The Urban Farmer, Issue #015

August, 2009: Dogs Days of Summer: What to Grow? * Dear Simon: About Airstones...


"There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling". 
        ~Mirabel Osler


The Dogs Days of Summer: What to Grow?

Most of the country has been slammed with record heat waves this summer. [Apologies to our friends "down under", just save this info for YOUR summer in January]...

Anyway, one of the best advantages to hydroponic gardening is, if done inside, you can ignore the extremes of weather that challenge "outside gardeners". If your setup is in a cool, air conditioned bedroom, you can thumb your nose to the seasons and grow cabbage in July if you want to.

But... if your hydro garden is on a patio, or your growing space is pretty warm due to the summer season, you might be wondering what would be the best veggies to grow at this time. Our advice is to go strictly with warm-season crops... tomatoes, peppers, green beans, cucumbers. And we spotlight two crops that do very well in the heat: eggplants and warm variety lettuces!

Heat Loving Eggplants

There are a few good things to say about the extreme summer heat. First, it won’t last. Even better, certain vegetables just love it. Eggplants are true heat-lovers, and you may have luck with them when the rest of your garden wilts! The range of varieties being offered today are less bitter and easier to grow. Here are some tips to keep your eggplants going strong.

Days to Harvest: 65-70 days from transplant. The long, oriental varieties mature faster than the oblong types.

Description: Eggplants are in the Solanaceae family, with tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Along with the many large, oblong varieties there are also long, thin, oriental types and small round egg-shaped eggplants. Color is even more varied with an almost black purple, blushes of lavender, green, pink and creamy white.
Bugs: Flea beetles are the biggest problem, chewing leaves and spreading disease, but should not be a problem unless you are outdoors on a patio.

Harvesting: Eggplants should be shiny and firm, but not hard to the touch. Picking before they are fully grown is fine and will encourage more fruit set. Cut the fruits from the plant, don’t pull. Harvested eggplants will store in a cool spot for 1-2 weeks.

Suggested Varieties: ‘Black Beauty’, ‘Listadia di Grandia’ and ‘Rosa Bianca’ for long season gardens.
‘Ping Tung’, ‘Louisiana Long Green’ and ‘Orient Express’ mature faster in cool season gardens.

Heat Resistant Lettuce Varieties for Summer Salad Lovers

Hot growing conditions usually mean: no lettuce! But the seed farms have been working at it, and we present below some suggestions to get you growing lettuce greens in your "warm weather" hydro garden.

One gardener wrote: "I grew Black Seeded Simpson and Burpee's Mesclun last year into April, which for my neck of the woods means 80+ degree days. I had them in partial shade, though. This year I'm growing Craquerelle du Midi from Park Seeds. The website mentioned growing it in Florida in June so I thought I'd give it a try.

And Burpee Seeds puts out two hot-weather lettuce variety mixes for you to try:

Burpee's Summer-Long Salad Collection


Summer-Long collection includes: Green Ice (Loose leaf), EZ Serve (Romaine), and Burpee Bibb (Butter head) lettuce. Plant early in spring. Repeat every two weeks into fall. Best when picked minutes before your meal.


Lettuce Looseleaf Heatwave


These lettuces will thrive in the heat, and remain productive and tasty longer than all others. Choice "slow bolt" varieties include fresh green, purple-red, crispy types; deep to bright green romaines; oak leafed; crisped frilled; broad, soft looseleaf; and savory, bronze-purple, fern-leafed lettuces.

*We tried the Heatwave blend and found they did great under the hot lamps on a lettuce raft. Why not do some experimentation on your own and let us know what works for you?

Dear Simon: Airstones in the tubes?


Dear Simon:
Hi, I am growing vegies in three 4 inch pvc tubes 10 feet long. Would it be beneficial to stick a long air stone in each tube to help with airation/productivity? Just asking?

Hi Albert,

Not sure where you mean for the airstones to sit in relation to the nutrient solution, but an aerator or airstone is a must for the vat of solution (reservoir). The air bubbles control and kill anaerobic (bad) bacteria from setting up in your system. As far as placing them in the 4 inch tubes, not sure if that would help. As long as the reservoir is aerated, you don't need to do the tubes too.

Thanks for visiting the site!


We hope you have enjoyed this issue of The Urban Farmer Ezine. Each month, we will bring you another inspiring photo, gardening quote or idea, plus fresh new hydroponics news, techniques & products.

Insiders tips to get you growing...


~Stella and Simon from Hydroponics-Simplified.


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