(#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)
(#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.
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.
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.
Seedlings need a lot of light but do not put in direct sunlight. A partial shaded area like porch or window side is preferable
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:
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:
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
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
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.
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
Seedlings need a lot ofConsistent and planned watering is a key factor for successful plant growth. Over watering and under watering can cause problems
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
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.
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
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.
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.
This type of greenhouse is basically constructed for off-season production. Factors like light, temperature, carbon dioxide levels, humidity, etc. are controlled.
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 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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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 can learn how to make a hydroponic garden by following the steps below.
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
After deciding how many of each plant you want to grow you will need to start your seeds.
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.
Using water and best hydroponic nutrients or fertilizers make up a hydroponic solution
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
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
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
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.
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
Place the seedlings you have cleaned into the growing medium and into the hydroponic solution.
Check on the solution daily and control the chemical balance(TDS) of water to nutrients since the water usually evaporates
Watch and wait for your hydroponic plants to grow. You should be sure o keep pests away and watch for root rot.
Once your plants are ready you can harvest them
After harvesting, you should flush the entire system. Use peroxide to sterilize and copper solutions to kill mold and bacteria.