Now, this post should probably be on my other blog - but, here it is!
I was watching Martha the other day, and her guest was a local nursery owner. I know not everyone is a fan of Martha Stewart, but she can be a source of real inspiration - and she does know her stuff - or will have an expert on who does!
The gardener showed her how to make a hydroponic garden- it caught my interest, 'cause in the early 70's I sold hydroponic plants for a while. It was a direct sale company out of Florida- potted plants sold in home parties, kind of like Tupperware. Instead of soil, lightweight porous pebble were the medium the plants grew in. It was a double pot system, with water in the outer pot, plants and pebbles set in the inner pot. It worked really well, and pots were alot lighter without all the soil.
Since I love plants, this was right up my alley. Back then, tho, it was an idea before it's time, or else I just never found the right audience, because I was not too successful at selling them!! But I loved them, and had a house full!!
Since our weather has been so iffy and rainy, my husband has not been able to plow my veggie patch. I am yearning to get out there and put the plants in the ground and GET BUSY GROWING!!!!
It is still a bit early for most planting, but lettuces and onions, and root veggies are ok for now.
Anyway, this Martha version of hydroponics is quite simple. It is basically growing plants without soil. The roots will grow toward a water source, and it makes it easier (and cleaner) to have indoors.
Martha's method uses a cheap styrofoam lidded cooler from the Dollar Store. Looking at the link above gives lots of ideas - one of which is using a blue plastic bin - we have tons of them left over from our move- that will be my next hydro garden base!!
It was a beautiful day out, so I thought today would be a great day to start- til the wind picked up- and sitting on my front porch to do this was like being inside of a wind tunnel. Soooo, everything was done on my kitchen counter (dirt everywhere)- how I wish I could convert my vintage goat shed to a potting shed!!!
First, I traced the outline of the top of a plastic cup on the inside of the lid.Then cut it a bit smaller than the circle drawn. Depending on the size of your container, you can make 6 or more circles. The cup is going to sit inside the hole. I found a small pumpkin carver perfect for carving out the holes in the styrofoam.
Next, make a small hole in the bottom of each plastic cup.
Now, you need perlite and dried sphagnum moss. Both are available at the local hardware store or nursery. Sphagnum can be found at craft stores also.
My bag of sphagnum had been sitting in the garage - note the hole in the bag - and the indentation within the center of the moss? An enterprising little mouse apparently thought this was the perfect place for a nest!!! So, I gingerly opened the bag in the garage, just make sure I would find no surprises- ! Mouse long gone, fortunately!!
Next, put a thin layer of sphagnum in the bottom of the cup, covering the hole, then fill with perlite.
Get the potted greens - lettuce, spinach, etc, carefully clean the dirt off the roots, and put the plant in the perlite, being careful not to crush the roots.I used arrugula, red lettuce, butter crunch lettuce and spinach.
Line the bottom of the cooler with a black plastic trash bag, fill with water.
Place the plant filled cups into the holes you already made in the underside of the lid. Put the upside down lid on top of the cooler - add more water by watering the plants. The water level in the cooler should reach up to the bottom of the cups, or almost to the bottom, to inspire those roots to grow toward the water.
Since lettuce and spinach prefer cooler climes, I keep them outside, but in a sheltered place without direct sun. I might move them in the sun while it is cool, but once those temps start creeping up, I move them back to the shade.
Now, this should give me lettuce for lunch right outside my back door.
I don't think this process will work very well for root veggies, so I will have to be patient 'til my garden is tilled!!!
My husband was out spraying the lush weeds in my veggie garden(even tho' I HATE spraying "weed" killer)- the areas between rows that were covered have no growth - but the rows that had veggies are now full with wild things!!!! The soil has been too sodden to get in there with the tractor or rototiller. I did find some red onions that did not come up last year - they are popping out now. I pulled one, just to see how it was doing - and they do need to stay in a while longer. But I chopped the greens and froze them, and the onion, tiny tho' it is, is in the fridge waiting for dinner!
So, gardening is starting, altho' slowly, here at Mountain Meadows!!!!