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A section which guide you through the whole process of organic farming & hydroponics farming from seed preparation to harvest

1. Seed germination

  • step 1

    Preparing containers and grow medium

    (#Method 1)Using containers & Seedling Trays
    You can start seeds in almost any type of container, as long as it's at least 2-3 " deep and has some drainage holes. For leafy greens plants like spinach, lettuce, palak, coriander, basil, kale etc a seedling tray is the better option. Different size and variety of seedling trays are available at your nearby farm outlets or nurseries.

    For fruit bearing plants like tomato, cucumber, eggplants, ladies finger(okra) seeds can be germinated in much larger container like ordinary disposable glasses with proper drainage holes(poking on the bottom side with sharp nail or screw driver )

    Fill the seeding tray with good quality coco peat/ coir pith or potting mixture. Do not use soil from your garden or re-use potting soil from your houseplants. Start with a fresh, sterile mix that will ensure healthy, disease-free seedlings.

    When using disposable cups for seed germination it is better to mix good quality organic fertilizer with cocopeat for a better growth before transplanting (Do not use cow dung manure as it may cause fungus infection)

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    (#Method 2)Jiffy plugs for seed germination
    What are Jiffy Plugs? Cocopeat Non-woven rooting plugs. Very easy to use. It consists of 100% coir, comes compressed. By adding water these small coins expands with its non woven biodegradable paper. Use it for seedling and directly transplant with the outer cover.

  • step 2

    Seed Planting

    Some of the small seeds can be sprinkled right on the soil surface. Larger seeds will need to be buried. For insurance, plant two seeds per cell (or pot). If both seeds germinate, snip one and let the other grow. It's helpful to make a couple holes using a pencil tip in each pot to accommodate the seeds. After you've dropped a seed in each holes, you can go back and cover the seeds.

    Moisten the newly planted seeds with a mister or a small watering can. To speed germination, cover the pots with plastic wrap or a plastic dome that fits over the seed-starting tray. This helps keep the seeds moist before they germinate. When you see the first signs of green, remove the cover.

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  • Step 3

    Water, feed, repeat

    As the seedlings grow, use a mister or a small watering can to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Let the soil dry slightly between watering.

  • Step4

    Light

    Seedlings need a lot of light but do not put in direct sunlight. A partial shaded area like porch or window side is preferable

    Problem in germination

    One of the common problems in germination is Leggy seedlings.
    What Causes Leggy Seedlings?
    Leggy’ seedlings typically have stretched skinny stems and look fragile. They may be bending forward rather than growing up straight with a strong stem. If your newly germinated seedlings look like this, it may be due to one of three common causes:

    • 1. Insufficient Light. This is the usual reason why leggy, tall thin seedlings develop. Young seedlings can struggle to access adequate light (from the sun, an indirect source or a heat lamp).
    • 2. Lack of Soil Moisture. Baby plants can grow weak, skinny stems if the seed raising mix dries out or is poor quality. Maybe you just forgot to water often enough! Dry soil stops the seedlings from accessing the nutrients they need to grow strong stems and leaves. They’re literally starving, poor little darlings.
    • 3. High Temperatures. Heat can also cause a rapid growth spurt. This causes the stems to grow faster than the leaves. So the seedling has unbalanced growth. They look like they’re ‘all legs with a tiny head’! This can occur in hot weather or indoors if the temperature is too warm
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2.Organic Farming method

  • step 1

    Making good quality potting mix

    Potting mix is a mixture that contains all the essential nutrients necessary for the plant growth . The ph value of the soil is an important factor that affects plant growth must be neutral or near to alkaline.

    Main components of potting mix:

    • 1. Good quality top soil
    • 2. Cocopeat (available on Ela)
    • 3. Dry Leaves (optional)
    • 4. Dry Cow dung manure

    The above mentioned components are mixed in equal proportions (1:1:1)

    If the soil is acidic, add light quantities of Dolomite/Lime stone (for acid neutralization).Check soil pH using a pH meter

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    Secondary Components

    • 1. Neem Cake
    • 2. Bone Meal
    • 3. Vermicompost

    can be mixed to the main components with 5: 1 ratio of each secondary components
    Tricoderma / pseudomonas is added in slight quantity as per product description to prevent soil born diseases

  • step 2

    Growbag selection & Filling

    Chose a good quality grow bag or plastic/clay potter for planting. When choosing grow bags a minimum of 40cm × 20cm × 20cm size is better. Grow bags with outer white and inner black color is most preferable (White reduces temperature absorption and black enhances root growth

    Ensure the growbags and potters have enough drainage holes or it may cause clogging. When filling grow bags for the first time, fill up to ¾ space of the growbag. It is necessary for the further addition of solid organic fertilizer over the course of time.

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  • Step 3

    Seedling Transplantation

    When transplanting seedling from seedling tray use a kitchen spoon to scoop up the seedling with the coco peat inside the tray and transplant it to the growbag filled with potting mix. If you are planting leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, coriander, palak you can plant multiple plants in a growbag. When transplanting from disposable glasses give gentle taps at the bottom and the medium will became loose. Slide the seedling along with the whole medium and place it in the growbag filled with potting mix.

    When placing growbag or potters on your terrace or concreted porch it is better to use a growbag tray to prevent damping of the surface or to prevent leakage in roofs .Grow bag trays has also provision for providing plant support and prevents ant infestation

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  • Step 4

    Watering

    Seedlings need a lot ofConsistent and planned watering is a key factor for successful plant growth. Over watering and under watering can cause problems

    Golden rules for watering

    • Keep evenly moist
      Most plants depend on even moisture. However, slight drying out before watering promotes root growth of the plants.
    • Water late in the evening or early in the morning
      When you water cooled soil in the evening or night then less water evaporates than as on hot soil during the day. And the plants can sufficiently supply themselves with water before the next day’s heat.
    • Keep leaves dry
      Wet leaves become diseased leaves. Kept wet overnight, leaf-mould diseases may result. Leaves that are made wet in the sun develop slight burn marks (burning glass effect of the water droplets).
    • Give the right water quantity
      Requirement-suited watering means that the water must sufficiently reach the roots. Too-low water quantities often only cover the upper soil centimetres – or don’t even reach them at all. Requirement-suited watering also means that crop plants are particularly dependent upon evenly moist soil in the time until their crops are ripe for harvesting
    • Irrigate in a way that saves water
      Water as much as necessary and as little as possible. This is simplified with an automatic irrigation system–, on the balcony and on the lawn.
    • Avoid waterlogging
      Waterlogging suppresses the breathing air of the roots out of the soil – the root cells drown without oxygen.

    Ela provides a unique automated watering system with drip irrigation to meet the above mentioned rules. All you have to do is set the timer as per the need and the rest will done automatically

  • Step 5

    Fertigation

    Fertigation is a method of fertilizer application in which fertilizer is incorporated within the irrigation water by the drip system. In this system fertilizer solution is distributed evenly in irrigation. The availability of nutrients is very high therefore the efficiency is more. In this method liquid fertilizer as well as water soluble fertilizers are used. By this method, fertilizer use efficiency is increased from 80 to 90 per cent.

    • Nutrients and water are supplied near the active root zone through fertigation which results in greater absorption by the crops.
    • As water and fertilizer are supplied evenly to all the crops through fertigation there is possibility for getting 25-50 per cent higher yield.
    • Fertilizer use efficiency through fertigation ranges between 80-90 per cent, which helps to save a minimum of 25 per cent of nutrients.
    • By this way, along with less amount of water and saving of fertilizer, time, labour and energy use is also reduced substantially.
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    Ela solutions provides easily plug and play Fertigation equipments along with automated irrigation system. All you have to do is fill in the Fertigation tank with water soluble organic fertilizers. You have a wide choice for liquid fertilizer like panchagavya or simply dilute the slurry from biogas plant, strain it for solid particulars and fill it in the ferigation tank

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3.Greenhouse/ Polyhouse Farming

A Greenhouse is a framed structure covered with transparent material and large enough to grow crops under partial or fully controlled environmental conditions to get optimum growth and productivity. Greenhouse Technology is the technique of providing favorable environment condition to the plants. Of all agricultural production activities, the greenhouse industry is worldwide the fastest growing sector. The use of the greenhouse is mainly for the production of seasonal and non- seasonal crops, for the production of high-quality flower, vegetable and the preparation of nursery prepared by tissue culture.

Advantages of Greenhouse
  • The yield may be 10-12 times higher than that of outdoor cultivation depending upon the type of greenhouse, type of crop, environmental control facilities.
  • Reliability of crop increases under greenhouse cultivation.
  • Ideally suited for vegetables and flower crops.
  • Year round production of floricultural crops.
  • Off-season production of vegetable and fruit crops.
  • Disease-free and genetically superior transplants can be produced continuously.
  • Efficient utilization of chemicals, pesticides to control pest and diseases.
  • Water requirement of crops very limited and easy to control

Types of Polyhouse Based on Environmental Control

Naturally Ventilated Polyhouses

The structures have good ventilation systems to prevent basic weather and natural damage. However, they do not have any additional provisions to control the environment in polyhouse farming.

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Environmentally Controlled Polyhouse

This type of greenhouse is basically constructed for off-season production. Factors like light, temperature, carbon dioxide levels, humidity, etc. are controlled.

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Shade houses

Shade houses are yet another type of greenhouse used in plant production during summers or in warm climate areas. They are commonly used for growing ornamental flowers like Azalea, Hydrangea, Orchids, fruit and vegetable nurseries etc. in summer. Shade nets made of polypropylene of different colors like black, white and green are used.

Cladding Materials for Greenhouse Farming

Cladding is nothing but covering of the greenhouse. There are different materials used for cladding a greenhouse such as polycarbonate, polyethylene, fiberglass, UV resistant polyethylene films and Tedlar coated fiberglass. Ela solutions are providing UV resistant polythene films manufactured by Israel company Ginegar, The product has a company warranty of 5 years and if maintained properly have a life of 10 years

Watering System in Polyhouse Farming

Drip irrigation is the best technique for watering the greenhouse plants owing to the small root system. It must be ensured that the water is dispersed at the root area only and that it does not fall on the leaves or flowers. Falling on leaves and flowers may lead to infection, disease spread and even scorching.

Which Crop Suitable for Greenhouse Farming

All type of leafy green crops like spinach, lettuce, palak, pakchoi, Swiss Chard, Kale etc can be grown Crop varieties like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, chineese cabbage, Knol- Khol can be grown Self pollinating vegitables and fruits like tomato, salad cucumber/ Zuchini , Egg plant, Ladies finger/ Okra ,Capsicum,Strawberry

Guidelines for Automated Polyhouse farming


  • The polyhouse/Net House must be kept clean and hygienic
  • Frequent cleaning is necessary to prevent fungal born diseases
  • The floors must be cleaned at an interval of two months if the polyhouse structure is placed on roof tops or in concrete basement
       1.The roof must be cleaned with a mild shampoo at an interval of 6 monts to remove the mold or mosses
        2.The filter of watering system must be flushed and cleaned at an interval of one month
       3.When cleaning make sure that the power supply for the automated system must be isolated from the main supply
  • It is better to provide a water proof coating like ‘polyflex hd’ or “cool & seal” to prevent leakage in the terrace before installing the polyhouse
  • The doors of the polyhouse/ Nethouse must be closed at all time or else there are chances of pests to enter
  • A polyhoue is impervious to pests Any how it is better to use pest traps like yellow sticker traps or pheromone trap for tiny pests like gnats, whiteflies etc
  • Operate the automatic ventilation system and watering system with dry hands to prevent shocking hazard
  • It is better to cover the automatic Fertigation unit(link) with an ordinary water pump cover to protect it from water spilling
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4.Hydroponics

What is hydroponics?
A highly efficient way of growing a wide range of plants by substituting soil with a non-active soil medium and introducing a targeted and controlled nutrient solution to fertilize the plant and provide moisture.

Advantages of Hydroponics
  • Accelerated plant growth
  • More vigorous plant growth
  • Larger, healthier crops with larger yields
  • Farming in places where cropping otherwise not possible.
  • Better disease and pest control.
Benefits of Hydroponics
  • Increased yields with reduced crop maturation cycles.
  • Soil born pests, diseases and fungi are not possible in most non-soil mediums.
  • Weeds and unwanted seedlings do not occur.
  • Use of Herbicides all but eradicated.
  • Soil preparation eliminated so turnaround time between crops is reduced.
  • Reduced water usage (and water costs) as the nutrient solution is recirculated
  • Environmentally sound because of reduced water use and reduced fertilizer use.
  • Reduced impact of pests and wildlife because of controlled, secure environment.

Choosing the correct hydroponic system for the chosen plant species, the physical hydroponic location and the amount of interaction possible with the system is, essential and should be given a good deal of thought. Hydroponic systems need to:

1. Provide the root system with fresh, correctly balanced supply of nutrients

2. Maintain proper gas exchange between the roots and nutrients

Ela solutions provide different types of hydroponic systems includes

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Nutrient Film Transfer (NFT) method

The nutrient film technique (NFT) is a hydroponic growing technique where a small, shallow stream of nutrient-rich water is re circulated over roots through a channel, gutter, or tube.

The nutrient film technique use shallow tubes that are slightly angled so that the pump moves the nutrient solution to the higher portion of the system. The nutrient solution gradually moves by gravity to the lower portion. A tube system with holes bored for the plants is used instead of trays, mainly because this system is easier to angle for proper flow over the roots.

When using the nutrient film technique it is important to not try to grow heavy plants that require a lot of support because the roots are not in a medium that can sustain the weight of a heavy plant. It is necessary to use a self-standing trellis to support plants with heavy fruits such as tomatoes.

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Dutch Bucket Systems

Dutch Bucket or Bato Bucket systems, as the name sounds, use the buckets as the core of this growing method. The system can have just one bucket or scale to any size growers want. That's the joy of an easy yet still versatile Hydroponic method. Dutch Bucket is a variation of the Ebb and flow (or Flood and Drain) method. It differs in the way it looks, but still, operates on the same principle - the nutrient is forced onto the bucket (that replaces the tray) then automatically drain back to the reservoir (or it can drain out of the system without returning to the reservoir) at regular intervals. It can be used as a Hydroponic system, and also works great for aquaponics as well even though it is harder to set up

How does the Dutch Bucket work?First, you would notice that there are several buckets on the bench. Each bucket should only accommodate one plant. These buckets must contain growing media (perlite, clay balls, gravel, etc) to keep the moisture, aeration as well as supporting plants to stand upright. There is one large bucket/reservoir that holds water and nutrients. A submersible pump is placed into this reservoir to pump the nutrients onto the drip/irrigation line and drop onto the plants via the drip emitters. The drip emitters are fixed to the irrigation line and are pointed to each bucket to feed the plants.

You will also see the bucket elbow at each bucket. It functions to drain the excess nutrient solutions to the return line and then come back to the reservoir. As a result, and nutrient solutions are not lost during the watering, and feeding process, making this method an effective recirculation technique. You can turn on the pump and the let it run 24 hours a day without stopping and regular checking. This is because the when the pump gets the nutrients and water onto the irrigation line, buckets, gravity will drain it back to where it begins.

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Deep Water Culture (DWC)

In a DWC system, a plant's roots are suspended in a well-oxygenated solution composed of water and nutrients.There are three critical parts of this solution:

  • Oxygen: Because the roots are submerged in water and not soil (which has gaps and holes where air resides), the water needs to be well oxygenated so the plant doesn't drown. This is accomplished with an air pump and air stone.
  • Water: Think of this system as if you're growing in soil and permanently watering your plants - this is one of the reasons growing hydroponically is so beneficial - you never need to 'water' again.
  • Nutrients: A good quality soil contains all of the micro and macro nutrients that a plant needs to survive and thrive. Because we have no soil, we need to supplement the oxygen-rich water with nutrients so our plants can grow.

This method is called Deep Water Culture for two reasons. One, you typically grow with a reservoir that can hold a decent amount of water. More water means more stability in your nutrient solution, which means less monitoring and maintenance for you! The second reason is because of how much of the root mass you submerge in the water. Other methods expose your plant's root zone to air and drench them in water just a few times a day. In deep water culture, most of your plant's root system is submerged 24/7 - hence the name!

You will also see the bucket elbow at each bucket. It functions to drain the excess nutrient solutions to the return line and then come back to the reservoir. As a result, and nutrient solutions are not lost during the watering, and feeding process, making this method an effective recirculation technique. You can turn on the pump and the let it run 24 hours a day without stopping and regular checking. This is because the when the pump gets the nutrients and water onto the irrigation line, buckets, gravity will drain it back to where it begins.

How to Grow Hydroponic System Steps by step Tutorial

You can learn how to make a hydroponic garden by following the steps below.

  • step 1
    Decide what you want to grow

    You will need to decide what to grow and then buy the hydroponic seeds. Buying seeds will let you be in full control of what to grow If you are planning to grow leafy green vegetables and herbs go for our “A frame” NFT hydroponics system (link). It will give you ample number of crops with a limited space If your option is for larger crops like tomato, cucumber, eggplant, okra etc go for our Dutch bucket or Deep water culture methods

  • step 2
    Start your seeds

    After deciding how many of each plant you want to grow you will need to start your seeds.

  • Step 3
    Choose a location

    You should choose the location of your hydroponic garden and estimate the size needed. You should consider the type of seeds you are planting and the recommended spacing. A location with partial shading is mostly preferred. A shade cloth should be put over them for the first 3-4 weeks and in hot climates.

  • Step4
    Prepare nutrient solution

    Using water and best hydroponic nutrients or fertilizers make up a hydroponic solution

    Nutrition

    Nutrient solutions are mainly Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (N-P-K). Plants need various growth influencing factors (GIF's) to absorb and utilize N-P-K. GIF’s include light, oxygen, carbon dioxide, pH, temperature and humidity.

    1.Selecting a Nutrient
    Hydroponic nutrients can be bought in powders or liquids. 2 and 3 part products are easy to use. Fine tuning of the solution for different stages of growth is a straightforward mixing by proportions task. Solutions which are too strong will cause burn outs and plants will suffer deficiencies if the solution is too weak. Weak and strong solutions will have adverse affects on your pH, affecting your crops health and yield. Ela solutions are suppliers of 2 parts or 3 parts liquid nutrient solution

    2.Maintaining the optimal nutrient concentration

    Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

    In hydroponics and general gardening, total dissolved solids (TDS) refer to the measure of salts, anions, cations, metals, and minerals that are found in water. Total dissolved solids are measured in parts per million (ppm). It is essential to monitor the pH and total dissolved solids levels in the water to ensure the well-being and growth of hydroponic plants Measuring the TDS levels in a hydroponic gardening tank can help gardeners know when it’s time for them to add additional nutrients to their plants. To measure the TDS levels, gardeners normally use waterproof hand meters (Available on Ela). These meters use electrical conductivity to measure the total dissolved solids that are present in the water. Elevated TDS levels can be harmful because too much magnesium and calcium can leech other nutrients out of the plants. A generic level of TDS as per plant growth

    Feeding your plants

    0->2 inches = 100 to 200 PPM

    3->6 inches = 300 to 500 PPM

    7->16 inches = 600 to 1000 PPM

    17->48 inches = 1200 to 1600 PPM

    pH levels

    The pH scale is a way to measure the Acid or Basic (alkaline) in nutrient solution. The official definition of pH is: a unit of measure that describes the degree of acidity or alkalinity of a liquid solution. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14. Acids are in a range from 0 to 7, with lower numbers being a stronger acid. Alkaline is in the range from 7 to 14, with the higher numbers being a stronger base. Measuring and adjusting the pH of your nutrient solution is quite simple to do, Testing can be done inexpensively using a pH testing kit that generally consist of a small vial that you put some of the solution in.

    Then you just add some drops to it and shake it up and compare the resulting color to a color chart to get the results. Also you can use pH testing strips. They work basically the same but it's a small strip of paper you dip in the nutrient solution then compare to the color chart. When measuring the pH you want to mix your nutrients with the water completely first to ensure a true reading. If the reading is not at the proper level you need to adjust it using pH adjusters called "pH up" and "pH down," Depending on weather your reading is to high or to low. If it's too high use the pH down, and if it's too low use the pH up. The pH adjusters can come in a dry or liquid form, either will work fine but make sure you mix it completely before taking another reading.

    mixing of nutrients

  • step 5
    Planting your hydroponic seedlings

    It is now time to plant your seedlings (self-raised or bought). Carefully take them out of their pots and gently wash away the soil from the roots.

    To choose a growing medium consider drainage properties, water retention and system compatibility. A good medium should retain moisture well to keep the roots moist and also offer good drainage to avoid water build up. The medium should have a neutral pH. Resistance to fungal infections is also important as removing fungal infections is difficult. One of the best growing medium is the LECA balls. Ela provides good quality LECA balls

    LECA is made for commercial hydroponic use. The baked clay pellets have neutral pH and are inert so pH control is straightforward. LECA is light with top filtration and aeration properties. LECA must be rinsed before first use.When cleaned and sterilized it may be reused. For NFT method LECA balls are filled in the net pots (2 inch or 3 inch) and place inside the holes of NFT channel

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  • step 6
    Hydroponics growing medium

    Place the seedlings you have cleaned into the growing medium and into the hydroponic solution.

  • step 7
    Monitoring

    Check on the solution daily and control the chemical balance(TDS) of water to nutrients since the water usually evaporates

  • step 8
    Growth

    Watch and wait for your hydroponic plants to grow. You should be sure o keep pests away and watch for root rot.

  • step 9
    Harvest your grow

    Once your plants are ready you can harvest them

  • step 10
    flushing

    After harvesting, you should flush the entire system. Use peroxide to sterilize and copper solutions to kill mold and bacteria.