First significant fruit harvest! Picked 4 berries yesterday and see about 5-10 berries that will be ripening over the next week. Current “production” is coming from just 3 or 4 plants so I hope to get to the point where half a dozen berries are ripening every other day in 4-6 weeks.
Since I still wouldn’t consider the plants to be fully healthy I am waiting until they further develop to make any judgements on flavor or sweetness. That being said, I can already tell that they taste better than store bought berries.
Nutrient balance issues appear to be mostly resolved. In addition to doing a full nutrient solution change I applied a foliar cal-mag spray both of which have resulted in a burst of new leafy growth. One critical thing I realized this week is that I made a mistake with the original batch of nutrient solution in that the order I mixed things was wrong. This likely led to some nutrients to precipitate out of solution - such as calcium and other micro nutrients, which makes me think this is why I have been having all these nutrient balance issues. Admittedly, I made the same mistake on this batch but I intend to correct it with a partial nutrient solution change out in a week or two (since the plants are growing well right now).
The fight against aphids is ongoing but their population growth appears to have been curbed. Using an azamax + diatomaceous earth spray which appears to be effective but leaves a white residue on the leaves and may slightly stunt growth which is why I am now using it sparingly every 7 days and may further dilute the strength.
Oh and the one plant that was oddly struggling in my last post has been put out of its misery. It was continuing to dry out and I didn’t see any new growth coming even though it looked like it had healthy roots. It may have recovered given enough time but I didn’t want to risk the release of decaying matter / whatever was killing it into the nutrient solution. If I had to guess it likely was the full strength Azamax that killed it.
In regards to managing this growing setup I figured I would explain what tasks need to be done to keep things running:
- Every 2-3 days I check the pH of the nutrient solution and adjust with an acid or base to get things back to around 6.0 pH; only takes about 5 minutes
- Every week or so I top off the nutrient solution reservoir with regular tap water or a 1/2 strength addition of nutrient solution depending on what the EC measures at
- Every 4-6 weeks I do a full nutrient solution change out - as in dump everything and start from scratch. You’re supposed to do it more frequently but I haven’t had a problem pushing it this long. This takes me a full hour because I also like to give a good scrubbing to anything that feels slimy or has residue on it
If I had to go on vacation for 2 weeks I suppose I could setup a secondary reservoir that would feed into the main one via a float valve. The pH might get a bit out of whack but I don’t think it would get bad enough to significantly harm to the plants - and since the pH now appears to go up at a steady rate I could just make the top-off solution slightly more acidic