Make every season a growing season

Make every season a growing season

In the world of modern agriculture, the ability to grow crops outside their traditional seasons is a game-changer. Imagine relishing ripe chillies in the dead of Winter or harvesting a bounty of strawberries as snow blankets the ground. At Harvst, we’re helping revolutionise the ‘grow your own’ experience with our smart grow systems like the S-Series and H-Series, enabling users to simulate any season at will and trigger various growth stages for their plants. Today, let’s dive into the magic behind this innovation and explore how you can achieve the extraordinary.

The Power of Environmental Control: Water, Lighting, Heating, and Airflow

Our smart grow systems put the control of key environmental variables – water, lighting, heating, and airflow – right at your fingertips. This not only ensures optimal plant growth, but opens up a world of possibilities by allowing you to mimic the conditions of different seasons.

1. Lighting: Crafting the Perfect Photoperiod

Light is the catalyst for plant growth, and regulating it is the key to triggering specific growth stages. With Harvst smart grow systems, you can customise the photoperiod – the duration of light exposure – to simulate the changing seasons. For example, during the vegetative stage, replicate the long days of Spring with extended light hours, then seamlessly transition to shorter days in late Summer to induce flowering and fruiting.

The image above has chillis of the ‘Hungarian Hot Wax’ variety in an H3 Indoor Garden and left to their own devices, would be 60cm tall. However, the ability to trigger the different stages of a plant’s growth with environmental control allows us to influence their height. In the case of these chilli, we changed the number of light hours when they got 2/3rd’s of the height we wanted them to finish at.

As a rough rule of thumb, if you trigger the flowering/fruiting stage of a chillis growth at half the height you want it to finish at, you can determine the fully grown height. This means you don’t need to restrict to dwarf varieties! This works with numerous but by no means all plants. If you’re not interested in which plants this might work with and which it might not, skip to the Heating section below.

There are certain characteristics and behaviours exhibited by plants that can give clues about their growth patterns. While not all plants follow this exact pattern of growth, some indicators can help identify those that do:

  • Biennial Plants: Some plants have a two-year life cycle, where they grow vegetatively during the first year and then flower and fruit during the second year. Examples include carrots, onions, and some varieties of cabbage.
  • Herbaceous Perennials: Certain perennial plants exhibit a growth pattern where they grow vegetatively in the spring and early summer, then transition to flowering and fruiting later in the season. Examples include many flowering herbs like basil and mint.
  • Vining Plants: Some vine species, such as certain types of tomatoes and grapes, will grow vigorously during the vegetative stage, producing long stems and foliage, and then shift focus to flowering and fruiting once they reach a certain size or maturity.
  • Day-Neutral Plants: These plants don’t rely on day length to trigger flowering. Instead, they may continue to grow vegetatively while simultaneously flowering and fruiting. Examples include many varieties of strawberries and certain cultivars of tomatoes.

Observing the growth habits of specific plant species over time can also provide insight into their growth patterns. For example, if a plant exhibits significant vegetative growth early in the season followed by a burst of flowering and fruiting later on, it likely follows a similar pattern to the chillis we’re talking about.

Keep in mind that while these are common patterns, there can be variability within species and cultivars, and the environmental factors of light, temperature, water, airflow, as well as nutrient availability can also influence growth patterns.

2. Heating: Maintaining the Ideal Temperature

Different plants thrive in different temperature ranges, so mimicking seasonal fluctuations also helps maximise effectiveness. Create a warm and cosy environment for germination and early growth, then subtly decrease temperatures to simulate the cooler days that signal ripening. And, with the S-Series Mini Greenhouses, you can grow outside even during winter! Whilst temperature can play a part in the seasonal triggering of a plant’s growth stage, it’s not nearly as significant a part as lighting, so don’t stress too hard about it.

3. Watering: Precision Irrigation for Optimal Moisture Levels

Harvst smart grow systems enable precise control over irrigation, preventing under or overwatering. This is important for mimicking seasonal patterns where water availability varies. Adjust watering schedules to align with the dry conditions of summer or the moisture-rich environment of spring, promoting healthy plant development. Again, lighting is king of the environmental factors in the context of creating a season, however, you don’t ever want your plants sat in saturated or bone dry soil for a lengthy period of time. The right level of irrigation will have a significant impact on a plant’s health. Regular and specific amounts of water can contribute to better growth, disease and pest resistance and therefore yield if we’re looking at food crops. If you already have a greenhouse or polytunnel and want to control your watering schedules, the WaterMate may be for you!

4. Airflow: Enhancing Environmental Stability

Proper airflow is often underestimated in its impact on plant health. Our systems can ensure consistent air circulation, preventing stagnant conditions that can lead to mould or disease such as the common ‘damping off’. Simulate gentle summer breezes or the stillness of winter air to enhance overall plant resilience.

Achieving the Extraordinary: Ripening Chillies in Winter

Now, let’s put this knowledge into action with a real-world example. Say you want to enjoy homegrown, ripe chillies in the midst of winter. Here’s how Harvst smart grow systems can help:

  • Adjust Lighting: Set longer light hours during the vegetative stage to encourage robust plant growth.
  • Fine-tune Heating: Maintain warm temperatures for germination and early growth, then gradually reduce to mimic the cooler days that spur fruit ripening.
  • Optimise Watering: Align irrigation with the plant’s changing needs, providing slightly drier conditions as the chillies enter the ripening stage. (This also makes them hotter!)
  • Enhance Airflow: Ensure gentle air circulation to mimic the conditions of an outdoor garden during the growing season.
Conclusion: Cultivating Possibilities with Harvst

In the ever-evolving landscape of growing your own, we’ve moved the game on by offering the tools to transform your growing experience. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting, our smart grow systems open doors to possibilities and potential. Why not try embracing the magic of seasonal simulation, and watch as your plants flourish year-round. Growing your own is hugely satisfying, so why limit it to certain months of the year when you can grow more!