The gardening season has ended for 2014.
In this last short video, I wanted to share some of what I learned growing lettuce, pac choi, peppers and eggplant, using the Kratky method of hydroponics, outdoors, from transplanted seedlings started under lights indoors, into net cups in both bins and buckets.
A few things I didn’t get to mention in the video, that I learned…
Next year I WILL NOT drill a hole in the bottom side of the bucket, put in a grommet and run a clear tube through it to gauge the level of the nutrient solution. I found it to be unnecessary, unwieldy and makes the buckets unstack-able for the winter storage. Since I use those round tomato cages in my hydro buckets (legs through drilled holes in the bucket top/net cup), I have just enough support of the plant, to just lift the lid a little (albeit carefully) and look to see if the nutrient solution is running low, or add some from a gallon jug.
The panda film (thick plastic bought online that’s black on one side and white on the other), worked like a dream. It kept ALL algae from the inside of both buckets and bins. The only other thing needed I learned, was the black bucket top/6″net cup that covers the buckets, should be painted with a good quality white spray paint. I did that and the paint still looks brand new, and, just like the white side of the panda film, reflected the HEAT away from the nutrient solution.
I found that it helped the loss of moisture to the net cups (rockwool cubes, roots and “grow stones” in them) to cover the cups with aluminum foil taped down over them. I believe it really helped evaporation of the nutrient solution as well, and kept anything (including sunlight) from getting to the roots. I learned (for the bins) that if I have a dark bin and younger plants that don’t yet fill the top space- it also helps to cover the top of the bin itself with aluminum foil. It doesn’t have to be neat and just a few pieces of packing tape will hold it down. I found (just like soil in container plants outside) that aluminum foil reflects light back to the plant’s undersides, confuses insects and, most importantly in these hydroponics, reflects the sun’s HEAT away from the nutrient solution and the plant’s roots inside.
5 gallon Buckets- I have used the white ones from Walmart, Lowes and Home Depot. After a season or 2 at the most, they are too brittle to carry, fill, move, and shatter into small sharp pieces.
Try the ORANGE paint buckets from Home Depot… less than half the price. You don’t need the tops and they will be covered by panda film around the sides and the bucket top/6″ net cup painted white on the top, so the dark color matters not. They appear to have more rubber and less of the cheap brittle plastic in them- so they should last many more years.
Last but not least.. I learned I love this form of gardening. Though I will still grow my peas, basil, tomatoes, radishes, swiss chard etc. in the soil, in containers in the front yard, next year… I will grow everything I grew hydroponically this year (and probably more) on the deck again in 2015.
I think the rest of what I learned is in the short video wrap-up below. For you gardeners out there- I hope to see you back here with posts and videos of my inside seed starting in the spring of 2015.