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Hydroponics

by Kourtney Fausett (Kourtney)

Aloha!  This is the first hydroponicts project that I have attempted.  I'm also new to gardening, having just started a few months ago.  I first started by planting some pepper seeds in pete pellets.  After the seeds had sprouted, I decided to try my hand at hydroponics.  I learned from the interweb and the helpull people at Ohana Green House & Garden Supply that starting seeds in soil

37791_454144031756_505306756_6064262_715058_n.detailand then transplanting them to a hydroponic rig is not the optimal way to go.  There are specialy made seed starting plugs made from ground and pressed bark that are designed to be hydroponic system friendly and not conaminate the nutrient bath with soil or dirt.  However, if you are willing to take the time to attempt it, seedlings already started in soil or pete pellets can have their roots meticulously washed and then transplanted strait to the hydroponic rig.  This is the route I chose to take, being far to impatiant to wait for more seeds to sprout and not having plants of sufficiant size to take cuttings from.

39044_457994811756_505306756_6175002_5182792_n.detailSo, after a bit of research and sugestions from others, I decided to go with what is called a deep water culture.  This is basically a container to hold the nutrient bath, an aquarium air pump to keep the bath airated, a lid for the container with holes cut in the top for the pots (actually plastic baskets with a sceened bottom), perelite or ceramic pellets as the support for the roots and stem of the plant (the pellets or perelite takes the place of the soil).  The plants are placed in the pots with ceramic pelets around them for support.  The nutrient solution comes with directions on how much to mix per gallon of water used in the container.

For the containers, I ued a couple of rubbermaid storage bins that I picked up at Home Depot for about 6 dollars each.  The ceramic pellets, pots, air pump, nutrients, hydroponic seed starting plugs, and grow light I picked up at Ohana Green House & Garden Supply (you can also order most of the stuff from sites on the interweb, and any pet store should have an aquarium pump).

The roots of the plants should always be able to reach the nurient bath.  This means that when first starting cuttings or seedlings, the level of water in the container will have to be much higher.  As the roots start to develope, and begin to hang further down into the container, the level of solution can be reduced until only about a gallon of water is needed in the bottom of the container.  The roots will coninue to grow and will just grow along the bottom of the container.

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The nutrient solution should be changed out about once a week (5 days is optimal).  I've found the easiest way of doing this is to mix a batch of solution in a seperate container then gently transfer the lid with the plants from the old container to the new one.

I now have four different kinds of peppers, okra, tobacco, and a plumaria cutting that my roomate gave me to grow for her.  The plumaria cutting is also placed directly into a bed of ceramic pellets, but the okra and tobacco was started in the pressed bark plugs.

003.detailEverything seems to be going fairly well.  The peppers in the hydroponic rig are about twice the size of the others that were started at the same time, but are just growing in pots of soil.  If you have any questions, or feel that this post does not contain enough information, just let me know and I'll be happy to answer or update the post.

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oh my goodness- so cool... this kind of blows my mind as I have never tried anything this involved before, but thank you so much for sharing all of your hydroponic adventures!
Sprite
FigTree commented on 09/14/10

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