Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hydroponic Vegetable Nutrient/EC & PH Levels - Nutrients in Review

PH and EC of Vegetables

Below is a reference on the PH and EC of different vegetables. Start ALL crops off with a lower EC and work your way up with higher concentrations (usually on a weekly bases). When you notice either nutrient burn, or they have reached their maximum EC, STOP at that level and continue feeding.

Bean (Common)6.02.0-4.0
Blueberry4.0 -5.01.8-2.0
Broad Bean6.0-6.51.8-2.2
Brussell Sprout6.52.5-3.0
Lemon Balm5.5-6.51.0-1.6
Sweet Corn6.01.6-2.4
Sweet Potato5.5-6.02.0-2.5

Flushing your system is recommended every 1-3 weeks, depending on the type of hydroponic system.

Nutrients Experience Reviews
From the time I began my hydroponic journey,  Ive used the following nutrients:

Technaflora Recipe for Success (3-part liquid)
   Pros - Pretty Stable PH throughout crop. I used these nutrients in a DWC system, so PH swings are pretty common in the beginning. PH became stable after a couple weeks in use. Easy to follow instructions based on the different plant life cycles (seed, veg, flower, harvest).
   Cons - In liquid from, thus kind of expensive in larger amounts. The feeding schedule vs the amounts given in the bottles do not run out all at the same time. Meaning that if you follow the schedule, you WILL run out of something before the rest. I always run out of Sugar Daddy first :(

In conclusion, this is a good product. I LOVE the fact that you can purchase all their products at an affordable price to try them out. Along with an easy to follow schedule. I recommend this product for beginners-to-advanced. Liquid nutrients run at a higher cost, but I learned quite a bit of stuff while using these for the first time. I WILL BE PURCHASING THIS PRODUCT AGAIN.

 GH Floramato(1-Part Dry)
   Pros - Stable PH throughout crop. When mixed with my tap water(PH 8.1), it brings it down to acceptable levels (5.5-6.0)
   Cons - High N to P ratio - seems to be more for vegetative growth. The directions state that it can be used for flowering, but I have found mixed results, mostly flower abortion or dropping. Seemed to cause twisting and curling in some tomato varieties.

In conclusion, GH products are good products. My mistakes must have been user error, not product error. Im going to purchase MaxiGrow next, so I dont think I will be purchasing Floramato again. I did like the fact that I didnt have to adjust my PH when adding nutrients to my water. The PH was usually 5.7 after adding floramato. It seems like a good product, but just not suitable for my varieties of plants. You sometimes just have to see what works for you.

GH MaxiBloom (1-Part Dry)
I just bought these nutrients last weekend to replace Floramato. I seem to be having good results so far. More flower production and fruit already! I will report back at a later date.

Oakton: PH 2 Meter

 This is a very affordable, reliable, quality meter. I have used this meter for about a year now, and I've never had any problems. Simple to use and calibrate. Calibration needed about every month just to make sure its on point. Simple to clean - I just run mine under tap water for a few secs. To store the meter, simply add a small amount of storage solution in the cap and close it. 100% Water Proof.

Blue Lab: Truncheon Nutrient Meter  

This meter is great. It isnt the type of meter to give you dead on results. It gives you a variety of readings (EC,PH,CF) in a easy to use fashion. No calibration required. Easy to clean - run under tap water for a few secs. Great to use as a stirring stick when adding nutrients. This meter has a 5 year warranty, so for about 100$, that's not too bad.

For my next meter, Im thinking about getting the Blue Lab Combo Meter (EC, PH, Temp), but we will see.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

NFT Fence Post System - Tomato, Swiss Chard and Bunching Onions.

NFT Fence Post System 
Recirculating Hydroponics

This is another system I built. It works quite well actually. This system is outside, under the house roof overhang. I had mint growing in this for a loooong time, but the roots took over and I had to remove it. These were my starters (Swiss chard & green onion) in rockwool, but I got tired of watering them by hand, so I just threw'em in this system and they seem to like it.

The tomato plant has been growing in there for about 3 months now. Its finally starting to take off now b/c the mint plant is out. If gotten a few tomatoes from this plant.

This is system I dont care really about. I simply add nutrients and water when I think they need it. I DONT check the PH or EC of the water or nutrients, b/c I dont want to contaminate my meters if they do have harmful pathogens in the system.

This system has also ran out of water plenty of times and the pump ran dry for who knows how long. Its still running strong.

This is an example of how ANYONE can do hydroponics and you dont have to be a scientist. The more effort and knowledge you obtain, the better results you will receive.

Setting up an NFT system is fairly easy. The hardest part was drilling the holes in the fence post. I have a new system in my greenhouse that are made of thinner plastic gutters. Im going to start that system running soon.

Patio Princess Tomato Hydroponic

Hydroponic Swiss Chard
 Hydroponic Bunching Onions
Swiss Chard 2

Hydroponic Mint Root Takeover

Hydroponic Mint ,Lettuce, Tomato

New Greenhouse NFT Gutter System

Friday Harvest

Yesterday I decided to pick the hot peppers and cucumber. I purchased new nutrients and will be flushing my system today for the change over. Its hot though. About 105 degrees and its only noon. I have tons of stuff to do and not enough time. Im taking a break now, so I dont pass

I will post some pics later on the flushing process, products I use for flushing and some important facts to consider when flushing. I might post how I mix my nutrients and ph/ec and other stuff like that. If not today, maybe sometime soon, its on my list. I might have company coming over for dinner, so we will see :)

Have a great weekend! Stay cool!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Heavy Phosphorous Feeding Tonight with DynaBloom 3-12-6

Im out of Floramato and thank god. Im sure that was the root cause to all my flower dropping problems and weird twisting. I've wasted a valuable couple months with this product, which is low in Phosphorous and states that its for flowering. But that is my fault, I should have known better to change and take a better look of the nutrient levels. I still have about 10-15 gallons mixed with water in the reservoir and that will be used up by this weekend, then Im getting 2.2 pounds of MaxiBloom for 14$. That should last a while.

Tonight I found a old bottle of DynaBloom 3-12-6 and I mixed up a 5 gallon bucket and feed each plant by hand. The EC was about 1.3 and the ph was 5.8.

Here is a feeding chart the I found for the General Hydroponics Dry Nutrients I will be getting soon:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blog Article Previews -- Hydroponic: Yellow Squash RIP

Article & Blog Preview - Exiting Few Months Ahead

I am planning on writing the following articles within the next few months. Im going to write them down now while Ive been thinking a little about them. Here is a preview of topics I will be covering... and it looks like I will be busy.... (Some Articles are based on projects I will be working on within the next few months)
  • DIY Backyard Greenhouse from an Old Carport (cheaply)
  • DIY Drip & SWC (Self Water Containers) Recirculating Hydroponic System
  • DIY NFT (Nutrient Film-Technique) Gutter System: Perfect of Lettuce and Greens.
  • DIY Greenhouse Misting System: Test and Results in the Summer Florida Heat.
  • Reflection: Hydroponic Greenhouse Failures & Successes
  • Nutrients: Organic Soil Vs. Soil-Less
  • Trials/Projects: Organic Soil Vs. Soil-Less
  • Greenhouse Bugs: The Good  & The Bad
  • Oakton: PH 2 Meter - Review
  • Blue Lab: Truncheon Nutrient Meter - Review
  • General Hydroponics: Floramato - Review
  • Technaflora: Recipe for Success - Review
  • DIY Worm Tea: How to and Review
  • PAC/PLC Plant electronic automation
  • From Garden to Plate: Recipes from my House to Yours
  • GMO's and What They mean to Me and My Family
  • Re-planning Your Life: Not Only Because it's Good for the Plant, it's Good for You and Your Family
  • My Life: Eating Habits Now and How I Need to Change
  • Food WAR: Have YOU Fell Victim?
  • Chemicals: Is Your Family Really Safe?
  • How your Government & Companies are Putting Your Family At Risk
  • Consumption: Think Before You Act
  • Stress: Society's Stressors Imposed on Us - You Dont have to Take It
  • America: Toxic Wasteland
  • From Natural to Unethical Food in a Flash of an Eye
On many of the more opinionated topics, I will big into the details and dicuss both sides, the need, the effects, etc. My wife will help me edit these articles, for things I might have missed or delivered in the wrong way. She's my sidekick and is usually very good at things Im not, and I'm usually pretty good at her weaker points, so a perfect match :)

My goal is write on a variety of gardening topics for someone a little new to "gardening". Everything I found throughout my endless hours of research, has led to many test, experiences, trials, failures and successes. I love to share them with others and hopefully gain someones interest.

I am the generation-x of gardening. I was brainwashed throughout my life by greedy America and it's time to change my ways. Urban Gardening is one, of many, ways I express myself and prove change will come. I know what joy this brings me now and how meaningless it was to me a little less than 2 years ago. Well, not totally meaningless, but I was lost in the high-tech, fast moving society and it's ways. Now that I have a son (7 Months Old now), I have really thought about how I am changing my ways for myself and family for the better.
It's crazy how the most fundamental, but necessary things in life are being changed/polluted by this generation and will be forever changed. Things as simple, but so precious to us, as food, are being taking for granted. It's unsafe/unhealthy to eat these days. Everywhere to turn, from fast food to high-fructose syrup.

High processing, low cost. You get what you pay for. You wouldnt buy a cheap lawnmower or car, but you have no problem with a cheap Big Mac. Now that's a problem. Our society is being held hostage and we need to do something about it. And the place to start is at home.

This blog will be my journey to take back control of my life and NOT let my family become another victim of this food war.

Hydroponic: Yellow Squash RIP

While I was at work, my wife mailed me these pictures. The cat or wind attacked the plant and caused unrepairable damage. My wife tried to fix it, but once I saw it when I got home, they were done. (Yes, this is the same picture I took last night of the roots)

I should have taken a picture of the root system when I removed the plant, but I didnt have time b/c of the humidity was killing me and I was too wet.

All is good though. These plants grew extremely fast and were too big for my greenhouse. Im going to go ahead and start all my seeds for the end of summer/fall sometime this week. I will post all the seeds and types.

My greenhouse isnt 100% enclosed. But will be closed from the outside and have a door (hopefully) sooner than later. What I have works now though - the cats are just always a pain in the ass.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Greenhouse Plant Update - Happy Fathers Day

This was my first fathers day and it was a very good one. I'm so lucky to have such a wonder wife and awesome son!

After a little yard work, I took some pics of my plants before it rained. It's about to storm hard, but we need it with temps in the 100's again today.

Updates - 6-20-2010 - Hydroponic Pics

  • Growing like crazy.
  • Needs more water during the hottest parts of the day (12-3). I need to add another system to my timer for the pump. I noticed that some of the leaves were wilty b/c of the heat. I turned on my pump and within 30 mins they were back to normal.
  • I have between 5-7 female cucumbers. I am pollinating them in the morning and evening.
  • Cucumbers are forming.

Tomato - Patio Princess/Unknown**
  • Looking very green and healthy.
  • Lots of flowers and clusters. One small tomato and many more on their way. It looks like this variety isnt dropping it's flowers as much as the brandywine.

Tomato - Jubilee/Unknown**
  • Not looking bad. I have been experiencing a weird twisting and curling of the leaves on the top. Everything I have read says its "tomato curl top". The older leaves, that were once twisted, are un-twisted and almost back to their normal appearance. Something strange is going on, most likely the heat.
  • New Flowers and Tomatoes - It looks like successful pollination of the Jubilee tomatoes. The whole flower didnt drop and I see very small tomatoes forming inside.

Zucchini & Yellow Squash
  • These two plants are very healthy and getting huge. Im thinking about relocating them to another part of the greenhouse.
  • I have experienced a little powdery mildew. I sprayed a 10% milk solution on the leaves, and that seems to that care of the problem.
  • I have female flowers forming on the Yellow Squash, but only males so far on the Zucchini.

Hot Peppers
  • I bought a Hot Pepper Mix from Burpee, so many of these peppers I dont even know what they are yet, because I have a couple that havent produced any fruit.
  • I believe that the two peppers I have on one plant are Hungarian wax Peppers.
  • I have some small peppers forming on one of the plants. More flowers and I tried more pollination today.
  • All looking very good and green. Its dropping many flowers though, most likey cause by the intense heat and humidity again.  

BrandyWine - 
No tomatoes still. No successful pollination. Its getting huge. All flowers drop. Too bad this plant is in the same bucket as the Jubilee, otherwise it would have been removed by now. 
Okra Starters 
  • I transplanted to rockwool cubes a couple days ago.
  • I have been noticing while eggs underneath the leaves. They looked like spider mite eggs, but not 100% sure. They were bigger that spider mites, so I donno.
  • I sprayed them with insect soap yesterday and kills the eggs by hand, so I will report if I see them again.

Overall, things are good. Its too damn hot and humid though. I dont know why Im trying to grow in the middle of summer. Well, because I missed spring and my greenhouse wasnt ready. I'm really only having big problems with my brandywine. No fruit.

I ordered and received some heat loving tomato varieties that I will post about when I plant them.

Unknown** - indicates that this plant couple possibly be another variety. I didnt tag some starter tomatoes in the beginning and lot track.

The Cheap Vegetable Gardner

I stumped across this website and Im glad I did. I will be implementing many of his projects hopefully soon. He builds plant automation stuff that is computer controlled. And since Im a programmer, hopefully I can get to his level one of these days :) I've been looking for a good starting point and I believe this is it.

His site is also offering a giveaway, so visit:  to enter.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Outdoor Hydroponic Greenhouse - Here we go!


This blog was created for my backyard hydroponic project. This will be used to document and detail my steps, procedures .... blah.. blah... along the way.

My original intent was to create my own website and set up a hydroponic database for different types of systems, plants, methods, techniques, ... etc..etc... And provide web services to EVERYONE for free to enter data, compare, gather, and the possibilities are endless. This project is being worked on and should be in the beta stages within the next few months. This blog will document my work and hopefully inspire new young gardeners until the new site is launched.

The reason I choose hydroponics, or soil-less, growing is because of the advantages. I admit, Im no good at soil gardening. One day, someone at work showed me some pics of their lettuce raft hydroponic system and from then on I have been interested. Everything I grow in soil dies or doesnt produce well. I believe this is because I CANT control as many parameters as I can in a hydroponic system.

I have a soil raised-bed garden that I started about the same time, if not sooner, than my hydroponic garden. So far, my hydroponic garden has suffered less damage by pest, less disease, more growth, more fruit..... and overall looks much better.

The greenhouse is still under construction. My ultimate goal is to have my DIY greenhouse totally automated and I believe this goal is very reachable. I have been studying PCL and PAC I/O controllers that I can hook up to my computer to program and monitor. Im faaar from even being close to my first post, but when I have something worth posting, you will be the first to know.

The weather has been extreme this summer here in Florida, but so far I've only had very few problems. My greenhouse isnt full with plants and I still have the left bench empty. I think Im going to move the two squash plants on that bench because of the growth.

I have one tomato plant that is loving the summer heat... sometimes up to 105 for long periods. The flowers DONT seem to be dropping and I see fruit forming (unlike the brandywine)