Sunday, October 23, 2011

Seed Order

Tonight I placed a seed order with Johnny's Selected Seeds for my basement hydroponic project. I would have purchased seeds for the project locally, if I could have found any. Growing indoors outside of the traditional outdoor growing season does make it a little more difficult to find seed.

Here's a screen capture from the order screen:

Product ID: ProductQuantityPrice

242G.10Ripbor (F1) (OG)-Mini
Vegetables > Kale & Collards > Green Kale

428G.11Waldmann's Dark Green (OG)-Packet
Vegetables > Lettuce > Leaf > Greenleaf

2571G.11Corvair (F1) (OG)-Packet
Vegetables > Spinach > Smooth-Leaf

2116.11Flash (F1)-Packet
Vegetables > Kale & Collards > Collards

I buy organic seeds whenever possible and as a result I end up paying a little more for seed than I would buying it at the local big box store. I like to use high quality untreated seed as much as practical. Johnny's sells treated seed too, but you can request untreated seed in your order. They also have a nice selection of heirloom seeds, which I'll be using in my outside garden next spring.

Basement Hydroponics Project - Day 1

Today I spent some time working on my basement hydroponics project inspired by Frugal Hydroponics.

You may recall that I have made an experimental deep water culture bubbler system several months ago. I have taken my original experience with that project and some of the tips I've seen on various hydroponics blogs and websites to hopefully improve upon my results this time around.

I started out with 4 ten gallon Rough Totes purchased at Lowes for $7.97 each.

In my first experimental attempt, cutting the holes in the lid turned out to be the biggest job of all. I first tried scissors, but when that didn't work I had to settle for a butcher knife. I don't recommend the butcher knife approach because injury is a definite possibility. It's not worth the risk. This time I used a 3 inch hole saw and rechargeable drill. I purchased the 3.0 inch hole saw at Lowes for $12.99. I've had the rechargeable drill for several years.

The hole saw made cutting the holes for the net pots a quick and easy job.

I  purchased 24 net pots at the local hydroponics supply store.  I wanted 3.5 inch net pots but they didn't have any in stock.  With a choice of 3.0 inch or 3.75 inch I chose the 3.75 inch size.

I achieved my goal of a tight fit for the net pots, but as the picture below illustrates the 3.75 inch pots are slightly too big for the 3.0 inch holes. The plastic lid will become more pliable with age and the pots will settle a little bit with the weight of plants and roots but if you attempt to make this I recommend you use 3.5 inch pots for a better fit.

I don't think the Hydroton (clay pebbles purchased at the hydroponics supply store) would allow much light into the water chamber, but rather than risk the possibility of algae build-up that would negatively affect my plant growth I used a single band of electical tape to bridge the gap.

At the end of Day 1 of my project, I ended up with 4 units with 6 growing ports each.

I'll be growing lettuce, spinach, collards, and kale.  All will yield several harvests and don't rely on polination for growth, which makes them good candidates for a basement gardening effort.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Basement Hydroponics (on the Cheap)

We lived in sunny Florida for amost 10 years, but relocated to the Upper Midwest this summer.  When we left the Tampa area in early July, the fields were bare. We arrived in Michigan to thriving vegetable gardens and lush green landscapes.  As the weather turns cooler in Southeast Michigan, I know that the growing season in Florida is kicking into high gear.

For the last three or four years when we became serious about producing edible food in our backyard, we kept adding to our backyard urban gardening effort.  Two above ground grow beds, a hanging planter, several containers, an Earthbox, a deep water culture hydroponics experiment, and a 200 gallon aquaponics fish tank. 

I still haven't adjusted to the switch in growing seasons and I'm beginning to crave fresh vegetables again. With inspiration from Frugal Hydroponics, I've decided to grow food in my basement this winter.

This afternoon we headed out to Lowes to shop for some supplies.
  • Four 8 gallon plastic storage totes
  • Two garage style flourescent shop lights
  • A 3 inch hole saw
  • Some Sanyo 6500k T8 bulbs
Tomorrow we'll be making a trip to the local hydropnic supply store for a few more items.
  • Hydroton growing medium
  • An air pump
  • Four-way manifold
  • Air stones
  • Plastic tubing
  • 3 1/2 inch net pots
If everything works as planned we'll be growing lettuce, Swiss Chard, collards, and spinach in very short order. Stay tuned for a series of posts detailing the construction process in the next few days.