Posts

Hydrostore-Long Winter in 2021

Hydrostore-Long Winter in 2021

Hydrostore-Long Winter in 2021

So, this year has been a long cold winter. Especially for us growers who should be getting growing around this time of year. My own situation is that I have a heated greenhouse for my citrus trees. However it is too cold to move them outside onto a sheltered spot. Moving them gives me space to plant out my seedlings and prepare for the tomato plants into their final planting spot.

Accordingly, I have not yet planted my seeds and realise that I am running out of time. This year I have decided to try some different seed varieties. I love to grow the big size tomatoes that are generally very tasty and a good choice for summer salads (Thats if we get a summer this year?)

I am a great fan of watching “YouTube” videos and I think they offer some great advice. Especially the different choices of tomato seeds that I have never heard of before.

Kellogg’s Breakfast and F1 Super Mama

This year I will be trying five different varieties from Nickys Seeds. Consequently these will include the much raved about Kellogg’s breakfast and another heirloom variety the F1 Super Mama.

These seeds will be planted this time by using the soil-less method of “Rockwool Blocks” . These are only £7.50 for 150 blocks to sow your seeds into. Of course the seeds are then placed into the blocks singularly. Hence they are then covered with a small quantity of “vermiculite“. Vermiculite, can be bought in small or large quantities. However I prefer to buy the larger bags because this is something that is important when growing hydroponically.

The blocks are always to be pre-soaked before placing one seed in the centre hole. Some growers advise placing two seeds and then selecting the strongest seedling when they have germinated. However these seeds are very expensive any you only get ten seeds per packet. So to me you should just plant a single seed. The blocks are then placed into a tray of water until germination. I prefer to use a heated propagator unit for better results as long as the area where the seedlings will be grown on is also heated.

Dont forget the in this weather then rooms in houses can become very cold without any form of heating. I am sure that there will be growers pout their who have made this mistake in the past. Losing plants due to stress because of a drop in temperature in the middle of the night. When the seedlings have germinated they can be grown on to whatever system you prefer.

Auto Pot System

This year I am going to grow my larger crops using a flexi water tank that feeds an Autopot system . These systems come in many sizes but the nine pot system is ideal for my space in the greenhouse.

Once the system is set up it just a case of training your plants as they grow, (I prefer to use large canes). Water tank levels must be watched with the added A and B nutrients also added to the correct dose. This year I will try out CX Hydro base from Canada. So, when your plants start to grow you must remember to taking out any side shots, between the stem and the main branches.

Also remove any dead leaves and give the plants plenty of room to grow flowering buds for a good crop. All the products necessary to grow a good crop most plants are available online from “Hydrostore” in West Yorkshire.

rockwool germinating cubes

Hydrostore -Starting my Seeds in Rockwool

Hydrostore -Starting my Seeds in Rockwool

Hydrostore -Starting my Seeds in Rockwool

As I write this post we are at the back end of March 2021. The winter here in the North of England has been on the cool side with the odd milder day. Much different to last year when we had only a couple of frosts in the whole of winter! Even my outside “Basjoo Banana” plant survived with some of its leaves in tact.

However as I have said this winter was to be much colder. As you probably know then I have been growing most things all my life. Including, my favourite fruit the tomato’s. Now in my later years then I am trying out more difficult plants to grow and perhaps survive the English winter. Including, pot grown figs, lemons and other types of citrus trees and pomegranates.

The secret is keeping them over wintered!

Introduction to Hydroponics

My son in law works for a local Hydrostore and since then I am becoming fascinated by the hydroponics method of growing things such as salads and herbs. This also includes tomatoes, of which I have successfully grown a full crop in the last growing year. So, this year will be my very first venture growing some different lettuce types starting of with rockwool cubes to germinate my seeds.

Rockwool is the stuff that is used in loft insulation to insulate our homes from the cold and is made out of highly heated molten rocks. This sounds strange but the rocks are heated until they melt and the resulting molten rock is spun to make the wool type threads. I suppose that it must look like molten volcanic rock when flowing down a volcano!

In fact it was first discovered around 1850 on the “Mauna Loa Volcano” on the island of “Hawaii”. Importantly, the use of rockwool for insulating buildings was first used in 1935.Followed by other uses including a great product for growing seedlings.

Rockwool stores water and oxygen

So, the rockwool cubes that we buy to start off our seedlings are perfect because they store enough water while providing oxygen to the newly planted seeds. Of course here in the UK we have just put our clocks forward for British summer time and the growing season “begins in earnest”. This week will bring our first daily temperature of over 20c. I cant wait to get started with my first ever planting of lettuce seed in the rockwool cubes. The ones I purchased were the SBS Grodan Cubes. So these cubes are 1.5 by 1.5 blocks in a 77 plug tray. Perfect for my requirements.

The cubes look a perfect size to me but you can cut them up smaller if you want t save money. I bought mine from the local “Hydrostore” in nearby Wakefield. Before the seeds are sewn I will soak the correct number of plugs in water for a few minutes, before draining them after the soaking for a further 15 minutes. This gets rid of any excess water there may be in the plugs (cubes).

Sowing the seeds is just the same as in any sort of growing medium! A little tricky depending on the size of the seed, especially tiny lettuce seeds. I would normally just scatter lettuce seeds onto a tray of compost and then prick out the newly grown seedlings. However by taking a little time once the seeds are placed in the centre of the plugs then there is no need for any pricking out the seedling and causing the plants to stress.

Using a cocktail stick

Tiny seeds such as lettuce can be spread out on a piece of tissue paper for better observation and easier handling. So, I am then going to use a tooth pick or cocktail stick (Same thing), to ease a seed into the hole in he centre of the rockwool plug. When the seeds are all positioned then I will spray with a little water to moisten the seeds. I will then place a little “vermiculite” on top of the plug hole to seal the seeds inside.

The next stage will be to place the seeds in a tray and in a propagator for germination and then onto the next stage which I will cover in the next blog. The propagators come in many shapes and sizes and are available online at your local Hydrostore here in Yorkshire UK.