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Mini hydroponics for 2017

Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 12:16 am
by Green Aura
We don't seem to be able to grow tomatoes in the polytunnel these days. The last couple of years have been so dreich during the growing season that it just isn't worth the effort, plus other things grow much better in there so it makes sense to use the space for them. We decided instead to go for growing smaller varieties indoors on our SW facing windowsills, along with the chillies which thrive there.

Anyway, we found a mini hydroponics system in a sale and we currently have the herbs which came with it growing happily in a corner of the kitchen not blessed with much natural light. I fear they'll get turfed before they get much further in favour of some tomatoes.

Any suggestions for teeny tiny toms? Plus recipes for homemade feed would be welcome - the stuff that comes with it is hellish expensive.

Re: Mini hydroponics for 2017

Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:29 am
by Odsox
Which hydro unit have you got?
I have a smallish unit, which I'm sure you've seen a picture of, but mine has 3 largish holes in the cover for 3 largish plants such as tomatoes or peppers. I'm not sure that growing "herbs" would be that easy in mine.

Regarding nutrient, I made some organic nutrient a few years ago. It was based on activated compost tea with comfrey for the main minerals, homemade compost for humic acid and fresh seaweed for trace elements. It was "activated" with a small aquarium aerator and I used it in my homemade floatation hydro setup for growing lettuce. Basically a straight sided tank with a slab of polystyrene floating on the water with lettuce plants sitting in disposable plastic coffee cups in holes in the polystyrene. That system meant the compost tea stayed activated by the aerator in the hydro tank.
That all sounds a lot more complicated than it actually was but it cost nothing (apart from the aquarium aerator)

The stuff I use in my big 3 pipe hydro system is here, and that amount would last you for at least a couple of years.

Re: Mini hydroponics for 2017

Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 1:45 pm
by Green Aura
It's this one. ... aerogarden

It only takes 4ml of the plant food every couple of weeks which isn't going to break the bank. I'd rather make my own though. I'm tempted to try the bokashi juice.

I think the light lifts up a bit. They sell tomato kits so I'm certain we should be able to do Tom Thumbs or something similar.

Re: Mini hydroponics for 2017

Posted: Thu Dec 22, 2016 3:22 pm
by Odsox
Lucky you, I've always fancied one of those but thought they were too expensive.
There are lots of short growing tomatoes nowadays, just look for the "patio" ones bred for containers or hanging baskets, although probably steer away from the droopy ones.
Lettuces would do well also dwarf French beans and scallions, maybe you should have bought several :lol:

The LED lights should put paid to your short daylight hours.

Re: Mini hydroponics for 2017

Posted: Thu Dec 22, 2016 3:36 pm
by Green Aura
Well funnily enough our gal bought one as well. Working on the premise that she'll never get it out of the box, I may have scored another one by next spring.

Hadn't thought of french beans!

And I agree about it being too expensive - we got it reduced.

My only concern now is will the plants drown if we get a power cut?

Re: Mini hydroponics for 2017

Posted: Thu Dec 22, 2016 4:58 pm
by Odsox
I just went on to Youtube to see how they worked and as I suspected there's an aerator in the tank, so apart from the light it's the same as I built with a discarded central heating header tank, a slab of polystyrene from the packing from a TV box and half a dozen used vending machine cups. :lol:
How does the water level stay the same, is there an automatic top up ?
Mine was a polystyrene raft floating on the water so rose and fell with the water level.

During a power cut it will be no different than flowers in a vase. The plants will be perfectly OK as long as the outage doesn't last more than a day or so.

Re: Mini hydroponics for 2017

Posted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 9:04 am
by Green Aura
It's all very swish, there's a light that comes on to indicate "feed me" and a window to see when the water level is below the top up line. They think of everything - although not the idea of re-using coffee cups and used polystyrene apparently. :lol: