Potatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow hydroponically. They are a great crop for beginners and experienced growers alike. If you’re thinking about growing hydroponic potatoes, this guide will show you everything you need to know.
The hydroponic potato growing conditions
It's crucial to maintain the correct growing conditions for hydroponic potatoes to reach the harvest stage. The results of adjusting any of these factors might be significant. Failure to set the right growing conditions for potato will result in stunting the plant's growth and, in extreme cases, leading to death.
1. The best temperature for hydroponic potatoes
Potatoes grown in hydroponics thrive best at temperatures ranging from 65°F to 75°F. Temperatures can sometimes soar above 75°F or fall below 65°F throughout the year.
Heaters, on the other hand, are essential only if your state's weather is constantly chilly. Unless your climate is particularly mild all year, you'll need heater or a chiller. In cold season, heaters can help you save the crop and allow you to cultivate throughout the year. Chillers, on the other hand, can protect your white potato plants.
2. The nutrient solution for hydroponic potatoes
Keep the pH of your nutrient solution at 6. A pH range of 5.8 to 6.2 is adequate for keeping your hydroponic potato growing effectively. The ppm should be kept between 1400 and 1700.
3. Light requirements for hydroponic potatoes
Your hydroponic potatoes require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. When exposed to 10 to 12 hours of light every day, potatoes will thrive best.
You must decide whether these hydroponic potatoes will be grown under sunlight or artificial lights. Of course, using growing lights might increase your electricity costs, but you will be nurturing the plants in indoor hydroponic gardens. This minimizes the risk of infestation by a variety of insects.
4. The growing medium of hydroponic potatoes
The optimum potato size is determined by the growing medium that you use. The growing medium is critical for producing potatoes as big as possible since it provides adequate pressure in the same way as the soil does to aid in the natural growth process.
The pressure produced by soil, on the other hand, is quite different from that of growing media. Soil provides somewhat lower pressure, which aids in proper potato formation while also restricting growth to an appropriate degree.
How to grow hydroponic potatoes
So, now we're going to go through the process of growing hydroponic potatoes in detail, from start to end.
1. Choosing a Hydroponic System
The first step is to choose the right hydroponic system for your needs. The two most common types of hydroponic systems are Deep Water Culture (DWC) and Nutrient Film Technique (NFT).
DWC is the simplest and most popular type of hydroponic system. it gives you the opportunity to grow vegetables including potatoes. It’s very easy to set up and is perfect for small-scale growers. With NFT, you need to be a bit more careful with your setup, but it can be scaled to conduct larger growing operations.
2. Setting up the hydroponic system
Once you’ve chosen a system, it’s time to set it up. This process will vary depending on the type of system you have selected.
For DWC systems, all you need is a container for the potatoes to grow in and a reservoir for the nutrient solution. The container can be anything from a simple plastic into a custom-made tank. The nutrient solution should be kept at a pH of 6 and a temperature of 68°F to 72°F.
For NFT systems, you’ll need a channel for the nutrient solution to flow through and some grow tubes or baskets for the potatoes to grow in. The channel needs to be elevated above the reservoir so that the nutrient solution can flow through it. The nutrient solution should be kept at a pH of 6 and maintained under a temperature from 68°F to 72°F.
3. Planting the potatoes
Once your hydroponic system is set up, it’s time to plant the potatoes. Cut large seed potatoes into pieces such that each piece has one or two eyes (the small, indented bud areas on the outside of the tubers). Alternatively, you can use small, whole seed potatoes. This process will vary depending on the type of system you have selected.
For DWC systems, you can plant the potatoes directly into the growing container. Simply place them on the bottom of the container and cover them with a few inches of growing media.
For NFT systems, you’ll need to plant the potatoes in grow tubes or baskets that are placed in the channel. Fill the tubes or baskets with quality growing media and plant the potatoes.
4. Caring for the potatoes
Once the potatoes are planted, it’s time to start caring for them. This process will vary depending on the type of system you have selected.
For DWC systems, you’ll need to monitor the nutrient solution and make sure it’s at the correct pH and temperature. You’ll also need to top up the reservoir as needed.
For NFT systems, you’ll need to monitor the nutrient solution and make sure it’s at the correct pH and temperature. You’ll also need to make sure there is enough water flowing through the system.
5. Harvesting the potatoes
The final step is to harvest the potatoes. This process will vary depending on the type of system you have selected.
For DWC systems, you can simply remove the potato plants from the growing container and harvest the potatoes.
For NFT systems, you’ll need to remove the potato plants from the grow tubes or baskets and harvest the potatoes.
6. Storing the potatoes
Once the potatoes have been harvested, it’s time to store them. You can store the potatoes in a cool, dark place.
Advantages of hydroponic potatoes
There are a number of advantages to growing potatoes using a hydroponic system:
- You can grow potatoes year-round.
- There’s no soil required, so you don’t have to worry about soil-borne diseases or pests.
- The plants are less likely to be damaged by pests or diseases.
- You can grow them in a much smaller space as compared to traditional cultivation methods.
- You have more control over the nutrients and water needs of the plants, which can lead to bigger, healthier potatoes.
- Hydroponic systems are easy to set up and use, making them perfect for beginners.
- You can easily scale up or downsize production, depending on your needs.
- Hydroponically grown potatoes have a longer shelf life than those grown in soil.
Disadvantages of hydroponic potatoes
There are also a few disadvantages to growing potatoes using a hydroponic system:
- The upfront cost of a hydroponic system can be quite high.
- You need to have some knowledge of hydroponics in order to use them properly.
- The potatoes may not taste as good as those grown in soil.
- There’s a higher risk of crop failure if the system fails.
- You need to be more vigilant in monitoring the plants and system, as problems can arise quickly.
Mistakes to avoid while growing potatoes hydroponically
Here are a few mistakes to avoid while growing potatoes hydroponically:
1. Not starting with healthy potato seeds
This is one of the most common mistakes made by growers. Make sure to start with healthy, certified seed potatoes.
2. Not using the right growing medium
Another common mistake is using the wrong growing medium. Make sure to use a quality growing medium that is suited for potatoes.
3. Not monitoring the pH and temperature
One of the most important things to monitor in a hydroponic system is the pH and temperature. Make sure to keep these parameters within the correct range for potatoes.
4. Not watering enough
Inappropriate watering can quickly lead to problems, such as wilting plants and root rot. Make sure to water the potato plant regularly, depending on the type of system you have selected.
5. Not cleaning the system regularly
This can lead to bacteria build-up and diseases in the system. Make sure to clean the plant and root system regularly, especially if you are using organic nutrients.
6. Not harvesting the potatoes at the right time
This can result in smaller potatoes or even no potatoes at all. Make sure to harvest mature tubers at the right time, depending on the type of system you have selected.
How long does it take to grow potatoes hydroponically?
The time it takes to grow potatoes hydroponically will vary depending on the type of system you have selected. DWC systems typically take around two to four weeks, while NFT systems can take around six to eight weeks. Expect your crop of hydroponically grown potato tubers to be ready a full month earlier than conventionally grown tubers.
Are hydroponic potatoes safe to eat?
Yes, hydroponic potatoes are safe to eat. They may not taste as good as those grown in soil, also known as grocery store potatoes.However, they are still perfectly safe to consume.
Do I need to use chemicals to grow hydroponic potatoes?
No, you do not need to use chemicals to grow hydroponic potatoes. However, you may need to use nutrients depending on the type of system you have selected.