Orach – Aurora

il_340x270-448096137_tk0xOrach, also known as Mountain Spinach, is a delicious green that can be added to salads or even cooked like spinach.  The leaves can be red or green, depending on the seed, and the plants grow 2-4 feet tall.  Years ago, I used to grow orach outside in my raised bed gardens, and the seeds I will be using here were collected from those plants.  Hopefully, these old seeds will germinate!

Apr 22, 2016 = Day 0.  Plants started from seed (Bountiful Gardens).  Seeds sowed in 1.5-inch rockwool cube in 2-inch net-pot.  Moistened with dilute fertilizer solution (1.2 mL Dyna-Gro Liquid Grow, 0.8 mL pH Down per gallon of tap water).  Nutrient concentrations (in ppm):  N 22, P 29, K 16, Ca 6, Mg 1.6, S 0.2, Fe 0.3, Mn 0.2, B 0.1, Zn 0.2, Cu 0.2, Mo 0.003, Ni 0.0003, Co 0.005.  pH = 6.0.

Apr 25 = Day 3.  Plants germinated, placed directly under a fluorescent light (2 ft. T8 bulb, 17W, 6500k) for 16 hours per day.

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May 2 = Day 10

May 5 = Day 13.  Installed plants into 3.5-gallon bucket.  Hydroponic solution composed of 3.5 gal (13.2 L) tap water, 53 mL 250x Masterblend 4-18-38, 53 mL 250x calcium nitrate, 53 mL 250x magnesium sulfate, 0.7 mL Dyna-Gro Pro-TeKt, 3.5 mL pH Down.  (This solution is equivalent to 3.5 gal water, 7 g Masterblend, 7 g calcium nitrate, 3.5 g magnesium sulfate).  Nutrient concentrations (in ppm):  N 103, P 95, K 202, Ca 100, Mg 29, S 34, Fe 2.1, Mn 1.1, B 1.1, Zn 0.3, Cu 0.3, Mo 0.05, Si 4.  pH = 6.0.  Plants moved to indoor grow room, receiving 8 hours LED grow light per day, plus 3 hours sunlight per day.

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May 13 = Day 21
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May 26 = Day 34

May 30 = Day 38.  Thinned to 1 plant per net-pot, trimmed plants to encourage branching.

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Jun 16 = Day 55.  Plants are bolting.

Jun 16 = Day 55.  The plants are bolting, and it seems that production of new leaves has stopped, so it is time to harvest all the leaves.  Leaves were added to a salad.  They have a nice flavor and texture, reminiscent of spinach.

Total fluid usage = 0.75 gallons for 3 plants (0.25 gallons/plant).

In cleaning the bucket, I noticed that the roots were a brownish color and not well developed, which normally occurs when the pH gets too low.  Sure enough, I checked the pH and it had dropped to below 5.0, from the original 6.0.  This was surprising since the pH normally drifts upwards using the Masterblend-based hydroponic fluid formula.  I’m not sure of why the pH dropped in this case.  Maybe the plants would not have bolted so early if the pH had been higher.