Progress on Cucumber…

9 Dec after 3 or 4 weeks

About 3 weeks ago, we seeded some cucumber. Now the plants have grown over 10 cm and are ready to come out of the nursery and they will move to one of the new boxes I am currently building. Hopefully tomorrow they will be able to relocate to their new house…

 

 

Cucumber

Dec 31 – 3 more weeks and growing now on a net, about 50 cm high

Back on the Balcony

The Systems and some plants who survived or did not get eaten are back on the balcony, big clean-up from paints etc… and we have reset the 2 NFT at their right place. The plants suffered though, we lost a fair amount of herbs or salad who did not like either being moved, did not have enough light or the air inside was too dry and we did not spray enough…

On the bright side, we have lots of small seedlings ready to move in and grow.

Addition to the design, the system at the back now has a support to attach some larger plants and support their growth.

moving in the living room

The hydroponics had invaded the apartment

They love the cool air inside…

Giving light to the plants…

Today I got a real shock coming back home… The building committee decided to repaint our condominium and when I got home, I discovered a team of people on my balcony trying to move my hydroponics systems around as well as Yumi’s plants, and starting to paint, splashing everywhere… Some of my salads were already covered in paint…

I kicked them out telling them to come back tomorrow but I needed the time to move my stuff around to avoid damages… This is typical here, you never get any warning for anything and there is no planning for even big piece of work like this one.

We were left with no choice, and in order to salvage all our hydroponics we had to move them from the balcony…

The only safe place was in the apartment and they are going to be here for 10 days… imagine 2 full production systems with nutrients, pumps etc… sitting in your living room… Of course we had to compensate for the lack of light, so I had all my soft boxes from my photo equipment turned on with low power lamps all night… eerie sight…

Japanese design – Tomato Box

 

Reference: This design was inspired by a Japanese creation called the IENA box. Cost to buy in Japan is about $175US.
This one cost in material, about $40US but the time spent to build it is quite important…

Additional production lines.

3 lines of 4 meters - Capacity 48 plants

3 lines of 4 meters – Capacity 48 plants

Here is our latest production facility… After mastering the chemicals and improving the maintenance of the system, we started to have decent results with the salads, so we enjoyed having our own big salad bowl each night, however with the first kit we had, we quickly ran out of food… So we decided to add a few more lines extending the balcony lines in the narrow part. We managed to add 12 meters of  gullies to grow salads and herbs with the NFT technique. The Gullies come from Hydroponics Garden soi 38, and the support and water system were home build with material from my favorite shop on Rama IV.

I decided to change the gullies from their standard design, so I cut the end straight and closed it with a small ending and epoxy glue, then I made a hole of 22mm to connect a PVC pipe as a water outlet. On this photo, the water outlet is not connected yet, I was running a full test to check for potential leakages. These improvements made the system working much better than the original.

Chili

First Chillies…

After a number of disasters we managed to get some success. After a few months, starting from the seeds, we got a nice plant that we transferred into the newly created Dutch pot and the plant grew very fast. We managed to get this result in a short time. The chillies grow very fast and they are very resistants. I got the wrong mix on the nutrient, put too much PH Lower and let the system run out of water… I did everything wrong with them and they survived and grew very well.

The salad with an equivalent treatment died almost immediately… My main problem with the salad was that there was too much sun on them, the nutrient were becoming very warm, and I did not replace them often enough… lots of learning.

This is when I decided to invest in a PH meter and a Conductivity meter to measure how good my nutrients were and if my PH was appropriate. The tap water PH here is over 8.5, and there is so much chemical in it that the conductivity meter already gives a 175 ppm without any nutrient in it yet.

First Dutch pot

Reading and researching on youtube, I found a lot of information about people who were growing larger plants in bigger buckets, and the technology was to create a reservoir of nutrient, aere it and circulate it to the roots of the plants in a constant flow. I decided to have a go and purchased a container from Carefour, cut some holes at the top, put a pump inside and ran a pipe around the cover with smaller outlets to feed water in each pot. This technique became quickly successful, it was asking for a lot less maintenance and our Chillies and Herbs started growing very fast. Basil became very big, so did the mint and we even had success growing some Japanese herbs called Shiso, that is usually served with Sushi (as a big green leave)

Green Plants

Our First greens…

After a few weeks, we started to see some results and have a few salads that were not only looking good but tasted fantastic. The salads are really crunchy and they taste really lovely, We got some nice Iceberg salad, Mizuna and Rocket. Some unidentified large green leaves that tasted really beautiful. We knew we were on the right track and just needed to improve a bit.

Friends who came to visit started to think maybe we were not completely crazy and that there was something interesting in the experiment.

Our first encounter…

During the month of April, I heard that a friend of Jonathan was growing some plants and herbs on his balcony using a small hydroponics system. I found the idea interesting and decided to look into it. We visited him and decided to invest in some equipment. We went to a specialised shop on soi 38 and bought our first 4 line hydroponics kits.

Installing the kit was quite easy, we received a bunch of seeds and some small salads that we could directly install in the kit and let grow. I played with the chemicals, tried the mixture and got it wrong a few times. We also suffered some loses as the salads were in full sunlight all day, so our first crop was quite a disaster…