Quick Hydroponic Sustainable Garden

Don’t rule out hydroponics when seeking a year round system for sustainable home gardening.   With produce prices high at the grocery store, many folks are starting home gardens for vegetables.   In many areas spring and summer is the only growing season for traditional gardens.  Hydroponics can change all of that.

Grow hydroponics veggies year round with the HydromaticBut wait, you say,  isn’t hydroponic gardening complicated and require lots of apparatus?  Pumps? Blowers?  Lights and electricity?  It doesn’t have to be.!  There are several effective hydroponic systems that require no additional equipment. Just the box, Nutrients, Perlite and seeds or seedlings.  One popular hydroponic gardening system is the Hydromatc growing box.

Invented by Robert Ferguson and designed with simplicity in mind, the Hydromatic requires no pumps.  Just perlite, nutrients, and a weekly tip to drain and add new nutrient solution.   With the unit placed outside, weather permitting, no lights are necessary.  If winter forces your growing inside, you might want to consider a small grow light to be sure your veggies, herbs, etc have the light necessary to thrive.

Inside hydroponic growing is very friendly  for all greens.  Lettuce, spinach, kale, collards, herbs and more.  Even in the winter in cold climates, you can have a salad selections growing in your Hydromatic year round!  Your greens will grow FAST too.  With a few Hydromatic hydroponic units, you can have your salads growing in several different stages so you Hydromatic hydroponic tomatoes always have produce iin several growth stages: sprouting, growing and ready to eat!  Many greens germinate in only 3 days.  by day 20, you can harvest!  While fruited vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber and squash can grow inside,  you have to “be the bee” and perform pollination duties.  A Q-tip works well for this.

During your traditional growing season, just pick up your light weight compact Hydromatic system and move it outside.   Now, plant your tomatoes squash and cukes and whatever motivates you!

I’m loving experimenting with my own Hydromatic units.  Learning what works best in terms of nutrient solution and pH.  PH is one of the most important aspects to a successful hydroponic garden no matter what method you use.  Most plants need a Lower pH than tap water so  nutrient solutions must be balanced to the proper pH for the plants to absorb the nutrients you are feeding them.  Robert has a great pH guide on his website:  Hydromatic.us

The Hydromatic is affordable too.  If you’ve looked at other hydroponic systems, it’s hard to find units under 50 bucks.  The Hydromatic is only 29 each.  OR order 4 for 27 each.  Can’t beat that.  They measure 24 inches long by 5X5 inches.  Compact for inside or outside.  You can also order (or build) the trellis which will help support heavier yeilding plants.  It can also be used as a net support for cucumbers, or a light support for inside growing.  Each Hydromatic unit is predrilled for the trellis installation.  Funny, its also handy as a carrying handle if you want to move it around your yard.

Go on over to Hydromatic.us for more info.  Bob will even sell you plans for 10 bucks so that you can build your own if you want to!

 

 

Crazy Garden Recipe That Works

A while back a good friend of mine, John Starnes, told me about this great way to get garden areas amended and ready for planting.  Its a crazy method but I’ve used it and it works.  I’m getting ready to try it again in my new house.You’ll get a lot of crazy looks but you cant argue with success.  Florida soil is very sandy.  The “recipe” fixes that!

Here’s the recipe for a 10×10 garden plot.

1 50 lb bag of cheap dog food

1 50 lb bag of alfalfa pellets

40  lbs of unscented, non clumping cheap cat litter.

1 bale of hay

enough cardboard to cover the entire area.  It can be in pieces, just tile the area with cardboard after performing the following steps.

Add the dog food, alfalfa pellets and cat litter to the area and distribute evenly with a rake.  Water it until evenly moist. Tile the entire area with the cardboard. Water cardboard.  Cover the cardboard with the hay.  Water again until the hay lays down a little.

Keep it moist and wait at least 2 months before you plant.  The cardboard should have disintegrated,  And you plant your veggies right in the soil that remains.  Leave what ever is left of the hay for mulch.

This method works fantastic for tomatos, beans, peppers, melons and more!

If you want to add more compost fine but not really necessary.  You can turn it a bit when ready to plant or not..   It works like a dream.  Will add pictures when i’m done with the project!

Self Watering Stacking Planters

You know how i love self watering products: the EarthBox, Grow Box and others. I found a new one the other day:  Nancy Janes Stacking planters.

Stacking PlantersThey are quite ingenious. They  contain a water reservoir, self wicking in fact. The overflow is designed to trickle down to the next planter.  They can be stacked and hung, or they can be stacked and secured by inserting a piece of steel running through the stack. This is tower gardening at its finest! Continue reading

Earth Box Project Lettuce Continues

Update March 29 2010…

Since this article was written in October last year,  I’ve relocated.  There is a newer post on  my Spring Earth Box HERE

Another note is that when I visited my old house the other day where the below project was undertaken, I was amazed to see lettuce growing EVERYWHERE!  I had let a couple of the plants go to seed and boy did they seed!  There was romaine in every sidewalk crack and covering the area where the old earthbox project lived!  Scroll down for more about the October planting.

The Earth Box Project Lettuce is growing nicely.  The first photo shows the Earth Box, 10 days after planting tiny fragile lettuce seedlings. The second photo shows the lettuce thriving 8 days later. At this rate, I should be eating my first salad in a week!

Earth Box Project Lettuce 10-6-09

Earth Box Project Lettuce 10-6-09

A comment I received on the original Earth Box Article asked if I’d ever tried the “Grow Box.” Grow_Box_Tomato_Self_WateringI followed his link and found that the grow box is very similar to the Earth Box, with a few improvements. A larger water reservoir, and the water fill area is actually part of the box, rather than a standpipe. Looks like a nice improvement and the price is about 10 less than the Earth Box. You can check it out here.  Just checked out this site for updates and I’ll tell you one thing folks.. the price on the Grow Box is pretty good.  Just sent a friend to their website to buy one.

Earth Box Project Lettuce 10-14-09

Earth Box Project Lettuce 10-14-09

Since writing this post, I’ve found a home made variation that is very intriguing! tgi-earthtainer-1Ray Newstead, an heirloom tomato grower found the Earth Box not quite strong enough to support some of his larger tomato plants. He set out to create a variation. He calls it the “Earth Tainer ” tm.  Here is a link to the detailed building plans on his website  here. It looks strong and fairly easy to build. Check it out ! I can’t wait to build one! Here is a photo of an Earth Tainer TM Farm.