I’ve been really lagging in posting updates on the hydroponic garden so I’ll post the last few weeks this week. Just pretend you’re speeding forward through the last month in the next 3 days. However here’s the main points learned this year:
-The system NEEDS an air bubbler to airate the water.
-There is about a 1 week adjustment process from transplanting for the roots to start growing in nutrients.
-Many plants die at freezing point.
-Unstable homemade trellises need to be able to hold up to the wind or they’ll smash your plants.
Now the full story, Planting day!
Today the whole setup is going live. I actually purchased the plants about a weeks ago but between work and lazyness didn’t plant them.
First I needed the official place that I could plant everything that was out of the way, had good sunlight, didn’t interfere with the normal garden. The cool thing with hydroponics is all you need is the floor space and you’re good to go, the actual ground can be poor quality, contaminated, or solid asphalt.
South side of the house is where the garbage cans are stored and naturally becomes a storage area for garbage and mostly green trash that is waiting to be fed into the garbage and hauled off. Currently is was about 2 feet deep of bags of landscaping sand covered in 3 feet of dead branches. Once cleared and all the spiders were scared off it left a perfect longs narrow strip just under the garage window so I could feed a power line out to the system.
Next I had to get the plants ready to plant.
Ideally I would be germinating my own seeds straight into hydroponic ready growing media, but that is an experiment for next year. This year is to try to make it as easily accessible to the average person as possible so I’m taking normal potted starter plants and moving them into hydroponic media.
The process isn’t really that hard but it seems weird to people used to normal gardening. Instead of taking a plant out of a plastic tray and moving to the ground we’re going to wash all the dirt off and transfer the bare plant & roots to our own medium.
From right to left the first two buckets are full of water. The third is full of coconut coir and water giving it the consistency of wet potting soil. A few unused but rinsed off plants are on the ground.
1. Start with the plants of choice.
2. Take out of the pot or plastic tray and rinse most of the dirt out of the roots.
Just soak the root ball in the water and alternate between gently massaging the roots and swirling it in the water. All the soil will rinse without needing to be manhandled.
!!!Remember that the roots are the life of the plant, try to keep and protect them as much as possible!!!
3. In the second bucket you can rinse the last of the potting soil off with ease.
4. Then take a plastic 3” net pot and hold the plant in the center with the roots at the bottom.
5. Fill the netpot up with coconut coir, gently packing it down with your fingers till it’s full to the rim. Try to position it so the roots start at .5” to 1” below the rim.
6. Set aside and you’re done. It’s important the roots stay moist so I put them in a container with an inch of water in the bottom. Plus I found it’s good to keep the tags with the plants so you don’t forget what is what later on.
Now the setup need to be put together and filled with fresh nutrient. I found a nice little nylon filter bag at the pet store that I could put on the end of the drain tubes. I rightly figure that for the first few days a lot of coir would wash out of the netpots into the reservoir. Hopefully keeping as little from getting into the pump will limit the lines getting clogged even though the pump has it’s own filter as well.
You can see a little bit of the leftover solid nutrient at the bottom of the reservoir. No matter how hard I try to mix it in some of it never dissolves. Liquid nutrient would obviously not have that problem.
The plug for the pump is outdoors and exposed so I wrapped it with a few overlapping layers of “Stretch and Seal” Tape and a couple layers of electrical tape. Pull the electrical tape tight as you wrap, overlap each row, and make sure your last layer goes from bottom to top to shed water better.
And here is everything planted and running, kind of small and unassuming at this point. I still have on planter empty for something else in the future. Hopefully pole beans.