Monday, November 2, 2015

Hydroponic harvest

 I harvested my first crop of hydroponic lettuces this weekend. I grew a Tom Thumb variety from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and the results were spectacular! I got 18 lettuce heads about the size of a small melon, very green, very sweet and tender.

This past week was my one year anniversary at the store and I finally got to do a hydro grow. We have had several young guys working at the store that were very enthusiastic about the hydro systems and I sort of had to stand in line to get to try one out. One by one, they have all moved on so I finally gave it a go.

Also, I was afraid it might be more complicated than I cared for. Turns out, it was as simple as working in the yard growing vegetables, I just had less hungry mouths competing for my crop. No bugs, rabbits, deer, moles, etc. Just a small invasion of thrips that were easily dealt with using a bit of neem oil. In three weeks I had a full harvest.

I now have arugula seedlings starting, whoop! My plan is to try and keep a full rotation of greens throughout the winter and see how it goes. Gerry and I hope to have a system like this in our house one day, if we ever find a new place.

 The system I used is called an AeroFlo and it is very simple to use. Water is filled in a reservoir, this one was 15 gallons, a pump is in the reservoir and the water is pumped up into the three tanks here. I used another small pump to keep water circulating and nutrients moving through. The nutrients were added once a week, ph tested and plants misted weekly. That was it.

Three weeks later, with almost no effort at all, I had these beauties!

 Harvest was simple. The seedlings grew in soil-less seed plugs, so just a quick snip at the base was all it took. No dirt, no bugs to wash off, not one single hole in a leaf.

I harvested on Oct. 31 and so we had a healthy trick or treat offering at the store for customers and co-workers.  I made a blue cheese dressing with some amazing Amish blue cheese and used organic sour cream and mayonnaise. I toasted some walnuts with butter and cane sugar, curry powder and smoked paprika, delicious!  I added some organic red grapes, one of my co-workers brought in banana muffins, and so we had a really nice salad bar for Halloween.  This was a great experience and I was able to share with several customers that came in, and I believe I may have sold a few people on the idea of growing indoors. One of these days, this might be how all of us have to grow our food if we keep screwing with Mother Nature!


Michèle Hastings said...

What gorgeous lettuce! Is the hydroponic set up expensive? I am assuming if you are growing indoors you could have lettuce/greens year round.

Lori Buff said...

That is some beautiful looking lettuce. I wish I had a place to try this at my house. Maybe I need to build a greenhouse/pottery gallery.

Tracey Broome said...

Hi Michele:
I added a link. Not that expensive, one time investment of about $360, you get everything you need and you are good to go.

Gerry and I are definitely going to go this way for growing greens as soon as we land somewhere!

Tracey Broome said...

Lori, it takes up very little space and well worth the effort! But yeah, greenhouse/pottery gallery, OMG what a great combo!

Dennis Allen said...

gorgeous crop

Sandy miller said...

I love this! Have never seen this set up and it's affordable! Thanks!! Now where to wrangle it! I think I need a hydroponic room 😄

Tracey Broome said...

Sandy,if anybody can do this, you can! And you would love it!!!! The chemistry mixing is just like pottery