Techniques of Hydroponic Fruit Gardening
Today, we discuss the topic of growing fruits in a hydroponic system as hydroponic fruit gardening is becoming popular. You can also find the list of fruits suitable for hydroponics. So. let’s dive into soilless or hydroponic fruit gardening.
Introduction to Hydroponic fruits
Hydroponics is a modern technique of cultivating plants, in water, without using soil. Required Minerals and nutrients are added to the water at optimum quantities so the plants can utilize its energy into producing fruits and vegetables and results in a generous yield. A lot has been written and read about hydroponics and it has emerged as an innovative and excellent way to encourage gardening at home effortlessly. If you wish to decorate your place with greenery and blossoming flowers hydroponic flowers are there. If you wish to add flavor to your food and pamper yourself with fresh salad hydroponics herbs are there, you wish to harvest fresh and healthy veggies from your garden hydroponics is at your service moreover you desire to pick fresh good smelling juicy fruits yes again hydroponics does wonder. So today we are going to introduce you to the best fruits to grow hydroponically. This article will let you imagine about picking up delicious mouth-watering cherries from your hydroponic system or making a yummy apple pie from your very own dwarf apple tree that too without touching the soil.
Using hydroponics you can grow just about anything but there are plants which flourish much under hydroponics system and has been successfully grown by experienced as well as new growers. So in further writing, we are presenting a list of best fruits for hydroponic fruit gardening with brief information about their growing methodology or hydroponic growth system.
- Cantaloupe (Netted Melons)
Strawberries of Hydroponic Fruit Gardening
Strawberries are indeed one of the most delightful and desirable fruits of all the time. You will be happy to know it is one the most favored crop to be grown hydroponically. These small runners bearing beautiful juicy red berries are easily cultivated in a variety of hydroponic system without much effort and are already very famous among home hydroponic gardeners as well as gardeners who are exploiting hydroponic technique at commercial levels.
All those who are trying their hand in hydroponic gardening can start with growing strawberries in their hydroponic system; strawberries are the ideal crop with which to put on some experience. The planting materials are readily available, small, compact, and accessible in a range of different fruiting types and among fast-growing hydroponic plants as there are cultivars that produce fruit relatively faster.
Before jumping into strawberry gardening it is important to get the basics in order to decide the competent varieties to cultivate. Basically, Strawberry varieties fall broadly into two different categories: the short-day and day-neutral types.
The majority of the outdoor strawberry types are short-day varieties. These commence flowering under the shorter day lengths (less than 14 hours) and require cool conditions of winter in temperate climates. They then flower and fruit as temperatures rise up in spring.
On the other hand, Day-neutral varieties are frequently used by the greenhouse and hydroponic producers, as they can be manipulated to grow out of season if adequate warmth and light are provided as required. Day-neutral strawberry varieties are given an artificial “chilling” period to initiate flowering and then encouraged to flower and bear a good amount of fruit with warmer temperatures.
Strawberry plants are comparatively easy to propagate from runners that are horizontal stems produced at the end of the fruiting season as starting from seed is a long process. Interested Hydroponic growers can buy chilled runners or plugs (also called “pre-conditioned” plants), easily from any store dealing with horticultural or gardening related stuff. These plugs are kept for a period of four to eight weeks under refrigeration (34-37°F) in order to provide chilly treatment. Or, growers may chill their own stock by wrapping the clean runners or small plants in damp paper and plastic and keeping them in a refrigerator for about four to six weeks. Chilling treatment is imperative either way, the artificial chilling replicates the cold conditions of winter, which is especially great for those folks living in tropical locations or where winters are very mild or hydroponic growers who wish to harvest strawberries throughout the year. Once planted out into the warmth and light, the plants recommence their spring growth pattern of foliage development. They flower relatively rapidly, followed by fruiting.
Strawberries can be grown in a variety of hydroponic system however nutrient film technique (NFT) being the most used and preferred system which make an impressive display when in fruit, but plants need to be well supported so they don’t trip down into the nutrient flow.
Cautiously only clean plants i.e. not those uprooted from the soil should be used so those roots rot pathogens or any soil borne disease are not introduced into the system. The temperature should be brought to 68°F, particularly when starting new plants that have recently been given a chilling treatment.
Pollination of Strawberry Plant:
Strawberries are self-fertile or self-pollinating and will pollinate themselves, but they usually need help from natural agencies like wind, bees, or someone to help transfer the pollen especially when grown indoors. To help with pollination you can simply brush the flowers together to transfer the pollen from the stamens to the stigma or transfer pollens using brush one flowers stamens to other flower’s stigma this will increase fruit set.
There are three categories of strawberries based on their growth pattern: June-bearing, Ever-bearing, and Day-neutral. June-bearing plants produce large berries once per year. Ever-bearing plants produce three crops per year. Day-neutral varieties will flower and fruit year round. Our suggestion is to go with Day-neutral plants in your hydroponic system to enjoy strawberry throughout the year.
Here are some suitable varieties for the hydroponic system as suggested by experienced strawberry growers
- Albion: large fruit, excellent flavor
- Seascape: popular, firm, good-sized fruit, nice flavor
- Quinault: self-pollinating & wide berries
- Tribute: medium to large berries
- Mara de bois: productive, firm, good sized fruit with very nice flavor
If you have a preference for Ever-bearing, we recommend these varieties for hydroponics:
- Ozark Beauty: very juicy and good flavor
- Ft. Laramie: with a good harvest, great taste, slightly smaller fruit
For further details, you can read our full-length article on Hydroponics Strawberry Gardening Techniques, Tips
Watermelons of Hydroponic Fruit Gardening
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Coming up to another delicious fruit watermelon, which is boon especially designed by nature to provide relief in summer. Watermelon is known to contain the highest amount of water keeping us away from getting dehydrated in the scorching summer heat. Imagine having a hydroponic watermelon garden in your home will be so much rewarding and will make you popular and desirable in your society, jokes apart.
Although you must be thinking that the size and weight of watermelons would make them impossible to be grown hydroponically, but for your surprise, they actually grow quite well in such systems. The biggest concern with growing watermelons hydroponically is making sure that they have adequate light and proper support for their weight.
Most hydroponic systems are suitable for growing watermelons. If multiple plants are being grown simultaneously, then an ebb-and-flow system is the best selection, because it utilizes a single reservoir to provide nutrients to multiple hydroponic units at a time, reducing the amount of time spent on checking nutrient levels and adding more solution. For smaller growing setups, a floating hydroponic system like Kratky watermelon system allows one or more watermelon plants to stay suspended above a container having nutrient solution.
A sterile, inert growth medium is significant when growing watermelon in the hydroponic system. Clay-based growth media or gravel provides supplementary support to help hold developing roots in place. Lighter options that hold water better consist of peat moss or coconut coir. Mineral-based media such as perlite and vermiculite can be utilized as well. Sand can be mixed in with clay or gravel growth media to progress water retention if necessary. Watermelons typically produce well with general-purpose fertilizers. Majority of the general-purpose hydroponic nutrient solutions mix consists of fair amounts of required major nutrients, and micronutrients, allowing hydroponically cultivated watermelons to grow and prosper. These nutrients are easily available in stores along with their usage stepwise guide.
Watermelons require a considerable amount of light to grow and flourish. For appropriate growth and development, watermelons should be given eight to ten hours of direct light every day. If the hydroponic system is placed in a greenhouse or outdoors, this light will come in the form of natural sunlight. For the indoor hydroponic systems, you will require specialized grow lights to supply the necessary light exposure, as the standard indoor lighting will be insufficient. You must trim the leaves regularly time to time if found necessary to prevent them from growing too large and thereby blocking light to other leaves on the watermelon vine and better light interception.
One of the most important parts of watermelon cultivation is providing appropriate support to bear the fruit load. Watermelon vines have need of a trellis or other support structure to let watermelons grow hydroponically. Depending on the accessible space, the support structures can be oriented horizontally or vertically alongside the hydroponic system. For vertical supports, nylon mesh netting attached to a horizontal tensile wire will hold up the melons and keep them from breaking off the vine. Smaller watermelon varieties are more appropriate for vertical supports; this will capitalize on melon production and put off the melons from growing too large to be properly supported.
Growing Watermelons indoor from seed is the most preferred method for raising watermelon plants for the hydroponic system. Start germinating the seeds in growth medium like rockwool or peat starters, watering as needed to keep the starter moist until the watermelon seeds begin to sprout and grow. Once the plant starts forming visible roots relocate it to the growth medium and provide it with the appropriate nutrient solution in the hydroponic system. When flower development is achieved, pollinate female flowers using the pollen from the stamen of male flowers to encourage high fruit production. As like other melons they cannot set the fruit without being pollinated. Harvest the melons when the tendrils nearby to the matured melon begin to dry out and turn brown or when the white spot on the rind that rests against your support structure turns yellow.
Berries for Hydroponic Fruit Gardening
Hydroponic Blueberries, cranberries, and raspberries are less frequently grown in a hydroponic set-up than strawberries; however, they are suitable to soilless production and have the advantage from the protected and controlled environment of an indoor garden. Cranberries are naturally a plant with long, trailing stems bearing attractive fruit.
For this reason, they are preferably grown in an elevated system, about three to four feet above the floor, where the stems can trail directly downwards. Available Dwarf varieties like ‘’Hamilton’’ grow to around two to three feet in height and can be easily pruned to controlled size.
For those with limited and small space, dwarf blueberries are the most appropriate crop as raspberry canes require more vertical space to develop and spread out.
Raspberries are characterized into two main types: primocane (fall bearing or everbearing types) and floricane (summer bearing). For hydroponics, primocane types are usually recommended, as these produce fruits at the top of first-year canes over a long harvest season. They also require less growing space and support system than floricane types.
These berry crops are more suited to containerized, drip-fed, substrate-based hydroponic systems such as DWC or Kratky system. This is both to ensure over-saturation of the root system does not happen, and to facilitate the facility to shift the plants when they have need of chilling or become too large for the space available.
Berry crops don’t require high levels of temperature and will grow in comparable conditions as many other fruiting plants. Temperatures of 72-74°F during the day and 68-70°F at night are perfect for their growth. For utmost fruit quality and sugar levels, the light requirements are alike those of tomatoes and capsicum, and plants get advantage from a long day length light exposure.
Nutrition for all berry crops is related. A well-balanced vegetative nutrient formulation is necessary for the early growth stages after the initial bud break, followed by a bloom or fruiting nutrient formulation that is high in potassium level once the fruit set has been achieved.
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For low pH-loving blueberries and cranberries, pH levels can be maintained somewhat lower than other crops, around 5.0-5.5. However, they will still produce well in mixed cropping hydroponic systems where pH is maintained at normal levels of 5.8-5.9.
Like strawberries, chilling is required during the plant dormancy phase to initiate the flowers for a good level of fruiting. Naturally, in outdoor conditions, the sequence of flowering and fruiting is triggered by environmental conditions. For smaller indoor gardeners, the easiest methods of providing chilling treatment for berry crops is to move the containerized plants outdoors in winter or simply refrigerate the runners. Dormancy occurs during this point, so the plants don’t necessitate nutrients and only a minimal amount of water is needed.
The number of chilling hours required by berry plants somewhat depends on species and cultivar; however, raspberries and blackberries generally call for 200-800 hours below 45°F and blueberry plants 500-600 hours lower than 45°F. Once the chilling requirement has been provided, plants can be brought back into the indoor garden where temperature and light will bring them into active growth phase long before other outdoor berry crops have started to function. As a result, flowering and fruiting should achieve much prior in the indoor garden. Also, berries that are protected from birds, insects, and the disease also tend to be larger, of excellent quality, and obviously high-yielding because of protected conditions.
Harvesting of berries is one of the most pleasing tasks of an indoor hydroponic garden. Ideally, berries should be left to fully ripen and attain its color on the plant before harvest. This ensures that the full flavor and aroma have developed. Absolutely ripe berries are soft, juicy and fragile; raspberries require careful handling and should be eaten fresh as soon as possible after harvesting.
Read: Plant Care in Winter Season.
Grapes for Hydroponic Fruit Gardening
Growing hydroponic has been fantasized quite long but somehow curious growers have turned it into reality though many of the people are not aware of the fact that grapes can also be grown successfully with hydroponics. Though growing wine grapes hydroponically is predominantly in the research and hobby stages. As grapes are typically vining fruits so for growing them hydroponically you need a competent container to hold the mature plant and arranged in such a way so the weight of the plant, hydroponic vines and fruit won’t tip it over and a strong support system to hold the fruit-bearing vines. Mostly preferred hydroponic growing system for grapes is an ebb-and-flow system. This system fills the container having plant nearly full of nutrients-enriched liquid several times a day and then drains the liquid so the plant roots can get sufficient nutrients and air. So let’s knock your creative sides and try growing a grapevine using simple bucket hydroponic system and check out how high your vine reaches.
Whenever you think of hydroponic gardens, you most likely think of the typical lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, and maybe even some juicy red strawberries. But any assumptions about citrus fruits, apples, pears, and other fruits from fruiting trees by cultivating them in hydroponic systems that too indoors. So start having thoughts about hydroponic fruit trees
Because Yes, with some modification of your hydroponic set-up, you can even grow trees effectively in your garden. Though growing trees in the hydroponic system have not been a very big success or common practice we cannot ignore the few success stories and possibilities.
To get started, your hydroponic garden must imitate all the things that a tree would require if you planted it in your backyard. It’s going to call for warm temperatures and lots of light. So, you’re going to need to fetch in LED growing lamps, high-pressure sodium lamps, or metal halide lamps for your hydroponic fruit tree set-up. These are non-negotiable with trees so no compromise here. The next stage is to decide if you’re going to purchase a tree from your local nursery or grow your own starting from seed. Keep it in mind that if you make a decision to start with a seed, you may have to keep patience before you finally get fruits setting on the tree. Most tree species take about three to five years to mature. Directly purchasing a tree from your local nursery is a good reference if you are looking to have a vigorous sapling that is closer to bearing fruits. No matter what source you choose, however, it’s a good thought to consider using a dwarf species as a smaller tree will ensure that you will have enough space in your grow room.
Now that you have your material to plant, it’s time to prepare your hydroponic system. Remember, the container size you make use of will decide the end size of your tree. You will have to start with no less than a five-gallon grow container. However, over time, you may want to go for larger and larger containers to make certain that your tree grows to its full potential while staying within your available grow space and yet remain beneficial to you.
Obviously, your tree will not grow to the same size as it would outside in your backyard; it will often bear normal-sized fruit and potentially provide full-sized harvests with no compromise in its taste and nutrition.
Once you have selected your container, fill it with perlite, rice husk, or vermiculite and fix the tubing as you will need to vacate the spent nutrient solution from the bottom of the container. Some growers find it beneficial to use a drip irrigation system with usually about three emitters per tree, while others have a preference for the flood and drain method to put off the growth of algae.
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No matter the method you chose for nutrient liberation, the most important thing is to keep developing roots from drying out as this could eventually damage or kill your tree is set up.
When putting your tree into your new system, no matter if you started it from seed or purchased a stock tree, be overly careful with your tree’s roots. Remember pampered roots lead to better growing trees. One can easily set up a hydroponic fruit gardening for profit.
That’s all folks about hydroponic fruit gardening tips, techniques, and ideas.