Hydroponics

The frogs are chorusing in our farm pond, a sound I correlate with Spring! But, it’s only March 6th, and dropping down around freezing every night. Still, I cannot shake my need to see green. Although the temperatures remain chilly and the grass dons sedge-brown-broken-and-dead, I am inspired by the coming of warmer weather and new buds.

I’ve decided to jump start the process by exploring hydroponics; the water-based plant cultivation that has been around for centuries. I recall assembling a make-shift hydroponics system out of PVC pipe as a project for my eight grade Science Fair. But, to be honest, it merely represented the form, and not the actual function of the produce production process. While it has always been interesting to me, I haven’t ever truly explored hydroponic gardening. Rather, I have remained traditional and employed soil to grow herbs, tomatoes and peppers. I’m no expert, but I’ve been successful when I chose to stay the course.

Since moving to our new home, I’ve used felt pots situated on my office patio, instead of digging up the soil in my yard. My patio subjects the plants to morning light and cool afternoons, which seems to make them happy. It also keeps the container garden in my sight which reminds me to not only water them each day, but to vibe with them, too. Mostly, the location suit me because I just can’t squat down to till and weed grounded plants. Not to mention, I share my world with dogs. The yard is as much theirs as it is mine, and I don’t want to put in the energy to fortress the garden from my pets.

As I wait for the arrival of warmer weather, I’ve decided to try two indoor projects.

Project One – Countertop Sprouts

Today, I received Mung Beans, Alfalfa seeds and 2 perforated lids designed for wide-mouth Mason jars. The seeds must be rinsed then subjected to about 8 hours of an initial soak. Then, after another rinse, the water is removed by turning the jars upside down for 15 minutes. Then, they are left on their sides with only the moisture that remains for another 8 hours. Then, they must experience 2-4 rinse and drip dry sequences per 24 hours.

Mung beans soaking on left, Alfalfa seeds on right. Eight hours preliminary soak.

Project Two – Hydroponic Greens

The second project is to grow lettuce type plants in Mason jars.

Step one is to germinate the seeds in grow cubes. I purchased a packet of eight varieties of leafy greens, Rockwool cubes for germination, a germination tray.

Starting with 2 varieties; Arugula (my favorite green) and Green Oakleaf lettuce
I am starting with six plants each of Arugula and the leaf lettuce. I put two or three seeds in each depression because I’m not sure if the seeds are fresh enough that they will all germinate and more so because my fingers were incapable of separating just one tiny seed at a time. Next time I will use tweezers.
The rockwool cubes are immersed in water, then let to stand in about an inch of water.
The growing contain I acquired is really for germinating sprouts, and it comes with an inner, perforated tray that sits above the water. But, I think it’s a good place for the rockwool cubes, as it has a lid to retain moisture. I put a paper towel over the top to reduce light.

For the next couple of days there won’t be much of a difference in appearance, I assume. But, within three days, I should begin to see the first tiny shoots sprouting from the seeds. I will post photos and descriptions at that time. Wish me luck!

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