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I'm going to try hydroponics

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I'm going to try hydroponics

Postby Kay » Wed 14 Feb 2018 13:30 GMT

One of the 'hardships' I often find when living abroad is not being able to get the fresh herbs I often use in cooking. My solution until now has been to grow my own in pots from seeds. I got chatting about this to a chap I met online. It turned out that he's into hydroponics! That's something I hadn't thought about before but I'm keen to try!

I have a bit more reading up to do as I'm a total beginner but I've got the hydroponics kit now and am enthusiastic to get started. I just wondered if any of you have any experience or knowledge on the subject or even might be interested in giving it a go yourself.

BTW, this is one of the sites my new friend is involved with.
http://www.nutsystems.co.uk/
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Re: I'm going to try hydroponics

Postby ruggie » Wed 14 Feb 2018 19:54 GMT

That site has a lot of neat small-scale systems. I'd never thought of hydroponics for things like that. I knew a guy in Gaborone, Botswana, that had a hydroponic farm in which he grew lettuces and other green vegetables for sale, so I've seen them in action on a small industrial scale.

I'll be interested to hear your opinions on small-scale hydroponics once you have been at it for a while. Other than curiosity, what tempted you to try it? Avoiding weeding sounds like one possibility. Another for me would be avoiding the critters in soil that make me itch...
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Re: I'm going to try hydroponics

Postby Kay » Wed 14 Feb 2018 23:35 GMT

Thanks, Mike.

There are lots of different ways to do this hydroponics thing - small scale or large and even indoor or outdoor, climate permitting. Maybe just a few plants in containers on the patio or balcony or maybe even in polytunnels in the garden. But I always have to have my kitchen garden, however modest.

My pal, Ian, who knows about these things, suggested the Quad growing system to me - it's good for beginners and doesn't require any electricity or pumps. I'm going to have a go at it here in Kent. Thai basil is my particular favourite herb for cooking, and it's not easy to get anywhere outside Thailand, although the seeds are easy enough to buy here in the UK. That said, you can sometimes buy a very small bunch these days from mainstream supermarkets in London, but it's expensive and not easy to get.

I'm going to try growing this using the hydroponics systems and then, assuming I can learn how to do the hydroponics aspect of it, I'll be well set up for wherever we go next. I reckon everyone is gonna want to try this.

Depending on where we go next, and the climate, I might even look into getting polytunnels and having a whole veggie garden. Now that really would be something.

When we lived in Thailand - not so long ago - we used to buy hydroponically grown lettuce from the local Carrefour. Dunno why we didn't think to grow such things ourselves.

What tempted me to try it? I love good food and if it's not easily available, then you do it yourself - as I'm sure you know. I always plant my own little herb garden wherever we are. It's just that I realised that maybe hydroponics could make it easier. It's gotta be worth a try. I'll let you know how I get on before I start preaching that everyone must try it.
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Re: I'm going to try hydroponics

Postby Graeme » Wed 28 Feb 2018 04:39 GMT

Sounds interesting, I've seen a lot of indoor hydroponic grow ops here but they were growing something altogether more profitable. Due to the long winters here there are quite a few commercial operations near Vancouver that produce all sorts of fresh veg all year round.
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Re: I'm going to try hydroponics

Postby Kay » Wed 28 Feb 2018 10:05 GMT

Hi Graeme,

I know what you mean about the more profitable crops. It's not unusual in the UK for the police to use infrared (or something?) to detect lofts full of hydroponically-grown marijuana.

I just think it could be very useful in places where the climate, soil, or even just availability of certain crops is less than desired.

I'll start germinating my seeds as soon as we return from Malta.
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Re: I'm going to try hydroponics

Postby Dave » Sun 18 Mar 2018 16:22 GMT

Kay wrote:It's not unusual in the UK for the police to use infrared (or something?) to detect lofts full of hydroponically-grown marijuana.


Yep, infra-red. Thanks to loft insulation, most roofs these days are quite cold. Except the ones which are being used to grow stuff in - they show up as blazing beacons of heat (=infra-red light).

One thing I was surprised to learn is that hydroponics uses quite a lot less water than conventional soil-based cultivation, which seems counter-intuitive to me. But then again I suppose the water in soil just seeps away over time, whereas the water in containers can only be lost through surface evaporation and through the plants' transpiration.
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Re: I'm going to try hydroponics

Postby Kay » Sat 31 Mar 2018 12:38 GMT

I'd not reckoned on the Beast from the East, which occurred while we were in Malta, and it was still pretty darned chilly when we returned. Anyway, I went ahead with the seeds - first of all germinating them indoors using rooting cubes. (I really must write an article with photos showing the progress.) The seedlings are doing well and are now approaching the time to plant out into little pots. They need to be a bit more developed before they go to their ultimate hydroponic home. Let's hope the weather improves soon as we don't have the space to spare to set up the hydroponic system inside.
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Re: I'm going to try hydroponics

Postby Graeme » Sat 31 Mar 2018 15:32 GMT

It's the end of March, normally it's quite warm in the UK by now so hopefully it will warm up. Are you using plastic film, plastic panels or something like a full greenhouse for outside? I tried the plastic film here a couple of years ago as the wind was killing the plants off (it blows down from the mountains here and even though the temperature is warm that wind chills to the bone) but the wind took that too. I was thinking of trying plastic formed "Cloches" next time.
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Re: I'm going to try hydroponics

Postby Kay » Tue 3 Apr 2018 09:36 GMT

Last year I successfully grew basil outside in pots without any type of shelter so I'm hoping to do the same again with the hydroponics once the plants get going. At the moment they're still on the kitchen windowsill. The next step will be to plant the seedlings out in little pots and they'll go in the "greenhouse" outside. It's not really a greenhouse more like a small plastic wardrobe - but it does the job. Once they're well established they can be transferred to the hydroponics containers. :D
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Re: I'm going to try hydroponics

Postby Kay » Mon 28 May 2018 15:29 GMT

Things didn't go very well with my propagation. Perhaps I re-potted them before they were ready or maybe I just put them outside too early. Whatever the reason, they all died. And it's getting a bit late to start from scratch again. Thus I've just bought plants from the local garden centre and am trying my first attempt at hydroponics with those. Unfortunately they didn't have Thai basil or any of the more unusual plants I'd wanted to grow. I guess there's not the demand. But I do have some chillies and I'm even trying garden peas in one of the hydroponic pots.

Let's see how it goes. I've taken photos as I'm intending to write an article about it and illustrate it with photos, but I'm not quite at that stage yet.

Fingers crossed.
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Re: I'm going to try hydroponics

Postby Dave » Mon 28 May 2018 19:17 GMT

Kay very kindly gave me the job of assembling the kit as she knows I like that kind of thing :-) She did the hard stuff, ie the potting.

Assembly was mostly easy, though I had to enlarge the hole for the float valve. The only thing which really involved any effort was having to level off a couple of patches of earth for the reservoir and top-up tank to sit on, and that didn't take much.
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