Introduction to growing hydroponic fenugreek (methi): Fenugreek plant is beautiful microgreen that’s easy to grow. Fenugreek plant is a member of the Fabaceae. It has many uses including using the leaves fresh or dried, using the seeds whole or ground as a spice and plant acts as effective green manure to improve the soil.
A guide to grwoing hydroponic fenugreek or hydroponic methi
The hydroponics system is a space-saving, water-effective process of growing soilless. Fenugreek plant is a leguminous annual plant that grows to around 60cm tall. The plant leaves are similar to clover in shape. Flowers are pea-shaped and yellow or white color and appear in the leaf axils. Like other legumes, the fenugreek seeds are held in pods. Fenugreek pods are thin and crescent-shaped. The light brown seed harvested from the dried pods has a curry flavor.
The process of growing fenugreek seeds in soil is very easy, harvesting them is time-consuming and messy. Also, the soil has to be changed for planting the next fresh batch. Therefore, the method of sprouting without soil is simple, requiring only water, attention and care. The advantage of growing fenugreek in hydroponics is that the procedure is clean, with faster growth and edible roots. Roots are always cut off when grown in soil whereas; the entire roots can be consumed. In this article we also discussed the following topics;
- Hydroponic fenugreek growing conditions
- How fast do hydroponic plants grow
- Hydroponic fenugreek nutrient requirements
- Hydroponic fenugreek growing medium
- Optimal pH for fenugreek growing hydroponically
- How long does it take to grow fenugreek hydroponics
- Advantages of growing fenugreek in hydroponics
Hydroponic fenugreek gardening
Hydroponic gardening is growing plants in a water-based system. Hydroponic systems are categorized as open, where after the nutrient solution has been delivered to the roots, it is not reused. And closed type where the surplus solution is recovered, replenished, and recycled. The definition of hydroponics has been confined to liquid systems, which blurs statistical data and leads to an underestimation of the extent of the technology and its economic implications.
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The advantages of hydroponic system controlled environment agriculture (CEA) contain high-density maximum crop yield, efficient use of water and fertilizers, and suitability for mechanization, disease and pest control. The seeds are rinsed, soaked in water which is changed daily to accelerate the germination method. At this stage, the seeds don’t need light and can be kept indoors. Once the seeds germinate, the fenugreeks are ready for indirect sunlight. They are spread onto a plate or tray, moistened with water and then covered with a wet cloth or towel till fully grown. Exposing the fenugreeks to hot, direct sunlight will destroy their growth and must be avoided.
Uses of fenugreek
The fenugreek fresh leaves can be cooked, steamed or in a curry with potatoes in a similar way to spinach. Their flavor is quite mild. Leaves can be dried and these have a more pronounced bitter taste used to flavor dishes. The fenugreek seeds have a pungent bitter taste and characteristic smell that is a key constituent of curry powder. The bitter taste can be mellowed by roasting and they can be used whole or ground to flavor curries or rice dishes.
Requirements for growing hydroponic fenugreek
Light – at least 8 to 10 hours a day
In a hydroponic system, light is essential for plant growth. It is ideal when sunlight is obtainable. If not, energy-saving but powerful LED (light-emitting diode) lamps could help. There are special plant LEDs with optimum wavelength ranges obtainable for this purpose.
Oxygen – O2
The fenugreek plants need oxygen in their rhizomes for growth. High content of dissolved oxygen in the water improves the absorption of fertilizers into the fenugreek plant. If there is sufficient oxygen, the nutrient content can be reduced, but the plants still produce quickly.
Water and Nutrients – Electrical Conductivity EC
Water is an important element for plant growth and provides the plant with moisture, essential for metabolic processes. It carries nutrients and contains dissolved oxygen. Important properties of water are its hardness, salt content, pH and alkalinity. The proportion of dissolved minerals is checked by measuring electrical conductivity (EC), expressed in µS/cm, sometimes in mS/cm (1000 µS/cm = 1 mS/cm). The appropriate nutrient selection and dosage are very important.
Water quality for growing hydroponic fenugreek
Consistent water quality is necessary for hydroponics. Freshwater free from pesticide runoff, microbial contamination, algae, or high levels of salts should be available throughout the year. The pH level and alkalinity (measured as carbonates and bicarbonates) of the raw water affect the absorption of certain nutrients by the roots.
Grow lights for growing hydroponic fenugreek
You may need a grow light during the winter, or if plants are not placed outside in a garden or greenhouse. A grow light mimics natural daylight and they can be purchased at gardening stores or online. Some plants need more light than others, so research the amount of light required for growth for each plant you’re planting.
You can control the amount of light your plants obtain with a simple timer that controls the on/off setting of your grow light. An analog timer will work just fine and a digital timer is not necessary.
Water pH for growing hydroponic fenugreek
Fenugreek seeds are sensitive to the pH of water. Use the included pH test strips and instructions to adjust the pH of water. Fenugreek water pH range of 5.5 to 6.5 is acceptable. Make sure to only water your crops with water you have balanced to an acceptable pH level. And also helpful is to use filtered water to remove any chlorine from the water.
Add plants to the growing tubes
One of the easiest ways to plant a hydroponic garden is to use purchased seedlings if you don’t have time to grow the seeds yourself. The key is to select the healthiest plants you can find and then remove all of the soil off their roots. To wash the dirt off the plant roots, submerge the root ball in a bucket of lukewarm to cool water. Water that is too warm or too cold can send the plant into shock. Separate the roots to get the soil out. Any soil left on the roots can clog up the tiny spray holes in the nutrient tubes.
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After the roots are clean, pull as several roots as you can through the bottom of the planting cup and then add expanded clay pebbles to hold the plant in place and upright. The expanded clay pebbles are hard, but they’re very light so that they don’t damage the plant roots.
Fill the pots with a growing medium for growing hydroponic fenugreek
Once you have lined the pots inside of the pan, and then fill them with a growing medium. Growing media for fenugreek have dozens of choices such as gravel, clay pellets, vermiculite, rock wool or stone wool, sand, or cotton and are used to support the plant’s root system as it grows. Ebb and flow systems require substrates with good drainage.
You can try gravel or cotton batting as the growing medium. If you select cotton batting, make sure to use an organic brand because cotton is often heavily sprayed with chemicals. Expanded clay pellets work well in ebb and flow systems. And they have good drainage and, while a bit expensive, can be reused.
Choose a nutrient for growing hydroponic fenugreek plants
Fenugreek plants need a full spectrum of nutrients to grow and thrive. Once the seeds start to produce plants, you will need to choose a nutrient to make sure that yours are getting everything they need. And this is crucial to a thriving hydroponic garden. Plants require 16 elements in adequate concentrations to grow. Having too much or too little of any nutrient can cause poor plant performance. That said, it is best to look for a commercial hydroponic solution that offers a full nutrient profile.
Hydroponic nutrient solutions come in two basic forms they are powered and liquid. As a beginner, you could want to start with something a bit more error-proof in the liquid solution. These are more expensive but don’t need mixing.
Process of growing hydroponic fenugreek
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Steps to grow fenugreek in hydroponics;
- Wash, rinse and then soak 1/3 cup seeds with 1 cup water in a bowl.
- Daily drain off water and replenish with the same amount until they begin to sprout in about 2 to 3 days. This is very important to avoid any growth of mold.
- Once the fenugreek seeds start to germinate spread them onto a rectangular plate or tray.
- Then lightly spray seed with water, draining off any excess water collected at the bottom of the plate. Wet a cloth or towel and cover the tray. And keep in the shade away from direct sunlight.
- Twice a day, rinse the cloth well, cover and lightly spray with water. Gently drain off any excess water collected at the bottom of the tray ensuring that the sprouts don’t slide off position.
- As the sprouts start to grow in height, secure the sides all around with wet cloth to prevent them from drying along the edges. Then, cover the top with a moist cloth or towel.
- The towel on top will be raised as the sprouts keep growing taller.
- Once the leaves are filly has grown and sprouts are about 4 inches tall, harvest and use.
- Enjoy fresh baby fenugreek within two weeks.
Fenugreek is beautiful microgreen that is easy to grow. Hydroponics is the method of growing greens without soil. Home gardening helps us to get organic food. Try this process, if you want healthy food you have to get your hands dirty.
- Seek fenugreek seeds overnight
- Take out seeds the next day and put in a basket with holes.
- Put the basket on a water-filled bucket such that it gets placed in the bucket and touches the surface of the water.
- Wait for sprouting and give fertilizer directly in water
Problems of growing hydroponic fenugreek
Rot and Fungus are the evil twins that commonly infest microgreen and sprout production. Both problems are derived from excess moisture and humidity, improper drainage and also poor ventilation. And proper ventilation removes lingering humidity – airborne moisture. A small portable fan can contribute tremendously to fighting back rot and fungus as well as bacterial issues.
A proper flow of nutrients through the hydroponic system you choose is also vital, avoid flooding and over-saturation. Fenugreek has passed its peak of maturity will frequently flop over. This not only makes the harvest more difficult it also contributes to a soggy salad when the top of the plant droops into the solution.
Harvesting hydroponic fenugreek
Fenugreek has a very narrow window of opportunity so far as harvest is concerned. At the peak of perfection, they must be straight and robust but short and stout. If they are over mature all is not lost, you can still go for baby fenugreek or even allow them to strive towards their full potential as adult plants. When harvesting fenugreeks are best cut with sharp scissors or shears. They should be cut above the substrate or media high enough to avoid contamination and or contact with the media that they are grown in. A small stub of the plant should be all that is left behind. This becomes even more urgent if you used a granular media as it can be simply picked up and intermingled with the greens in the harvest process. Fenugreeks are best harvested when the foliage is coolest earlier in the day. And this will not only help create a tastier healthier product but prolongs its shelf life as well.
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