The Urban Farmer, Issue #018
A Winter Garden * Fungus Gnats * R-O Water
"My green thumb came only as
a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's
point of view."
~H. Fred Ale
How Bout a Winter Garden?
It's not too late to start a winter veggie garden if you get going on it now.
When you think of a vegetable garden, you likely imagine crispy green beans,
juicy tomatoes and bright colored peppers. These are all summer garden veggies,
and many of you folks are not able to enjoy a winter garden outside due to all
the snow and freezing temperatures.
But hydroponics opens up a whole new world for you! Plant a winter garden
inside, in a cool room. Limit the amount of heat getting in, or crack a window
open slighlty and you have created the perfect environment for a winter
[In warmer climates, like south Florida or California, you can put your setup on
a screened in porch and take advantage of the mild days and cool nights].
What to grow? We have had great success with broccoli, cabbage, green onions,
and the always happy lettuce raft. Carrots can be a little tricky. Make sure the
medium is only perlite and/or coco coir, well mixed and light. Use only stubby
carrot varieties, like these varieties: Gourmet Short 'N Sweets, Thumbelina,
Little Finger. Green onions grow wild. We usually end up with enough to chop
and freeze for seasoning soups and stews later.
Although broccoli and cabbage are space hogs, and overflow the single pots you
have provided them, they make a wonderful taste treat. Harvest right before
dinner, steam them, and season with butter, salt and pepper.
Winter gardens seem to be less prone to bugs, and provide some of the most
interesting and tasty side dishes for your dinner table. So get started today on
YOUR hydroponic winter garden.
Those Grody Fungus Gnats!
You know what happens when somebody throws a banana peel in the sink and it
stays there for a couple of days, right? Nasty little flies start buzzing
around! Tiny grey or black flies with long legs and antennae, flying aimlessly
around the sink. Yuck!
These are fungus gnats, and they can also invade your hydroponic garden. You
might find them swarming around the plants and landing on top of the plant
medium, or they might even take over the nutrient reservoir.
Fungus gnats like damp, decaying organic matter, and they love to camp out in
the growing medium. Their larvae eat the plants roots. Although your crops might
not die, fungus gnats can surely decrease their vigor and production. And they
are just plain nasty.
How to get rid of fungus gnats? You could try the least invasive method first:
yellow sticky traps
. If this doesn't get rid of them, then get some
goGnats, and follow the directions on the label. You can even put this stuff in the
R-O Water: Tastier, healthier and better
for your hydro garden
How's your drinking water? And is it good
enough for your hydroponics system? If you followed our suggestions in the
"Nutrients" section, you had your water tested before setting up your garden.
If you have city water, chances are good that your water is plenty adequate.
Municipal plants must process the water to government specified levels. Well
water is another story, though. You might be blessed with the finest springwater
on earth, or be stuck with horrible water ladened with too many minerals
Really poor quality water (greater than 300 ppm total solids), makes it very
hard to successfully grow a healthy hydroponics garden. Your best solution in
that case is to install an RO (reverse osmosis) water filter under your kitchen
sink. An RO filter costs $200-300, but it provides the highest quality drinking
water possible (and great water for hydro). It might be a little bit of a
project to collect the RO water from your kitchen sink, but your hydro garden
will thank you for your efforts!
This is a well-priced unit put out by HydroLogic:
Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit Stealth 100
Stressed out lately?
Off Topic but Interesting: Stressed out? Check out this
excellent (& free)
7-step Plan to Stress Management & Saner Living.
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.