After I mentioned a few days ago that I had told my son Travis about hydroponic gardening, a couple of blog readers expressed an interest in hearing more about it, and one person asked me what hydroponics is, saying she had never heard of it.
Basically, it is a method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions in water. Plants may be grown with their roots in just the mineral solution or in a medium like perlite or gravel. My research shows that, when done properly, plants grow up to 50% faster with a hydroponic set up, and vegetables can be as much as 50% larger. Years ago I had a friend who was really into it, and I was amazed that in a room about the size of a one car garage he was able to feed his entire family year-round.
It can be done on a large-scale and cost a lot of money, or on a small scale on the cheap, like the set up we’ve been helping Travis with. For those of you who are interested, here’s the condensed version of what’s involved.
We started out by buying two plastic 18 gallon storage tubs at WalMart, two aquarium pumps, aquarium tubing, and air stones. Then we ordered a bag of rock wool plant plugs, 3 inch round net cup pots, and hydroponic grow rocks from Amazon. Overall, the whole dual setup cost between $75 and $100.
Terry laid out a pattern incorporating eight of the cups for each storage tub, and using a 3 inch hole saw on an electric drill, Travis cut the holes in the lids of the tubs.
After soaking the rockwool plugs in water and rinsing them, and doing the same with the grow rocks, he put a few of the rocks in the bottom of each cup.
Then he inserted a couple of seeds into each plug and put them in the cups, and put more of the grow rocks around them.
Meanwhile, we had filled the tubs with water, hooked up the aquarium pumps and air stones, put the stones in the water, checked the pH balance of the water, added Miracle Grow, and then placed the cups into the holes.
A couple of grow lights in metal reflectors were mounted above and he’s ready to go. Travis used seeds for most of the pots, but did transplant a tomato plant that was looking pretty bad into one of them. We were all shocked that within an hour or so the plant’s wilted leaves had opened up nicely, and it looks like it’s going to be just fine.
Travis and his wife Geli are vegans, and once he gets going with this, after a little bit of trial and error, I think he is going to be able to take a big bite out of their grocery budget. It’s been a lot of fun helping him set things up, and especially seeing his excitement about the project.
It’s Thursday and that means it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Death On The Pedernales, book five in my pal George Wier’s popular Bill Travis mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.