Sunday, January 13, 2013

Garlic update

When I started this thing I forgot one critical component of any hydroponic system. Oxygen. Most hydroponic systems are flood and drain systems, where the roots are immersed for a few minutes every hour (or every few hours, depending on the situation). I don't have the space or the time to devote to a full hydroponics system, and I don't like using electricity for that anyway, so I make do.

I have the plants in straight water, and until last week I had forgotten to pump air into the water. Blah. Anyway, I've started pumping air into the water on a daily basis, so we'll see what kind of difference that makes.

In this first picture, you can see the difference between the two plantings of garlic. On the left is the first planting. I kept the moss moist until the roots were well developed, and then I let it dry out and let the water level drop. The second planting the moss has remained moist and I've left the water level high. You can see the difference. The other difference is that I stopped adding fertilizer to the water when I planted this batch. I was afraid that the nitrogen level might be getting toxic.

The second picture, below, shows the water level. I keep the plants in a nursery planter tray (the kind with the little hanging baskets) in a plastic tub that I purchased from a craft store. In the spring it (and two more just like it) will be used to start my plants for my garden.

I tried to get a picture of the comparative root-mass, but it didn't work. It's not really visible in this picture, and balancing the tray in one hand while manipulating the camera with the other isn't my favorite thing. So what you see is what you get.

What you don't see is that the roots of the most recent planting are white, thick and strong, the roots on the left more spindly and an odd yellow color where they're not brown and dry. They also tend to grow straight down rather than bunching and spreading.

Garlic usually has a MUCH larger root-mass than this, so I'll have to wait and see how it works. Maybe the larger root-mass isn't necessary with so much water available. Who knows? A few of the bulbs are starting to divide into cloves, so they're almost ready.

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