Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hydroponic Update

So I finally confirmed what I'd suspected for a while. I planted the wrong seeds. The Cherry Tomato isn't a cherry tomato, it's a regular tomato, "Gardeners Delight". Kinda explains why it's taken over the entire tank. More on this later.

The tomatoes are looking good. I limited the plant to two trusses for obvious reasons.

The Pepper has started to flower.

Not much room left.

The hydroponic Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) tank I'm using is basically two chambers stacked on top of each other. The lower, larger chamber contains 20l of water, a 20W aquarium heater and a pump to lift the water from the lower chamber up to the sloped upper chamber which is lined with spreader matting for the roots to grow in.

The green-ish block you can see below is made rock wool, a fibrous material which is generally resistant to typical soil-based moulds etc. This is what the seedling plugs are transferred into.

This is the tomato plant root system on the right hand side of the tank.

And this is also the tomato root system on the LEFT side of the LOWER water chamber. Oops.

The tomato has not only taken over the upper above "ground" area, it is threatening to completely clog the water in the lower chamber. This is bad for a couple of reasons:

1 - I don't have an airstone in the lower tank. While the water is circulating and getting aerated to an extent as it does so, an airstone in the tank would do a lot to prevent the water growing stagnant. All the same the water doesn't look too bad.  In theory I should be changing the water every 4-6 weeks but... I haven't.

2 - If the roots grow into the pump, the green-blue square you can see about the middle of the above picture, they'll clog it and the whole system will grind to a halt. The matting will dry out and the roots will die. I really ought to get a couple of spare pumps.

If i can bring the tomatoes to near ripeness before the system dies I'll consider a decent first experiment. If I can get a couple of decent sized peppers then all the better. Now I have an idea what I'm doing the next stage will be a more permanent chilli pepper and herb garden.

I am loving hydroponics. I wave around my pipettes and pH meters like a mad scientist. When I win the lottery I'm buying a house with a big garden, so I can concrete it over, throw up some poly-tunnels, install a fluorescent lighting system and lay down about a mile of piping for the hydroponics. Outdoors? All that mud and bugs? pfft.

1 comment:

  1. It's been almost a month. How are the tomatoes? I'm worried that those tomato roots got really long and corrupted your computer.