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crop list


Bright Agrotech 2015


THE PURPOSE OF THIS GUIDE................................................3

HARVESTING AND PRUNING................................................4
CROP LIST..................................................................................6
APPENDIX A: CROPS SETS...................................................27
APPENDIX B: GROWTH RATES............................................28
APPENDIX C: PH....................................................................29

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Welcome to the world of vertical farming! Youre now farming with techniques that have differ-
ent limits and opportunities than typical soil farming. Crops perform differently than they did in
old techniques - and often for the better.

Understanding how different crops perform in vertical agriculture techniques can help you grow
produce that is more robust and productive than ever before. This guide is written to help you
use the needs and preferences of different crops to grow better.



One of the exciting and unique characteristics of greenhouse or indoor growing is that you, as
the greenhouse manager, have control over the environment. This means that you get to choose
from a wide variety of crops.
If youre growing crops that come from different environmental needs, youll need to pay close
attention to the needs and limits of each crop. As you pick out crops for your operation, be sure
to choose a set of crops that can all grow in similar conditions.

If you wish to grow both mint and tomatoes, for example, you might run into problems. You can
often work your way around incompatibilities by keeping crops in different parts of your green-
house; keeping that mint close to the cool air coming in from your fan would be wise.

Differences in water needs can be solved by adjusting the water pressure to certain units - we
often recommend plumbing your system with valves on each section. This way you can turn on
section on for less time than sections containing crops with higher water needs.

The reproductive stage of a plants life cycle is primarily controlled by age and environmental
cues like heat and light.

For most greens and herbs, flowering and fruit production is a bad thing. If you choose to grow
greens and herbs, youll want to harvest or prune before that time comes. As the plant shifts the
focus of its energy to reproductive growth, vegetative growth slows down, and the leaves be-
come more bitter and more tough.
You should also take measures to prevent reproductive growth if possible. Keep the temperature
within the ideal temperature range for that crop, and watch the duration and amount of light
you are delivering.

For other crops such as strawberries, cucumbers, squash, melons, etc., reproductive growth is
good. Encourage reproductive growth by keeping temperatures and day length in the ideal
range. Pollination can be an issue for indoor fruiting crops. If you lack pollinators, you may be
able to find varieties that dont need pollination. Otherwise, you should prepare to hand-polli-
nate your crops. This can be done with a paintbrush or Q-tip.

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Having such a wide variety of crops at your disposal, in conjunction with having unique
growing techniques, means that harvesting methods will vary. Some crops (usually lettuces and
cabbages) are only harvested once before being torn out and replanted.

Other crops, such as kale, mustard, chives, chard, and some herbs can be harvested multiple
times. When you harvest these types of crops, leave about two thirds of the greens to allow the
plant to perform photosynthesis while it grows to harvesting size again.

Check out this video for information on harvesting equipment and this video for more on how
to harvest different crops.

Harvest and prune carefully to maximize the

next production cycle of the plant.

On woody plants like basil, branches grow

upward with leaves growing off to the side.
On most of these plants, there is a pair of
lateral buds on the stem which do not grow
into branches unless the main (apical) stem
is cut. If you cut the apical stem strategically,
you can trigger growth from the lateral buds,
replacing the one main branch with two
branches, and increasing production and
resulting in a more full plant. (Having a bushy
and full tower increases its aesthetic appeal
and makes produce better for display and

For mint and chives, trim the growth down

completely to one inch from the face of the

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Apical growth: growth which grows upward from the apical bud of the plant; usually results in
the main branch of the plant.

Bolting: a shift from vegetative to reproductive growth, usually resulting in a tall inedible flower
stalk and a bitter taste.

Cole crops: crops belonging to the mustard family, including mustard, cabbage, kale, broccoli,
and kohlrabi, among others.

IPM: (Integrated Pest Management) a pest management strategy which utilizes multiple types
of control and precise timing to control pest populations for the best economic outcome in the
long term.

Lateral buds: the set of undeveloped buds situated on the side of the stem of a plant which
grow if the apical branch is badly damaged or removed.

Turn: the time it takes for a plant to grow from transplant to harvest-able crops.

As you can see from

the elongated stem
and the leaves which
are starting to turn
inward, this lettuce
plant is beginning
to bolt and will soon
become bitter.

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Greens are typically lower-value crops compared to herbs, fetching $3.50-5.00 per pound.
Though they bring in less per pound than most herbs, greens can be a benefit to farmers be-
cause they satisfy a consistent need in most communities.

Greens can also be a liability-reducer for farmers, who can rest assured knowing that it will only
take four to six weeks (a typical turn for greens) to return to full production.

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Seed to germination: 5-7 days

Seed to transplant: 3-4 weeks
Transplant to harvest: 5-6 weeks
Yield: 5.5 lbs./ tower/ 6-week turn

pH range: 6.6-7.0
Light: Moderate-high light
Height: 12-32
Harvest: Gradual

Pests and diseases are minimal;

possible pests include aphids and leaf
miners, and diseases include leaf spot
and powdery mildew.

About Chard

Chard produces large leaves with a rich flavor similar to spinach. Since it is hard to ship after
harvest, chard can be difficult to find in stores, so chard from live sales is typically received
well. The difference between the dark green of the leaf and the light or rainbow colors of the
stem and veins makes chard an aesthetically pleasing crop; rainbow chard is especially popu-
lar for live sales displays.

Chard is biannual, so it will not bolt for the first year.

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Seed to germination: 4-7 days

Seed to transplant: 3-4 weeks
Transplant to harvest: 4-6 weeks
Yield: 3.1 lbs. per tower 5-week turn

pH range: 6.0-7.5
EC/PPM: 1.2-2.4/840-1680
Light: 12- 18 hrs ideally but tolerant
of 8-10 hrs
Height: 6-24
Harvest: Gradual

Pests include aphids, flea beetle,

slugs, and snails, while diseases in-
clude white rust, powdery mildew,
and bacterial leaf spot.

About Mustard Greens

Mustard greens produce large, ruffled leaves which have a flavor similar to radishes. It is
used in salads or can be enjoyed on its own. Since mustard is less tolerant of heat, it typi-
cally grows better in cool climates. If harvested properly, mustard greens are capable of
multiple harvests.

While many cole crops are resistant to diseases, mustard greens are susceptible to several
diseases and require monitoring.

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Seed to germination: 4-7 days

Seed to transplant: 4-5 weeks
Transplant to harvest: 5-6 weeks
Yield: 4 lbs/ tower/ 6 week turn

pH range: 6.0-7.5
EC/PPM: 2.5-3.0/ 1750-2100
Light: 12- 18 hrs ideally but tolerant
of 8-10 hrs
Height: 18-36
Harvest: Gradual

Pests include, cabbage loopers,

cabbageworms, flea beetles, aphids,
slugs, and snails. Diseases include
clubroot, black rot, black leg, and

About Kale

An excellent choice for the beginning grower, kale grows quickly, is hearty and tolerant
to cold conditions and frosts, and does not bolt easily. Some growers even claim that frost
improves the flavor.

Kale is a favorite here at Bright Agrotech and is very popular among our CSA members, who
use the nutrient-packed green in smoothies, salads, soups, and even dried as kale chips.

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Seed to germination: 5-7 days

Seed to transplant:3-4 weeks
Transplant to harvest: 6-7 weeks
Yield: 2-3 lbs./ tower/ 5-week turn

pH range: 6.0-6.8
Light: 12- 18 hrs ideally but tolerant
of 8-10 hrs
Height: 12-24
Harvest: Gradual

Pest problems include aphids, flea

beetles. Disease problems rarely occur.

About Arugula

This frost tolerant plant is often used in salads to add a spicy, bitter flavor, and the flowers it
produces are edible. This green is a favorite with chefs as tasty addition to salads.

Bolting becomes common during long periods of heat. Arugula must be kept in a cool
growing environment. After flowering the flavor becomes intense and sometimes bitter.

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Height: 10-12Harvest:
Yield: 4 heads, 2-8 lbs. each /
5 tower/ 5 weeks
Harvest: One-time

pH range: 6.2-6.6
EC/PPM: 2.5-3.0/ 1750-2100

Pests include cabbage loopers, slugs,

aphids, and flea beetles. Diseases
include black leg, clubroot, black rot,
and yellows.

About Cabbage
Cabbage grows robustly, especially in ZipGrow towers. While it can take 8-12 weeks to be
ready for harvest, one tower can produce 25-35 lbs. in a single harvest.

Cabbage prefers cool conditions. pH outside of 6.5-6.8 increases risk of disease.

Plant cabbage seedlings 12-24 apart to leave room for the development of the head. Har-
vest when the head of cabbage feels firm and developed. Once a head cracks, it is time to
harvest immediately. Stress like heat or drought can cause heads to crack prematurely.

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Seed to germination: 4-7 days

Seed to transplant: 3-4 weeks
Transplant to harvest: 4-6 weeks
Yield: 7.3 lbs./ tower/ 5-week turn

pH range: 5.8-6.2
Light: 12- 18 hrs ideally but tolerant
of 8-10 hrs
Height: 12-24
Harvest: One-time

Pests most commonly include aphids

and powdery mildew.

About Bok Choy

Bok Choy is easy to produce and results in high yield if grown properly. It is tolerant of both
heat and cold, although warm temperatures can cause it to bolt prematurely.

Bok Choy requires partial to full sun for optimal growth. It tolerates pH from 6.0-7.5 and prefers
constant watering. There are numerous varieties of Bok Choy with different preferences, so
choose the variety thats right for your location.

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Seed to germination: 7-14 days

Seed to transplant: 3-4 weeks
Transplant to harvest: 5 weeks
Yield: 4-6-lbs./ tower/ 5-week turn

pH range: 5.6-6.2
EC/PPM: 0.8-1.2/ 560-840
Light: Moderate-high light 10-18 hrs
Height: 6-12
Harvest: One-time

Pests include aphids, leafminers,

leafhoppers, cabbage loopers,
thrips, whiteflies, wireworms, and
slugs. Diseases include damping off,
powdery mildew, mosaic virus, and
fusarium wilt.

About Lettuce
Lettuce enjoys cool temperatures, so it is more suitable for mild climates. For ideal growth,
keep temperatures between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit and pH lower than 6.0.

Lettuce is a good crop or beginners and experts alike due to its high yields and consistent
demand. Diseases and pests are the major consideration when growing lettuce. Make sure
that you implement a good IPM strategy.

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Herbs are usually high value crops with a continuous yield.

Herbs can be easier to grow than greens, but take a longer time to reach maturity. This lon-
ger maturation time can cause problems in case of an emergency, since it takes longer for a
grower to reach full production again; however, most herbs can be harvested multiple times.

Herbs regularly bring $1.99/oz.-$2.99/oz.

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Seed to germination: 8-14 days

Seed to transplant: 5-7 weeks
Transplant to harvest: 8-10 weeks
Yield: 2.5 lbs./ tower/ 8-week turn

pH range: 6.0-8.0
EC/PPM: 1.5-2.0/1050-1400
Light: Full sun/ high light demand
12 hr.
Height: 12-18
Harvest: Multiple

Pests include spider mites, aphids,

slugs, and thrips. Diseases are few;
mint rust is one consideration.

About Oregano
A wise choice for new growers, oregano is often the subject of high demand, is drought
resistant, and prefers heat. Yields can take up to 8 weeks to fully develop.

Oregano tolerates a pH range of 6.0-8.0, but requires good drainage or part-time irrigation. Dry
climates are best for growing oregano.

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Seed to germination: 12-16 days

Seed to transplant: 4-5 weeks
Transplant to harvest: 6 weeks
Yield: 3-4-lbs./ tower/ 3-week turn

pH range: 6.5-7.0
PPM: 1400-1680
Light: Full sun/ (14-18) hr.
Height: 12-18
Harvest: Continuous

Pests include whiteflies, spider mites,

black flies, aphids, snails, and slugs,
while diseases include mint rust.

About Mint
Mint is a great crop for beginners. Mint grows robustly, is resilient against damage, and
continuously yields once the plants have been established. Most towers produce an aver-
age of 4 lbs. every 3 weeks. One inch of plant matter remaining after harvest is enough to
resume growth. Plants can be spaced as little as 2 apart.

Mint is one of the few crops with a root system that will out grow the tower housing. You
may notice roots growing out of the bottom, and the roots may grow so aggressively that
the front of the tower is spread slightly.

Mint is also easy to clone. You can clip stems from the mother plant and drop them in the
gutters below for an easy and quick way to clone new plants.

It is important to keep an eye on salts in a system since mint is salt sensitive. Different variet-
ies express a range of flavors, including sweet mint, spearmint, peppermint, and chocolate

Learn why mint is a great crop for commercial hydroponic growers in this video.

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Seed to germination: 15-21 days

Seed to transplant: 4 weeks
Transplant to harvest: 6-8 weeks
Yield: 3-5 lbs/4 weeks/tower;
8-week establishment

pH range: 6.1-7.8
PPM: 1260-1540
Light: Full sun 12 hr. minimum
Height: 12-18
Harvest: Continuous

Pests may include aphids and thrips,

while disease concerns are negligible.

About Chives
Another crop ideal for beginners is Chives, which are planted densely and soon take over the
whole tower. Chives grow so densely and are so hardy that they can be harvested completely
down to an inch from the face of the tower and will return to maturity in five to seven weeks.

Because the plant is so difficult to damage, chives make a great crop for displays, including
green walls.

Watch this video of Dr. Nate Storey talking about growing chives in aquaponics systems.

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Seed to germination: 8-20 days

Seed to transplant:4- weeks
Transplant to harvest: 6-8 weeks
Yield: 2 lbs./tower/ 8-weeks

pH range: 6.5-7.0
PPM: 560-1120
Light: Full sun/ high light demand
12 hr. bare minimum
Height: 12-18
Harvest: Continual

Pests include whiteflies, spider mites,

and alternaria blight.

About Thyme
Thyme is a popular herb for home- and restaurant-chefs alike, being a classic flavor for meat
and soups. The crop prefers drier conditions. It does best in more alkaline conditions but will
tolerate a pH range of 6.5-7.0. For best results, give thyme full exposure to light and prune
when you harvest.

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Seed to germination: 7-14 days

Seed to transplant: 3-5 weeks
Transplant to harvest: 6-7 weeks
Yield: 5-8 lbs. / tower/ 8 weeks

pH range: 6.0-7.5
PPM: 700-980
Light: Full sun/ high light demand
12 hr.
Height: 12-60
Harvest: Multiple

Pest concerns are low but may

include aphids.

About Fennel

Fennel is a delicate crop with a sweet mild flavor similar to sassafras or anise. Both the frilly greens
and the lightly colored bulb can be harvested and eaten.

It is a hardy crop that can grow over five feet tall and does well in a wide range of conditions.
Fennel can be planted 10-12 plants/tower, and weighs in at an average of .5 lb. per head. It can
take up to 100 days to become mature. It requires minimal watering, and is tolerant of pH values
6.0-7.5. Fennel is relatively pest and disease free and makes an excellent choice for beginners.

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Seed to germination: 7-10 days

Seed to transplant: 3-5 weeks
Transplant to harvest: 5 weeks
Yield: 3-4-lbs./ tower/ 5-week turn

pH range: 5.6-6,6
PPM: 700-1120
Light: Full sun/ (14-18) hr.
Height: 18-24
Harvest: Continuous

Pests include nematodes, aphids,

thrips, flea beetles, whiteflies, and
snails/slugs. Diseases include damping
off, root rot, leaf spot diseases,
fusarium wilt, and downy mildew.

About Sweet Basil

Basil, while moderately difficult to produce, is popular in almost any market and produces
higher yields in ZipGrow towers than any other growing method in the world.

Numerous varieties of basil are available; nearly all fetch $1.99-$2.99 per oz. depending on
the market. Basil grows best in heat and high light. If you have limited light or cool conditions,
growth will be slower. You may need to supplement heat, light, or both.

Basil can be harvested multiple times, and if pruned properly will produce more each har-
vest. Once a plant has been established, cuttings can be easily used to propagate more
crops. Proper drainage is critical to preventing diseases from forming during production.

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Seed to germination: 7-10 days

Seed to transplant: 4 weeks
Transplant to harvest: 4-6 weeks
Yield: 1.5-2.5 lbs./ 5 tower/ 5 weeks

pH range: 6.5-6.7
Light: Full sun/ (14-18) hr.
Height: 18-24
Harvest: Continuous

Pests include fungal wilt, leafhoppers,

aphids; diseases include powdery

About Cilantro
Cilantro can be a tricky crop to grow since it bolts very easily, especially in hot conditions. This
crop prefers cooler temperatures (40-75 degrees Fahrenheit) and low salt.

If bolting is triggered, trim the bolts and adjust environmental conditions. Be aware that the
flavor of the greens becomes more bitter and harsh once the plant has bolted. Growers can
purchase slow bolting seeds to minimize the potential for crop failure.

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Seed to germination: 21-28 days

Seed to transplant:3-4 weeks
Transplant to harvest: 5-6 weeks
Yield: 3-4-lbs./ tower/ 5-week turn

pH range: 5.8-6.4
PPM: 560-1260
Light: Full sun/ (14-18) hr.
Height: 12-18
Harvest: Continuous

Pests include whitefly, spider mites,

aphids, while diseases include leaf
spot, damping off, leaf blight, powdery
mildew, and nematodes.

About Parsley
Parsley germinates slowly but produces a high yield once established. Parsley is another cool
weather crop, and will bolt if temperatures exceed 75 degrees for a long time.
Since this herb is so versatile in how it can be used, its popular in stores and restaurants alike.

Check out Haydn Christensens greenhouse to see how parsley is grown in ZipGrows.

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Seed to germination: 10-40 days

Seed to transplant: 4-5 weeks
Transplant to harvest: 5-6 weeks

pH range: 5.5-6.5
Light: Full sun/ (14-18) hr.
Height: 12-36

Pests are minimal due to the aromatic

compound that lemongrass produces,
and it can be used as a natural pest
deterrent within the greenhouse.

About Lemongrass
Lemongrass is native to India and prefers warm, moist climates with lots of sun. The crop is a
slow grower, taking about three months to grow to maturity. This is a great crop to offer as
personalized production for chefs, or at the farmers market, where lemongrass may fetch up
to $4.99 per ounce.

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Seed to germination: 7-14 days

Seed to transplant: 4-5 weeks
Transplant to harvest: 3-5 weeks
Yield: 1/5lbs/tower/ 6-7 weeks

pH range: 5.5-7.0
Light: Partial sun/shade
Height: 10-28
Harvest: Multiple harvests

Pest are generally not a significant con-

cern with chervil.

About Chervil
Chervil is a mildly flavored herb that is often used in fine French cuisine. Flavor is best when
grown in moderate conditions.

Since chervil is such a unique herb to offer, many people wont know what you can do with
it. If you offer chervil in a grocery store or at a farmers market, consider including a recipe
card to inspire customers.

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Fruiting crops are productive and satisfying to grow in ZipGrow towers, but are slightly more
labor intensive due to the typical size of fruiting crops and to higher nutrient requirements.
Largely statured plants may require trellising, which may be done with string, wood, netting, or
wire. The large plants may make your towers bulkier and more awkward to move.
Since fruiting crops have to produce both vegetative and reproductive growth, nutrient re-
quirements are much higher. Nutrient levels in a system with fruiting crops require more active
management than systems with greens or herbs.

Strawberries are the easiest fruiting crop to grow, being smaller plants. Other common fruiting
crops include tomatoes, melons, peppers, squash, and cucumbers.

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pH range: 5.5-6.8
EC/PPM: 1.2-1.5/840-1050
Light: 8-10 hr. (ideal=12-18 hr.)
Yield: 0.1 lbs/day at maturity
Spacing: 18 between plants

Pests of strawberries include arachnids

like spider mites, pythium, rhizoctonia,
and other fungal pathogens.

About Strawberries

Strawberries are the hardiest and easiest of the fruiting crops to grow. They also require
fewer nutrients than other fruiting crops. Strawberries require full sun exposure and a pH
from 5.8-6.2.

Before ordering seeds or root stock to grow, research different varieties. Some varieties
of strawberries are day neutral (produce year round), while others have seasonal flushes
of production. One day neutral variety well-suited to ZipGrow Towers is the Seascape

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Cool Region Crops Warm Region Crops

Lettuce Bok Choy
Arugula Oregano
Kale Basil
Mustard Greens Lemongrass
Bok Choy Spearmint
Cilantro (Coriander)

Low Water Crops Crops For Beginners

Cilantro Lettuce
Sage Bok Choy
Chives Mustard Greens
Oregano Chard
Tarragon Kale
Fennel Mint
Nasturtiums Arugula
Peppermint Chives

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Herbs Seed to Germination Transplant

germination to transplant to harvest
*Genovese 7-10 days 3-5 weeks 5 weeks
*Lime Basil 5-15 days 3-5 weeks 5 weeks
*Cilantro 7-10 days 3-5 weeks 5 weeks
*Oregano 8-14 days 5-7 weeks 8-10 weeks
Fennel 7-14 days 3-5 weeks 6-7 weeks
*Mint 12-16 days 4-5 weeks 6 weeks
*Parsley 21-28 days 3-4 weeks 5-6 weeks
*Chives 15-21 days 4 weeks 6-8 weeks
*Lemon 8-20 days 4 weeks 6-8 weeks
Lemongrass 10-90 days 4-5 weeks 5-6 weeks
*Nasturtiums 7-14 days 3-4 weeks 3-4 weeks
*Tarragon 10-14 days 5-7 weeks 8-10 weeks
*Chervil 7-10 days 4-5 weeks 3-5 weeks
Greens Germination Time to trans- Time till
time plant sale(turn)
Lettuce 7-14 days 3-4 weeks 5 weeks
*Chard 5-7 days 3-4 weeks 5-6 weeks
Bok Choy 4-7 days 3-4 weeks 4-6 weeks
*Mustard 4-7 days 3-4 weeks 4-6 weeks
*Kale 4-7 days 4-5 weeks 5-6 weeks
*Arugula 5-7 days 3-4 weeks 6-7 weeks
Strawberries 7-42 days 9-35 weeks
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Crop pH EC(mS/cm)/PPM

Basil 6.2-6.8 700-1120

Cilantro 6.5-7.5 -

Oregano 6.0-8.0 -

Fennel 6.0-7.5 700-980

Mint 6.5-7.0 1400-1680

Parsley 6.0-7.0 560-1260

Chives 6.1-7.8 1260-1540

Thyme 6.5-7.0 560-1120

Lemongrass 5.0-8.0 -

Nasturtiums 6.1-7.8 -

Tarragon 6.5-7.5 -

Chervil 5.5-7.0 -

Lettuce 6.2-6.8 (0.8-1.2) 560-840

Chard 6.0-7.0 1260-1610

Bok Choy 6.0-7.5 (1.5-2.0) 1050-1400

Mustard 6.0-7.5 (1.2-2.4) 840-1680

Kale 6.0-7.6 -

Arugula 6.0-6.8 Max 1400

Strawberries 5.5-6.8 (1.8-2.2) 1260-1540

Cabbage 6.5-7.0 1750-2100

More information GTG Hydroponics, Hydroponic.co.za

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Bright Agrotech is composed of a rapidly growing group of incredibly hard

working, passionate individuals committed to empowering the farmers of

Our ZipGrow vertical farming/gardening towers help small hobbyist growers and
commercial producers everywhere see maximum yields and economic profit.
We want to help farmers live better, increase their margins, and give their
consumer the most high quality produce possible.


We would love to help you get started. Call us and we can guide you through
the planning and ordering process as well as addressing any concerns you
might have with growing.