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Enhancing Flavor with Hydroponic Gardening

Apr 27, 2008
One of the many advantages of growing your own vegetables hydroponically is that your vegetables often taste better. The produce you get from the supermarket is often very bland for a number of reasons.

First, most farmers do not grow for taste, they grow for yield. They get paid just as much for a bland tomato as a delicious one so they would rather have a large, mediocre crop than a smaller, delicious tasting one. Also, the vegetables that you pick up at the market are usually picked long before they are ripe to allow more time for transport. Allowing a vegetable to ripen on the vine transfers more sugars from the plant to the vegetable itself, resulting in superior taste.

But even with these numerous advantages, many growers want to take steps to ensure that their crop will taste the very best once it comes time to eat it or cook with it in their kitchen. With a few simple adjustments, you can make sure you will enjoy all the flavor benefits of hydroponics growing.

Let their Be Light - The number one growing factor that will influence the flavor of your vegetables while hydroponic gardening will be light. Studies show that longer periods of light, about sixteen hours of light a day, promote the best flavor.

Keep an Eye on the Thermostat - Most vegetables can thrive in fairly warm environment, but do not make the mistake of thinking that it can't get too hot in your grow room. Tomatoes, for example, if temperatures exceed eighty-two degrees, you will probably notice a decrease in yield as well as flavor. If your grow room is prone to getting too warm, invest in a couple of auxiliary fans to keep your plants at optimal temperatures.

Increase Nutrient Concentration - It might actually do your vegetables good to increase the nutrient concentration of your solution to a bit higher than what is typically recommended. A recent study on the connection between tomato flavor and nutrient concentration in a nutrient film technique system performed at the Massey University at New Zealand, found that changing the conductivity from 2 to 4 resulted in superior flavor. Other studies have also found improvements in flavor using a concentration as high as 10. You may want to experiment, increasing the nutrient concentration on a single plant first, so you can be more certain how such an adjustment will affect your crop.

Handle with Care - How your vegetables will taste isn't just influenced by how you grow them, it can also be influenced by how you pick and store them. Make sure not to bruise your plants when it comes to be harvest time. Also, try not to refrigerate your vegetables if possible. Refrigeration destroys much of the flavor, even if it is done for a short period of time. For the best flavor, store them in your fruit bowl and eat them shortly after harvesting.

As always, if you notice that one of your plants is producing particularly excellent vegetables, take advantage of it by cloning it. To make this task easier, make sure to invest in some quality cloning gel and follow the instructions carefully.
About the Author
Michael Straumietis is co-founder of Advanced Nutrients, an international marketer and manufacturer of agricultural, home & garden, hydroponics and soil less fertilizers and plant nutrients. To discover more about hydroponic gardening, read our feature article in the hydroponics gardening section at http://www.advancednutrients.com.
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