General Growing Information
Q: Why did cucumber vines suddenly wilt and die?
A: Bacterial will spread by cucumber beetles.
Q: Why aren't cucumbers setting fruit?
A: First flowers are all male, cold temps &/or rainy weather prevent pollination by bees, insecticides killed bees.
Q: Why aren't my peppers setting fruit??
A: Hot, dry winds; night temps over 70 F or below 50 F, excess nitrogen.
Q: How often do I need to water my plants
A: The quick answer is, when they need it. You should be able to tell by pulling back the soil and sticking your finger in to see if the soil is moist. You can over water. This is why the wicking bed and the grow towers are nice, because they take care of this for you.
Q: How much sun do my plants need?
A: Again, this is a concern for a lot of people. I can not count how many times we have gotten this question. Here in Florida it gets very hot and stays there for most of the year. We recommend that you put the plants in an area where they can get indirect sunlight or partial sunlight at some point during the day.
MicroGreen Factoids & Questions
Micro-Greens are defined as tiny, edible greens that grow from the seeds of herbs and vegetables. Micro-greens are smaller and younger than baby greens, but they're more developed than sprouts. They germinate in soil or a soil substitute; they need sunlight or the equivalent lighting to grow; and you can harvest them in about 2 weeks. Micro-greens have a more intense flavor than mature greens. You can add them to your salads, or as a garnish for soups and sandwiches.
How nutritious are they?
The USDA's Agricultural Research Service found in a study that micro-greens have about five times the number of nutrients as the equal weight of mature leaves from the same type of plants. The researchers measured essential Vitamins C, E, K, and beta-carotene in 25 varieties of micro-greens grown commercially. Dr. Gene Lester, a USDA researcher said, "All these nutrients are extremely important for skin, eyes and fighting cancer, and have all sorts of benefits associated with them. To find these high levels of nutrients, I find that quite astonishing". They found the highest amount of Vitamin C in red cabbage micro-greens, and the most Vitamin E in green daikon radish micro-greens. Nutrient content varied depending on where the greens were grown, when they were harvested and what kind of soil was used.
Micro-greens only have a few days of shelf life, so they must be eaten quickly to have the most nutritional benefit. Micro-greens are harvested when you can see the first set of "true leaves". Then you simply cut the plant right above the soil line, and wash it gently and thoroughly before eating. You don't eat the root.
Micro-Greens are easy to grow
Micro-greens can grow from almost any variety of seed that would produce a mature plant. They need at least four hours of direct sunlight daily, we recommend eight to ten on light. You can use a fluorescent grow lights with a low heat output to supplement natural light during winter months. We recommend LED lights with a color spectrum between 5500k and 6000k for best results. The LED lights give off less heat than the fluorescents also.
If your micro-greens are pale green and leggy, that's a sign that they're not getting enough sunlight.
Micro-greens do best in temperatures between 60-80 degrees, and with watering in the morning and evening.
Any high quality potting soil works, especially "fortified" types with natural nutrients like kelp. We recommend a blend of organic soil and peat. We use a (sixty-forty) mix (60%) organic soil and peat (40%). We fill the shallow 10" x 20" germination trays with the blended mixture, spread evenly in the tray then lightly tamp the soil to uniformity in the tray.
Soak the soil with a mister or fogger attachment lightly to prevent soil disbursement, until water begins to stand on top of soil. Once the water soaks in and is not standing on top of the soil then you can add your seeds. Spread the seeds evenly on the soil.
These are general instructions, some micro-greens such as Dun Peas, Sunflower and Corn, require pre-soaking prior to seeding the trays.
After four days of germination in the dark, take the trays and put them on your grow racks under the lighting.
Watering: We recommend misting uniformly your microgreens in the mornings with the hand-held sprayer. The soil must not be too dry or to wet.
If it is to dry the greens will die and if it is too wet you will have a mold problem that will kill the greens also (mold spread very quickly to other greens in the same area). Put your finger on the soil before you water in the morning to determine if the soil is moist or not. If the soil is moist, do not water but check later in the day because greens drink a lot of water.
NOTE: If you are growing your microgreens in and air-conditioned space, know they will require more water. You may have to add 2-3 times the amount of water vs growing in non AC space.
You will be able to start cutting and eating your greens three to four days after you put them in the light on your grow racks. They will start losing their flavor and nutrients after day 12-14 from planting.
Experiment: We recommend trying all types of microgreens because of the varied flavors and textures. It is a completely new experience. Not to mention that my kids like them better than their fully-grown counter parts. They eat them as snacks!
Earning a money with Micro-Greens!
The good news is that there is viable sustainable emerging market for micro-greens. Micro-greens are proving popular with high-end restaurants and healthy food enterprises that use them as garnishes, in smoothies, wraps and salads.
Commercial growers earn a decent income using very little space. A grower can produce between 20 to 25 crop cycles in a year if the harvesting is done every two weeks. Stacking the growing trays vertically allows for more crops in the same space. The untreated seeds used to grow micro-greens, preferably organic, are the same seeds used to grow full-size plants. Since the plants grow so densely in flats, it takes more seed to grow micro-greens than garden crops.
We are your one stop shop for growing. We offer several different types of products for you to grow microgreens. These products offer a simple way to grow very tasty and nutritious greens economically, and if you wanted, to generate extra revenue.
Q: Can microgreens go bad?
A: Yes. Microgreens are a short cycle crop. Typically from seeding, they majority are ready for harvest between 10-14 days. To get the best taste, texture and nutritional values, they should be consumed within 10-14 days from seeding.
The actual time frame depends on exactly which microgreens you choose (some have different maturity times).
Once harvested, it is best to consume within 2-3 days. You will know when they are no longer viable as they will be wilted, and loose the flavors and textures.
Q: How do I prevent mold on my microgreens?
A: Mold can be a BIG problem for microgreens. High humidity and/or over watering can cause this. Growing your microgreens in a controlled environment will help tremendously.
If you do get mold and catch it early enough, you may be able to put the greens in direct sun light for a little while which can kill off the mold. NO matter what, separate the moldy microgreens from the rest of your microgreens, because it can spread quickly.
Q: How much do I water my microgreens?
A:: In normal circumstances, spray them in the morning and lightly in the evening. If they are in an area where it is windy or in and air-conditioned environment with the ac is blowing directly on them, you will need to water them more often. Use your finger in the soil at the edge of the flat to determine soil moisture level. If the soil is not moist, it's time to spray them.
Q: Should I fertilize my microgreens
A: The life cycle of microgreens (for the most part) is so short that fertilizing is useless because it will not break down the nutrients to be absorbed by the plant in time.
Q: What kind of lighting do I need to grow my microgreens?
A: We recommend LEDs with a 5500 color spectrum. We have worked with a lighting company in North Carolina to find the best lighting possible for all growing scenarios.
Grow Tower Systems
Growing high quality, nutritious, tasty food is so simple and rewarding with our vertical growing tower systems. You can grow 32 plants in a space of less than 6 square feet.
Eliminate the drudgery of growing in soil! Growing with our tower system makes gardening easier. You do not have to worry about tilling or weeding your garden as well as problems with soil related fungus, insects and plagues. With our vertical growing system, you will use ONLY ABOUT 5% of water required for conventional gardening.
With our vertical growing system, all you do is place your pre-germinated starter plants in the tower, add your nutrient solution, set timers, plug in and grow!
The timer(s) regulates the pump and the lighting (if you are growing inside). With our specialized nutrient rich solution and organic additives, added to the water, you can grow better tasting and healthier vegetables for your family.
Some of the benefits of growing with aeroponics:
Q: Do you need lights if the tower is inside by a window?
A: Yes. Plants need a lot of light. Biologists have determined the quantity of light delivered to a plant is more important than the quality of light. This is where PAR, photo synthetically active radiation, value comes becomes important in determining the best lighting for plants.
Q: Do I need to trim the roots of plants growing in the tower?
A: YES. Some plants produce a lot of roots. Tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, melons, squash etc. produce a lot of roots, These must be trimmed on a regular basis to prevent the roots from entering the pump and also filling up the nutrient reservoir.
Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard and other do not produce such massive growth. The larger the plant growth the more the plant requires root growth. However, trimming is required to prevent root entanglement and maintain good water flow over all roots in the towers.
Q: How often do I need to trim the roots on the plants in my towers?
A: Review the plants every other week. Plants grow differently; herbs are typically much slower growers, while cucumbers, tomatoes and vine plants grow quickly. So, these will need to be trimmed more often than say your cilantro or leafy greens.
Q: When trimming, how much of the roots should I trim?
A: Most plants will tolerate simple root trimming. You will want to do most of your root cutting on the smaller thread roots, not one the larger taproots.
Leafy greens should maintain 8-12 inches.
Heavy fruiting plants, Tomatoes, Zucchini, Melons etc. require longer roots in order to produce heavy fruiting. They should be planted in the lower section of the towers Simply cut the roots as they enter the nutrient reservoir.
All you have to do is take the plant and pull the tap roots apart, removing no more than a third of the thread roots in the process. You should not shorten the taproots at all during this process, but using clippers to trim the thread roots. Also, prune roots that are dead looking away from the plant.
One thing you should know is that root growth occurs at the very tip of the tap and thread roots. If you want to encourage lateral root growth, clip root tips going vertical. Vice versa to encourage vertical root growth, clip the root tips going lateral, but no more than a third at a time.
Q: What does the pH need to be for optimal conditions?
A: Speaking generally and not about one specific plant or vegetable, you want to shoot for a pH around 6.5. As long as you are between 6.0 and 7.0 your plants will be healthy.
Wicking beds are an efficient alternative when conventional gardens cannot be used. If you have to do an "up garden" then you should do a wicking bed. Wicking beds are up gardens that dramatically save on water consumption.
There are many ways to build wicking beds but because most of them are large troughs or tanks, they can be expensive to build. We have put together an economical kit, that you can order and put together yourself.
First, let us take a quick look at a couple benefits of doing a wicking bed. The most significant benefit is the water conservation. Wicking beds can use 50% less water. The water is stored at the bottom of the bed and the water is drawn up through the soil (like a self-watering pot). A process which is called a capillary action or wicking (wicking bed sounds better than capillary bed). The beds still need to be flushed from the top once or twice a year with rain or watering due to the fact that salts can build up.
One of the other benefits we like about our wicking beds are the worms. Yep you heard correctly, I guess you could call this a worm bed that happens to have a garden in it. We have found that adding a compost tube, or worm tube, on either side of the wicking bed accomplishes several things. It allows us to compost our waste, without much work (turning barrels or mixing stinky piles of compost) and it feeds our wicking bed. The worms do all the work by breaking down the material in the compost tubes, then, they fertilize the soil in the wicking bed with their castings while maintaining the soil open and aerated.
One personal benefit that I want to mention with our wicking bed, is that they are built up off of the ground. I grew up on a farm in Alabama, (don't hold that against me), and I worked my fair share of fields and gardens. However, I now have some significant back issues and working in the raised wicking beds are such a relief. It allows me to be able to do what I love and not suffer the consequences of bending over to work in the garden, everyone who has ever had a back issue knows what I am talking about.
Please see our instruction manual for How to build your DIY Wicking Bed Kit.
Q: Do I ever need to replace the soil in my wicking bed?
A: I feel like some of you are trying to trip me up with questions like this... Under normal circumstances, you will not need to replace the soil in your wicking bed. However, after each grow cycle I strongly recommend refreshing the soil. What I mean is, to mix up the soil in your wicking bed by digging, raking and bringing the deeper soil to the top. This will allow any salts that have to build up on the surface of your wicking bed to be disbursed.
Q: How much & how often do I need to water my wicking bed?
A: During the summer or warmer months, you will need to fill water in the tubes at least once a week. By fill, I mean to bring the water level up about three inches in the tube which should be the top of your gravel level. During the cooler months, fill the tubes once every week. I would still check the water level in the pvc tubes every couple of days.
Q: Do I need to spray down the top of my wicking bed?
A: Only after you plant your seeds. The roots have not formed and can "wick" the water up. This is where a drain tube comes in handy, so you don't over water.
Q: Do I need to add fertilizer to the water in the pvc tubes?
A: You may want to at the beginning of your wicking beds life because the worms have not been able to start breaking down the compost in the compost tubes. After 3 or 4 weeks of the worms breaking down the compost you won't need to add any fertilizer. On the other hand, whatever water comes out of your drainpipe should be excellent as fertilizer. The worm castings and the breakdown of the compost really enriches the soil.
Q: How much compost should I put in the "compost tubes"?
A: Keep them full. The worms will keep breaking down the material. As time goes by, you will notice more and more worms, which means they will be composting quicker and quicker for you.
Q: Is watering this like doing a wicking bed?
A: No. This does not have a water reservoir in the bottom of it. The soil will dry quickly during the warmer months. So you will need to water it daily most likely, depending on your weather.
Q: The composting works the same though correct?
A: Yes. you fill the tube in the middle and the worms break down the material.
Q: What can I plant in a soil barrel?
A: In the pockets, you can grow cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, ect... However the larger rooted vegetables like potatoes and onions should be planted on the top. I also do beans and tomatoes on the top.