We live in Florida. Everybody has a screened patio out back (We call them
lanai's down here). Why not try outdoor hydroponics and billet your garden out on the porch
during the milder months? We do. Take advantage of all that free sun and mild
Here in Florida, the winters are perfect for a hydroponic patio garden. The
nights are cool (50-60) and the days are mild (65-75). Right now, (December) we
are growing romaine lettuce, broccoli, cabbages, carrots and onions out there. A
true "winter garden". They are growing like crazy, as you can see in the photo
But we cannot use the patio for our summer garden... it's too hot (90 degrees +). I learned this the hard way. Last spring, I planted a big summer garden out on the lanai. The plants did thrive.... for a little while.
But the fruits never set and and the whole thing was a total failure. Why? Too darn hot! I felt sooooo bad. The nutrient solution was actually hot to the touch. I swear I heard the green beans scream in agony when the HID lamps came on. (I felt sorta like I had put Mama cat in the microwave). This is what happened:
See my tomato vine hugging the upright and gasping for air over there in
the corner? It expired a few days later. So much for my summer outdoor
In your locale, you may do just the opposite of what we do here in the semi-tropics. You might do all your winter gardening indoors, while the snow blows outside. Then move into outdoor hydroponics mode. Move your garden out to the patio for the mild summer months. (Canada? Am I talking about you?)
PORTABLE HYDRO UNIT
Moving your indoor hydroponics garden outside takes a little planning. Your unit must either be portable, or fitted with wheels, or easy to take down and reassemble. If you live in the great white north, move your garden outdoors when the danger of frost is past.
For their first few days, "harden off" the plants with a
little supplemental heater 'til they become acclimated to the cooler outdoors.
And protect them from direct sunlight at first, or they may get sunburn!
Yep, you'll have more bugs out on the porch. I guarantee it. Even if it's screened in. So be on the lookout and nip those little critters in the bud.
I once had a whitefly invasion on my patio garden. Just a few. I ignored them, and before I knew what was happening, the entire garden was covered in them! It was horrible.
Since then I have learned a cool trick to help get rid of whiteflies quickly without pesticides. Involves a common mechanical device. Find it on the Whiteflies page.
Sometimes Mother Nature just doesn't cooperate, you know? We have occasional light freezes here in central Florida. Yikes! What to do with the patio garden?
Well, some of the winter plants do just fine with
an occasional dip in the temp (broccoli and cabbage). And you can always put a
small radiant heater out there to keep things reasonable. And for you
northerners, an occasional freak 95 degree heat wave in your normally mild
summer can be dissipated with a couple of fans.
And let's not forget the wind. Sometimes a violent storm or "norther" just comes out of nowhere. It can destroy your beautiful veggie plants, especially if you have just transplanted some babies. Try to set up a windbreak for your patio garden if possible.
This whole patio gardening thing will only work
if you live in a climate that has a mild season of 3-4 months where the
temperature stays in that magic range: 65-80. If not, you're stuck with indoor
hydroponics, or... if you should be so lucky... a
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