Archive for February 24, 2014

Why you don’t setup hydroponics on carpet…

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

Yep, stuff happens.  In this case, while checking our water levels one of the drainage lines got knocked loose and while we were out it managed to somehow come completely free and started draining water EVERYWHERE!

The mess created by a drain line that accidentally got knocked loose.

The mess created by a drain line that accidentally got knocked loose.

Fortunately we noticed as soon as we got home and our set-up is in our completely unfinished basement so nothing was damaged; it was just a major pain to clean up.

So, let this be a lesson for y’all:
1) Never put your set-up somewhere that you can’t afford to have a little (or a lot) of water make a mess.  And
2) Check on your hydroponics frequently.  Things happen and it’s easier to deal with them right away.  You may notice that your pH levels are off, a light is out, a plant has gotten too big and fallen over, or that your basement now has a small pond :-p

Round 3!

We’ve got our third round of seeds tucked into some damp paper towels on the seedling heat mat – moist and toasty!

Our newest batch of seeds: some classics and some new ones

Our newest batch of seeds: some classics and some new ones

We’ve got some that we’ve grown before (sweet basil, genovese basil, cilantro, arugula, collards), some that we haven’t (habanero, mint, sage, rosemary, thyme, savory, parsley), and one that we have tried before but despite the fact that it is supposed to be incredibly easy to grow we have yet to do so – lettuce.

Our jalapeño plants are still producing HOT peppers downstairs, but everything else has been cut down so it’s a good time to get these new seeds going.  We’re still figuring out how we plan to expand our hydroponics setup with our new lights – might try a different layout with large PVC pipe instead of bins for some of the larger plants like collards and (hopefully) lettuce.

If this is your first attempt at germinating seeds, this is an easy way to do it.  Generally they like it damp, warm, and dark, so ours are on a damp paper towel (not sopping wet) on a regular dinner plate, covered with another damp paper towel and another dinner plate upside-down on top of that (like a cover, to keep out the light).  Finally, that’s sitting on a small seedling heat mat that you should be able to find at most garden/hydroponics stores.  DO NOT use a regular heating pad like the kind you would use on your back.  Make sure you read all the directions and warnings before using your seedling heat mat.

New hydroponic grow lights, new design, new plants….2014 has started!

Christine and I were able to get some new hydroponic grow lights for our basement.  They are Hydrogrow X2 336s and give much more light than our others.  We are planning to use them with larger plants, i.e. peppers, tomatoes, etc. rather than the many herbs we will be growing fresh as well.  Cooking fresh has increased our need for fresh herbs, so we bought several packs of seeds from Stokes.

 

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We have to think about a redesign since our current setup cannot handle the larger lights that we got.  You can see in the picture that these are much larger and hang from the ceiling lower.  That combined with the height of my table and the need for differential pressure to drain the grow bins means that the plants would have no room to grow tall.  The ceiling in our basement is about 8 feet to the beams, so I’m thinking of designing some rails to accommodate the new plants.  Do any of you have ideas for smaller reservoir bins?  I need them to be low to the ground, but hold a lot of solution–we usually have 15-20 gallons running at a time!

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Sorry it’s been so long since a post, but things have been so busy.  We still have jalapeños and banana peppers growing and soon will have our normally greenery and herbs again.

Seedlings will start this weekend, so watch for a how to on that!