winter crops

oakleaf33(8)September 22, 2010

Hi all, just askin around if anyone here specializes in winter crops for hydro! I'm mainly a summer crop guy! I wanna build a herb and veggie grow tower for my lil sis for her back porch so if anyone has any crops for zone 8 for winter let me know

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Hi Oak, how bout some Romaine Lettuce, I grew some two years ago here in zone 6 and it was great even without dressing, some other ideas- radishes ,baby carrots and cucumber and you have a great salad. Oh yea Broccoli and Cauliflower, which I am growing now =)


    Bookmark   September 24, 2010 at 8:15PM
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I don't know what the day and night time temps are in your area (zone 8) it stretched all up the west cost when I looked it up, and I don't know what size plants you can accommodate, type of system etc..

But I grew Broccoli last winter myself in west AZ. It was a learning experience. Learning how harvest it best was the the main thing I learned. Also day neutral strawberry's might do well. Personalty I believe you can grow anything hydroponically in any area if you know the needs of the plant and build accordingly. It just depends on your resources (money, materials, time, space etc.).

To me it depends on your goals, do you think you will reap enough reword for your time and money, or is learning the goal? That's how I always look at it when thinking about building a setup. Also can it be used for other plants I may want to grow later (so it's not money wasted).

I have been in many arguments with my mom (last year) about the funds needed to do the job right, even though I gave her a written estimate with an allotment for small unexpected parts (that she conveniently forgot about). Bottom line if building setups with others in mind, be prepared for everything from it cost more than you said, to I could have bought more at the store with that money. If it cost $20 to build a system that would produce 2 to 4 heads of lettuces a week, just be prepared for the argument that they could by a lot of lettuces for $20, so why bother. Today ya, but will it last 6 months, a year two years?

She is only used to growing in dirt. She still does not understand that you can use the system more than once. Nor dos she understand that you can grow all year long if you give the plants the right conditions. All she is used to is planting a plant in the ground and thinking that plant will grow and only cost a few dollars. That's funny because she is still working on a raised flowerbed to grow burssel sprouts (yuck). Between the bricks, stakes, adhesive, potting soil, she has spent about $150, and she still needs about $20 more of soil to fill it (It wont get filled), and she does not even have the plants yet. But she has been doing things her way for 70 years, she's not about to change now.

P.S. I would have not used a raised flowerbed for brussel sprouts in the first place (they need years to mature), I would have used a unused space on the hill in the backyard instead (plenty, plenty, plenty of it). It would have cost less than 25% of that and not tied up valuable prime space in the hart of the backyard (but I'm just stupid that way).

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 6:12AM
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Just wanted to make a correction, in the P.S. I mentioned it takes years for brussel sprouts to mature, I was thinking of asparagus. Another crop my mom wants to grow, and I do like asparagus, mostly roasted or baked, sometimes in a white sauce over something.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 4:33AM
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Actually, if you buy one-year old plants from a nursery, you will only have to wait until the second season to harvest shoots. Akin to horseradish, one reason I look forward to a killing freeze.


    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 6:15PM
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I hadn't thought about trying to buy year old asparagus plants. We don't have many nursery around here, but I'll look to see what they have when I'm there. I have never grown asparagus plants (yet), though from what I've read about them you should not harvest the shoots in the first year. And the second year you can harvest some, but should leave most in order to have bigger better crops in the third year. Basically the third year is when you start getting a good harvest. Again that is from what I have read about them.

I have thought about growing asparagus hydroponically (to sell). Growing them for a few months, then putting them in cold storage for a few months, and repeating the cycle. Doing that, I would also always have one set of plants in cold storage, 2 sets growing. The two that were growing would be pulled out of cold storage at different times (about 1 to 2 months apart), so I always had shoots ready to harvest.

I already have the basic system design in my head, as well as cold storage setup. But I would like to grow some in soil first, just so I can gain some experience with growing them in general before going a head with building the setups. Also at this point I have no idea how many shoots I would be able to expect from each mature plant in one season. Or spacing and root space needed. So I will plan on building that one later.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 2:37AM
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Try a Google for asparagus tropical growing or similar. There's some interesting info that suggests it can be grown year round. Also, it seems the reason why harvesting for just a few short weeks in the second year is recommended is so more energy can go to the roots - which would not be a problem in hydro.

You can order plants on-line, including one-year, two-year or three-year old crowns. I looked at the Jersey series, as they seem to be the recommended variety, especially Jersey Supreme. One site is offering 25, 2-year-old plants for $25.

You will have a mass of roots, at least from what I read. If you have a smaller air pump, I would try some in a DWC, Ebb and Flow or Drip Irrigation system, just in case the stories about roots six feet long are true!

Me, I don't like asparagus or broccoli! But I might try growing some, as well as basil just for the fun (plus she who must be adored and loved like asparagus and broccoli!).


    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 4:00PM
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Thanks for the info,and suggestions. I had a chance to try and look up sources for 2 and 3 year old asparagus crowns today. I found a few sources, but will call them directly because most don't post prices or say they don't have any in stock. Ya the (hydroponic) system I had in mind for them is a drip system, with swappable containers. Like a bucket in a bucket, storage tote in a storage tote, I have many options there. But the deciding factors are size of the plant and root ball.

From What I now know the root-ball can get quite big, so I am thinking along the lines of buckets with one plant each for the growing chamber (bucket in bucket that's easily swappable of coarse). Similar to what I have in mind for raspberries, blackberry's and boysenberries.

But I still have more research to do in order to decide if it's worth it for me to grow a crop of asparagus. As I mentioned, time, money, space and expected harvest are all important to me in that decision. Although if the system is designed to (and/or) grow other crops, that's not so much an issue.

Not sure why you don't like broccoli, that's one of the most versatile veggies in my opinion, though my mom cant understand why I hate Brussel sprouts either. But you have never had my cheesy broccoli soup. For those that have had the signature broccoli cheese soup at a "Black eyed Pea" restaurant in the Midwest, that is what I tried to copy.

1 can Campbell's cheddar cheese soup (mixed with 1 can milk per instructions)
About 1 pound of velveeta cheese (added to the Campbell's soup, then mixed until melted)
Then I add as much broccoli as I can (cut to bite size pieces) I always pre-cook it until it's just tender to prevent over cooking, then add to cheese sauce. Salt and pepper to taste, and it's ready to eat. Many variations can be made including shredded sharp cheddar cheese to add flavor (not too much, you want it to melt smoothly and not add oil). Using a white sauce instead of the Campbell's soup, and/or using other vegetables.

I use it in many ways including chicken broccoli fettuccine, casseroles, sauteed with other veggies, with chicken in a sauce over rice, stir-fries and of coarse the basic butter sauce. Anyway to each his own, you don't need to like it, I just shared the recipe for others that might like to try it.

P.S. I found these links today when looking for plants if anyone is interested.
Growing Asparagus In The Home Garden
Asparagus in the Home Garden
University of Minnesota
Asparagus Production Management and Marketing

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 2:38AM
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That's a lot of effort to cover up their (the broccoli's) flavor. We just chop it up, add a bit of salt and some water then steam in the microwave until tender. It's probably the best vegetable our little ones eat.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 8:16AM
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That's just one way I use broccoli, and for me it's not meant to cover up the taste (although I know what you mean), I just really like cheese also. I actually had some broccoli last night simply sautéed with a little margarine. I did add some yellow squash though, just because it needed to get used.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 1:37AM
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