"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Hydroponic update

You'll remember last year back in April I started a small hydroponic system.

This is a report back and a change of plan.
My newly installed small hydroponic ssystem
The lettuce still found the direct sunlight too strong and went to seed.  I will have to grow them in the shade next summer, with light being provided by bouncing it off a north facing wall.
The cabbages grown in the ground, without question, performed
 better than the hydroponic ones
 The cabbages - nope, not successful.
The hydroponic peas did well, and also didn't display any signs
 of "mildew" on their leaves
The peas?  They did beautifully 😄

And the tomatoes - they produced nicely - though not as well as those that were planted in the ground.

So, not a great result.  Not a "Yeeeha, Eureka!!" moment.

Perhaps it was my "feeding" of the water.  Being out in the sticks, and not wanting to incur costs buying and transporting hydroponic plant "food" I only used a seaweed concentrate in the pump tank.

But, I am not discouraged.

So, I have drawn inspriation from this pic I saw a while ago...
This image inspired me to plant strawberries in gutters which
hang on either side of my raised beds
As you know I hung gutters on the side edges of my raised beds and planted strawberries in them.
The current situation / progress of my gutter strawberries
(nope, they aren't battling weeds, but rather self-seeded
 rocket seedlings.  I love rocket, so I'm letting them stay
where they fell)
They are doing well, and this seasons strawberries are beginning to form and hang down the sides of the gutter.    So, I have decided to use the hydroponic pipe to grow strawberries and I will leave the exisiting  strawbwerry plants in the gutter for comparison.

Yes.  I can grow strawberries in the ground, and they have been successful, but the slugs have been just as successful in their quest to devour portions of every strawberry that happened to touch the soil.
The reserve / return reservoir which collects the pumped water back
 to the pumping tank via gravity.
I have suspended a stocking filled with organic fertiliser beneath
 the pipe's overflow outlet.
In place of the seaweed concentrate, I have added a measured portion of organic fertilizer to a stocking which hangs into the return water reservoir.  Everytime the pump switches on, the water falling into the reservoir falls onto the stocking (and it's contents) thereby "disturbing" it and releasing the nutrients.
The organic fertilizer RMan uses for our fruit trees
I planted the hydroponic strawberry runners about 3 weeks ago, and already the roots are beginning to grow out of the bottom of the yoghurt containers I use as hydroponic plant pots. 
New strawberry runners planted three weeks ago are already
 producing roots outside of the tub.  The strawberries were planted
 in a palm peat / vermiculite mixture.
I have the pump on a timer which switches on for 15 minutes every hour from 7.00a.m. to 7.00 p.m.  After that the water which remains in the pipe must suffice until the pump circulates the water again.
A shallow "bowl" of water permanently remains in the base of the
 pipe for access by the plants when required.  It doesn't fill the
 pipe completely and thereby provides air to the roots as well.
The new strawberry plants seem happy and are beginning to grow new leaves.
That, to me is a happy looking strawberry plant 😃
Let's see if I can get it right this time...

I am determined to be successful, as, given climate change / global warming / predicted global water shortages, I believe that hydroponics will figure massively in the future with regards to feeding the masses.  Being inquisitive, I would like to understand the process / problems in using this growing method.


Harry Flashman said...

Years ago, when the television series "Doomsday Preppers" was on, one episode dealt with some people in the Arizona desert who had built a big hydroponic garden. They also had a big tank they raised fish in. The fellow said it had taken him years to perfect his techniques, but once he had it down he was set.

Dani said...

Harry - I have been told that I should add some (small) fish to the pump tank and then I wouldn;t have to worry about adding nutrients to the water. As the water is not exposed to light at all, I just feel sorry for them - permanently being stuck in a dark tank... ;)

Diana Studer said...

has to be a better way to do it. Even if the fish are ultimately for food. Fish pond and hydroponic veg in a coupled system?

Dani said...

Diana - A (new) neighbour has experience in aquaponics and is going to assist me in Spring. I still have an old bath from a bathroom renovation in our town house which would be better for fish (Tilapia - spelling ?) than the current 100lt tub I use as the pump tank.