Monday, November 29, 2010


Check water.....fine.
Check PH......fine.
Harvest lettuce........yum.
Harvest Basil.......freeze.

Talk about low maintenance! 

I will germinate the next round of lettuce seeds very soon.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nutrient Change and details, details, details. November 21st

Over time, the plant growth nutrients are depleted at varying rates depending on the type of plant and various growth factors.  This results in a gradually weakening nutrient solution along with water loss from plant transpiration.  My original plan was to conduct a nutrient change at about the two week period and increase the nutrient dosage from 1/2 recommended strength (plants in early growth stage) to full strength.

An experienced hydroponics grower suggested I wait until 3 weeks before changing the solution.  His reasoning was that the younger the plants are, the fewer nutrients they require and they may not have used them all in only 2 weeks.  He also suggested letting the plants' appearance assist in guiding when to change the nutrients. 

I noticed slightly less color in the new leaves on the basil and that triggered my decision to change nutrients over the past couple days.  It is right at the 3 week mark, so kudos to my friend's recommendation!! Save a little time, save a little nutrient.

I replaced the solution with clean water and let it "rinse" the system for 24 hours.  This is to remove excess salts and unbalanced nutrients from the growing media and roots and allow a fresh base for the next few weeks.

After rinsing for a 24 hour cycle, I replaced the water and added nutrient at full strength this morning.  A PH check a couple hours after the nutrient change showed a bit on the alkaline side.  I added PH down and brought it to 6.5.  Too easy and very little time required.

Now that it is on full nutrients, I am expecting even greater results.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

EXPLOSIVE GROWTH November 16th, 2010

Wow!  I think the Mrs. and I both said it at the same time.  This is about double the growth I have experienced with soil for this type of lettuce.  The plants are now around 25-26 days from seed. 

I trimmed the tops of the basil to encourage more horizontal growth and to allow the lights to remain at a suitable level for the lettuce (about 2-4 inches from the bulbs).

I think we will begin harvesting the larger lettuce leaves over the next few days and now expect full harvest around the end of the month.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I am amazed at the growth and the vitality of the lettuce and basil in the system. I understood hydroponic growing produced superior results, but I did not expect results to this extent.

Aside from the phenomenal growth, it is the simplicity that really strikes me. I spend less than 10 minutes per day on any kind of maintenance or system tweaking. In fact, most days are spent taking a peak at the water level and the rest of the time spent marveling at the plants.

The PH tests (about every 3rd day) take all of 5 minutes said and done and adjustments to the balance (if needed) add another minute or so to the routine. I believe the decision to go with a 9 gallon reservoir was sound as it really helps to maintain the PH balance as opposed to a more volatile small capacity system.

Keeping the PH between 5.5 and 6.5 allows absorption of all nutrients across the spectrum. Too high or low can lock up nutrients and decrease the plants ability to process the needed minerals for growth. I was a little apprehensive about the PH testing and balancing, but it has proven very simple.

I am already contemplating replacing some of the soil-based outdoor containers with hydro systems. It really is so simple.

Monday, November 8, 2010

November 8th, 2010

Another 70 degree day in November!! But with daylight savings it is now dark at 5 pm, so luckily I have the downstairs project, he, he, he.

This above photo was taken today and wow! This is still on 1/2 nutrients for another 7 days!!  The lettuce is quite green, fluffy, and growing very quickly. The basil is very strong and the grow area now smells like lemons.  I can say I am very satisfied with this ebb and flow system.

The roots are beginning to really stretch from the pots. At the end of each drain cycle, there is roughly 1/8 inch of nutrients remaining in the bottom of the fill tray. It was an early concern as I could not seem to build the drain system in a manner to completely empty the tray.  After talking with a few experienced growers, I was assured the roots will quickly finish off any remaining nutrients that are left within their reach. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Growing!!! November 5th

We are at 5 days in the system and 10 days from gerimation.  I think they are progressing very well. The PH is staying in check (6-6.5) and I have not had to top-off water levels as of yet.  I'm sure that will change soon. 

As the plants take the nutrients they need, the remainder stay in the solution which will eventually cause an imbalance.  The rule of thumb is to add water to the system as the plants deplete it and completely change out the solution after two weeks.  This change out will allow the solution to "start over" with a full set of the nutrients required for production.  I have the first change scheduled at mid-month.

This is really low maintenance.  More so than I first anticipated.  I can see expansion in the very near future!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Status and Journal 3 November

The plants are now in day 3 since their transplanting into the ebb and flow system and are looking well.  The PH has been maintained between 6 and 6.5 and the flow cycles appear to be adequate during this stage of growth.  All systems are a GO!!!!

I am keeping a written journal as well as the video log during this first run to insure I catch any lessons learned or mistakes and to insure I keep the methods that prove to work well.

Nutrient solutions, PH level, and flood cycles are the biggest learning points at this stage.

Monday, November 1, 2010

1 November 2010 and first planting

Well today is the day!!!!  I planted 5 simpson lettuce and 4 basil (4 bundled into one pot) into the newly built ebb and flow system.

The plants are under 6 48" 32W 6500k flourescents. 

The nutrients are CNS17 at 10ml/gallon strength and PH is 6.5.

Away we goooooooooooo!

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