Monday, February 21, 2011

Germination Techniques Video, February 21st 2011

After getting several germination questions I decided to create a quick video on some techniques and tips I have learned over time.  It is important to point out that nature makes germination a simple process.  A warming ground, increasing light, available moisture, and a medium to allow roots to expand and anchor the plant all combine to set the seed in motion to create a new plant.

With that being said, there is no "best" method, but the simple basics will almost always allow success.  I present a method and a few products that economically fit my goals and current growing systems.  I will "up-pot" the starts destined for outdoors soil in coir as it is sterile and will do well in soil. Those will be germinated in peat pellets or under paper towels.  All plants going into hydroponic systems (indoors or outdoors) will be germinated under paper towels or in rockwool.  They will then be "up-potted" into silica stone grow media.

The methods I outline allow me to "up-pot" into both soil based raised beds and containers or hydro media with a consistent method and products (peat pellets / rockwool) while using a common lighting system and 1020 trays.  My goal of a completely "soiless" environment in my basement start and hydroponic grow room is achieved.

I also posted this under the youtube channel "Misterhalfwaythere1" along with the rest of the hydroponic growing videos at

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Frugality of Hydroponics

The below is a guest post from a fellow hydroponic gardener sharing some great information on his approach and methods.  His website has been a great reference and source of hydroponic techniques and systems.  Enjoy.

Why are Hydroponics Systems Considered Frugal?

It's all about efficiency. Don't you want to eat healthy organic food? Have you been watching the GMO Monsanto battle? It doesn't matter if you agree with it or not, you can still choose what you eat.

Hydroponic systems provide a method for square foot gardening that maximizes yield while minimizing environmental impact. Hydroponics are perfect for indoor gardens because there is no natural soil in your house. You can create your own near perfect conditions. Hydroponic systems provide plants with the maximum amount of water and nutrients it can use.

Hydroponics systems are easy to automate. Easy automation means you can manage a lot at a time. If you can grow your own premium quality fresh organics, and practically pay production cost for top shelf freshness why would you pay the stores to ship it? Oh yeah, and you know what's in it.

A lot of people like to recycle by making hydroponic systems out of stuff laying around the house. Yeah, you could create a garden without even going to a gardening store. If you have a fish tank, storage totes, aluminum foil, fluorescent lights, and a fan, you have the basics to build a crude hydroponics set up. Crude, because if you are serious about a nice garden and have money to spend, you can get a really elaborate growing facility.

Don't Forget You Can Get Organic Hydroponic Nutrients

Not all organic nutrients are created equal. Look for OMRI(Organic Materials Review Institute) certified organics. OMRI has set standards on what qualifies for organic. Don't be fooled by nutrients that are marketed as organic but aren't certified. Take the OMRI certification with a grain of salt. If the nutrients don't look reliable, choose something else.

About Me

I've been gardening since before I can remember. I started with tomatoes, peppers, and different kinds of flowers. Later on I became interested in efficient indoor gardening. I love engineering new hydroponic systems and grow boxes. I am always available to help you out at

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lettuce Update for February 13th, 2011

We went on a little 7 day vacation and despite my concerns, the DWC again proved to be "hands-free". I double-checked the water level, insured the lights remained on timers and were about 3 inches above the tops of the plants, and off we went. "No worries".

Upon our return, every thing was fine and I only had to add a gallon of water. The system can easily draw-down about 4 gallons before any problems would arise. "Peace of mind" was proven once again.
And check out the roots.  Very white and very dense.  This system is as efficient as the Ebb and Flow and twice as easy to build and maintain.

We will begin harvesting tomorrow!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ebb and Flow tear down

I decided to end the ebb and flow lettuce and basil grow as the DWC is coming along very nicely.  Actually, the DWC lettuce is now ready for the first small harvest and those leaves look great!

I completely tore down the ebb and flow system as it is generally a good idea to completely sanitize between grows.  Any potential root pathogens and algae will be eliminated and it also clears any remaining nutrients and salts from the pumps, net pots, tubing, and media. 

I ran clean water through the system for 7 days before the intended shut down date.  This helped clear salts and nutrients as well, but I wanted to experiment and see the effects on the leaves.  I can say there were no visible signs of plant stress those 7 days, but I am not sure how long that would have lasted.

I cleaned all the parts in a solution of 1/3 cup bleach to each gallon of water.  I washed and then soaked the smaller pieces before rinsing, and wiped down and double rinsed the tray and reservoir with lids.  After cutting as much plant and root material from the media as I could, I soaked the entire batch of silica stone for a couple hours in the solution.  I rinsed it several times as it is porous, and will rinse one final time before the next use.  Seperating the smaller pieces of root from the stone is the most tedious part of the process, so I will let it completely dry until the roots crumble and can be rinsed away.

I was really surprised at how little dirt and grime had accumulated.  The flow tubes were a little slimy, but no signs of algae or mineral buildup.  Again, very low maintenance to operate and very easy to clean and prepare for the next run.

I am anxious to get this into operation with a strong batch of cilantro, basil, thyme and others.