My experiment with hydroponic vegetables

Discussion in 'Small Spaces' started by 2nd smoke, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. 2nd smoke

    2nd smoke Fire Starter

    This last winter I was really craving some freash salad greens and didn't like the choices at the store. So after doing some reasearch I decided to set up a salad garden in our unused basement bedroom. The wife told me right away no dirt so I set up a Flood and drain (or eb and flow) hydroponic system .

    This uses a 5 gal. bucket for the reservoir with the nutrients. There is an aquarium pump hooked to a large air stone and a submersible pump. The pump comes on for 15 min 3 times a day to flood the pan above. Then it drains. There is round clay balls that have been cooked so they are porous. They hold some moisture while letting air get to the roots.

    I have reflective film on all sides. The front is set up so I can lift it out of the way.

    I have used this for 6 months with a number of different crops of buttercrunch, romain lettuce and spinach. The best thing, no dirt to wash off and no pests eating it before us. This small garden produced enough for me and my wife to eat saled 4-5 times a week and still give some to our friends.

    I also started a Thai pepper and tomato plant to put out on my deck.

    This is what they looked like on May 31st. I started the seeds in the basement flood and drain system.

    The Thai pepper on the left is in a Deep Water Culture (DWC) that just uses an aquariam pump and a large air stone in the bottom of the bucket. The top of the bucket has a net cup to hold the stones above the water level and the roots just hang down into the water.

    The tomato plant has whats called a farm kit which has a larger net cup to hold the stones. It uses air to draw the water up a tube and drips on top of the stones, the same way an aquariam filter works.

    Needless to say both have worked our very well.

    I have to add about a gallen of water and nutriants every day. I have so many Thai peppers that I'll be set for a couple of years with ground red pepper. The tomatoes are just starting to turn red and are huge.

    Already planning on how to expand next year.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2013
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Smoke, evening.... How cool is that......  I love it.....   I been looking at net cups for a garden set up.....  

  3. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Careful , ya'll wil have the DEA comingby for a look [​IMG]
  4. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That is very cool!!!!

    My dad has made a hydroponic green house that is 10'x10'. He produces more than he can keep up with. He had at one time 8 different verities of tomatoes, herbs, lettuces and other things I can't remember (no DEA worries on his crops). It is very surprising how much flavor you can get from that method. I was thinking there is no way you will get much flavor without soil, but it does. There is still a difference, but not a huge amount.

    How crisp was your romaine? His did not get that crunch you look for. He was saying it was due to the climate and you only get that from the West Coast lettuces. Any thoughts on that?

    I would one day like to build something for my place. But I have too many other projects going right now.......
  5. 2nd smoke

    2nd smoke Fire Starter

    The romain was very crisp. My basement bedroom is about 65 deg all the time. I harvest the lettuce by cutting the outside leaves only. after a while they look like palm trees.
  6. 2nd smoke

    2nd smoke Fire Starter

    I'll give them a big BLT and they won't ever leave me alone.[​IMG]
  7. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That is good. I am thinking the temp may have something to do with it. I will still have to try this one day....
  8. Some day I would like to give it a try. I'd love to have fresh veggies year round.

    Happy smoken.

  9. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I wish I had more indoor space. I have wanted to try this too. Your thai chile plant looks great! I have one in my garden that has about 100 peppers on it. Can't wait to harvest and dry those out. One of our favorites to use throughout the year.
  10. Looks good 2nd Smoke! Nice job!

    I've grown in all sorts of media over the years. For all my hydroponics I have settled on pure coco. I've done Ebb & Flo, DWC, Aeroponics, Pro-Mix and all sorts of special mixes of clay balls/pearlite/vermiculite blah blah.

    I settled on just pure coco because:

    1) Coco holds moisture well, almost too well. For this reason I use 'smart pots' that I custom make from blue walmart shopping bags. They breath like a "Smart Pot' and cost pennies rather than dollars. My 'Smarter Pot' plus pure coco is a winner for me. Amazing root growth.

    2) DWC, E&F and most of the others require electricity to run air pumps, water pumps etc. A day without power could kill a bunch of plants (sensitive ones) if you cannot oxygenate their nutrient solution continuously. Also, if you have a pump failure your roots could dry out in a matter of a couple hours. If a drain back clogs you could flood your area.

    3) Coco is cheap and comes in nice compressed bricks for easy storage.

    4) Having plants not tethered to one spot is great when you need or want to move them.

    5) It uses less nutrient solution in the long run vs. reservoir changes every 3-14 days (depending on system size and plant load)

    6) After 2 years of use I add the used coco either to the compost pile or directly to what ever garden bed needs some help.

    I'm not trying to sell anyone on anything, just sharing my experiences. If anyone has questions on wants advice, feel free to PM me. I'll be happy to help if I can. For my next big endeavor I will be diving into Aquaponics! I want fresh home grown fish to smoke!


  11. 2nd smoke

    2nd smoke Fire Starter

    Thanks porkfat. I haven't tried the coco yet. Just trying a few different ways to see what works best for me.

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