Growing Hydroponic Endive – A Full Guide

Introduction: Hello hydroponic gardeners, we are back with a great information on growing hydroponic endive. The endive plant is a healthy and delicious leafy green. The Green Curled Endive produces dark green curly leaves with large tender crisp ribs. It is excellent on salads and sandwiches. Extremely easy to grow using any hydroponic system setup you have. Plant this endive variety all-year-round using hydroponics and grow lights. In this article we cover all the following topics;

  • Hydroponic endive growing conditions
  • Optimal pH for endive growing hydroponically
  • How fast do hydroponic plants grow
  • Advantages of the hydroponic system
  • Growing endive in bucket hydroponic system
  • Hydroponic endive nutrient requirements
  • How long does it take to grow endive hydroponics

A step by step guide to growing hydroponic endive

Hydroponics is a method to grow plants without soil, and as such, these systems are added to aquaculture components to create aquaponics systems. So, together with the recirculating aquaculture system (RAS), hydroponic production forms a key part of the aqua-agricultural system of aquaponics. Many different existing hydroponic technologies could be applied when designing aquaponics systems. This depends on the environmental and financial circumstances, the type of crop that is cultivated and the obtainable space. Endive is a type of chicory salad green found within the daisy family, is known for its narrow, curly-edged leaves and slightly bitter taste. The growth rate on a hydroponic plant is 30 to 50 percent faster than a soil plant, plants grown under the same conditions.

A guide to Hydroponic Endive.
A guide to Hydroponic Endive.

Hydroponics is for growing several plants in nutrient solutions (water and fertilizers) with or without the use of the artificial medium, for example, sand, gravel, vermiculite, rock wool, peat, coir, and sawdust to provide mechanical support. Liquid hydroponic systems have no other supporting medium for the plant roots and aggregate systems have a solid medium of support. Hydroponic systems are further categorized as open, where after the nutrient solution has been delivered to the roots, it is not reused; or closed where the surplus solution is recovered, replenished, and recycled.

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Conditions for growing endive hydroponically

Endives have an open growth habit and require approximately the same space as bib lettuce; though, they are typically much slower growing than lettuce and more prone to physiological conditions that are tip burn and bolting under warm conditions.

Endive has two main forms that are grown hydroponically these are a frilly or frisee curly endive type with finely divided leaves and a broader-leaved type called escarole. The mature leaves of this open-headed endive type are slightly bitter with the inner plant leaves being lighter in color and with a milder flavor.

Under hydroponic production, endive, particularly the frilly or frisee types, are normally grown as microgreens or baby leaves. This way, their flavor remains milder than a mature crop, and this largely avoids issues with tip burn and bolting. For baby leaf production, only a small space is required and the plants can be grown as cut-and-regrow crops or incorporated with a range of other salad green species seed mixes.

Endive plants are well-suited to hydroponic production and take up minimal space in an indoor garden if grown to be harvested relatively young. Endive plants are straightforward to grow and can be produced in nutrient film technique (NFT) systems, float systems, and media beds.

Ideal EC and pH levels of these endive crops are 1.5 mS cm-1 and 5.8 – 6.0, respectively. Though, an EC of 1.2 is recommended under warmer growing conditions to assist with tip burn prevention.

Alkalinity and acidity of nutrient solutions for growing hydroponic endive

Alkalinity and Acidity also are known as pH level is extremely important in Hydroponic gardening. The scale for pH level readings ranges from 1 to 14. A reading of 7 means that the number of acid ions is totally equal to the number of alkaline ions present in the measured solution. Any reading above 7 indicates that alkaline ions are in greater number, and any reading below 7 indicates that there are more acid ions.

Each number above or below 7 indicates a tenfold increase in either acidity or alkalinity. So a substance with a pH reading of 5 would be ten times more acidic than a substance with a reading of 6. The requirements of Soil pH is not the requirements of Hydroponics pH level, do not confuse the two. The optimal pH level for a nutrient solution is 5.6 (between 5.5-6.0), although most plants can still survive in an environment with a pH level between 5.0 and 7.5.  If your nutrient solution or growing medium is too alkaline or too acidic many of the vital nutrients will be wasted, unabsorbed by the endive plant. The water pH level of the endive is approximately 5.5. The pH may vary in relation to the type of fertilizer used. It is difficult to correct an alkaline substrate. This can, however, be achieved by adding sulfur or physiologically acid fertilizers (ammonium sulfate, potassium sulfate) or by constitutionally acid fertilizers (mineral phosphate).

Hydroponic systems need a carefully crafted fertilizer to mix into a nutrient solution for crops. Different fertilizers are formulated for different plants.  Liquid fertilizers are a complete fertilizer (one part) that growers can simply mix into water to make a nutrient solution. These are simple and easy, present more costs in shipping (you’re essentially shipping water) and storage. Powdered fertilizers are more complicated to mix, but are cheaper to ship and store, and come in bulk.

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Process for growing endive hydroponically

Hydroponic Process for Endive.
Hydroponic Process for Endive.

Choose a system – Whether in a make-shift hydroponic garden made from old liter soda bottles or a kit, find a grow system that works with space and budget. Kits will have most, if not all the ingredients you will need.

Pick a plant medium – Among the available grow media, you could select vermiculite, perlite, clay pellets, gravel, sand, or a combination of several of these. You can grow in coconut fiber, though you’ll need to watch to make sure it doesn’t become overly soggy, which could kill roots. For certain veggies, you could choose just to plant atop the water, such as the onions above, with a wicking system. Cotton rope suspended in the waterworks very well to draw up water.

Plant seeds – Once you selected a system and plant media, you will plant your seeds using a seed starter or mat.  You start germinating the seed in some containers or another area. That might take something like 10 to 15 days and then you transplant the seed to your main garden.

Add light – You’ll want to grow lights for your indoor garden to promote steady, long-term growth. Use LED lighting for energy savings because plant lights will use less energy than fluorescent bulbs.

Give proper nutrients – You’ll want to check the pH of your plant system and adjust the nutrients. It sounds complicated but it is actually easy. Use a kit that supplies the pH meter and nutrients for a foolproof technique. For experienced hydroponic gardeners, you can choose liquid organic fertilizers that work for indoor gardens.

Pick when ready – Carefully pick fresh endive. When you’re growing endive hydroponically, you can also move your plants outdoors in warmer weather. Choose a system on wheels or add casters to make moving plants around easier. Also, be prepared that pests could nibble on plants. If you move the endive plants back indoors, keep them segregated from other hydroponic indoor plants.

Advantages of hydroponic growing

The advantages of hydroponic controlled environment agriculture contain high-density maximum plant yield. The hydroponic system is a more efficient use of water and fertilizers, minimal use of the land area, and suitability for mechanization, disease and pest control. The advantage of the hydroponic system compared to field-grown produce is the isolation of the plant from the soil, which often has problems of pests, diseases, salinity, and drainage.

The advantages of hydroponic systems are;

  • Pathogen-free starts with the use of substrates other than soil and easier control of soil-borne pathogens.
  • Growth and yield are independent of the soil type or quality of the cultivated area.
  • Better control of plant growth through a targeted supply of nutrient solution.
  • The potential for reusing the nutrient solution allowing for maximizing resources and then increased the quality of produce gained by better control of environmental parameters (temperature, relative humidity) and pests.

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Hydroponic systems can drastically reduce the amount of time required to produce good plants. Any vegetable, flower, shrub and also trees can be grown without the need to cultivate, weed and mulch while watering and fertilizing can be taken care of by automatic systems. The time saved by using a hydroponic will allow you to concentrate on pruning and training plants, as well as providing you with more time to spend outside on other gardening activities.

You will find that only a small number of seedlings are required to make what you need, as losses from pests and disease are greatly reduced when you grow hydroponically, particularly if the plants are in a greenhouse or protective structure. Without soil in the system, it is easy to keep everything clean, enabling to eliminate problems caused by many soil-borne diseases.

Starting media and nutrients for growing endive hydroponically

Any propagation medium should be thoroughly soaked before seeds are sown to assure uniform distribution of moisture. There are many different propagation media obtainable.

Seeding trays can be filled with a soilless mix, for example, peat and perlite. Peat pellets are popular starters. Seedlings grown in a soilless mix could have enough nutrients available to them from the media that they would not need additional nutrients for the few weeks of growth, and therefore could be watered with fresh water only. Though, seedlings in an inert medium, such as rock wool or oasis, will definitely require nutrients at all times.

Rockwool blocks are obtainable in several sizes and are designed so that seeds can be placed directly into seeding cubes, then, as the plants develop, the cubes can be nested inside larger blocks, for a “pot in a pot” method. This minimizes transplant shock since the larger block contains the same material as the germination cube. Oasis horticubes are similar to Rockwool cubes in that they are inert, sterile blocks with an excellent drainage system. Other cubes made of urethane foam and paper fiber are available.

Water quality growing hydroponic endive

Good, consistent water quality is essential for a hydroponic system. Freshwater free from pesticide runoff, microbial contamination, algae, or high levels of salts should be available throughout the year. The levels of pH and alkalinity (measured as carbonates and bicarbonates) of the raw water affect the absorption of certain nutrients by the plant roots. Water pH levels above the desirable range that is 5.0 to 7.0 may hinder the absorption of some plant nutrients; pH levels below this range permit excessive absorption of some nutrients, which could lead to toxic levels of those elements.

Bucket hydroponic process for growing endive

  • Endive plants started from seed. Seeds sowed in 1.5-inch rock wool cube in 2-inch net-pot and moistened with Seedling Blend, a dilute blend of fertilizers.
  • Endive Plant germinated, placed directly under a fluorescent light (2 ft. T8 bulb, and 17W, 6500k) for 16 hours per day.
  • Installed plant into a 2-gallon bucket by using Jungle Juice Blend, a regular-strength fertilizer blend. N-P-K (in ppm) ration will be 113-35-122.  The plant moved to an indoor grows room, receiving 9 hours LED grow light per day.
  • Then began harvesting lower leaves for use in salads.
  • The container was almost empty, then added 0.75 gallons of fresh fluid, by using the Master Blend-based Regular-Strength Blend. Then added 0.5-gallon Regular-Strength Blend. Plant eaves are now developing a spicy flavor.
  • And, the indoor grow room is very hot (> 80°F during the day), so the use of the LED grow light was discontinued. The plant is now receiving 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. Added 0.75-gallon Regular-Strength Blend. Continuing to harvest the lower leaves for salads and the leaves have tasted great.

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