I have regularly noticed that some of my seedlings, despite growing very well, as soon as they are transferred to the main system, deteriorate and die. The stem which had started to grow well suddenly becomes very thin, dark in color and nutrient does not reach the top of the plant and it dies. I have done some research on this topic and found only one reference on a soil growing medium where there were 2 possible explanations:
- a fungus developing on weak plants
- an excess of humidity
I think the number 2 is going to be my target for testing, before attempting to kill any fungus, I will try to regulate the water a bit better.
Where could the problem be?
I have designed the following box with a level of nutrient that sits in the bottom, and a pump to move it up to the upper part, and an overflow tube where I can regulate the height to maintain a constant level in the upper part. I also have a floating device to indicate the level of nutrient left in the lower part, and a stone generating air in the liquid.
I try to regulate the level of water so that it touches the bottom of the pod with the seed in the permalite, and I come to think that this might be the problem as too much water might be sucked in the permalite. It is not really a problem if the plant is already bigger but it seems to be affecting it when it is in the very young state.
My next experiment will consist of moving the level of the nutrient a notch under the pod so that it does not touch but the plant will hopefully sense the water underneath and grow the roots into it. I will of course maintain some humidity in the top part by either regularly spraying the permalite or also by covering the plant with a translucid cover to keep the moisture trapped inside. I will report on my experiment end of november.
Attachment of the frame that will support the plants as they grow
Tomato box 7
Inner Bucket with constant level
This is where the roots of the plants will grow, with circulated and aerated nutrient
little hook for a finger to lift up the inner bucket
Constant level bucket
a home made level indicator... ping pong ball with a japanese chop stick glued inside.
Filling the bucket
you can see the overflow tube to maintain a constant level. The size of the tube depends on the plant that you will cultivate in the bucket
After one week in the box
This is how fast the roots are growing in this system. Beautifully white and solid
Tomato box 30
Supports are attached to the frame which itself can be extended vertically as see fit
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…
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.
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)