in the presence of oxygen. Over watering a plant at any stage of growth will not only mean that the plant is denied any nutrients, but water as well. This means that by over watering your plants, especially seedlings and cuttings, you can actually cause the plants to dry out.
To prevent over watering, always use a growing medium that has good aeration. Adding pearlier to a mix can increase the oxygen retention to an ideal amount. Also, using multi layered propagation trays will decrease the risk of drowning roots. Multi layered propagation trays have a layer with holes for the medium to sit on. When this tray is put in another tray without holes it traps any excess water away from the growing medium.
A great way to start off healthy roots when propagating seedlings or cuttings is to starve the plants of nutrient initially. By limiting the amount of nutrient the plant receives the roots are forced to grow strong and grow quickly to search for nutrient. This is achieved by denying seedlings and cuttings any nutrient for the first week of root growth, then increasing the levels of nutrient gradually each consecutive feeding until reaching full strength. Adding nutrient to a solution being fed to young roots will give them no reason to grow large since they will not need to look for food. Also, young roots are delicate and can be burned easily.
Here are a few products that are safe to feed young roots and will increase their growth rate. Humic acid, usually labeled “Black” by manufacturers, is an excellent additive to any nutrient solution regardless of stage, but can be especially beneficial to young roots. Humic acid can improve the quality of soil/soulless mediums by increasing water retention and by supercharging biological activity. Humic acid is found in healthy soil and is what gives it its rich, black colour. It acts as a chelating agent by latching itself to many micro nutrients essential to root growth. When taken by the plant’s root system, the fact that the humic acid has attached itself to many other nutrients increases the efficiency of the plant.
Another product, which is very similar and safe to feed young roots, is fulvic acid. Fulvic acid, usually labeled gold by manufacturers, is a derivative of humic acid and works well in conjunction with humic acid. Fulvic acid latches itself to macro nutrients and draws them into the roots. Both fulvic and humic acid can be used safely throughout all stages of plant development.
Heating pads are a must for early stages of root growth. The ideal temperature for rapid root growth is 65-75 F. This simple product can keep the young root zone safe and healthy within this ideal temperature range. Using a heating mat can also take days to weeks off the time taken to root cuttings.
With roots growing quickly, attention must be paid to the container the plant is in. Plants should never be allowed to become root bound in whatever container they are in. Always transplant before plants become root bound. When transplanting, one must take care of the delicate root-hairs. Damaged roots can invite disease into the plant.
Since mature plants have more specialized roots, special care must be given. There are many simple products and techniques that can give any grower explosive root growth and ensure root health. The methods may change depending on whether growing in a soil/soulless medium or growing hydroponically, but the principle remains the same. For instance, all roots, not including aerials need to be kept out of the light. Light not only dries out the root, but it promotes the growth of algae and bacteria on the roots. Roots in soil/soulless mixes are easily kept out of the light, but plants grown on ebb and flow tables in rockwool cubes can be a little trickier. One simple technique for keeping light off your ebb and flow table is to cover it with black and white plastic. This should be done before the plants are transplanted from starter cubes to any larger size. Place the larger cubes in the arrangement desired on the table. Once this is done, cover the table with the black and white plastic, white side up to reflect the light and black side down to absorb any light that would reach the roots. Then cut X’s in the plastic where the starter cubes will be placed into the larger cubes. This keeps the light out of the root zone and will keep the humidity in.
There are products that are relatively new to the market that can provide rapid root growth throughout all stages of plant development. These products feature beneficial bacteria and fungi. These beneficial bacteria and fungi form a symbiotic relationship with plant roots where nutrients are broken down making it easier for the plant to absorb them. They are found naturally in soil, but soulless mixes and hydroponics growing mediums are void of any beneficial bacteria and/or fungi. Many companies have made these symbiotic organisms available for the home gardener. In fact many companies are putting mycorrhza, the term for fungi that live symbiotically with roots, premixed in their soulless medium.
With all the new and available products and nutrients directed solely at improving root growth, it is hard to believe how many gardeners simply neglect them or forget about them all together. How often do gardeners think to themselves that a wilted leaf could possibly be caused by something happening below the surface? Let us set forth this day, forgetting all the phases that point to our true nature. Let’s keep what’s out of sight, in mind.
© Copyright 2013 Homegrown Hydroponics, Inc. All rights reserved