Happy Hydroponics

I have read about hydroponics for a number of years. This winter in Florida is the first time I’ve tried growing plants from seed without soil. Dolly and I now have a number of lettuce, tomato and pepper plants growing in three different modes:

      • Milk jugs outdoors
      • An outdoor plastic pipe tower with nutrient pumped to the top and trickle down
      • A tray in the garage under flourescent lights.

        Tower with thirteen grow sockets.  Small electric pump is located in Kitty Litter bucket at base of tower.  The pump is on a timer that sequences on or off each half hour.  Seeds were started in small peatmoss or fiberglas cubes at the end of November.

      The same nutrient mixture is fed to the plants in each case.

      Pepper plant outdoors in milk jug. It receives about two hours of direct sunlight per day.
      Pepper plant blossoms and one small pepper. January 9th.
      Tomato in milk jug. Some blossoms appeared this week.

      The tops have been cut off the milk jugs and a 2″ grow basket inserted to hold the plants.

      Initially, the jugs were wrapped in aluminum foil.  Now, the jugs are painted black to prevent algae growth and then silver to prevent the nutrient solution heating in sunlight.

      An unpainted strip down the handle reveals the nutrient level.  I add reverse osmosis purified water as necessary.

      I have been amazed at the growth rate of the lettuce, tomato and peppers seeded in Fiberglas and grown under the florescents.  The plants in the photo above were seeds 28 days ago. An initial charge of nutrient solution is supplemented with additions of plain water to keep the cubes moist.

      Dolly and I should be eating salads in March.  The overall results have been very encouraging.  I am planning a larger installation for next year using LED grow light strips and shelving units in our screened lanai.

      It may not be economical to grow your own on this scale.  Yet, the convenience of picking and eating fresh, no pesticide fruits and vegetables may offset the cost.

       

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