The Home Hydroponics Homestretch

The growth continued during the next week.  Water consumption was increasing to about a gallon a day and rising rapidly.  The reservoir is only 18 gallons (15 usable because it was losing its shape beyond that.)  I knew that I would need a larger reservoir or else I’d be adding water every couple of days or risk burning the roots.

Growth is brisk. These are not even 2 weeks old! Photo was taken May 8th, 2011

The plants use alot of water but they do not use all the nutrients in that water.  What that means is as they soak up water, the nutrient solution gets stronger and stronger.  I would add water and that of course requires PH adjustments and this conflicted with my simplicity mantra.  So the following week I began researching what I could use to increase the size of the reservoir and still keep it manageable.

Another 10 days and the growth is still spectacular. May 18th, 2011

They continued to grow extremely rapidly and the following week I decided I had to upgrade the reservoir.  The plants were now using 2-3 gallons per day, requiring daily top offs to the reservoir.  I called a local food manufacturing company someone told me about to see if they had any used 55 gallon barrels.  For $10 each I bought two of them—one for a new reservoir (triple the capacity of the existing one) and the other for either a rain barrel, a new compost barrel, or even a gardening container or two.  I pondered how to install one but it was much simpler than I anticipated.

On May 22nd I installed the new reservoir.  I added full strength nutrients this time which immediately caused the plants to wilt.  I doublechecked everything and realized that they could not handle the increased nutrients.  The PPM was 1200 but it was killing them rapidly.  I ran a hose into the reservoir to dilute it and they quickly came back (after adjsting the PH.)  Our water here is very alkaline and requires alot of acid.  The next day I added nutrients to 500PPM and they began wilting again almost immediately.  Once again I diluted it but the wilting is not as severe but is still there.  Now I’m thinking that its just too hot for some of these plants and that maybe I didn’t notice the heat effects before.

They are substantial enough to cut leaves for Salads. May 29th, 2011, just 4 weeks after germination. Amazing!.

The Grand Rapids lettuces and chards are still growing but are showing signs of heat issues.  The Bok Choy, herbs and tomatoes are thriving, and the buttercrunches are doing fairly well.  Growth even with the heat, is still exploding, though for the lettuces I’m thinking of swapping them for something else.   Is now May 29th, just a month after germination and I’m harvesting the lettuces.

Another view of the amazing progress of my hydroponic garden.

Note the strings in this photograph.  I had to add a support frame for the tomatoes as they were nice and healthy but falling over.

Another view showing the amazing growth after 4 weeks.

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