Introduction to Hydroponic Spinach Farming
Spinach belongs to the family Chenopodiaceae. In the hydroponic method, growing plants using the mineral nutrient liquid solution without soil. The method of application of the nutrient solution to the roots varies widely. Spinach is a plant that is commonly known as green leaves, this plant also a source of iron which is important for the body. Spinach also has several benefits such as preventing cancer, organ digestion, heart-healthy, and promotes the body’s energy. Before starting hydroponic planting, there are some tools that you need to prepare the planting process can run smoothly.
A Step by Step Guide to Hydroponic Spinach Farming
Spinach is also one of the most grown plants in a hydroponic system. For growing the Spinach well, submerge the roots in the nutrient solution. Spinach grows rapidly in a hydroponic system, mainly when using the Nutrient Film Technique or other methods that keep the nutrient solution highly oxygenated. You will also use far less water than in the ground garden. It is easy to start these plants from seed and a week after sprouting, move them into your system.
In this system, a nutrient solution or water circulates throughout the entire system; and enters into the growth tray via a water pump without time control. The system is a little slanted so that the nutrient solution runs through roots and down back into a reservoir. Plants are placed in tube or channel with roots dangling in a hydroponic solution. Although, roots are susceptible to fungal infection because they are constantly immersed in nutrient or water. In this system, many leafy greens can simply be grown and commercially most widely used for lettuce production. Growing hydroponic Spinach versus soil or soilless grown with water culture methods like NFT or DWC needs less water, less fertilizer and virtually nothing to replace other than seeds and starter plugs when you start a new crop. The starter plugs featured in this article are 100% biodegradable and don’t get waterlogged the best material for starting crops from seeds. On a commercial level, it means fewer fossil fuels, fungicides, insecticides and even fewer chances of food contamination–for example, like from E. coli that may originate in soils and get transferred to harvests.
Benefits of Hydroponic Spinach Farming
By following basic principles with a proven hydroponics system type, plants don’t have to work hard to get what they need and are far less likely to experience stresses like drought, mineral imbalances and similar. This means less chance of diseases or insects that harm plants and that may require fungicides or pesticides. A healthy hydroponics crop grows so healthy and fast that the window of opportunity for problems becomes very narrow.
Ease of Gardening
A hydroponics system can be automated and operated at waist height. No digging, weeding, guessing when to water and other time-consuming laborious tasks are required. Maintaining crops up and off the ground also means fewer chances of insects or other predators getting to your crop and making work or headaches for you. On a commercial level, the labour savings and faster cropping times can add up to significantly higher profit margin potentials.
When you apply a small amount of speciality hydroponics fertilizer to good quality water, there isn’t a roller coaster of mineral availability for your hungry plants like there can be with soil gardening methods where seasonal and climate changes can have a major impact in how much your plants can feed. Growing hydroponic Spinach versus soil grown Spinach means you can harvest more crops per year, with consistent yields and quality.
Climate Requirement for Hydroponic Spinach Farming
Cooler temperatures at maturity help sweeter tasting harvests. Though, running to cool through the growth phase will mean your crop grows slower. Average day time temperatures of 22°C and average night time temperatures of 18°C gIve us very favorable results, in both quality of the harvest and cropping time.
Supplementing the growing environment with carbon dioxide will result in faster growth rates and high yields. This crop received an average of 1200 PPM of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. The average natural ambient levels range from 350 to 600 PPM in most settings.
Germination Process of Spinach Seeds
For germination, we have used the following 3 different kinds of media.
- A mix of cocopeat, perlite, and vermiculite
- Oasis cubes
In these, a mix of coco peat, perlite, and vermiculite was the best performing, followed by cocopeat. Using Oasis cubes is the trickiest and costliest of all, but it helps in decreasing labour and effort involved in transplanting and is often used in large commercial setups.
Planting Density to Increase Hydroponic Spinach Yield
Spinach is hardy plants and will grow in a variety of climatic conditions. Spinach is one of the few crops that can be grown successfully during winter and summer. Maximum Spinach growers use a closed hydroponic system to grow their Spinach. These systems have a 1meter wide bed with a divider in between resulting in 2 channels of around 0.5m each. The planting density varies between 8 and 16 plants/square meter, while baby Spinach can reach densities of up to 100 plants/m2.
Spinach requires a humidity of between 40% to 70%. In arid areas, moisture content can be improved by giving foliar spray of water. In highly humid areas, proper ventilation can help in decreasing the humidity.
The planting density will depend on factors like:
- The variety and type of Spinach
- The climate of the area
- Spray equipment used to control diseases and pests
If the system is located next to an open field where there are a lot of indigenous plants and weeds, the insects of these plants tend to migrate over and increase the insect populations of the crop. In this case, one must plant at lower densities to get more effective control of the insect populations.
Baby Spinach will vary based on the type of growth medium used. Finer crusher stone will allow higher densities, though, make sure that the gradient is steep enough to ensure no build-up of water. The main disadvantage of using finer stone/gravel is, at the time of removing the plants at the end of the season, the smaller stones tend to tangle tighter in the roots of the plant. The finer stone/gravel must be topped up more frequently that courser gravel (10 to 13 mm diameter gravel).
Spinach can be planted directly or seedling transplants. In hydroponics, it is best to transplant seedlings. Planting Spinach as seed decreases the growth season length due to wasted time used by the germination period which is not productive. Planting either through seeds or seedlings, the seedlings must be thinned out. The reason is it is very difficult to separate or sometimes distinguish 2 separate seeds clinging to each other.
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Ideal Water Temperature in Hydroponic Spinach Farming
Spinach grows well between 10°C and 28°C. Be careful in higher temperatures; leaves are thinner and wilt more quickly so the shelf life of the leaves is shortened considerably. Also, be aware that there will be much more bacteria and fungi on the leaves which can cause postharvest decay in the shops
To get high-quality products at the market, Spinach must be treated during and after harvesting the same as lettuce. Harvesting must be done in the early morning or very late afternoon. Place the harvested product in a cool place. Ideally, one must have the building, where the sorting and packing are done, cooled down and humidity increased. This will ensure crisp leaves at the market.
Spinach Temperature Tips;
(Root zone temp is important to help the plant uptake nutrients)
- Maximum Temperature 24°C
- Optimal Day Cycle Temperature 15 to 21°C
- Optimal Night Cycle Temperature 15 to 18°C
- Seed Storage 5 to 21°C
- Germination 15 to 24°C
Hydroponic Spinach Farming and Growing Process
1. Seeding of Hydroponics Spinach Seeds
First, we can be got from the seeds of Spinach buy from the farm shop. Soak the seeds of Spinach seeds in warm water for around 1 hour, the goal that the seeds become soft skin.
Make a hydroponic growing media that can use Rockwool, then cut into Rockwool cubes measuring around 2 cm x 2 cm and are arranged in a tray. The seeds should be placed in the Rockwool. The size of the holes can be adjusted to the size of Spinach seeds to be sown. After that, place the seeds that have been soaked into Rockwool holes, each hole 1 seed Spinach. Then seed input in Rockwool, you can flush all of the Rockwool with clean water.
Keep watering is done slowly so that the water can wet Rockwool evenly, but not until there is a puddle of water in the tray. Next, save the tray in the shade and dry, and then cover the tray using the plastic so fast seeding process takes place. Let stand for 2 to 3 days, after the seeds germinate, or at least appears 2 leaves, move to a place that is exposed to sunlight. Take care of hydroponic Spinach plants frequently to check the water moisture in the Rockwool is that the seeds of Spinach are not affected by drought and the growth is not inhibited.
2. Lighting Requirement for Hydroponic Spinach Farming
About 12 hours of light daily is best for Spinach. Fluorescent lighting works great, high-pressure sodium and another lighting will work also but be aware that Spinach will grow, but not thrive in excessive light. If you are in a position to use direct sunlight for your hydroponic Spinach, during the peak summer months you might want to consider providing some sort of partial shade.
Putting blue light on plants improves chlorophyll production and enables vegetative leaf growth which is a good thing when growing Spinach. Red light and yellow are good for Spinach production, flowering neither of which is desirable in a Spinach crop. If you have the resources, Dual Spectrum Lighting is perfect for hydroponic production.
Regulating light ratios at various points in a plant’s life cycle or for different plants can be advantageous. Maximum lighting purchased for indoor or hydroponic gardening is set at a fixed ratio. Though some newer LED systems are designed for maximum plant productivity, they allow for control of each color individually. Red, Green, Blue, Far Red, ultraviolet are all adjustable with the proper system.
3. Preparation of Media for Hydroponics Spinach Farming
In this stage, we must be preparing the media or device to be used for hydroponic plant Spinach. Prepare a water box or box Styrofoam with a minimum height of 30 cm.
Draw a box lid uses a thin or Styrofoam sheet with the length and width are adjusted to the box. After that, make a hole in the lid of the Styrofoam with a diameter of approximately 5 cm. and make sure that the distance of each hole of at least 10 cm.
4. Nutrients Required for Spinach Grown Hydroponically
Once you’ve perpetrated your transplant and no fertilizer is needed for the first week. After that, young Spinach plants must be started with 1/4 strength hydroponic nutrients for about 2 weeks. Elevated levels of Calcium and Magnesium are beneficial. Spinach is slightly nitrogen sensitive and easily gets leaf tip burn when nitrogen levels are too high. You’ll need nitrogen, but not in excess. After two weeks increase the nutrient to 3/4 strength for a week and then full strength the following week.
Spinach must grow to the point where it is almost ready to develop flower stalks; this is when they should be harvested. At this stage, many vegetables and fruits usually need an abundance of hydroponic nutrients. There are some exceptions to every rule as Spinach approaches maturity, decreases the nutrient strength to ensure the leaves have no bitter taste.
5. Planting Method of Spinach in Hydroponic Farming
After that we created earlier media has been completed, then the next thing you should do is planting Spinach hydroponic. Make a hole in the net media pots to make room on the axis or flannel. Flannel serves as an intermediary between the plants that are in plastic cups with nutrients in the water in the box Styrofoam.
Take away any seeds of Spinach that have at least 4 leaves into the net pot or used plastic cups we have prepared in advance. After all net plant pot filled with Spinach, you can move it and put it in the hole before closing Styrofoam with a higher seed position from the cover. Flush each seed with water. Put the water box containing Spinach seedlings regularly in your yard and keep every hydroponic Spinach seedling exposed to sunlight.
6. Maintenance and Care in Hydroponic Spinach Farming
At this stage, we must frequently check the state of Spinach plants to avoid weeds and pests. For the maintenance and care of hydroponic Spinach, you can do some of the following;
- Do regular watering but not to make a puddle on the plant media.
- The important thing is to maintain the plant in order not to dryness.
- Weeding is to do the treatment plant with direct cleaning of weeds or weeds around the plants
- Do the wedding to not trigger the arrival of pests and diseases.
When and How to Harvest Hydroponic Spinach
The outer leaves of Spinach are removed every week or two weeks once they are the size that your market requires. The length of time that a plant can be harvested will be determined by your market. As the plant gets older, the base gets thicker and a larger more prominent white stem form. For a lot of markets, this is not acceptable, but for class 2 to 3 Spinach, it will be accepted. Depending on the variety and climate, you should be able to get 12 weeks of continuous harvesting.
In the case of baby Spinach, it is different. Succulent soft leaves are what makes them sell. Harvesting wisely without overextending the plant is crucial. Some varieties grow so fast that you can harvest the whole plant at once. In this case, good planning and staggering your planting is crucial but is also very labour-intensive.
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