Posts published on January 2013

DIY Hydroponic Vertical Garden

Articles, Gardening

 

Have you ever wanted to have a hydroponic garden, but you just don’t have the space or the funds? Well, here is your solution! We made a space effective vertical hydro set-up that requires minimal purchases; the whole thing only cost us less than $70 to make!

Our friends over at Aztec brewery donated these beer bottle for us to use in this system. One of our hydro experts owns a glass cutter, which is how we were able to cut the bottoms off of these bottles. Check out this YouTube video on How to Cut Glass Bottles with String yourself at home.

Materials Needed:

3  Glass Bottles (or 3 similar plant holding vesicles)

Wire Cutters

From Home Depot

  • 10 Foot Double Loop Chain ($5)
  • 1 – 1/8″ Quick Link ($2.24)
  • 2 – 1/8″ ‘S’ Hooks ($1.18 4 pack)
  • 18 Gage Wire ($3)
  • 5 Gallon Pot, with no holes in bottom ($10)

From SD Hydro

  • Eco 132 Submersible Pump ($11.79)
  • 5 Foot- 3/8″ Poly Tubing ($1.30)
  • 3″ – 1/4″ Poly Tubing ($0.13)
  • 1 – 1/4″ Vari Flow Valve ($.50)
  • 3 – 3″ Net Cups ($1.26)
  • Growstones ($28, or since you only need about 3 cups of stones, ask your local hydro store for samples. Most of the time they will be more than willing to give you some from their store-use supply).

Directions:

Attaching the Bottles to the Chain
Attaching the Bottles to the Chain

1. For the first step you will need your 10 foot chain, wire, wire cutters, and the bottles.

2.  Fold the chain in the middle, so that there are two 5 foot lengths.

3. Cut a 2 1/2 foot piece of wire. Take one your bottles and have someone hold it at the desired height. Remember that you will have three bottles. Wrap the cut piece of wire around the neck of the bottle and through the chains (See picture to the right).   I wrapped the wire around about 4 times to make sure the bottle would be secure.

4. Next, cut a 3 foot piece of wire. Wrap the wire around the top of the bottle in the same fashion as you did with the bottom (See picture below).

5. Repeat with the other two bottles, working down the chain. I left about 1/2″ inches of space in between the bottles.

 

6. Now that all the bottles are attached to the chain, its time to start working on the pump. Gather the reservoir, the tubing, the pump and the valve for the next steps.

 

Drip System with Vari Flow Valve

7. Attach the 1/4″ piece of tubing to the vari flow valve. This is going to be your drip system.  Attach the drip system to one end of the 3/8″ tubing. Then, attach the open end of the 3/8″ tubing to the submersible pump.

 

8. Fill up your reservoir with water. Attach the submersible pump to the side of the reservoir at the highest possible point. The tubing that is attached to the pump should go up the back of the bottles. The end of the tubing should stop about two inches above the top bottle. You may need to work with the tubing a bit to make the drip system stay in place.

 

9. At this point, you can plug in your pump. Make sure the bottles are all lined up so water is dripping from the top bottle, through the bottom two, and into the reservoir. If this is all working well, it is time to add your plants!

 

Submersible Pump
Adding Growstones
Mad Roots

 

10. Place a net cup in each of the bottles. Take your plants (we took cuttings of plants we had in the store and rooted them in our EZ Clone) and place inside the net cups. Fill in the excess space with Growstones.

 

11. At this point, your system should be up and running. Let it run for a couple days before adding any nutrients or intense lighting, as the plants need time to recover from the transplanting process. After a couple of days, add the recommended amount of  hydroponic nutrients to your system to ensure your plants survive and thrive.

 

 

Product Spotlight: Growstones

Articles, products

 

What are Growstones?

Growstones are both a growing medium and a soil aerator made from 100% recycled glass.  They can be used in the propagation process, in hydroponics and aquaponics systems, and as an alternative to perlite in soil.

 

Are Growstones safe to use in my aquaponics system?

Yes! Growstones are safe to use in aquaponic systems. We verified this fact with Growstones. Be sure to give the stones a thorough rinse down beforehand in order to remove fine dust particles.

 

The Growstones on the left are for hydroponic and aquaponic systems. The stones on the right are for soil.

Why do we recommend them?

  • Sustainable: Growstones can be reused over and over again until they loose their physical integrity. Sterilization of used media between crops is recommended. This can be accomplished  by flushing the used Growstones with a diluted bleach solution or with hydrogen peroxide.
  • Made in the USA: Growstones are made in New Mexico and are never shipped long distances.
  • Eco-friendly: Growstones are made from 100% recycled glass. Other comparable growing mediums and soil aerators, such as perlite and hydroton, are stripped minded from finite resources that will eventually become depleted. Growstones are also 100% non-toxic and chemical free.
  • Superior Water Retention and High Air-Filled Porosity: Because of their porous surface, Growstones are able to retain water and aerate roots better than similar growing products. Ideal substrates have small and large pore spaces. When the substrate is irrigated, water is held in the small pores but quickly drains through the large pores, allowing fresh air to flow through the soil. Thus, Growstones allow for more oxygen flow to your roots, which enables the plants to break down sugars for energy when there is no sunlight available. Roots that have optimal access to oxygen are able to continue growing even during dark cycles.
  • Silica: Growstones release Silica in a form plants can uptake. Silica is important to plant growth because it helps to strengthen the cells walls, which in turn protects plants from pests, drought, heat and cold and will allow the plant’s structure to bear more fruit.  Growstones are made from 98% vitreous soda lime glass, which contains high levels of plant-soluble silica. This silica is released from Growstones and made available to your plants throughout your entire grow cycle.

You can purchase Growstones at all 5 SD Hydro locations, or at our online store!

Bell Pepper and Winter Greens Salad Recipe

Articles, Gardening, Lifestyle

The recipe of the month is a Bell Pepper and Winter Greens Salad. Our goal was to use all locally grown ingredients. Everything in the salad was either grown in our shop or came from a local farm!

We wanted to showcase our winter crop harvest.  Leafy green vegetables, such as chard, kale, and lettuce, are perfect crops to grow during the San Diego Winter season. This salad has all of these tasty greens that we grew right here in the Bay Park shop. We also hit the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market to get the rest of our ingredients and were able to support six local farms!

As a challenge, we gave ourselves a budget of $10 to feed our team of eight using this recipe. Below is a breakdown of our food expenses and the recipe:

Grocery Bill: Hillcrest Farmers Market (Sundays)

  • Suzie’s Farm $2.75
    • Spring Mix
    • Kale
    • Sprouts

  • Archie’s Acres $1.50
    • Jim Bacon Avocado

  • Valdivia Farms $2
    • 2 Heirloom Tomatoes

  • Proios Family Farms $1.50
    • Red Onion
  • Sweet Tree Farms $0.10 Cents
    • Pink Lady Apple
  • TOTAL: $7.85!!!!!!!!

 

We were able to buy all the food we needed at the farmers market. Everything else was home grown! We were able to feed 8 people for only $1 a person while at the same time supporting organic, sustainable, and local food systems!

 

Bell Pepper and Winter Greens Veggie Salad (RAW, VEGAN)

  • 4-5 small Bell Peppers (Hydroponic Window Farm)
  • 5-6 leaves of Swiss Chard (Aquaponics)
  • 4-5 leaves of Nevada Lettuce (Outdoor Soil Garden)
  • Handful of Basil (Outdoor Soil Garden)
  • 4-5 leaves of Kale (Suzie’s Farm)
  • Handful of Spring Mix (Suzie’s Farm)
  • Handful of Sprouts (Suzie’s Farm)
  • 1/2 Red Onion – to taste (Proios Family Farm)
  • Jim Bacon Avocado (Archie’s Acres)
  • 2 Large heirloom tomatoes (Valdivia Farm)
  • 1 Pink Lady Apple (Sweet Tree Farm)
  • 2 Oranges (From Jen’s Front Yard)

Directions:

  • Chop all ingredients for the salad to desired size. Mix all together.
  • Squeeze fresh OJ on top.
  • Enjoy!