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Early Summer Time Tips for Hydroponics Growers in the Philippines

varieties of lettuce growing on styrofoam boxes with SNAP Hydroponics

The cold early morning days are still upon us as February comes to a close. We are expecting a weak El Niño in the following months and the days will be hotter and drier than usual.

There is Still Time to Grow the Perfect Lettuce

There is still time to catch the early morning cold breeze for your lettuce plants. The morning temperatures in the low lands still drops below 25°C. Lettuce thrives in cold temperatures. Lettuce grown in cold environments are compact, crisp and sweet. Most red varieties also show their red color when grown in cold environments.

Different lettuce varieties grown in SNAP Hydroponics
Different lettuce varieties grown in SNAP Hydroponics.

Take Extra Measures to Protect Your Grow this Summer

The summer heat can warm your nutrient solution which can result in lower dissolved oxygen concentrations and reduce yield significantly. Adding insulating materials to protect the nutrient solution from heat is also recommended.

Plan your grow and prepare your shading net for the hottest part of the day. The summer temperatures can cause heat stress to your plants.

Beware of plant varieties that can bolt and turn bitter when the temperature is too high.

Grow Plants that Can Take the Heat

Lettuce can be a challenge to grow during the summer unless you can find a heat tolerant variety. Mustasa, kang-kong and pechay grows well in SNAP Hydroponics nutrient solution even during the hottest summer months.

Mustasa seedlings grown in a microwavable tub.
Mustasa seedlings grown in a microwavable tub.
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How to Harvest SNAP Grown Leafy Vegetables and Post Harvest Tips

harvested kale leaves stacked on top of each other

After eagerly waiting for weeks it’s finally harvest day. It’s finally time to harvest the fruits (or leaves) of your labor. In this post we’ll discuss how to harvest leafy heads or take down plants like kale after they’ve reached the end of their productive periods.

Harvesting leafy vegetables like lettuce, mustasa, pechay involves taking down the whole plant. In most cases a grower can get away with taking a few leaves off the plant at a time. However, cutting of leaves stresses the plant which could trigger bolting. In addition, the longer the plant stays on the growbox the more labor and nutrients it needs. It is often more economical to just harvest the entire plant and start over from seedlings even for hobby growers.

I recommend getting everything you’ll need ready before hand. Although harvesting can be done with your bear hands, tools like a pair of scissors or shears are a big help specially if you have a lot of heads to harvest. Get a clean container for your harvest, a tub for your styro cups, a pail for left over nutrient solution, and containers for trimmings, roots and collected coco coir from your harvest.

How to Harvest Mustasa, Pechay, Lettuce and the Like

To video below demonstrates how to harvest mustasa.

The same process can be applied to other leafy vegetables like pechay and lettuce. Simply trim off the roots, pull out the plant from the cup, clean off the coco coir and trim off the tap root and undesirable leaves. Sometimes there are heads that are not yet of marketable size. Simply group them together into a single growbox and add the leftover nutrient solution from the other boxes. Leave the them to grow a another week or so and they will grow big enough to harvest.

pechay heads in a styrofoam growbox
Smaller pechay heads are grouped together and left to grow for another week.

How to Harvest Kale

Once a kale plant matures, leaves can be regularly harvested from the plant. When a leaf is about the size of your hand it is ready for harvest. As long as you don’t snip off the top shoot, kale will continue growing. Because of the warm climate in the Philippines kale grows tall and leggy. This can be a limiting factor in production because the plant will grow unwieldy as it grows.

tall kale stalks with all the leaves trimmed off
Kale stalks with all the leaves harvested.

More kale post harvest pictures below.

Post Harvest Tips

What should I do with the leftover nutrient solution?

As long as the harvested crops are healthy the left over nutrient solution can be reused for your next grow. The nutrient content in the nutrient solution has been depleted so you should add more SNAP for your next grow. I would recommend simply starting over with a fresh working solution for your next grow to avoid complications.

You can use the leftover solution to water and fertilize potted or soil grown plants. Although its nutrient content has been depleted it still contains a significant amount of nutrients that can help your potted and soil grown plants.

What should I do with the leftover coco coir?

As long as the harvested crops are healthy the left over coco coir can be reused for your next grow. Simply dry them under the sun to sterilize them and they are ready for your next grow.

You can also use the leftover coco coir as mulch or add it to your potting mixes.

What should I do with the trim and cuttings?

You can feed them to animals or add them to your compost.

If you have other questions please leave a comment below.

Good luck and happy growing!