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Help please. Pond, plants snapping, white leaves, LECA


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Old 05-09-2019, 08:57 AM
Courgettesplease Courgettesplease is offline
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Join Date: May 2019
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Unhappy Help please. Pond, plants snapping, white leaves, LECA

Hello everyone,

My first post on the forum so apologies if similar posts have already answered this - please do let me know.

We are having a problem with poor growth in the clay bead bed.

Below:
1) Setup
2) Plants
3) Problem

1a) We have recently finished out hydroponic setup which is connected to our Koi pond. There are about 25 fish, averaging 10 inches or so, and we put a reasonable amount of food in daily. The algal blooms, stringy weed and so on mean there must be good nutrients in there. Indeed many aquatic plants are flourishing, such as reeds, bullrushes and pond lilies. We wanted to setup a hydro bed with a bell siphon. We have two beds, one measuring approx. 6ft square * 8 inches deep, the other 2*4ft, also *8inches deep. The beads are LECA, orange/brown in colour, and some float and some sink. We fill the beds via standpipe and have a fill/drain cycle of about 10 minutes on the larger and 5 minutes on the smaller. Both beds are OK starting and stopping the siphons, although slower fill rates donít seem to reliably trip the start. I think the flow rates are about 12 and 4L per minute respectively, but that really is a guess. The beads were left cycling with no plants for about a week. Both beds are outside and in direct sunlight, and the water level stops about 1inch shy of the top. For conditions, its been UK weather (10C night -> 20C day), bright, windy and rainy.

2a) Recently we transplanted plants into the grow bed. Firstly we had tomatoes, grown in rock wool and nutrient solution, placed out. These plants had bolted a little in the dim growing conditions, being planted out approx. 3-4 inches tall into the smaller bed. We left them in the rock wool base which is about 1 inch cube, tapered bottom. The beadsí movement and heaving, we suspect, caused these plants to migrate a little toward the middle of the bed and they have subsequently snapped at the stem. Quite frustrating.

2b) Secondly we had courgettes, grown in compost and doing well. Transplanted 5 outside from the same windowledge at 4inches tall. These didnít look bolted, were thick and green. In the beds, the first pair of leaves wilted heavily. They sagged, went white and grey at the edges. The new leaves that grew in a more traditional Ďcourgette plantí shape, which had a spiky edge rather than smooth curve, seemed to grow just fine. Then this morning, all but one has snapped in the stem.
2c) Lastly, we moved across some Pak Choi a few days after the tomatoes and courgettes. These had been grown outside, unlike the former plants, and were growing well alongside other Pak choi - we left half in the bed, and moved half to the hydroponic beads. The ones in the soil have continued to grow, and grow well. However the hydro ones have stopped growth altogether, and look like they are going to seed. They havenít greyed/white edged the leaves, but are markedly different from the soil counterparts.

3a)Where are we going wrong? Are we missing a nutrient? Should they be planted into hydro earlier/later? Do the beads need stabilising? Do bolted plants suffer in beads? Do the beads affect the nutrients/pH in some way? Do you have to grow plants in beads from the start? Is there a way to stop the beads floating?
3b)Having spent a lot of time and effort in producing this whole bed this has been a very frustrating experience. Your help would be appreciated.


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