Bloombastic vs Big Bud: What Works Best In Hydroponics?

In hydroponics, the ultimate goal is to grow the best crop possible, in as fast a time as possible. This soil-less method is as organic as it can get, and promotes optimal growth of your crops without using pesticides nor harmful chemicals.

The aspiration to accelerate the growing process even further is also every grower’s mission in life. This ideal scenario of increasing food production, of increasing profits for the business itself, would be a dream come true for any farmer.

Two products that would make that possible would be Bloombastic and Big Bud. Bloombastic is ideal for use with flowers to augment the size of the bloom and sweeten the smell, while Big Bud has been engineered to increase the size and intensify the aroma of the buds on your marijuana plant.

Bloombastics Big Growth In Hydroponics

If you are an experienced hydroponics grower who has mastered this growing method, have fine-tuned the nutrition delivery systems, and are harvesting your crops on such a regular basis that it is making your outdoor farming buddy drool with envy, then you probably think that you have no room for improvement.

Surprisingly, there is a way to grow your crops even faster without sacrificing the organic nature that you have been nurturing for years and pack on extra size to your veggies at the same time.

As hard as that is to believe at first, the way to super-size your crops in a reduced time period is to use an organic bloom enhancer. All hydroponics stores keep them in stock, knowing that they are a secret weapon that should be added to the arsenal of every grower.

Composed of organic fertilizers and nutrients, this plant booster gives a continuous burst of additional hormones that accelerates the growing process to another level and will impress the most experienced growers with harvests delivered in record times.

Flowers that have been dosed with this formulation tend to have an enhanced smell and a bigger bloom, as well as richer colors. Bloombastic is an accelerator that does what it says on the packet. The fact that it can improve the growing capability of plants grown hydroponically is a testament to its incredible enhancing ability, and that can only benefit every grower in this medium.

But what else does Bloombastic bring to the table apart from an incredibly accelerated growing period and a rosier smell?

The answer is in the taste. Being an excellent delivery system, Bloombastic increases the transfer of sugars from the plant itself to the produce, which ultimately influences the taste and texture of your hydroponic crop, making fruits and vegetables seem even riper, sweeter, and juicier. In the case of flowers, a bigger bloom can only mean a better flower.

One of the many reasons modern growers love hydroponics is that crops are grown in a much healthier environment than traditional farming, and every single one of them administers tender care to their crops with the ultimate goal of having bigger, better and more frequent harvests.

Yet even the most hermetically sealed hydroponics farms are not immune to possible infections and the occasional outbreak. By using a bloom enhancer, an array of extra vitamins are infused into the nutrient cycle to further boost the immune system in this inter-connected network, further throwing up a protective shield to ward against any encroaching diseases and to improve overall health.

Bloombastic has all the nutritional ingredients needed to turbocharge the growth and budding potential of flowers and plants in hydroponics. There are, not surprisingly, other bloom boosters on the market that present a lot of stiff competition, to see who can get the title as the blooming best.

Is Big Bud Better?

Another contender for the biggest budder on the market is Big Bud. It is a flowering stimulant specifically designed to kick the flowering process into overdrive. And it does so extremely well for the cannabis plant.

One of the reasons for its effectiveness is the high concentration of PK in the formula. PK, phosphorus and potassium, are two ingredients in the mix that are administered specifically during the flowering period to fatten the buds so they are denser and thicker and to supercharge the growing period.

This stimulation, used towards the end of the flowering period, creates an explosion in the blooming of the buds by thickening the actual cell walls of the plants. Because it is so highly concentrated, following the manufacturer’s instructions is vital to achieve a deeper aromatic flavor and to increase its intensity.

In hydroponics, organic nutrients are best and Big Bud should definitely be a welcome addition to the nutrient regimen, delivering 20 different forms of L-amino acids that help to bulk up your buds and augment the yield by up to an impressive 20%.

It’s important to recognize that not all bloom boosters are created equal, or that one brand will suit all types of crops. In the case of marijuana plants, there are several stages of growth development, and the technicians that developed the Big Bud formula were very conscious of this fact.

Marijuana plants change drastically as they start to bloom, first through the early growing period, then into the peak budding level, and finally into the ultimate late bloom stage. Within the hydroponic growing system, these blooming phases have different nutritional requirements and with varying PK ratio needs, and Big Bud is an important component in each of these developing stages.

The Best Bloom Booster For Hydroponics

The decision to use a bloom enhancer in hydroponics should be an easy one, a no-brainer. They increase the metabolic rate of your plants so they grow up bigger and stronger, and these organic enhancers help to increase the number of harvestable crops. But which one to choose?

In the case of Bloombastic and Big Bud, it is largely dependent on the type of crops to be grown. Either one of these bloom boosters, if used at the right phases, will propel the growth potential of your product to the next level to make them bigger, thicker, juicier and tastier.

They will continue to do this for every new harvest, season after season, bursting the seams of your crops to their fullest blooming potential. Without a doubt these bloom enhancers are a winner no matter which one you opt for, either one is more than capable of giving a turbocharged boost to your next hydroponic harvest.

How to Use Peat Moss in Hydroponics and Why

Hydroponics is a growing method that disregards the use of soil yet it still requires an aggregate system to support the roots of the plants. Nutrient-rich water is then delivered through the medium selected to create a cohesive system that works extremely well.

But which grow media is best?

Peat moss or perlite are the two most common types used in hydroponics. Out of the two, peat moss has the highest capacity for holding water and is often used as the primary media. Although not ideal for all hydroponics set-ups, it can be balanced out to be a one size fits all media.

But what exactly is peat moss and why use it for hydroponics?

Peat Moss and Hydroponics

The formation of peat moss actually takes millennia to form, composed as it is from dead fibrous materials and the decomposition of other living organisms, specifically in peat bogs. The decaying material slowly creates even wetter conditions as the peat continues to absorb more water. This in turn leads to the expansion of the peatlands and encourages the growth of more peat.

These waterlogged areas are ideal for peat bog production and, due to the low oxygen content in the accumulation of the peat layers beneath the surface, the decompression rate is slowed down. This reduction in oxygen is a contributing factor in the length of time it takes for the peat to form, and why only about a millimeter of surface growth is recorded each year.

Due to this growth rate peat moss is not classed as a renewal resource. Peatlands do encompass large swathes of land, however, and, even though the zones are under almost complete water saturation, do allow regular harvesting because of this wide land coverage.

The countries that have the ideal conditions for peat growth and the landmass are few and far between. Among them are Finland, Ireland, Sweden, Germany and Canada, which is the principal supplier to the United States.

For decades the method of gathering the peat involves taking the living moss from the surface of the peat bog while it is alive, in its entirety, which then leaves the next harvest only available in the following year.

A newer technique, mainly used in Europe, does not skim the surface completely bare, but leaves partial spores behind that will regrow the new peat at a faster rate.

This technique enhances the growing cycle and enables a bigger and more frequent harvest. The shoots that are left on the surface can continue to accumulate and multiply faster, while at the same time buds on the layers below the surface can continue to proliferate.

With the advent of this new technique, sustainability can become more of a reality, allowing more peat to be harvested, which in turn will make it more readily available, slow depletion on a global scale, and should also lessen the price to the end consumer.

Now, although peat moss didn’t become more readily available until the 1900s, it went on to revolutionize the way plants were grown in soil due to its numerous beneficial properties. Its usefulness became apparent because many part-time growers or homeowners didn’t have the ideal soil for growing the full range of crops they wanted.

This soil erosion occurred either due to layers being scraped away during the construction process or compacted by the heavy machinery and building materials piled on top of it.

With the introduction of peat moss mixed into their soil, they found that those obstacles to improving their poor growing difficulties were overcome, and they could now transform their garden into a thriving farming endeavor.

And then peat moss found its way into hydroponics.

Peat moss as a medium in hydroponic cultivation is a perfect fit not only because of its efficient capacity to maintain water but crucially its ability to hold on to nutrients, precious nutrients that can easily be washed out of other types of aggregates in a hydroponics system.

Yet at the same time, there are certain challenges that have to be weighed up when using this medium.

Peat moss is an organic substance and its decomposition doesn’t stop when it is harvested. That continuing decay plays a major role in its stability as a substrate, owing to its chemical nature constantly being in a state of flux.

Another contributing factor in this chemical instability is the source of where it was harvested and the particular species of moss that was used to produce the peat moss in the first place. Fibric, hemic or sapric are three of the different material compositions for peat, and each has its own level of decomposition; fibric is the least, hemic has partial decomposition and sapric is the most decomposed.

For hydroponics, stability is a crucial component and for this reason, it is better to have peat moss that is more decomposed. The higher level of decomposition will ensure a higher chemical stability ratio, and that will make your hydroponic cultivation life go smoother and make life easier.

To find out its decomposition ratio, place a small amount of wet peat moss in your hand and gently squeeze. By the amount of water fallout and the malleability of the lump between your fingers, will tell you all you need to know about its stage of decomposition.

Basically, the less water that is squeezed out and the more of the peat moss that pushes out between your fingers, indicates a higher level of decomposition. And the opposite results are true. If there is more water and less peat moss that squeezes out, the less decomposed it is. This is known as The von Post scale and registers the decomposition rate from H1 to H10.

Apart from the possible chemical instability, peat moss has a small level of acidity in it that can assist in equalizing and maintaining the correct ph range in a hydroponic network. The significance of this means that constant monitoring of the ph balance isn’t as difficult or time-consuming as with other media.

Due to this feature nutrient absorption by the roots will not be negatively affected.

Another beneficial feature is the water retention property that peat moss has to absorb large amounts of water, and eliminate any amount not needed. Amazingly whatever excess water is initially absorbed is naturally drained away like an overspill to flow throughout the hydroponic system, transporting much-needed nutrients to the plant roots.

In hydroponics, peat moss is a light-medium and to set it up in a hydroponics system is fairly straightforward.

Have on hand a solution mixture of nutrient-rich water suitable for your seeds, and fill your seedling tray with peat moss. Add sufficient solution so that the peat moss is wet throughout before planting the seeds, then cover them with another ¼ inch level of peat moss. Then add more water.

At this time, place the tray under grow lights and cover it with a plastic sheet to contain moisture to encourage faster germination.

After the seeds begin to sprout the sheet can be discarded, then it’s just a matter of daily monitoring to prevent drying out from lack of water. If you notice a slight lack of water, a gentle misting spray is normally sufficient to take up the slack.

If and when necessary, it is advisable to thin out the plants if needed to create more growing space, and then when they are large enough, transplant them into small pots. As they continue to grow the smaller pot can be placed completely in a larger pot already filled with peat moss.

How to Overcome the Challenges of Peat Moss in Hydroponics

As with any grow media there can be challenges when used in hydroponics, and with peat moss that manifests itself when it is used as a standalone product. This occurs because peat moss is anaerobic in nature, holds on to more water than most other aggregates and, now that it is exposed to nitrogen, starts to degrade and compact.

This can then lead to the roots being choked by the compaction process which will lead to oxygen deprivation.

The solution is to add an amount of perlite to the peat moss. With the correct mixture, this will increase the aeration and solve the problem.

Another obstacle that will potentially need to be overcome is the ph level. When first harvested, peat is outside the range necessary for optimal hydroponic farming. Initially, it will actually be below the recommended ph range and that will create issues in your hydroponic setup.

So, a speedy solution is required at the beginning to stop the problem before it can become a headache.

To alleviate this potential lurking issue is possible as long as the rating on the peat moss itself is on or above level H7 on The von Post scale.

Once tested, and the low ph level is discovered, it is advisable to have the peat moss treated with calcium carbonate(lime). It sounds complicated but if you use the palm squeeze method, over a small period of time you will be able to judge where the decomposition level lies. And then understand how much lime needs to be added.

A useful tip is to treat the peat moss yourself for usage in hydroponics. Remember that peat moss is also used as a mixture with garden soil for non-hydroponic purposes and therefore will have different additives and may actually already be fertilized, which is detrimental in hydroponics.

If unable to do your own treatment, then purchase an unfertilized peat moss that has only lime added. This will save you time, ensure a successful hydroponic farm system, and will allow you more control over the nutrients delivered to your plants.

Types of Peat Moss in Hydroponics

There are many different grades of peat moss, with the varieties dependent on the location of harvesting, and that will reflect on which you select for your hydroponics system.

But that is not the only factor that should be considered.

Once the harvested peat arrives at a processing and treatment facility, the next steps will determine which one will be right for you.

At the facility laboratory analysis tests are carried out on the peat for ph content, moisture, temperature and bulk density, to name just a few. The peat is then graded and separated according to color, smell and purity.

At this stage, some additives and fertilizers can be accurately added and blended in before being converted into the growing media you are searching for, and that will be suitable for the crops you intend to grow in your specific hydroponics setup.

The reasoning for using peat moss in hydroponics are numerous, as long as the minor drawbacks are resolved from the beginning.

The correct decomposition ratio has to be determined from the outset. Once that is revealed, the peat moss needs to be dried out and mixed with perlite, for example, depending on your hydroponic requirements. Once dried out it is surprisingly light and manageable, with open pores that allow good aeration and good drainage.

With the correct mixture with perlite, the issue of compaction is removed, and because the peat was originally formed in low oxygenated conditions, it won’t contain any fungus or harmful bacteria.

Peat moss is easy to work with so won’t cause dust fallout like some other grow media can. And, of course, making life easier should always be appreciated.

And one of the benefits of peat moss, depending on which peatland it is sourced from, is its microbial composition. These friendly microbes inhibit the growth of unhealthy pathogens that could negatively affect crop health and nutrient absorption.

The Reasons for Using Peat Moss in Hydroponics

When at first the decision is arrived at to start a hydroponics farm or extend a going concern, regardless of size, the ultimate goal is to grow the best crop possible in the fastest time. Hydroponics allows this to happen and combined with peat moss as a growing medium increases the harvesting capabilities and the ease of maintenance.

Hydroponics allows a wider range of growers the flexibility to set up their very own organic indoor farms in a variety of locations previously unheard of. This flexibility provides a wide array of options to choose the best and most cost-effective substrate suitable for the crops they intend to grow.

Peat Moss should be at the top of this list.

It has the flexibility as a grow media to give plant support, while at the same time absorbing sufficient water to maximize nutrient delivery to the roots. If mixed with perlite, it increases aeration and water drainage, alleviates compaction, and makes crop production more stable, and harvests more predictable At the end of the day, Peat Moss may not, at first sight, be the go-to media for every situation or crop selected for Hydroponics farming, but it has the ability to be morphed into the ideal substrate to deliver a perfect harvest every time.

Aquarium Gravel For Hydroponics: What You Should Know

With Hydroponics, the soil is subtracted from the equation to be replaced by nutrient-rich water. The roots are generally embedded in a support medium, like Rockwool, expanded clay, or perlite and the nutrients are provided either by a drip or an ebb and flow system.

These support mediums are widely used and have varied price ranges, advantages and disadvantages. Part of their role is to support the plants themselves, aid in nutrient absorption and water retention, and assist in controlling the overall environment so that there are no ph fluctuations outside the accepted ranges in this enclosed ecosphere.

In the end, they can influence factors such as whether there will be a mediocre yield or an abundant harvest.

One media that is often overlooked is gravel. It is not the first choice of many a hydro culturist but it has many advantages, mainly its cost-effectiveness, ready availability, and its durability. Just for those reasons alone many hydroponic growers believe it is worth using as a substrate.

Gravel Advantages and Disadvantages for Hydroponics

The preferred support medium to use in hydroponics is one that does not absorb water, is ph neutral, is reusable and provides good aeration. Gravel ticks all these boxes and then some, coming in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

Gravel for hydroponics generally falls into two categories, “sharp” gravel or “pea” gravel, and whichever is chosen can sometimes just be a matter of preference. However, whatever type of gravel chosen it is advisable to wash thoroughly to eliminate any debris, dust or dirt particles that can perhaps clog any pumps used.

The distinction between the two is that one is rounded and the other has sharp edges, and a mixture of the two is ideally suited for use as a substrate, generally a mixture of 3/8 to 5/8.

This screening mixture allows particles to filter through and pass their nutrients onto the hanging roots. If the gravel is too densely packed, it would prohibit the free flow of nutrients to the plants and literally starve the crops to death.

What the sharper pieces of gravel tend to do is hold on to nutrients as they flow over the surface areas. This is important because minute particles of nutrients become trapped between the small jagged crevices, and in between the irrigation, the cycle helps to sustain the plants.

Apart from that the rougher surface also provides the roots a better ability to anchor to for stability, where a smoother rock would not, and also the rougher surfaces stops the gravel itself from shifting whenever the water is flowing through and around it.

Occasionally the gravel itself will become soiled and need to be cleaned. Fortunately, unlike some other substrates which have to be thrown out and replaced, gravel can be extracted from the grow bed after harvesting, and any unwanted material that is adhering to surfaces can be washed free. Once free of any dead roots or debris, the now cleaned and sterilized gravel can be put back into position for the next planting session.

This process can be repeated indefinitely, saving a lot of time, money, and effort in transporting the aggregate from the store.

As you can imagine the weight of the gravel can be a disadvantage in transportation and installation and that will reflect in the structural considerations for the hydroponic setup.

Whatever planting structure is used to house the substrate and the hydroponics farm, has to be capable of supporting the weight of the gravel over a long period of time, as well as the weight of the water that also has to be factored into the weight baring equation.

Gravel In Hydroponics And The pH Level                                                                               

The ph level in both hydroponics and aquaponics is constantly requiring recalibration and monitoring to maintain the narrow range. This chemical reaction can occur depending on the type of gravel rock used and that can affect the ph level, raising it higher than the accepted range. If that happens it can interfere with the nutrient absorption as the water flows throughout the system, and adversely affect the plants.

Whether the water is alkaline or acidic can also play a major role in the ph stability ranges and how the gravel will interact within this biosystem. If the water has too much alkalinity, the ph levels can be difficult to stabilize even with the proper equipment and can work out to be a costly endeavor trying to maintain the equilibrium.

On the other hand, too acidic a water source can be aided by the gravel which will actually correct the imbalance.

So, it pays to understand the type of water that is going to be used first in the hydroponic system in regards to its natural ph ratio, as that will help to decide the type of gravel to be selected to avoid any future problems.

Being nonporous, gravel does not have the ability to hold on to water itself. With a drip irrigation system that is not a problem as there is a fairly constant supply of water. However, if using the flood and drain method a back-up system may be required in case of a power cut, or one of the pipes becoming blocked.

And for this reason, with the use of gravel, the watering cycle needs to be more frequent or the roots will dry out and eventually die.

Another item of note to pay attention to is the depth of the gravel which can play a crucial role in the development of the roots. If the gravel is too shallow the roots will not be properly supported and anchored, which in turn will affect the root growing capacity.

If the gravel is too shallow there is also a risk that a layer of algae can form along the surface area which will attract fungi gnats that will revel in feasting on the roots of the crops.

Having a depth of at least 50mm will eliminate this potential build-up as light cannot penetrate to that depth and interact with the moisture to allow the algae to flourish.

The Gravel Truth in Hydroponics

Using gravel as a support medium is ideally suited to an ebb and flow watering system where the aggregate is watered several times a day. It does not absorb nor hold onto the water but its cost-effectiveness and the ability to source it locally offset this disadvantage.

It is important to note that the gravel selected needs to be chemically inert so does not alter the ph level unduly in the ecosystem, so limestone should be avoided. There’s nothing worse than opting for a cheaper support medium only to be committed to doing twice the work in constantly having to recalibrate the ph levels.

Growing crops hydroponically may be a soil-less endeavor but the gravel truth is that it could be the start of a new revolution in sustainable growing, ushering in a new way to feed the world.

And at the end of the day who wouldn’t want to be able to grow more food, faster, and in a completely controlled environment?

Can You Grow Onions in Aquaponics?

Onions are a staple diet for millions of people around the world and are grown in a myriad of environments to add flavor and texture to many a dish.

The idea of growing onions in an aquaponic system is not only possible but maybe a preferred method of farming to achieve a growing system that would reap a more organic harvest than traditional outdoor planting.

You can grow onions in aquaponic systems. Flood and drain or Nutrient film technique (NFT) systems tend to work best as the roots of onions need plenty of moisture.

Let’s have a look at how this system would work.

Onions and Aquaponics

Growing onions in a field is a labor-intensive farming method and requires pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals to eliminate pests and diseases. And they need a lot of watering.

There are several new revolutionary ways to grow crops over the last few years that have enabled city dwellers to grow onions, fruits, vegetables, and even grapes in an urban environment. These methods have breached centuries of traditional farming and have, in many cases, made it possible to grow staple food products in areas previously unviable and unachievable.

All these systems rely on regular maintenance techniques and nutritional systems to assist in the growing process, and any failure in the chain can lead to a lost or diminished harvest.

In aquaponics, the best of each of these techniques are utilized in a controlled environment to nurture the growth of onions, while the downsides of many of them are discarded.

No pesticides or chemicals are used, the time-consuming maintenance process is eliminated and even the harvesting process is simplified.

Aquaponics is about harnessing the power of nature itself to create a self-sustaining eco-system. It works by converting the natural waste of fish into nutrient-rich water that is transported through the system to be absorbed by the roots of the onions, and then the cleaned water is returned to the fish tank.

Once the system is installed there is very little ongoing work or maintenance required. This closed-loop aquaculture works harmoniously with the onions and the fish flourish mightily within this self-contained eco-system.

How to Grow Onions in Aquaponics

Creating a continuous cycle is the tenet of aquaponics.

This particular method requires an aquarium, a pump to move the water back and forth from the aquarium to the roots of the onions, a grow bed where your onions will be located, and a selection of fish for the tank itself.

The grow bed can either be placed on top of the aquarium or off to the side. The grow bed, or flood table as it is also called can simply be a plastic tray or a large container as long as the support structure is strong enough.

Once you have decided on the location and how big you want your aquaponic farm to be, select the size of the aquarium. By using an aquarium instead of a solid container, gives you the benefits of having and enjoying your pet fish while growing your new onion crops at the same time.

At this stage prepare the fish tank as normal by dechlorinating the water and then allowing sufficient time for the bacteria to build up over the following weeks.

This is the starting point to set up your very own fully integrated ecosystem. It works by having the natural waste from your fish being broken down into nitrates, and then a pump carrying these nitrates to feed the roots of the onions. Nitrogen is then released by the plants, cleaning the water which is then safe to be pumped back to the fish, and then the cycle is repeated.

This process is on a continuous loop and the only time water has to be added is if there is a marked level of evaporation or if it is transpired by the plants.

Three Ways to Grow Onions in Aquaponics

There are essentially three types of aquaponics that are used depending on growing experience, the space available, and the scale desired.

The Deep-Water Culture Set Up lets the onion roots drop into the water and take nutrients directly from the water. This method is suitable for a larger scale operation.

The Nutrient Film Set Up is where the roots are left to dangle in a PVC pipe drilled with holes. The water is drawn into the pipe to run over the roots, delivering much-needed nutrients before being fed back into the tank. This method is suitable where space is a consideration and is flexible enough to allow crops to be grown vertically, horizontally, up walls, or even hung from ceilings.

The Media Bed Set Up is the last method and is the most convenient for home growers with little experience, and who opt for a smaller-scale operation. Here the plants are seated in a bed of expanded clay pebbles or gravel, and a pump draws the water from the tank to flow over the roots.

Normally onions require space between the next clove to grow as about a dozen shoots sprout above ground. In aquaponics the bulbs can be set a mere inch apart, allowing more to be grown in a smaller area.

Caring for your Onions in Aquaponics

Growing onions with aquaponics will give you the option to decide how big you want to grow, whether your intention is to feed a small household or a community of onion lovers.

It all depends on the size of the area you have available, from a ledge in your bedroom to a large greenhouse in a nearby field, and, of course, what your goals are. Even the strain of harvesting can be mitigated with the grow bed set to a height totally at your discretion for comfort.

Less water is used due to the closed-loop ecosystem, with hardly any at all being wasted. With this consistent water availability, the bulbs have a tendency to start sprouting quickly as long as the temperature range of between 55°F to 75°F is maintained.

Aside from the importance of having the correct temperatures, having the ph level right is just as crucial, but it can be a little tricky. The onions, the fish and even the bacteria being formed in the water are three distinctly separate living organisms, and all have different ph requirements.

This ph level can be affected by the fish waste, and that can adversely impact the ability of the plants to absorb nutrients, which will reflect negatively on the lives of the fish. So, as you can see the balance of the eco-system as a whole has to be finely tuned regularly.

The optimal range of ph for aquaponics is around 7.0. To ensure a continued harmonious system, it is advisable to monitor this neutral ph balance on a daily basis to avert any wild fluctuations and to keep within this ph safe zone.

And the type of fish selected for this project can make the task of maintaining your onion farm easier also.

One of the ideal types of freshwater fish to use is, believe it or not, is the humble goldfish. They tend to excrete large amounts of waste so your onions won’t be short of nutrients in the conversion process.

But koi can be used, as well as tilapias, and really any hardy fish will do that require minimum maintenance. After all, the beauty of aquaponics is not just the onions you will be growing tenderly, but the aquarium full of colorful, interesting fish that you will be enjoying at the same time.

Harvesting Aquaponic Onions

Aquaponics is a symbiotic relationship between plants and fish and goes hand in hand with sustainability. This collaboration uses less water which is cost-effective and good for the environment and produces 100% organic produce.

Really there is no limit to where your onion crops can be grown with aquaponics and an added bonus is that the growing times are accelerated. This results in a quicker crop of onions being harvested more frequently and, due to this system being so self-contained and self-reliant, the whole interconnected process becomes a game-changer in the field of growing onions.

All in all, aquaponics combines all the new innovative growing methods together with the flexibility to be scaled to fit over a small aquarium filled with an array of multi-colored fish, or scaled upwards for a much larger industrialized farming operation.

Can there be a better way to grow your onions?

Can You Grow Broccoli in Aquaponics?

When you first run either a hydroponics system or an aquaponics system, it’s hard to know which crops are best to grow.

The smaller systems lean toward shallow rooting vegetables, which are mainly herbs or leafy green sorts of vegetables for salads. However, larger systems can cater to larger crops, and with space, they are perfect for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, or other vining vegetables that need room to spread.

The question comes down to root vegetables and the possibility of growing them. You can find out the answer, and then other information about growing this healthy vegetable.

Can you grow Broccoli in Aquaponics? You can grow broccoli in your flood and drain media bed or Dutch bucket type system. You find broccoli isn’t so much a large crop; it is heavy. This weight makes it unsuitable for floating rafts, nutrient film, or other similar systems. It is worth growing in larger, supportive beds. However, there are a few other growing demands of this healthy crop you need to know.

Broccoli and Nutrient Requirements

To grow broccoli efficiently, they require lots of nutrients, and thus you may need to adjust the fish population to accommodate this crop.

You will also find it far better to attempt growing broccoli in aquaponic systems, which are well established. Fish levels may be better if they are around 1lb of fish per eight gallons of water rather than 1lb of fish for every 10 gallons.

With a perfectly functioning system, the nitrates’ levels should be 50ppm or as close to this as possible. Besides this, the levels of ammonia need to be low, even with increased fish density.

Besides this, the other two key nutrients are magnesium and phosphorus, or you may see crop growth slow.

Growing Instructions

When you come to transplant seedlings into your media bed, you ought to do this once they have 4-5 true leaves showing. Your crops at this stage will be around 5.5 to 8 inches tall.

The germination time to reach this stage can be around 4 to 6 days. Besides this, you need to consider the spacing for transplanting as broccoli comes with a large root system.

Seedlings should be planted from 17 to 20 inches apart from each other. Closer than this, and you can see your crops producing smaller central heads.

Growing Conditions for Aquaponic Broccoli

Broccoli is a winter vegetable and won’t take too kindly to growing conditions that are too warm. While it is a beneficial crop to grow, it is on the side of moderately difficult.

You can find seeds that will be bolt resistant to help, though trying to maintain the ideal temperatures will help considerably. Broccoli thrives the best in daytime temperatures of 57 – 62 F (14-17 °C).

Winter varieties will require temperatures around 50 – 59 F (10-15 °C) for the head formation. Temperatures above these are possible, so long as there is a higher humidity level available. Should temperatures be too high (over 65°F), this will cause premature bolting.

Also, broccoli likes full sun for around 6 hours per day. It can cope with a little partial shade, although this could make broccoli mature at a slower rate.

Broccoli can deal with swings in pH levels, although for the health of the rest of your system, aim to keep it at a more neutral level of pH 6 to 7. A digital pH pen is ideal for checking the levels frequently.

Harvesting Broccoli

It would be best if you started harvesting broccoli for the best quality when head’s buds are firm and taut. Harvest immediately when the buds separate and show their small yellow flowers. To preserve taste, it is important to harvest the broccoli in the morning.

You should cut the heads off your plants and take at least 6 inches of stems diagonally below the head.

Most varieties of broccoli have side shoots that develop after the chief heads are harvested. You can harvest from one plant for several weeks, sometimes, from winter to the beginning of summer as long as summer temperatures are not too hot.

Pests and Disease in Broccoli

Many crops in your aquaponics and hydroponics systems often face less intrusion of pests and disease. Although broccoli is one that, like cabbage, can be prone to the effects of cabbage worms and other pests.

Here are some pests or disease you will need to be wary of when growing broccoli in aquaponics.

  • Aphids: Curled leaves may show the sap from your broccoli is sucked up by insects. A way to combat this is to apply soapy water on all sides of your leaves whenever you see aphids.
  • Cabbage Loopers: If you see small holes in your leaves between the veins, they may result from green caterpillars. Check the underside of the leaves. You can pick these off by hand if the problem is small or fight the problem with Bacillus thuringiensis, a natural bacterial pesticide.
  • Cabbage Worms: Such worms, Whiteflies, or cabbage root maggots can be treated the same way as you treat any cabbage loopers.
  • Clubroot: Rapid wilting of plants can be attributed to this fungus. Your entire plant, including all its roots and tendrils, needs to be carefully unearthed and removed from your media bed. If roots appear gnarled and misshapen, then the root of the club is causing the problem. You will need to remove infected plants swiftly, so the fungus will not continue to spread throughout your system.
  • Downy Mildew: When purchasing broccoli seeds, make sure you purchase varieties resistant to downy mildew. Otherwise, you will spot the yellow patches that are caused by moist conditions. Aim to keep crops dry, and they have plenty of air circulation.
  • Nitrogen Deficiency: Broccoli is a nutrient-loving vegetable. If your fish tank isn’t large enough to cope with numerous broccoli plants, it could lead to a slight yellowing of the bottom leaves rising upward on your plants.

If you have the capacity, you can plant marigolds or calendula flowers close to your broccoli as these help fend off the above pests that take a liking to your crops.

Aquaponic Broccoli Varieties

While there are many varieties of broccoli available, not all are suited to aquaponic cultivation. Here, we have the top three to consider should you decide on broccoli for your soilless system.

Chinese Broccoli

Despite being a broccoli variety, it differs greatly from other cultivars because it grows without florets. Also known as Kai-Lan or Chinese kale, this variety has large, thick leaves with a bitter taste compared to Calabrese and sprouting broccoli.

Chinese broccoli grows quickly, at around 35 days, and thrives well in warmer environments, making it ideal for growing in the summer.

Sprouting Broccoli

In contrast to Calabrese, this kind of broccoli shows more stems and smaller single florets than a central head. Sprouting broccoli is more bitter than other species and can be purple or white.

White-sprouting broccoli is milder and slightly sweeter in flavor than its purplish equivalent.

Calabrese Broccoli

You will be more familiar with the Calabrese Broccoli since it is the most commonly sold variety in stores and markets. The heirloom plant was named after Calabria or “the toe” from the Italian peninsula.

Gardeners highly recommend it because Calabrese broccoli offers an extended harvest period, as it forms side shoots that remain in place after removal of the main head.

Conclusion

Although broccoli can be more challenging to grow than many other crops, so long as you have deep grow beds to offer support and maintain the desired temperatures, there is no reason you can’t dedicate a grow bed to this crop.

While it is usually a large grow bed, you can use a Dutch bucket system to make sure they have ample support. You then have the flexibility of your spacing and won’t waste valuable space in your main bed.

While a challenging crop, broccoli is worth the effort because of its rising costs in the stores and its many health benefits.

What Size Gravel is Best for Aquaponics?

In the same way that hydroponics is a soilless means of growing, so is aquaponics. One of the key differences being the way the grow beds are constructed. While hydroponics systems tend to grow in pots in various systems, an aquaponic system most often uses flood and drain grow beds, which are full of growing media. Gravel being the most common.

What size gravel is best for aquaponics? There are many sizes available, and in theory, any size gravel can be used. Most hydroponic gardeners prefer pea gravel, which is between 1/8 of an inch up to 3/8 of an inch in size. Although, the smaller 1/8 sized pea gravel being the gravel size of choice. 

Considerations of Aquaponic Growing Media

When you first build any aquaponics system, there needs to be a few considerations when choosing the ideal growing media. Here you can find the things you need to think about, and you can see why pea gravel is the ideal media to use.

Inert: Any aquaponic grow media needs to be pH neutral. Similarly, as a hydroponic system, the pH level in an aquaponic system needs to be controlled.

Fish and plants have their preferred range of pH range, and ideally, you need to aim for a range of pH 7. Many media can change the pH level, although pea gravel isn’t one of them.

All you need to do is thoroughly cycle your system before adding fish or plants to clean away any dust.

Grow Bed Depth: Any grow bed in aquaponics should be a minimum of 12-inches deep for most crops.

Weight: Any grow media in use in a hydroponic system should be too heavy to handle. It should be light to medium weight, so you can easily dig your holes when you plant your seedlings. On the flip side, if they are too light, they can float in the grow bed and won’t offer support.

Easy to Work With: Grow media can comprise any size or shape, although sharp edges are best avoided. If you use sharp-edged stones, these can be hard on the hands and damage any grow beds that are not constructed from solid materials.

Non-Decomposing: No aquaponic grow media should break down because it can work its way through your system and clog your water pump and reduce dissolved oxygen in the water for your fish.

Pea Gravel for Aquaponics

Pea gravel fits all the criteria and then some. The smaller pea gravel has a large surface area that bacteria can thrive on. With this, the nitrogen cycle is complete and, in turn, delivers robust plant growth.

From the fish waste, the broken-down compounds create ammonia, which passes around your system. Once it flows through your smaller sized pea gravel, it is converted into nitrites by two bacteria strains (Nitrosomonas bacteria).

From here, these nitrites are consumed by the second strain of bacteria (Nitrobacter bacteria) and converted to nitrates. Your crops then use the nitrates as fertilizer.

As there is more surface area on the gravel, a larger number of nitrates are being produced than if larger gravel was being used.

Pea Gravel with Limestone

Generally, your pea gravel won’t contain anything to change your aquaponic system’s pH level radically. However, if there are any traces of limestone, the results could be different.

Before filling your grow beds, you can carry out a test to check whether your bags of small pea gravel.

Take a handful of gravel, place it in a container, and then cover it with some white vinegar. You can see the vinegar fizzles if there are traces of limestone.

You need to avoid limestone as this will keep your pH above 8, which can harm your plants and your fish.

You can place some gravel in distilled water and check the pH after a couple of days, although it is better not to purchase any gravel you think may be suspect.

One thing to note is that the name pea gravel isn’t a type of gravel, it is because of its size. One dealer can sell something different to another.

Grow Bed Depth and Pea Gravel

One thing any gardener needs to understand when using pea gravel is the depth of the grow bed. The recommended depth is 12 inches, and for a good reason. When building a system, you may be tempted to go for a shallower bed.

Even while pea gravel is the cheapest media you can purchase, the amount you need could be considerable. However, there are reasons why you should opt for a grow bed of this depth, if possible.

Here you can see why avoiding the shallower bed sizes can be beneficial, and it is advisable to scale your system to support the larger bed and the increase in the size of the fish tank you will require.

You will face limitations if you decide to go for a shallow grow bed filled with pea gravel.

Eco-System & Dead Zones

In deep aquaponics grow beds, you naturally create a layered eco-system. One significant benefit of this is that you will prevent any ‘dead zones’ dotted around your grow beds.

Besides this, as you have a thriving environment packed full of beneficial bacteria, worms, and lots of space for roots to grow. You don’t have to clean out your grow bed.

These bacteria and worm communities, along with your plants, do all the cleaning for you. Anything less than 12 inches, and you won’t be able to reap these benefits of a stable eco-system.

Plant Limitations

If you are growing nothing but crops similar to lettuce, you may get away with a grow bed shallower than 12-inches.

However, if you grow indeterminate tomatoes, cucumbers, and corn among the many other crops that can benefit from aquaponics, these shallow beds can’t support them. You won’t receive the same base nutrients and beneficial bacteria for these longer living crops.

One thing not to forget is your aquaponic system can be highly configurable, and you can mix grow beds and use raft systems for short rooting crops and larger grow beds or Dutch becket systems for deep-rooted crops.

Three Zones of Pea Gravel Grow Bed

Zone 1 – Surface Zone

The top 2-inches serve two purposes. It allows for light penetration and acts as the dry zone to limit evaporation. The second reason for this dry zone in your pea gravel is to prevent collar rot and stop any algae forming as the nutrient-rich solution faces light exposure. Also, the infection from powdery mildew is minimized.

Zone 2 – Root Zone

It is in the second or middle layer where the plant activity occurs. Making up this layer is around 6 to 8 inches in depth. As you drain after flooding your grow bed, water drains away completely and presents highly efficient oxygen delivery to the roots, microbes in the soil, worms, and beneficial bacteria.

When you are in the flood cycle, incoming water will distribute all the fish waste particles containing nutrients through the entire grow zone. Worms are highly active in this middle zone, where they break down solid matter to release minerals and add to the underlying worm tea. On each successive flood and drain, this beneficial tea is spread around all your crops.

Zone 3 – Solids & Mineralization

Once you reach the bottom 2-inches, you find all the fish waste solids and worm castings are gathered together. By the time it reaches here, it will have been reduced by around 60%.

In each of your flood and drain cycles, this zone is kept fresh from the effective delivery of oxygen-rich water.

Conclusion

Once you see the benefits of using 1/8-inch pea gravel, you can understand why it is among the most popular media.

It is highly affordable, and any gardener is advised to lean toward the deeper grow beds when possible. Besides this, there is nothing you need to do with pea gravel, and it is one of the easiest materials you can work with.

There is nothing but benefits you can get from using this smaller sized pea gravel than if you used a larger gravel, or an alternative growing media.

How to Fix and Prevent Nutrient Burn

When growers first start running a hydroponic system, one of the first problems they encounter is what we call ‘Nutrient Burn.’

The problem sounds much worse than it actually is, and manifests from growers who give their plants too many nutrients or fertilizer. The way it manifests comes in a couple of differing ways. The first being leaves which appear scorched on the tips, and the second area, which isn’t as obvious, is that of root burn.

This can be more severe on your plants as there will be the drying rims of the leaves. Roots, which are turning brown, will accompany this and plant growth will be slowed quite considerably.

Here, we will look at all you need to know about the exact causes of nutrient burn, and what you can do to fix the problem and prevent it occurring again.

Why Do Plants Get Nutrient Burn?

Because it is down to the grower to provide the correct nutrients to plants in a hydroponic system, the problem ultimately comes from the grower.

A logical thought when first beginning a system can be, the more nutrients, the better my plants will grow.

Unfortunately, this is far from the reality. When growers overfeed their plants, it will lead to them being ‘burned’ in either of the two ways previously mentioned. To fully understand why this happens, it is good to know what these burns are.

These spots are not physical burns as if the plants were on fire. These are more like burns you get on your skin from a toxic compound. Nitrogen is one of the major compounds that makes up hydroponic nutrients.

Even though overfeeding plants is the main cause of this problem, it can stem from other areas.

  • Mixing nutrients too strong
  • Over-watering – plants need dry periods where they can absorb oxygen
  • Boosters for blooms – used on some plants, and when used too often or too strong it causes toxicity
  • Plant growth stimulants – if these are used to frequent, it can cause dwarfism in plants and they will try to absorb too many nutrients

Once you begin overloading your solution with these compounds, your mixture quickly turns into a toxic substance. Hence, this is where leaves begin burning. Any grower who overfeeds their plants can spot the following.

These are early indicators their plants are over-fed and will end up with nutrient burn.

  • Tips of leaves burn and turn yellow
  • Leaf tips turn bright green
  • Leaves turn darker green
  • Stalks and branches may turn dark red. Purple of magenta
  • Leaf tips bend at 90 degrees

How Do I Fix Nutrient Burn?

We saw Nitrogen is one of the main compounds, which leads to these issues; it isn’t though the only one. Once plants are reaching the end of the vegetative stages of growth, plants will be looking for more calcium and magnesium.

If these are overfed, the same symptoms will transpire in your plants. Fixing the problem may appear daunting to new growers, yet it is easier than they may think.

Following some simple steps can mean the difference between saving crops and losing a host of plants.

  1. Get rid of burned or damaged leaves
  2. For extra security, trace backward on the calyx clusters to their supporting branch and remove the entire floret.
  3. Discard any dead leaf matter as this will rot and cause contamination
  4. Flush your growing pots and the growing medium with clean pH balanced water.
  5. Check your tank’s pH and EC levels. Adjust this using fresh water only. You can drain your system to be sure you have no nutrient excess in your reservoir. Run for 24-hours with just fresh water and test EC. If high, drain and repeat the process, and check. Continue until your EC levels are acceptable.
  6. Depending on the extent of the nutrient burn, you can ease back on the nutrients in your mixture and supplement this with an organic liquid tea for around seven days.

Preventing Nutrient Burn in My System

This kind of problem usually happens by mistake, and for this reason, it can be something, which is easy to prevent happening again.

Taking on some, good habits can help prevent this. Here are some pointers, which will help prevent nutrient burn:

  • Use the right nutrients for the correct growth stage
  • It is advisable to use 3/4 strength, which is given on the packaging – manufacturers are not always right.
  • Use digital pH/ EC meters to check your nutrient strength at regular intervals or when you are topping up your reservoir.
  • Always flush your growing medium and pots with your system to stop salt buildup.
  • Use the best measuring device for the nutrients. A kitchen-measuring spoon, which is exact to the dose, makes things easier.
  • Never look down on the line of measuring jugs. Always look at eye level when reading measuring lines.
  • Be sure to use distilled water, as this won’t aggravate the problem by adding more nutrients.

As you go through all of these steps to eradicate the problem, you need to try to figure out what caused it in the first place. Fixing the issue is only any good if you know what not to do next time.

Additional Steps for Prevention

One of the main things new growers do is to not fully understand their plants requirements. Each type of plant differs. Understanding this as well as what is already in your solution are the very first steps in prevention.

Different crops do have different requirements. A good rule to follow is that leafy crops like herbs, spinach or lettuces need higher levels of nitrogen. If you are growing fruits like cucumbers, peppers, eggplants and tomatoes, then these will be seeking lower amounts of Nitrogen.

If you attempt to grow any root vegetables, these require higher amounts of potassium.

Regardless of which plant type you are growing, there are different nutrient requirements for different development stages. Understanding what plants need in their flowering or bloom phase as compared to their growth or vegetative stage can make a massive difference.

One final thing, which has an effect, is where your plants receive their light source. If you are using grow lights indoors for your crops, these will again be looking for different nutrients and levels than crops grown outdoors.

Generally speaking, crops require more nitrogen if they are receiving full amounts of daylight, or they are being exposed to high doses of artificial lighting. This has more of an effect when crops are outdoors.

If your plants are following regular growing seasons, crops which produce fruits will be looking for more potassium in the late fall or winter when levels of light are reduced. Although the levels of Nitrogen and Potassium can be increased to double the requirement in wintertime, this will not be the case under grow lights where conditions will be consistent.

Problems with Concentrated Nutrients

It can be a good cost saving to use concentrated nutrients. However, the use of these needs plenty of due care and attention. These concentrated formulas are often where new growers become mixed up and don’t fully understand the bottles instructions. 

Not making a conversion in your quantity can leave plants open to burn straight away. As well as this, if these nutrients go anywhere near your plants in their undiluted form, they can quickly kill your crops. No grower should be mixing concentrated formulas in their grow room.

Conclusion

Adding too many nutrients won’t deliver bigger plants and larger fruits. This is a common mistake, yet when you look at all the above information, you can see it can be resolved quick, and while saving your plants.

The good thing is that any grower can learn from their mistakes, so for this to happen a second or a third time? There is no excuse.

There is only so much you can give you plants before you smother them. It is like being a regular parent with your child. Give them what they require and they will blossom, give them too much, and the results are never what you expect.

Related Questions:

Is nutrient lockout the same as nutrient burn? The two are similar, and some of the symptoms may appear to be the same. However, nutrient lockout is where your plants are unable to absorb the nutrients you are giving them.

What causes nutrient lockout? Over time, your pots and growing medium will have an excess of salts that build up in certain areas. If these are allowed to carry on accumulating, they can bind some of the nutrients and prevent them from being available to your plants.

How do I fix nutrient lockout? The good thing is you can solve nutrient lockout by following the same steps as for nutrient burn. Although these two things are different, they cross paths and begin to show similar symptoms. The main thing is to use plain water to dissolve and flush this salt accumulation from your system. If these remain, the problem will occur as soon as you begin adding more nutrients.

Can You Grow Grapes Aeroponically?

The simple answer is yes. But it’s not just as easy as popping a piece of the vine on a stick or a trellis and you’re good to go.

With proper planning and finding the right space to suit your needs, however, growing grapes aeroponically can reap rich rewards, enabling you to harvest healthier grapes faster, eco-friendlier, and pesticide-free.

Aeroponics vs Tradition

Growing grapes outside has been around for centuries, being a very successful farming method passed down from one generation to the next. The view of a large field filled with rows of vines is a spectacular sight, an iconic picture on many an Italian or Spanish hillside as well as in numerous other countries in the world.

So, to diverge from this renowned method to one that is relatively new, well, there has to be more noticeable benefits. 

Above all, what aeroponics allows is for your average person to start growing grapes without having to own large swathes of land, without having decades of experience or a large bank account,  and being able to take advantage of unused areas in an urban setting.

Scientific progress and invention, as well as advancement in machinery and equipment, has cultivated this new innovative system of growing grapes, eliminating many obstacles in the standard grape growing process.

Cultivating the grapevines in an indoor, controlled environment has numerous advantages. The first is space. 

Although seeing a field filled with vines as far as the eye can see is a sight to behold, perhaps it is not the most economical method to grow grapes for the masses.

A huge amount of land is required to do this, and that land, that soil can determine the quality of the grapes. Another determining factor is the weather that fluctuates with the seasons throughout the year-long growing season and can adversely affect the crops.

Growing grapes inside with aeroponics eliminates these two barriers to successful grape growing immediately. 

Also since the roots are free-hanging they do not need to be planted deeply in the soil, the vines do not need to be planted to face the sun and six feet apart, as well a host of requirements to be undertaken painstakingly just to keep them alive and pest free.

As long as certain requirements are met for optimal plant health, for growth, and the indoor environment is optimized for grape development, the aeroponically growing grapes could be the way to go in the future on whatever scale or size imaginable, big or small.

After this article, you’ll have more of an idea of what to do, what not to do, and even how to do it.

First, let’s look at what exactly aeroponic growing is and why it’s the new way to grow.

Aeroponics? What’s that exactly? 

Awareness of indoor farming has been increasing in popularity recently as the potential of growing crops in a controlled environment is becoming more apparent and appealing. 

With this flexible method of indoor vertical farming, crops can be grown year-round regardless of any extreme changing weather conditions in the area, and also it allows a higher number of grapes to be harvested with less spoiling due to infestation, disease, or a variety of mitigating circumstances from excess rain, to adverse weather conditions and even to too much sun. 

For growing grapes, aeroponics can prove to be very advantageous.

Traditionally growing grapes in soil requires a distance of about 6 feet of space between each vine and each plant is going to need a lot of sunshine to ripen the fruit. Once the new shoots start to develop, called canes, they are then pollinated by insects and the wind. 

An irrigation system can be set up to provide sufficient water and pesticides and chemicals are used to ward off insects and protect against diseases.

It can take up to a year of pruning, spraying, and watering before the plant bears any fruit.

Aeroponics does it faster, cleaner, and eco-friendlier.

Easy Aeroponic Set Up

Vertically growing grapes in an indoor space turns all of this system on its head, so to speak.

In fact, there are two methods of indoor growing. 

The first and more common method is hydroponic growing.

This involves submerging the roots of the vine in a container with filtered water that has a pH level of between 6 -6.5 and using a filtration system to regulate the amount of water applied to the roots.

Growing grapes aeroponically compared to hydroponically is a little bit more of a complex system, however.

Aeroponic growing involves suspending the plant roots in the air and watering them periodically rather than submerging them in a container.

This is achieved by suspending the vines in a foam plank, for example, with the roots left to dangle in thin air. Water is applied by using a misting system that is set on a timer to spray filtered water every few minutes that is mixed with a nutrient-rich solution to provide sustenance.

This method is extremely effective but requires a fairly complicated set-up that is easy to master in a short space of time. With a bit of patience, all can be set up and operational in no time at all.

After a period of trial and error, if you are new to this process, you will become aware of what needs to be done periodically to help your vines to grow healthily and steadily in these conditions, which will make every re-growing season in the future that much easier.

Benefits of Aeroponics

Rather than waiting up to a year for your harvest to ripen, the grapes can be cultivated in a shorter period of time, being harvestable up to 25% quicker, a major benefit if you’re short of space and even shorter on patience.

That’s one of the benefits of this system. 

It’s as if devoid of the constraints of soil or a containerized system, the roots of the vines take advantage of the extra oxygen flowing constantly and being so readily available, that the results are a faster growth spurt.

Efficiency is also a key benefit here also, with less water actually being used and lost to evaporation, 95% less in fact, and the water can even be recycled along with the nutrients to make this process cost-effective, saving on wastage and being good for the environment.

Pesticides are a thing of the past here as well, as they are simply not needed. When the equipment needs to be cleaned and maintained, everything can be sterilized simply, eliminating the need for harsh chemicals.

Growing vertically also reduces the amount of space required to grow larger quantities in a smaller space compared to outdoor lateral growing, and the upside of the closed-loop irrigation system is that there is no runoff of harsh chemicals to foul the surrounding ecosystem, making this method eco-friendlier.

If a small DIY model is all you’re after without automation, then it can be set up inexpensively from as little as about $100. 

A professional aeroponics turn-key system, on the other hand, could cost well into the four figures if built at scale, with nutrient monitoring equipment, a backup power supply, pumps, timers, thermostats, tubing, and a pressurized water tank capable of delivering the finest possible puff of moisture, to name just a few equipment requirements.

Constant Grape Attention.

The system utilized for aeroponics is a closed system that has to be monitored on a regular basis, not only to check that the spray timing hasn’t failed, but also to maintain the misters to ensure that there is no clogging of the spray holes. 

The nutrient concentration also has to be recalibrated constantly so the precise parameters required for the crops are the same and do not fluctuate excessively. Too much variance in the cocktail of the pH balance can be detrimental to crop growth, and can even lead to loss of an entire crop if not monitored regularly.

Another worst-case scenario is if there is a power cut for a certain amount of time, the roots can stop being misted and become starved of nutrients. However, with proper vigilance and the right monitoring back-up systems, this worst-case scenario can easily be avoided, and a hassle-free growing cycle can be achieved time and time again.

Aeroponic Needs

Everything needs food and light to thrive, stay healthy and productive and grapes are no different. In their case, they need nutrients that aeroponically will be provided by adding magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and other nutrients to the water periodically. And they need light and energy to survive and thrive.

Because aeroponic crops are grown indoors in a sheltered environment special lighting has to be installed to provide this life-giving nutrition.

These energy-intensive lights have to be installed to harness sufficient light to give the plants the energy needed to grow and these are normally run using electricity. Solar energy could be a good alternative option, however, if possible.

So environmentally wise this is not an optimal situation. And since the water pumps rely on electricity, well, you can see that the profit margin can take a hit as the pumps have to be running constantly.

Growing Indoor Temperature Changes

Something to consider when looking at growing grapes aeroponically is the space that is going to be used as that will determine the equipment required. Humidity is also a factor that has to be considered as is temperature, and air quality.

If you were setting up in a greenhouse, for example, circulation fans may have to be installed to control the temperature. The fans would be required because the use of lamps installed to create light often emits a fair amount of heat and this hot air has to be vented. 

If the temperature is too high problems can occur because the vines will require more water than usual which will affect the timing of the misting system and the nutrient content in the water.

In other words, the vines will get thirstier and need more water to survive. So, if the temperature fluctuates too much, the misting systems would have to fluctuate accordingly, which would make a complex job even more complicated.

Conversely, too low a temperature will slow down your plant’s growth and absorption of nutrients, creating another problem.

The solution with the fans is to have them connected to a thermostat for automation, exchanging the heated air inside with cooler air from outside to maintain a controlled atmosphere.

If a different indoor space is being used apart from a greenhouse for aeroponic growing, a similar system can be set up but just on a smaller scale.

The Humidity Factor

Mold problems can occur if the humidity is too high and the vines can even overheat if the ambient atmosphere is already saturated with moisture. While rare with aeroponics, too dry an atmosphere will cause excessive water absorption of the vines. 

To maintain balance, a humidistat can be used alongside a thermostat or a single combined thermostat/humidistat as a better option to tackle this potential problem.

Automation is highly recommended to keep a close eye on the temperature and to maintain a humidity level of between 60% to 70%, perhaps with a warning signal to alert you to anything requiring immediate attention.

Wrapping Up

The advantages of aeroponically growing grapes in this fashion are numerous and far outweigh the teething glitches initially encountered with setting up this system.

However, with the numerous benefits of a faster growth time, more control of the environment, an organic, pesticide-free product, well, it’s definitely worth the small initial hassles.

So, whether it’s just to have a better, tastier grape for your own consumption or to make your own wine, this revolutionary system could be for you. For the casual grower, having your own crop of grapes hanging from the vine and grown by your own hands can’t be bad either. 

What’s not to like?

Have a grape day!

Aerogarden Bounty Basic Review – Everything you need to know

I’m often asked “What’s the easiest way to get started with hydroponics?”

My response is usually one of two replies. I either point them in the direction of my website (which you’re helpfully reading!) or show them a turn key solution.

The Aerogarden Bounty Basic is one of the turn key solutions I point towards as a great product to get anyone started growing hydroponically without all the complicated extras that gardeners have to look out for!

What is the Aerogarden Bounty Basic?


While I’m a big advocate for building your own hydroponic system, it’s not always practical, especially if you have very limited room, a busy family life or just can’t be bothered to invest the time yourself to do the research, but the parts and build your own system. That’s where solutions like the Bounty Basic come in.


The bounty basic offers everything you need to get started with hydroponic growing in your own home without the hassle of building your own system. The kit comes with a water reservoir, custom net cups, pre-seeded germination chambers and dimmable LED grow lights.


Aerogarden Bounty Basic Key features

If you’re looking for a turn key solution there are a few items you want to be aware of:

  • The bounty basic comes with the recommended nutrient quantities and types. No need to spend hours looking at labels to work out if you’ve got the right nutrients for your plants
  • Seed pods and seeds included to get you up and running in no time at all. Just plug in and get growing
  • Connects to Wi-fi. You can turn off the grow lights and monitor your crops with the Aerogarden app from anywhere to make sure they’re staying fit and healthy.
  • LED grow lights have better lifespans than traditional grow lights to reduce the need for maintenance and replacement parts
  • Vacation mode slows down water usage while you’re away to avoid your plant running out of water

Why the Bounty Basic?

So why do I recommend the aerogarden bounty basic as my go to turn key solution?

  • It’s compact – I have one that sits in my kitchen on the worksurfaces. It fills a space under a wall mounted cabinet very nicely which makes cooking with herbs from the bounty basic very easy, they’re just an arms reach away from being harvested when needed.
  • Unlike previous models or other competitors the LED lights are dimmable. I sometimes have my bounty basic sitting in the window where it doesn’t need as much light except for evening times. I can save electricity by setting the lights to dim during the day and brighten in the evenings.
  • I love growing hydroponically! Hydroponics delivers the nutrients directly to your plants, this increases yields and reduces grow time so you can go from seed to plate much quicker than in conventional gardens.

Is there anything not to like?

Nothing is perfect! That’s what my mum always told me growing up. Whilst the aerogarden bounty basic is excellent there are a few things you should be aware of before buying.

  • Refill kits – Over time the seed posts need replacing and lights need swapping out (fortunately they’re LED lights so this isn’t very frequent!). As the seed pots aren’t the usual hydroponic net cup size you have to buy refill kits from aerogardens who certainly mark the price up a little. Whilst this isn’t a big problem for getting fresh herbs and veg onto your plate it’s a cost that can catch people out.
  • Price – Whilst the bounty basic is cheaper than its ‘Elite’ cousin it’s still not what most people would call cheap. It is definitely cheaper to build your own system from scratch, having said that it’s not always time effective to do that. If you’re looking for an easy way to get into hydroponics or grow your own herbs then the price shouldn’t put you off.

Recommendations

Whilst the price can put some people off, I’m going to continue to recommend the aerogarden bounty basic as an easy way to get into hydroponics.

From unboxing to planting seeds can take as little as 5 minutes and you can see tasty results in less than two weeks (depending on what you grow!). If you don’t have a garden, are looking to get into hydroponics, or simply want to get homegrown food on your plate. You won’t go wrong with the bounty basic.

Determining the Best Air Pump Size for Hydroponics

One of the most daunting things for a new hydroponic gardener is in maintaining their hydroponic reservoir.

With many factors to consider, it can be overwhelming, yet it isn’t as challenging as it first appears. Gardeners may comprehend the influence temperature has, and the amount of nutrients they require. However, they often struggle with the concept of oxygenation levels in their solution.

You may know it is beneficial to use an air pump; however, you may find yourself not fully understanding, how to determine the best air pump size for hydroponics. While an air pump may not appear to do too much, plants need to receive oxygen from the water to survive. An air pump, in many cases, may not be too large, yet it can harm your crops if it is too small.

Why You Need an Air Pump in Hydroponics?

In a hydroponic system, the gardener must deliver everything their plants require.

Many gardeners know about water, light, and the nutrients, yet equally important is oxygen. While there may be some oxygen taken up by the upper portions of the plants, the majority is taken up by the root system.

If you grow in soil, there are pockets of air between the grains of soil, so your plant won’t be sat in just water.

Once you look at Hydroponic systems and you don’t use an air pump, water loses the oxygen and stagnates. Once this happens, your plants quickly drown as a result.

With the introduction of an air pump, the bubbles add dissolved oxygen into your water. if you could look close enough, you would see these tiny pockets in the same manner as those found in soil

You can also find another couple of benefits of using air pumps. First is to keep your solution mixed, and second is that it can help to reduce the temperature of your solution, particularly if your pump is sucking in cool air.

When you look at some systems, you can get by without using an air pump, yet even these can benefit significantly as plants love all the oxygen they can get. More oxygen means they can take up more nutrients, and they can grow to their full potential.

The Noise of Hydroponic Air Pumps

One drawback of an air pump is that of the noise they produce. While it is the function of your air stones to create the bubbles, the air pumps function is to suck in air from outside the reservoir.

In contrast, a water pump has the noise suppressed by the water. While all air pumps will make a noise, you will find some quieter than others. When checking your pump, you will see the manufacturer places a level on the packaging.

Any pump you purchase should be 45 decibels or lower, and then it will blend with the surrounding noises.

Other Air Pump Considerations

The function of an air pump is simple, yet there are a few other things you need to consider to get the best from it.

Tubing from your pump into your tank should be black as a way of stopping light getting into your reservoir. Most are often supplied with clear, and you may need to change these.

The second thing to consider is the size of your system and the reason for calculating the size of the air pump you require. You can find air pumps that offer one outlet, or others comprise up to eight outlets.

With multiple pipe connections, you have the chance to place air stones in different areas of your reservoir, or you can run multiple systems from one pump.

Many larger-scale growers may opt for two pumps rather than one to act as a failsafe. If one fails and it can cope with your system, then your plants won’t suffocate.

Lastly, it would be best if you were sure your pump matches your air stones. An air stone that is too large may have air coming just from one location, and thus other areas may block prematurely. In addition to this, any air stones you use ought to produce smaller bubbles.

With this, you find the oxygen dissolves easier as the bubbles travel slower, and more of the water surface is disturbed. Larger bubbles merely rise to the surface faster and will break the water surface less.

Air stones come in multiple sizes, yet once you have a pump that can drive air through all of the stone, you can find a four-inch size is ideal.

You may not hear much about this, and the issue stems from aquariums more than hydroponics, though it could be an issue.

If you have a deep tank rather than shallower horizontal, there can be back pressure and water can seep back through the tube into your pump. You will find this can be another reason to have a larger pump than you may think you require.

Calculating the Size of Air Pump for Hydroponics

You can look at purchasing an air pump in many ways, although there is one rule of thumb that a few gardeners use, it is often seen as leading to overkill for your system.

Buying an air pump that has a wattage equal to your number of gallons in your reservoir can lead you to purchase a pump you don’t need. You will see this happens to be a none technical way of selecting your ideal pump.

While you can follow this method, a lot depends on the size of your tank to the extent of the pump you require. One good thing to know is that it is almost impossible to have too much air in your water. The only time this would be an issue is if the water was being thrown from the top of your reservoir.

It is a pump that is too small that causes issues because it can’t oxygenate your solution enough for all your plants.

A pump you need has to deliver at least 500-600 CC (cubic centimeters) per minute. If you see 500-600 ml per minute, the volume of air is the same, and it is a quick 1 to 1 conversion.

For home gardens, even the cheapest pumps can deliver this, although you need to think about your pump in operation.

It is possible to turn your pump off on occasions for limited periods though it isn’t advisable, and your pump ought to be on 24/7. Commercial grade air pumps often come with a single outlet that can connect to a larger hose, and from this, you can connect multiple branches of smaller hose connectors.

Even though these are more costly, they are not overly expensive and will be more durable than smaller air pump variants.

Conclusion

When it comes down to the purchasing decision, unless you have a larger than average garden, you can find most of the available pumps will deliver a steady stream of air to your system.

How long the cheaper models can do this is questionable, so it can be a better option to move upmarket and purchase one that you know will deliver the reliability you require.

Besides this, if you want to go with the failsafe method and opt for two air pumps, you can easily find two middle of the road size pumps that offer plenty of air throughput without reaching the top end of your budget.

Even if you think the pumps appear to be overpowered, you can quickly reduce the number of air stones, although your plants will appreciate the additional oxygen.