The Urban Farmer, Dog Days of Summer

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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

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

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

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?
Thanks, Albert

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.