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Radishes and green onions


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Old 04-28-2011, 11:13 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Default Radishes and green onions

I haven't posted any new setups lately, mainly because I don't have any money these days for the basics like more pH adjusters, more pH drops, and more growing medium. Also I knew summer was coming and I only have one in ground nutrient reservoir for keeping the nutrient solution cool. And last week I found that the inner trash can of that reservoir system has suffered cracks due to a mistake I made allowing the sides to cave in somewhat.

But I have been meaning to post pictures of this system for radishes and green onions I created out of old parts. It has been up and running for about 3 weeks now and I have already harvested the first batch of radishes from it, and they are quite large, most as large or larger than golf balls (and with good shape to them). Honestly I don't eat that many radishes so I will be giving a lot away, but the system was really a proof of concept system more than anything. There have been a few bugs I needed to work out, but overall seems to work as designed, though it will work much better with some upgrades.

I wanted to test using sand as a growing medium for root vegetables. I had planed to mix it with vermiculite, but wound up mixing it with perlite instead because that's what they had in stock at wal-mart, and I was to lazy to go to Lowe's that day. First I found out that radishes are very light feeders. I grew these to maturity on about 1/4 to 1/2 strength nutrient solution the whole time, I didn't want the nutrient solution to be too strong for the tiny green onion sprouts. And the radish foliage has had a nice green color with no signs of problems the whole time.

One thing that I have yet to figure out is the system seemed to have a pH issue with rising pH daily at first. To be honest I stooped checking the pH because I'm real low on pH drops, as well as adjusters. So after the first week I just stopped checking it, yet the radishes have grown real fast, as well as healthy to my surprise. The green onions are growing but slower, although I'm not surprised. After checking the seed packages, the radishes say 28 days to harvest, and the green onions say 60 days to harvest. So the radishes seem to grow twice as fast anyway. I'm not sure if the silica sand had contributed to the rising pH or not, but is something I will be checking on or testing for the future.

Another one of the issues I have had with this system is drainage. I wasn't able to drill larger holes in the bottom of the container because my cordless drill batteries are dead, and I cant afford a new charger. So I had to use my rotary tool and the largest drill bit it has to drill as many holes as I can. But even so I was afraid they would still be to small and a problem. I also feel the white cloth I used to keep the sand in, combined with the small holes contributed to the drainage issue. I tried various ways of adjusting the pump flow, but I finally broke out my digital timer so I can set the on cycle for just 2 minuets. That's plenty of time to soak the sand the way the system is setup right now (more than 5 minuets and it would overflow). In the future I will use furnace filter screening instead of the white cloth.

The last issue I have with this setup is the algae growth on top of the sand where it gets light. That isn't really an issue underneath the foliage of the radishes where the top of the sand is shaded. In the future I will try burying the drip line about an inch deep, so the top of the sand doesn't really get moist with the nutrient solution in the first place. I also plan to test using beneficial microbes in this system for a few reasons (as well as an enzymes, and/or beneficial acid's and fungi), but that's something I don't have money for at this time either. Considering I just through the system together from what I had lying around the house, I'm pretty happy with what I have learned from the experiment.

P.S. The picture of the growing plants was taken after I harvested all the radishes, and was only about 1/4 of what I had to start with.

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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 04-28-2011 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 04-29-2011, 11:38 AM
hydrophotobio hydrophotobio is offline
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What's your opinion on using large rockwool slabs for root crops? I pondered getting one of those large Grodan slabs, turning it on its side length-wise, and trying some carrots and beets.
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Old 04-29-2011, 03:43 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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From what I have read about root crops and hydroponics, the texture of the growing medium is important for good formation (shape) of the root (editable food). Basically for the root to grow with the same shape that we are accustom to seeing in the market, the growing medium should have as close as possible properties and texture as the soil they are used to growing in. That's not to say they will not be editable in any other growing medium, just much more likely to be deformed the less like actual soil it is.

As for using Roockwool, aside the difference in texture, I can't see it being cost effective. I can usually get 2 pounds of carrots at the market for about 2 bucks. The amount of rockwool needed to grow that quantity of carrots will surly cost much more than that, and wont be able to be reused. Even if you wanted to try to sanitize the rockwool for reuse, you'll need to tear it apart to get the root veggies out of it.

The idea behind the sand system was to be able to provide the right texture for good formation of the root (editable part), as well as be able to continuously harvest and replant the same space. Beneficial microbes will be necessary in the system though. Because as you harvest some roots will break off and remain in the sand (or any growing medium), then they will feed pathogens. So a combination of beneficial microbes, acids, and fungi will be needed to break down the dead roots, and keep pathogens from getting a foothold in the system.

P.S.
Green onions aren't really a root crop, but we like using a lot of them. I have seen where green onions have been grown efficiently in a aeroponic type system as well. In the future I would like to work out a system for continued green onion production using aeroponic methods also.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 04-29-2011 at 03:50 PM.
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Old 04-29-2011, 04:27 PM
hydrophotobio hydrophotobio is offline
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My only personal beef with aeroponics is the possibility of sprayer clogging. I'm doing some chives in soil at the moment, however I could easily see them doing well in a BiB-DWC with a fine grade of hydroton.

I am not sure if it is just me but some of the newer batches of rockwool that I have acquired seem more flimsy, closer to soil. They fall apart much easier than before, that's why I asked.
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Old 04-29-2011, 10:23 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I don't really use rockwool for anything other than the 1 inch starter cubes my self. The way I understand it about root vegetables is that it's not just about the particle size, but also the overall weight/density of the growing medium (overall texture) as well. Basically that with no resistance (weight/density) in the growing medium pushing back, the root veggies grow deformed. However I have never put that to the test, this was my first experiment with a root vegetable. That's just from what I have read about root veggies and hydroponics.

I agree about the possibility of sprayers clogging with aeroponics. So I already know/plan on doing regular maintenance in such a system, and likely will have redundant spray heads, as well as quick replacements handy. Although if I go with a true aeroponic system (high pressure spraying a fine mist), I think there will be less of an issue due to the high pressure at the mist heads (about 90 psi). But as with any system, I would plan on building a smaller scale system to work out the bugs first.

P.S.
You mention growing chives in hydro, here is an article written by Dr. Lynette Morgan in 2003 about growing Hydroponic Chives.

Hydroponic Chives
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 04-30-2011 at 05:09 AM.
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Old 04-30-2011, 06:59 PM
Rkfm Rkfm is offline
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Those radishes look great, that's encouraging since I just started some radishes myself in coco coir (started the seeds directly in the coir). I'm finding that coir is a great medium. It holds water well, doesn't compact like soil and is really cheap. I bought a compressed brick for $13 and when rehydrated with water overfilled an 18 gallon tote!

I hope mine turn out as well as yours!
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Old 05-01-2011, 05:04 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Rkfm
Ya, coco coir and chips are my favorite growing medium as well. Until recently it has been more expensive for me because I needed to have it shipped to me. But about 2 months ago a hydroponics store opened up here in town, and I can get it through him.

I had some radishes last night, just sprinkled some salt on them and ate them like that. They were very juicy and tasty, I may need to look up some recipes for them. I generally just eat them with salt, or in a salad. It will be interesting to see if yours have the same shape in only coco coir, but I have no doubt they will be tasty. Post pics if you can.
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Old 05-06-2011, 09:39 AM
elcunni75 elcunni75 is offline
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So how did the coco coir radishes turn out???
Hubby and I are trying to figure out How to start the seeds.. We don't wanna use Grodan stuff, as it was already pointed out about the cost.
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Old 05-06-2011, 10:49 AM
Rkfm Rkfm is offline
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The radishes should be ready to harvest in a week or so, but they sprouted very well in the coco coir. I've been using a 1/4 to 1/2 strength solution and they seem to be thriving. They grew a little leggy at first, not sure if that is natural or they weren't getting enough light. Here is how they look recently:

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Old 05-06-2011, 07:57 PM
elcunni75 elcunni75 is offline
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That is Totally awesome!
They aren't in a very deep container - Do they not need to be because they are a ball-type radish, as opposed to a long carrot-type one?
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Old 05-07-2011, 07:46 AM
Rkfm Rkfm is offline
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Actually, it's hard to tell from the angle but that container is about 7" deep. So it's more than deep enough for radishes.
I'm more concerned that they are too close together. I thought we were keeping them about 2" apart, but as they came up I guess we were a little sloppy sowing them.
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Old 05-07-2011, 10:49 AM
elcunni75 elcunni75 is offline
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Ah.. Ok! I have a container like that then!! Guess what I'm gonna sow today?!!! =)
Thank you!
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Old 05-27-2011, 09:57 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Well I have been very busy with other things lately. But I have been meaning to post an update on this system. I have harvested 2 more batches of radishes since I originally posted this thread. The picture of the radishes with the tape measure in it was my latest harvest that I pulled 2 days ago. The other batch was from a week or so before that. The four green onions I just pulled today, the other one was pulled about a week and half ago, and I pulled two (that I didn't take pics of) a few days later.

I'm particularly surprised at the nice healthy looking roots with the little care I give these plants. I haven't been checking pH (I cant afford the resources to adjust it anyway right now). I have only changed the nutrients once, and still don't run them at more than 50% strength. Also because I don't have another in ground reservoir, the reservoir for this system is just below where it's in direct sunlight for most of the day, and I know the nutrient solution is way too warm. But it's for this reason that I don't really care for these plants much. It's just getting hotter, and I won't be able to control nutrient temp in this system, so I'm just letting it go until I see signs that it is just too far gone before I pull the plug on it.

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