My Hydroponics Experiment – The Harvest

Home Grown Arugula or Rockets
Home Grown Arugula or Rockets

After 5 weeks, my rockets are finally fully grown. And therefore, it’s time for my harvest. With my little girl’s help, we harvested this small plate of vegetable.

The Harvested Arugula
The Harvested Arugula

The quantity is not a lot but the feeling’s great because it’s home grown. Dinner was just 2 of us so we didn’t cut out all the leaves. Some were left for dinner another day.

Our Dinner With The Home Grown Arugula
Our Dinner With The Home Grown Arugula

This vegetable that I have planted is commonly called rockets but the exact name is arugula or 芝麻菜 in Chinese (Sesame Vegetable). And indeed, true to it’s name, there’s a sesame taste. Very interesting. There’s also a spicy after taste for the bigger leaves. I think I must harvest them earlier next time. I didn’t take out the whole plant for this harvest. I read from the internet that I should just cut the bigger leaves and the plant will continue to grow. And so after 3 days, all the smaller leaves have grown.

3 Days After First Harvest
3 Days After First Harvest

I think I can harvest again this weekend.

So let’s go back to what I have gather from this experiment.

  1. Kratky method works great. The maintenance is near zero. I merely started the seeds and transplanted them to this hydroponics plastic box I got from China. (Refer to Part 1)
  2. The plastic box is an over kill and a big waste of space. I can only have 8 plants on that. And the water reservoir is too big. I have in mind another design which I will DIY soon. There height will be reduced and space for plants will increase.
  3. I think I will have to mix my lights. The purple or red light works great during the initial part, but white light was more effective when the real leaves appear. (Refer to Part 2)
  4. Power utilisation wasn’t high enough to be noticeable yet with this setup. But I think benefits of having home grown vegetable should be able to offset the additional electrical bill.

Again, it’s really cool to grown your own vegetables. And this experiment is encouraging me to expand this setup. Maybe it’s just psychological, but eating home grown vegetable seems healthier and safer. After all I know what gets into my plants.

I will update again when I’m done with the new design of the Kratky tray. Stay tuned.

 

My Hydroponics Experiment – Part 2

My hydroponics experiment has been going on for about 3 weeks. My original 8 rockets are still alive! And growing!

Rockets Growing Under The Red Light
Rockets Growing Under The Red Light

Rate of growth was quite slow in the first 2 weeks when I was tinkering with the lights. I tried to have the plants on natural light in the daytime and 8 hours of grow light when the sun sets. The results were far from ideal. I think the growth cycle might have somehow disrupted because of the lack of “dark” hours. After I changed to 18 hours from 6am, I see visible growth on almost a daily basis.

The roots are extending down to the water reservoir. I’m just hoping they grow faster and absorbs more water. I need the roots to be partially out of the water to have them breathe. That’s important in deep water culture or the Kratky method.

Peeka Boo!
Peeka Boo!

If the water absorption is not fast enough, I might need to take some water out. But the whole idea is to have everything hands free, so I’m waiting for a few more days before doing anything.

My Rack Farm
My Rack Farm….To Be

My rack has arrived so I’m going to be putting up more of these hydroponics pots. I might not be using the same pot. Likely I’m going to DIY my own hydroponics planter, reducing the height to about 3 inches so that I can optimise the level of water. With DIY I can also optimise the use of space for different plants.

Lights wise, red light is better than white light at this stage of growth.

Alright, that’s all for now. Hope we have surprises next week in the growth of the rockets.

My Hydroponics Experiment – Part 1

There’s an ongoing trend right now to grow food at home. A lot of people has put in a lot of effort experimenting and documenting their ideas and setup for urban or apartment farming. I too have been looking at it for quite a while. I experimented a few methods in the past. I had the classic setup of soil based planting. I tried container gardening with wicking and stuff.

I had little success because of a huge limitation – Insufficient sunlight. For a while, I stopped all the growing because the results were not encouraging.

So lately, I started looking again for solutions, which is actually quite straightforward. I need artificial lights. These lights used to cost a lot and they are usually metal halide lamps which are not energy efficient. Now we have LED lights and the cost is very much lower. And so there we go, I ordered my grow lights from China.

Next is the method. I decided to go for hydroponics this time round, or more specifically, the Kratky method. This method is extremely low tech and low maintenance. The typical hydroponics setup involves pumps, PH monitoring etc. As an engineering person this makes a lot of sense. However, when I looked at the success cases of the Kratky method on YouTube, I decide to experiment with this low tech, low cost and low maintenance hydroponics method.

 

Kratky Hydroponics
Kratky Hydroponics
And this is my experimental setup. The hydroponics box is from China as well. It’s only about SGD $9 including shipping.

I got my seeds from NTUC this time round to start something cheap and simple.

Rocket seeds from Horti
Rocket seeds from Horti
The seeds were started in a disposable containers that I recycled. It took only 1 day for roots to appear and tiny leaves showing up on Day 2. This is how it looks like on Day 5. 1 did not make it out of the 9.

Rocket Sprouts On Day 4
Rocket Sprouts On Day 4
On Day 6, when my lights arrived, I moved everything into the hydroponics box. In the water mixture, I have the usual A+B solution for hydroponics.

Single plant in hydroponics box
Single plant in hydroponics box
The plants will get some direct sunlight in the morning for about 3 hours, which is insufficient for plant growth. This is where the light comes in. I will have the lights on with a timer for 8 hours before the morning sun. The rest of the day, it’s just ambient light.

This is the setup for now. Let’s see how the plants fare. If this goes well, I will buy more of those boxes and start a mini farm at home. :)

I will be updating this regularly if time permits, and I will be sharing more of my thoughts on the various methods and my research from the internet. Stay tuned!

Optimization WordPress Plugins & Solutions by W3 EDGE