Our gourmet lettuce and herbs have been thriving in the water culture systems. Currently, we have sage, cilantro, basil, chives, arugula, Bibb lettuce and Rex lettuce growing in these systems. Our biggest challenge with the Water Culture Systems is maintain the proper EC and pH. To do so, water is monitored daily and altered to the proper levels. EC corresponds to the amount of nutrient solution in the water, usually ranging from 1-1.2. In addition, Plymouth Foam has been generous enough to donate foam for these systems allowing us to keep the sunlight out. After each crop is harvested, the large tubs are scrubbed and sanitized for the next produce to be grown.
In the NFT Systems, we planted Bibb lettuce. Although these plants are a little more slow-growing than usual, that are finally growing at a rapid rate. For a short amount of time, the water in this system did not have the appropriate amount of nutrients. This caused the plants to become weak and have a yellow/green color. Once the water reached the suitable EC level, all was good and they are thriving again.
The newest addition to the Plymouth FSAC is the Dutch bucket system. This type of hydroponic system is primarily for plants that are fruit-baring such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Recently, we have transplanted six peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. As of right now, all plants are looking healthy, particularly the cucumbers. Our plants already have about 1-inch cucumbers with more buds, leading us to believe that these plants will thrive.
Last week Friday, we were fortunate enough to have Dr. Tony Evers visit. During his time in the greenhouse, we explained to him each hydroponic system and answered any questions that had risen. Furthermore, his team of video graphers came to take some shots of students working in the new Plymouth FSAC: planting, monitoring pH and EC, feeding prawns and harvesting sunflower sprouts.