The Encyclopedia Hydroponica

Your Hydroponics Compendium

Bitsy Battle: Part Deux – Sequel of the Small 25 April, 2009

Filed under: Blog — E.H. @ 3:15 pm
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Well it looks as though this shall be the final chapter in the Bitsy Battle. While the growing is still going, I think it’s pretty safe to say I’ve learned everything I’m going to learn at this point. So here we go…
100_1014100_1015As you may have guessed by now, I like to set my pictures up to display, left, right, left, right, etc. So if your screen formating moves things around just keep that in mind so you can tell what I’m talking about.
To the left here we have a nice shot of the Micro Tom with some green, ripening, and ripe tomatoes on it. As you can see this is an extremely low-growing cultivar.
To the right is the Florida Petite. It is about twice as tall (at a whopping 6-8 inches) but has similar total mass. The reason they both look a little sickly is because I’m lazy and wasn’t paying good attention to the state of the air stones, which clogged up.

I’m guessing this hurt yield a bit, but it seemed to have affected both plants pretty equally so I’m considering the contest to still be “fair enough”.
On the left here we have a closer shot of the prettiest fruit cluster on the Micro Tom. I’m not certain why some of them display folded shoulders like that, and it doesn’t really alter the flavor at all, so it doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned. Many of the Micro Tom’s fruit seem to be irregularly shaped, and they’re all smaller on average than the Florida Petite.

To the right is a cluster on the Petite, which as you can see here matured more slowly than the Tom.

At this point I was ready to declare the Micro Tom the winner, since it seemed both faster to mature and more prolific, but I was withholding final judgment until I could taste-test the difference between the two.
For better size comparison I provide the picture on the left, holding fruit from the Micro Tom that I picked (you can see them in the previous Tom pictures).

The fruit from the Micro Tom are a little tougher than most cherry tomatoes, mainly because the smaller fruit have the same skin as a larger tomato, making it comparatively thicker for the smaller fruit. It’s a good-tasting tomato, but nothing that’s going to win an award or get people especially excited. However, it’s a really nice tomato for salads since it’s small enough to pop several in your mouth at once and unlike a full-sized cherry tomato, you don’t have to carefully balance it on a fork or chase it around the bowl trying to spear it. They’re small enough to sit quite happily atop a fork (particularly if you use some dressing to make them a bit stickier.)

The fruit of the Florida Petite, however, are more the size you’d expect from a cherry tomato, ripen to a redder color, and have a brighter, juicier flavor. While the Petite seems to produce fewer fruit (at least in this limited experiment) it does grow a similar total weight of tomatoes. I don’t have exact figures because I tend to eat as I pick, but it’s close enough for my satisfaction.

My final verdict is that the Micro Tom is ideal for extremely cramped growing locations, or anytime you want a fast-bearing carpet-style tomato plant, but it is in my opinion more novelty than salad contributor. The Florida Petite better balances size, yield, and quality. It may take a 2-3 weeks longer to mature, but it’s worth the wait. Of course both plants are still going, so if anything new develops I’ll let you know.

The final picture above to the right is a recent snap of both plants in the closet. As you can see I’ve been neglecting them more recently because I’m kind of anxious for them to finish up so I can start my next project.

Below I have pictures of the three fish I caught awhile back and talked about in the Fishing – Doctor’s Orders post. They’re kind of Goldilocks-style: small, medium, and large. Though really none of them were “big”, they were quite tasty. The final picture is post-cleaning. Yes, I left the tail on one of them. Call it gross, call it whatever, I learned from my grandfather that fried catfish tails were good to eat and so any fish I decide to cook whole (instead of filleted) I leave the tail on.

You can also see me demonstrating here the best way to hold a catfish. Press the palm of your hand on the top of the fish, forcing the spiny dorsal fin back, flat against the body. With your thumb on one side and your middle finger on the other, hook in behind the spiny side fins, push them forward, and grab the bony protrusions there. Grip firmly and you’ve got ahold of your catfish in a way it can’t really get out of or scratch you with its fins. Simple!

This is another way you can hold onto a catfish, but it’s less recommended. Catfish small enough for this method are better held over the top, and catfish too big for the over the top method… well try using two hands over the top or simply beating it to death with a large wooden club or something. I don’t know, I haven’t caught one of those yet so it hasn’t come up. But sticking your thumb in the mouth of a catfish this big or bigger is a good way to get scratched up because their “teeth” are basically just like really rough sandpaper and they will bite down on you. Most fishermen simply don’t care (as you can see here, I’m in that group) but if don’t want to look like someone attacked you with a metal file just stick with the over the top grip, and bring along a fisherman for handling the big ones.


Bitsy Battle: Chapter 1 – The Teen Years 22 April, 2009

Filed under: Blog — E.H. @ 4:24 pm
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100_1007As promised I’ve got another update on the Bitsy Battle.
This one covers the “mid-way” point right around the time when I mentioned it earlier in the blog.

To the left here you can see a nice full shot of the plant and growing unit, the airline is disconnected at the one-way valve on the left. These pictures were all taken in the bathtub while I was changing the nutrient solution and cleaning the bucket.

To the right is a close-up of the stem and the support system. You can see that the plant is growing fine in this system and that everything is nicely secure.

When I moved things around there was no slack or “floppiness” and I’d guesstimate this method would be secure for much larger plants. I’d have no worries growing full-sized indeterminates in this rig,
100_1009given the top support you always need for that kind of growing.

We have a nice root shot to the left here. Personally I like to see more robust root systems on my plants just because they’re pretty and all the usual male “bigger is always better” stuff. But the truth of the matter is that hydroponics just doesn’t demand that kind of massive root system. (It doesn’t hurt, but it’s not as important.)

You can also see the lower side of the support system, and that my earlier decision to cut larger holes in the netting wasn’t really necessary.

To the right is the other tomato plant (the Micro Tom – the previous picture is of the Florida Petite). You can see that the Micro Tom is much shorter, denser, and has a lot more flowers/fruit so far. But the Micro Tom doesn’t know the tide will turn…
On the left I’ve got another shot of the Micro Tom, closer and with a
100_10121better view of some of the fruit bunches. The slightly asymmetrical shaping of these tomatoes doesn’t change as they mature and grow. I’m not certain to what extent that might be genetic or possibly caused by me, but I’ve still got plenty of seeds for these two phenotypes so I’ll figure that out later. For the time being, my observation is that in my non-laboratory conditions, these two plants grown under pretty much identical conditions results in the Florida Petite growing fewer, larger and rounder fruit.

At the same time I was taking these pictures, I also thinned the herd in the salad machine by harvesting a whole plant (Grand Rapids lettuce). That machine holds 6 net pots, but doesn’t have the surface area necessary for 6 mature lettuce plants so I would periodically pull a plant out to make room for the others. As you can see with my bodywash bottle as a size comparison, this was no tiny plant. Good root development, and plenty of salad/sandwich making potential.

Useful Tip: If you, like me, harvest more lettuce than you can comfortably eat immediately, I’ve found a great storage method. First off, rinse it clean if you need to (I don’t, since it grows inside away from stuff I’d need to wash off) and then dry it as fully as possible. Water is the enemy to storing lettuce, ironically. I then take some paper towels (2 per gallon ziploc bag), fold them so they fit inside the bag as flat as possible, and then carefully stack the lettuce on top of that. Once the bag is full or you run out of lettuce, zip the bag all but 1 inch shut, push as much air out as you can without crushing the lettuce, and then seal the bag fully.

The paper towels absorb excess moisture that would cause your lettuce to wilt prematurely, and limiting the amount of air inside the bag also helps keep the humidity under control. Using this method I’ve had lettuce stay good for a very long time – much longer than my wife believes anything stays good in a fridge. Oh, and if you really want to get all the mileage you can out of your greens, you can even bounce them back after wilting a little by soaking them in a bowl of cool water for 15-20 minutes. They’ll soak it up and be nice and crisp again, just like new. As long as it’s green, doesn’t smell sour, or have something suspicious growing on it, I consider it good to eat.

But let your conscious be your guide.


Bitsy Battle: The Beginning 20 April, 2009

Filed under: Blog — E.H. @ 1:15 pm
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I have finally emerged victorious over the technical difficulties that plagued my ability to upload pictures. (translation: I finally got off my backside and fixed it.)

Here we see the very beginning – two stacked 5 gallon bucket lids that have been covered in aluminum duct tape for light-proofing. I’ve drilled small holes in the center of each lid, large enough to admit plant stems but small enough to prevent a jiffy starter (also shown here with the Micro Tom seedling started in it) from passing through.

Most importantly, note the brown net-like structure. This is made from common, everyday shelf lining (or whatever it’s called). You can buy it at W-Mart or wherever, it costs practically nothing for a roll that will last you forever, and you can even use it to line your kitchen drawers/shelves. As you can see here I cut a narrow strip (slightly wider than I needed it to support). I then found the middle and carefully clipped out larger holes, also clearly seen here. I wasn’t sure if it would be helpful to do so, but I figured a little extra access for roots wouldn’t hurt, and this stuff is much stronger than it looks so I wasn’t really weakening it. (That narrow strip would likely support at least 75lbs.)

Next up I poked the middle of the strip through the hole like so.

Keep going until you’ve got enough of a loop to slip your Jiffy starter (or whatever you’re using) into place without harming your seedling, then carefully pull the ends back out until it’s snugly in place and the seedling is through the top and flush against the lid (see below).
Now the tricky part is finding a way to hold the ends tightly apart so that the plant won’t fall back down. Astute late-night television viewers will recognize the “Hercules Hook” employed in this task here. I also considered the ever-popular duct tape, but felt something more easily adjustable and more permanent would be the better choice.

This completes assembly of the upper portion of the system, solidly securing plant to lid.
Please note that nearly any single item used in the construction thus far can be easily exchanged for something similar. This is primarily an example of construction using “at hand” materials. Take the spirit from this rather than a specific shopping list.
So, on to the bucket.

At left we see how the exterior is drilled for the airline, which you can see installed with the one-way valve here.

To the right you can see inside the bucket. I glued the air stones down with silicone sealant. The one you see here is a super cheap air stone you can get anywhere (and it didn’t even last through the whole grow, so I don’t recommend that style.)
Thoughts on this design…

The airline would benefit from being more effectively secured to the side of the bucket. Each time it was necessary to clean the buckets the roots would be wrapped around the air line a little. Not a big deal. Mostly I didn’t see a simple way to do that without complicating something else.

As I mentioned, the air stone should be upgraded. Cheap air stones clog up and stop bubbling entirely, which of course kills plants.
To the right you can see a shot of the “salad machine” just set up and ready to go. It was coordinated to go with the Bitsy Battle. On the left you can see how the closet was set with both buckets and the salad machine. On the left is the 150w HPS I wrote about before, and on the right is the 105w (500w equivalent) CFL I’ve been using all along.

As plants in the salad machine matured and got crowded, I removed one at a time until three were left. Those were harvested at full maturity a couple weeks ago.

The Bitsy Battle continues and I’ll post another update in a day or two to cover the mid-way point, and then the final conclusions and photos a little bit after that.


The Actual Gardening Update 12 March, 2009

Filed under: Blog — E.H. @ 4:07 am
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For those interested in why there are no garden pictures in this update, read the previous blog entry.

Let’s see… what all have I been up to?

Well I previously documented some tomatoes I was growing “Hempy” style, which is a type of hydroponic system developed by some people who grow “that plant”. I don’t, but I do study whatever techniques I can find that my apply to legitimate gardening. That one didn’t work for me. It probably works fine, I just did it wrong somehow. I say that because my next project was essentially the same thing, but in dirt. I had the exact same problem. There’s a few working theories as to what went wrong both times, but that’s not really important.

The new tomatoes are doing great.

I got some tomato seeds from a great guy who runs the Hydroponic Workshop blog. I read his blog a lot and noticed he mentioned in one post a few months back that the tomato plant he was growing, called a “Florida Petite”, was super-small. He said that he’d been told it was the smallest variety of tomato plant. Well it just so happened I’d bought some Micro Tom seeds from Totally Tomatoes that said the same thing – that this was the smallest variety. Thus the idea of a side-by-side grow was born and I got sent some Florida Petite seeds.

Micro Tom vs. Florida Petite – The Bitsy Battle!

I do have pictures, but not on my computer yet, so look for those to come. In the meantime I can award trophies in a few categories and you can just use your imagination. Both plants are growing in standard 5 gallon buckets DWC under a 150w HPS and a 105w CFL (6500K).

Shortest: With nothing taller than 3″, this goes hands down to the Micro Tom. At under 6″ the Florida Petite is still a very short plant.
Least “volume”: Hard to say, but the Petite looks a little smaller overall.
Earliest fruit: Micro Tom by 2 weeks.
Most fruit: Micro Tom by double, currently.
Prettiest: I’d have to go with the Petite here. It’s got a more classic tomato leaf shape and a richer color to its leaves.

Observations: The Micro Tom seem healthier, having lost fewer leaves. Its leaves are considerably darker green than the Petite’s, and curl a bit more and are otherwise less symmetrical. It also spreads out more horizontally which is a big part of the reason I prefer the overall “look” of the Petite. The Petite is just a prettier plant. On the other hand, the Micro Tom has quite literally over 2 dozen tomatoes growing on it and is smaller in diameter than the lid of the bucket, so that’s a pretty heavy-fruiting plant there. The Petite may catch up in total crop, but it’s lagging behind a few weeks so it’s hard to say. My instinct says it just won’t bear as many tomatoes as the Tom.

Of course we have to wait for a taste test for any kind of final score, and I haven’t gotten any ripe ones yet. My plan is to wait until both plants have ripe fruit for a proper side-by-side taste test.

The “salad machine” as I’ve dubbed the DWC I’ve shown here previously is nearing the end of it’s latest lettuce crop. As usual I’m getting monstrous plants out of that thing but I’ve decided I’m going to retire it, at least temporarily, after this crop. It may come back later, but probably not growing lettuce. I need a shorter, wider system that’s more modular for my salad needs. Younger plants and more of them should work better. I’m still in the planning and design phase of that, and with the donation of some lights by my uncle I should be able to actually convert a significant part of my grow closet back to storage and still multiply my lettuce harvest. More as that develops.

Beyond that I’ve started preparation for my outdoor crops by making a little window grow area. I’ve currently got 4 types of tomatoes (different than the mini versions above) started there, some swiss chard, marigolds (for companion planting with the tomatoes), basil, oregano, and this cool giant flower bushy thing I took seeds from at our old place but forgot the name of. Hopefully I got a mix of the pink and white ones of those because I couldn’t tell which were which after the flowers turned into seed pods. Oh, and I’ve got a snaggled mess of strawberry crowns all in the same peat pot in the window with some vague plan to sort them out eventually. Mainly I just want a runner I can put into hydroponics.

All that remains to mention is the garlic I planted last fall that hasn’t come up yet and the tulips I planted this winter that also haven’t come up yet despite the neighbors all having theirs up already. I’m not terribly worried just yet, but I’d prefer more than just bare dirt.


Laid out, Laid back; To-may-to, To-mah-to 22 July, 2008

Filed under: Blog — E.H. @ 8:53 pm
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Well it’s Tuesday. Not just any Tuesday – one of those Tuesdays.

Not that anyone but my immediate family is keeping track, but the ongoing saga that is my reconstructive dental work is a series of alternating Tuesdays that see me laid out on the living room couch (where I can more easily snag passers-by to come over, read what I’ve typed on my laptop screen so that a new ice pack or whatever can be brought to me.) My blood pressure is naturally just low enough that it’s a little too easy for me to get dizzy for awhile after having work done.

In fact, the dentists very quickly learned that if it’s the sort of thing that’s going to leave me with a mouthful of gauze for a few hours, I shouldn’t even try to stand up out of the dental chair until my BP is on the north side of “has a pulse”. Those free blood pressure things at local supermarkets have – more than a few times – told me I didn’t have any. Blood pressure, that is.

So here I am, stuck on the couch, with my Season 4 of MacGyver and the Internet to keep me occupied. I suppose I could work (since I telecommute), but no, that’d just be silly, wouldn’t it? (Honestly though, I’m not slacking – I schedule time off for this and besides, I don’t charge anyone anything for thinking I do while popping a Vicodin every 4 hours.)

In a weird kind of way, it’s nice. We self-employed don’t really get vacation time, paid sick leave, or really very many weekends. So as far as I’m concerned, being “laid out” is a nice way to be “laid back” for a change. I figured I’d take this opportunity to muse for a bit, mention some things I’ve been meaning to update, and so forth. In a word, ramble.

Why? Because I can. It’s my blog, I can ramble if I want to. Besides, since I’m chemically-enhanced at the moment I can just blame the Vicodin if I sound stupid, right?

Let’s see… updates…

The garden in general is doing pretty well. I had some red onions from the supermarket that sprouted way back and I planted them. They grew, went to seed, and I tried to collect some seeds. No idea yet if I got anything viable out of that, but the plants are dying back. I score that one as a big “shrug”.

Got some white bunching type onions that are doing well in the commercial Earth Box I have, and not as well in the garden (but not terrible). I’m probably going to yank the big one and dice it up nice and fine and cook it in my obscenely good secret recipe broccoli cream soup with cheese and ham and such. Since I’m on a no-solid-food diet for the next two weeks at least, I’ve been eating a lot of that. It’s the sort of soup that, if served with a sandwich, results in a left-over sandwich. One bowl will stuff you to the gills. Love it.

The tomatoes are just insane. The giant cherry tomato tree thing growing next to my A/C unit in the barbecue ash pile is doing a fair impersonation of the magic beanstalk, and will have it’s first bunch of tomatoes ripe any day now. This will fall into the category of “Things I’ll Eat No Matter How Much It Might Hurt”. One of the clusters it has higher up has something like 25 growing green fruit on it. Honestly, the plant is a little scary. Score this one as “smile nice and never turn your back on it”.

I have a new basil plant, growing outside in a pot. My Roma tomato has put on a second wind, but still hasn’t set any fruit. The upside-down tomato from my “version 2.0” post is ticking me off. It’s just not growing that much and it’s looking weak. I’m scoring that as a “shrug and glare”. The garlic on the front porch in containers is doing okay, but not impressing me. I didn’t really plant it at the right time, so I’m not worried.

A lot of what I do, like the Compost Guy, Bentley, is done “wrong” either because I’m still learning a lot or because I don’t really care that much. I started some tomatoes late. I planted garlic in late spring. That kind of stuff. A lot of it’s just because I could, and didn’t care so much whether I got great results or not.

In Hydroponics I’ve got a new salad crop started in my DWC. When I did that my drain valve started leaking, so I had to kind of do an emergency replacement of the entire reservoir. I quickly installed a water level indicator in the old reservoir and drilled it for 4 airlines (instead of the 2 it had used previously) and pulled the fancier one out of duty until I can seal the leak. Basically, it’ll go back into use at the next reservoir change. That DWC is now growing Grand Rapids lettuce, Romaine lettuce, and spinach.

I also have a sweet bell pepper plant that’s just about to go crazy-bushy on me and two teeny little tomato seedlings. I’ve got a Brandywine and a Giant Valentine growing the first true leaves. Oh, and I’ve got an oregano seedling peeking out the top of its Jiffy starter… I need to remember to get a pot for it soon.

Indoor dirt plants include a Micro Tom and a strawberry plant that should be appearing above ground soon. They’ve got humidity tents / cat forcefields that are made from my standard unit of construction: the 2L soda bottle.

That’s about it for now I think.  One of these days I need to figure out how to better format my posts so they don’t look like this (all smooshed together and hard to read), but today is not that day.  Today is more of a nap day.


Better than Free Hydroponics 21 July, 2008

Filed under: Blog — E.H. @ 1:26 am
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Here it is, as promised, my MacGyver-style home hydroponics.

Unfortunately, as I’m prone to do, I built this thing in a obsessive-compulsive rush and didn’t pause to document the process so we have to make due with photos of the finished product and my descriptions of how it was built. Let’s begin with an overview.

Let’s say we want to grow a small tomato plant (or something similar) with a minimum of fuss and using only items of little or no value that are laying about. Now a wick system would probably be the easiest way to do this, so of course I dismissed that out of hand. No sense in making the problem too easy to solve, right? Instead let’s take it a step up – DWC. This requires some kind of air pump, and barring some MacGyver’ed version of an air pump we’ll have to actually get one of those, but we’ll dismiss that for the moment. (Besides, a basic Wal-Mart air pump only runs about $10.)

Parts List:

2L bottle

Empty yogurt cup (style with an outward upper lip and narrow bottom than top)

Spare airline tubing

A bit of aluminum foil (perhaps 1 square foot)

Duct Tape (can’t MacGyver without it)

Super glue or silicone sealant

Some kind of hydroponic medium

A plant


a knife (preferably a Swiss Army knife like MacGyver’s, but as long as it’s sharp any knife will do.)

a drill (preferably with a drill bit slightly smaller than your airline

a pair of pliers

a needle or pin

a source of fire


So the first order of business is to create a substitute for the airstone. If you’ve got a lot of extra airline laying around (say a couple feet or so) skip down a bit and see what I suggest you do instead of what I did.

Anyway, you can make a decent amount of bubbles with just the airline sticking into the bottom of the reservoir, but we can do better. Get your airline, fire, pliers, and the needle/pin. Now you want to heat up one end of the airline a bit without really burning it or melting it too much. Just get it soft. Then mash down on that end with the pliers, sealing the end completely. Then stab that end over and over with the pin around the last inch or so.

This makes our “air stone” by allowing a few dozen little sites for the air to escape as small bubbles.

You can kind of see the “airstone” at the bottom of the bottle, at right.

Fill up your bottle with hot water to soften the glue on the label, and strip the label off. I like to pull down on it like I’m trying to peel off a sock, but it doesn’t really matter how it gets done as long as it gets done. Empty the bottle afterwards.

Next, drill a hole in the side of the bottom of the bottle using a drill bit that’s slightly smaller than the airline so you get a nice, tight fit. It may fight tight enough that you don’t need to seal it, but you ought to anyway. (Especially if, like me, you get a couple small radial cracks in the plastic as you drill through.) To make drilling easier, I recommend leaving the cap on so the bottle is firmer.

If you have extra airline, as I mentioned above, drill your hole before you crimp the end shut. Then feed the airline through the hole and out the top of the bottle, then do your crimping and stabbing full of holes stuff that way. You can then draw the line back out, pulling the “airstone” into the bottom of the bottle.

If you don’t have extra airline (like me) it won’t matter how neatly you drill the hole since you’re going to have to cut a slit out from the hole to let the crimped end fit through. (You can’t feed it through from inside since your hand won’t fit down into the bottle.)

Once you have the “airstone” roughly centered at the bottom of the bottle, glue all the cracks/gaps/edges with superglue and/or silicon sealant so you won’t have any leaks. I recommend filling the bottle once that’s done and dry to make sure it’s water-tight. Keep in mind that water will seep into the airline and drip out that way, so keep the outer end elevated to prevent that. (You can see in my pictures below that I have it taped up for this very reason.)

Now the reservoir is built, we need to create some way for a plant to be installed. We could simply make a collar for the plant to fit into the neck of the bottle (a little piece of sponge would work decently well, cut a groove in one side, slide the crown in, then “cork” the bottle with the whole thing. That will work, but be harder to refill.

Instead, take your empty yogurt cup, turn it upside down, and fit it over the nozzle of the bottle as straight as you can. Then mark the bottle around the cup where the bottle and cup meet. Use the knife to cut along that line, just below it so the hole is slightly bigger than the cup. It should now fit down into the top of the bottle and be supported by the lip of the cup.

Next, drill a bunch of holes in your yogurt cup, sides, bottom, etc. You don’t need to turn it into complete swiss-cheese, but you want plenty of holes for roots. Now we’re almost done.

The final step of construction is to make the bottle light-tight. Light + hydroponic solution = bad microbes (fungus, algea, and other crud). So we don’t want light getting in. If you have metal tape that works best, but most people don’t have that just laying around. Duct-tape and aluminum foil, however, are commonplace. First tear your aluminum foil into narrow strips as long as the bottle and about an inch narrower than the tape. To do this I took a ruler, pressed it down hard on top of the foil, and then pulled the foil upward in a smooth motion to tear it neatly in a straight line. This doesn’t have to be perfect, but the neater the better.

Tear yourself some strips of tape a bit longer than you need, and affix the foil carefully down the center of the tape. Then cut one end off flush with the end of the foil (this end will match cleanly with the top edge of the bottle that way) and apply it as smoothly and cleanly to the bottle as you can. Repeat this with just enough overlap to ensure the entire bottle is encased not only in tape, but aluminum foil as well. Duct tape doesn’t block light, foil does. If you like, leave a narrow gap in the tape in one spot so you can see the water level inside. If you want to do that, the spot where the airline is installed is a good place to do it.

Now you can fill your cup with the hydroponic media, put in your plant, and hook up your air pump.

My system has a Micro Tom hybrid tomato plant started in it. It’s a type of tomato plant specially bred to remain very, very small. This system is much too small for most any other kind of tomato plant. If you’re interested, I got my tomato seeds from Totally Tomatoes, and here’s a link to the Micro Tom. I haven’t grown one before, but it’s supposed to grow to be only 6-8″ tall, which means it should be the perfect size for our 2L DWC.

So far my little seedling hasn’t gotten its roots past the cup, so I haven’t had the airline attached (it’s basically just a wick system right now with water in it.) It will need aeration soon, though.


Coolest. Post. Ever. 20 July, 2008

Filed under: Blog — E.H. @ 10:21 pm
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At least as far as I’m concerned.

Okay, so in my last post I showcased some modifications I’d made to my worm bin to keep my new Euros more calm and serene (and on the task of munching garbage into castings). I mentioned that I had followed the design laid out by Bentley, a guy I’ve gotten to know a bit by bugging him with (long-winded) emails full of questions about worms. I linked to one of his blogs (Red Worm Composting, which I’ll link here in a bit) and said some nice stuff about him, every word of it true. (He also writes the Compost Guy site which you should immediately bookmark, read, and love – just as soon as you’ve finished reading my post here.)

I sent him a link to my last post hoping he’d like it and maybe mention it in his blog – some nice little “Oh and by the way, if you have some trouble with rowdy European Nightcrawlers, check out how this guy dealt with them” blurb and that’d be it. But no, Bentley is far too cool a guy to do that. Instead, he wrote a post that is quite possibly one of the more flattering things anyone has ever done for me since my wife agreed to marry me.

“MacGyver of the Worms”. Me. How friggin’ cool is that?

Undoubtedly there are those among you who, like my wife, fail to see the pure unmitigated awesome that is Angus MacGyver. This is okay. You can tell yourself I’m a gargantuan nerd to idolize a fictional character who uses ingenuity to solve problems using nothing more than his brilliance and a few ordinary items at hand. You wouldn’t be the first, and I’m sure you won’t be the last.

You’d be wrong, but that’s okay, I still like you. Even when you laugh at me for owning all 7 seasons of MacGyver on DVD, I’ll still smile and know that it’s just because you don’t understand, and that it’s okay for not everyone to understand.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not just some nutty fan. I can’t rattle off episode names and numbers or tell you all the various contraptions he built using a gum wrapper and some duct tape. I’m just a huge slobbery fan of the spirit behind the show – that of using what’s at hand rather than throwing something away and replacing it with something new. I’ve always had a hunger to know how and why things work (or don’t work) and every time something around me broke the first question I asked as a kid was “can I have it?” I disassembled a toaster before I mastered indoor plumbing.

So yeah, I kind of am MacGyver. I’d almost always rather build something myself than buy it off the shelf, especially if I can build it cheaper but often even when it would cost more to DIY. My favorite phases are “I built that” and “I fixed that”. I drive a early 80’s Honda and I’ve never called AAA. My first car had a functional smoke screen. The laptop I bought a couple months ago for work was the first computer I owned since my Commodore 64 that I didn’t build myself.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t put me on cloud nine each and every time someone makes the comparison.

So Bentley, thank you. That was probably the coolest thing you could’ve done in my book. You rock.

Oh, and everyone stay tuned. I’m going to show off some of the other MacGyver’ed stuff I’ve done recently.

Want to grow a hydroponic tomato plant using nothing but a couple leftover odds-and-ends that most people would probably throw away? I did. I’ll show you how shortly.