I let you know a few days ago that I had invested in a starter hydroponics kit. I also relayed that I was going to start with some tomato plant cuttings as my first attempt at growing something in the tonic waters. That plan, however, was not meant to be, as the cuttings never rooted the way the websites said they would. So we’re going to try lettuce.
A few words about this setup: it’s from a company called General Hydroponics, and the kit I purchased, called the Waterfarm, is about as basic as they come. I’m quite certain that I could easily duplicate their set up with a few parts from the hardware store and cut my price by half. My purchase was from a local distributor and I paid about $55. That seems about right, especially considering that the pump, tubing, and clay pebbles were all included. But, all in all, a very basic system, and not so appealing to the eye in design or color. It is doing what it’s supposed to, however, so I’m not going to complain too much.
The lettuce was started from seed. I had the beginnings of sprouts only after the second day, and after about one week’s growth, they have now been transplanted into the clay pebbles that come with the set up. The Waterfarm is a drip system, using a small air pump to lift the water from its reservoir up above the clay so that the little sprouts can get the equivalent of a perpetual shower of micronutrients that they will ultimately need throughout their lifecycle.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with hydroponics, there are plenty of websites that cover the topic thoroughly. Start reading and you might get hooked. Wikipedia is always a good place to start. The advantages of this approach are numerous: I’m using very little water, since the pump is recycling the same two gallons over and over; I don’t need soil, pesticides, or herbicides, since this whole experiment is taking place inside; I can also control lighting and temperature to a much greater degree than I would be able to outside. Obvious disadvantages will be the added cost of powering the pump and the light. For now, this is on such a small scale, that I may not even notice an increase in my electric bill.
Some websites I’ve read also state that hydroponics requires a lot of attention, but I think that could easily be said of an outdoor garden, as well. Until I’m further into this experiment and can better gauge my time investment, I’m going to reserve judgment with regard to the amount of effort this venture will require. So far, I’m having a whole lot of fun!
I will keep the updates coming.