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 Post subject: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 9:26 am 
ol' garly cooch
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Let's talk about hydroponics. Got any questions about it? Bring those here--I'll help!

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 Post subject: Re: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 11:00 am 
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I have nothing but questions! I guess the thing that I think of is vertical gardening and how it can probably save the world. So what's your take on vertical hydro gardens?

If someone wanted to start a tiny hydro garden on, say, their porch, how would they go about it? Maybe some lettuces or something?

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 Post subject: Re: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 12:00 pm 
ol' garly cooch
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(((van halen playing in back ground)) I got it bad, got it bad, got it bad. I'm hot for hydro.

The big misconception about hydro is that it is difficult, expensive, and used to grow illegal crops. For the record, at my job, I do not talk about the latter because it degrades the beautiful world of gardening and is not a practice at our company.

There are SO MANY options for hydro. There's passive--and it's easy as pie. Remember making a plant sprout from an avocado seed, or taking the top of a pineapple to root? That's hydro on the most basic level. In hydro, the soil is set aside and one uses a variety of growing media:

hydroton-little clay terra cotta marbles, generally imported from deustchland.
cocoa coir- coconut husk fibers, imported from sri lanka, there are some companies that harvest them locally
peat moss-NOT RENEWABLE source!
vermiculite
perlite
rockwool or stonewool-cotton candy spun lava. for reals! i'm not a fan of it, largely because you have to pH adjust it prior to using it. most swear by it.
lava rocks- again, causes problems with pH
"soilless mixes"-blends of the aforementioned ingredients plus fertilizer and mycorrhizae-(a beneficial bacteria)


I am also a HUGE fan of vertical gardening, but because of time constraints, I haven't implemented. The cheapest way to go is straw bale gardening:
http://www.strawbalegardens.com/

Teh interwebs is a treasure trove of inspiration regarding vertical gardening. Here's a muse:
http://www.lowimpactliving.com/blog/200 ... ll-spaces/

Regardless of what system you use (DIY or factory made) do some research for product reviews, make sure that the model is current-(most companies put out new models every so years making finding replacement parts a pain), and that whoever you choose to shop with has really good customer service-(cough, cough-wink-wink).

Lettuce is hands-down the easiest thing to grow hydroponically. I'm a fan of General Hydroponics products because they've been around as long as I've been around. They carry vegan nutrients too, which our company supplies:

http://www.wormsway.com/detail.aspx?t=prod&sku=GBTG405

I know the grow and bloom formulas are vegan, as well as their compost tea.

Our company makes the Garden of Ease, which will hold four plants and is a great bargain:
http://www.wormsway.com/results.aspx?t= ... rch=sge200

I'll probably be getting one of those this winter.

As far as lighting goes, hydro can be done outdoors in the summer, but for winter growing a simple flourescent lighting system will do just fine. Vegetative growth is good at 16 hours on, 8 off. Fruits and flowers need 12 on 12 off for that cycle. If you think about the hours of light during the summer this makes sense.

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 Post subject: Re: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 4:59 pm 
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jewbacca wrote:
"soilless mixes"-blends of the aforementioned ingredients plus fertilizer and mycorrhizae-(a beneficial bacteria)

You mean inoculated with fungi that tend to form mycorrhizal associations, right? Do you know how well they do in a non-soil medium (I know a lot of these species are incredibly hard to culture outside of the soil)? I'm not asking to be a jerk, just because I'm curious and don't deal with soil-free media often (really, ever, I work in a soil ecology lab)
/jerkface plant biologist snobbery

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 Post subject: Re: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 9:59 pm 
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I keep thinking about hydro tomatoes because it's so dry here and I feel like I have to water like crazy to keep mine happy. Is there a particular medium/system that is better for tomatoes?

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 Post subject: Re: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:57 am 
ol' garly cooch
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Dandelion wrote:
jewbacca wrote:
"soilless mixes"-blends of the aforementioned ingredients plus fertilizer and mycorrhizae-(a beneficial bacteria)

You mean inoculated with fungi that tend to form mycorrhizal associations, right? Do you know how well they do in a non-soil medium (I know a lot of these species are incredibly hard to culture outside of the soil)? I'm not asking to be a jerk, just because I'm curious and don't deal with soil-free media often (really, ever, I work in a soil ecology lab)
/jerkface plant biologist snobbery



Dandy baby, you're not a jerk. You're right. I am not bothered by being corrected. I'm no genius and appreciate teachable moments. The packages of planting mixes we sell:promix, light warrior, sunshine mix, etc. State "with a mixture of guanos, castings, and Mycorrhizae" and not the wording you mentioned, so perhaps their wording is misleading.

As far as tomato mediums go, I'm not a fan of rockwool/stonewool because of all the pH adjusting one has to do--however it holds water really well, so I'm torn. I just haven't had good results with it. The medium I do like is coco coir, but most of it is imported from Sri Lanka, so I know I'm not making a good call transportation wise, but it is environmentally better than say, peat moss which is non renewable. Coir needs to be rinsed once prior to using (if you get it in brick or pellet form), but it is pest free, has good air to water ratio, and has antifungal properties--keeping those pesky gnats away.

Another alternative I'm fond of is hydroton, those little tera cotta colored clay marbles. They hold water well, but they are also imported from the EU.

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 Post subject: Re: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:01 pm 
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Yay! I'm glad it came off the way I meant it (non-jerkish, ha). I'm now sort of fascinated with soil free media and root formation, ha. I will report the results of my lit review at a later date.

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 Post subject: Re: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 10:26 am 
ol' garly cooch
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It's all good, Dandypants.

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 Post subject: Re: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:08 pm 
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jewbacca wrote:
It's all good, Dandypants.

Formal request to be referred to as dandypants from now on, submitted.

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 Post subject: Re: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:17 am 
ol' garly cooch
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I thought I'd bring this topic back up so we could hopefully further the discussion.

Many people get overwhelmed by the prospect of hydro because they think they can't do it. This is silly. Hydro is (in some ways) much easier than soil gardening because the mediums that the plants grow in get nutrients quicker, so you harvest MUCH FASTER.

In fact, many of you would probably be surprised to know that you've practiced some hydro without even knowing it. Hydroponics means "working water". Ever tried to sprout an avocado seed? Ever taken a cutting from your favorite plant, stick it in a jar with a little water, and watched it root? That dearies, is passive hydro. Do you own an aerogarden? That's a very tiny scale aeroponic system. **NOTE: you do NOT have to buy those pesky nutrient tabs to feed your plants. You can get a regular hydro nute and severely dilute it based on your reservoir size.

Active hydro can be done with ebb and flow-(think flood and drain), drip irrigation, and aeropoinics-(constant spraying of nutrient solution to the root system). You can make your own system, or you can buy many on the market that come as complete kits-(your containers, reservoir, pump, growing medium, and nute start pack) and are a little higher in price. If you go that route, I'd stick with General Hydroponics. They have the best quality, and have been around as long as I've been alive.

If you want to get started, go small and work up. Buy or build a small system and start with lettuce or greens. Your basic indoor garden system should at the very least consist of the following:

Garden Space- Figure out how big your growing area is. 2x2? 4x4? You get the idea.

Lights-Plants can't grow without a light source. If you're just growing lettuce or greens, you can get by with florescent lights. I'd suggest a T-5 system.

A hydro unit- Again, buy or build your own. If you're cramped for space, I'd suggest a vertical set-up.

Growing Media- Soil free mix, rock wool, hydroton, lava rocks, coco coir, or make a mix of all of them. As aforementioned, I am not a fan of rockwool because of the pH adjustment involved.

Nutrients- Heavy in nitrogen for vegetative only plants, for fruiting and flowering plants in the grow stage. Phosphorous and potassium for peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, etc. Micro nutrients for both to improve growth and strengthen stalks to defend against the elements: Ca/Mg/Fe et al.

A timer for your lights- Unless you want to turn on/off your system every 8-12 hours. Timers can also be used for your hydro systems and will start/stop the flow of water.

Something to circulate the air and pull out heat- Fan. Even an oscillating fan will help, but plants can't just sit still in the heat.

Other things to consider:

You will have to pollinate plants yourself. Use a paintbrush or q-tip.
Be on the look out for insects and fungal problems.

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 Post subject: Re: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:11 pm 
ol' garly cooch
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Dude, check this out--vertical gardening WILL save us all!

http://www.windowfarms.org/

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 Post subject: Re: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:15 pm 
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jewbacca wrote:
Dude, check this out--vertical gardening WILL save us all!

http://www.windowfarms.org/


...I want one.

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 Post subject: Re: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 10:23 am 
ol' garly cooch
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Finally, after four years--I'm getting to use a system in the retail greenhouse. I'll keep you all posted as I go. I'm using a flood and drain system and growing wasabi arugula, chard, kale, basil, catnip, and cilantro. I should be able to harvest by the time I start my Spring seeds!

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 Post subject: Re: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2013 7:33 pm 
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jewbacca, lend me your knowledge!

I have a storage room off my kitchen that 1. gets no natural light 2. has no ventilation 3. is a constant 80F because my building's pipes run through it 4. and is about 8ftx8ft.

If I wanted to grow food in there, could I? What would I need to get started? And what kind of food can I grow? I don't know anything at all about hydro but I want to learn!

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 Post subject: Re: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 11:34 pm 
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I'm no jewbacca but I can offer a few pointers.

80F would be great for most warmth-loving plants, but remember lights put out more heat than light so you will need some kind of ventilation.

With no natural light electricity costs can get quite expensive.

I wouldn't go ahead unless you have some cash to spare for a fun experiment (it is fun though). Unfortunately most information out there is for growing cannabis, and it's written by a bunch of stoners that talk a lot of shiitake and not all of it is applicable to other plants.

I would recommend looking into growing in coco or a coco/perlite mix. It is the most similar to soil and doesn't need any special equipment as you can water it by hand. It is easy to tell when it needs water by lifting up the pot, it it very light when dry. It is ideal for a run-to-waste system, that is you don't collect and reuse the nutrient solution so you don't need pumps etc.

You will need to measure the pH of the nutrient solution before you water it in, this can be as simple as a liquid indicator, but a pH pen will save you a lot of time and guess work.

As to what you can grow, well just about anything. But some things are more worthwhile, like salad greens and herbs for instance, because it's nice to have them fresh and on hand, as well as being expensive to buy anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: Hot For Hydro: Whuzzup With That?
PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2013 12:19 am 
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Thank you! That's very helpful and seems like a good place to start.

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