This week in your Kitchen Garden.

Discussion in 'suburban75' started by Mrs Magpie, Mar 6, 2005.

  1. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    I just ordered a cheap PH meter. £15 inc delivery.
    I will hold fire on the EC/TDS meter.
    The nutrients I will pick up locally for £11.
    The air pump was £15
    The trough, net cups and clay pebbles which I had already perhaps a tenner.
    This watercress had better be productive. :hmm:

    Hopefully next year I will be ready to have a larger unit outdoors in and out of the greenhouse.

    In retirement I will be setting up a full-scale hydroponic / aquaponic facility.

    Meanwhile I am experimenting with vaseline mixed with salt smeared on the window to discourage my snaily friends from entering and grabbing my watercress before I even manage to harvest any.

  2. nogojones

    nogojones Well-Known Member

    Is that some sort of growlight on your watercress?
    Pickman's model likes this.
  3. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Just a 9 watt LED lamp from screwfix I happened to have spare - since it's so grey here.
  4. nogojones

    nogojones Well-Known Member

    Its been years since I've grown anything under lights (tomatoes obvs...) and I don't think LEDs were about back then. Do they have enough lumens to promote growth and the right spectrum of light?
    Pickman's model likes this.
  5. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Not for tomatoes perhaps, but absolutely fine for seedlings - or very expensive salad.
    I'm planning to fit an ambient light sensor to my watercress unit to switch it off when the sun is shining in.

    A prime motivation for me is that I have hardly any cheap Screwfix CFLs left and they no longer sell them - the wretched things were very good for plant growth but never lasted as long as promised. Linears are still viable I suppose - though lacking oomph. - maybe I will strip down my remaining 2 footers and assemble a tightly-packed shelf for one last test.

    And I paid under £3 for 50 watts' worth of white strip so they're as cheap as chips so long as you have a junk bin at work full of 12 volt PSUs.

    I'm about to do a side by side comparison of white and 4:1 red:blue strip and will probably have a go at making some far more intense units.

    I note that Philips are no longer overtly marketing HID lamps :-

    Horticulture Products - Philips Lighting
  6. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    There's amazing stuff going on at the overlap between electronics and horticulture :-

  7. nogojones

    nogojones Well-Known Member

    Well the world has moved on. I used to keep an eye out for the leckies in work when they were changing the lights on the crane, as they used the same 400 watt HPS son-t's that I used at the time. Always useful to swap every six months or so
    gentlegreen and Pickman's model like this.
  8. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    There's a lot of bullshit startups though too :-

    Somewhat like "solar roadways" and "plastic from harvested CO2"

    caveat emptor ...
  9. campanula

    campanula plant a seed

    Bruce BUGBEE!
  10. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian


    well spotted !

    He was BORN for his profession :D

    He grows plants in space apparently :)
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2017
  11. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise that watercress roots so easily in aerated water - even somewhat beaten-up salad from Aldi :)

    scifisam likes this.
  12. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Arse :p

    I decided I would disconnect the linkage in the bathroom louvre window in preparation for the watercress and I managed to step on the removed patterned glass (I'd already replaced the top one with perspex after a similar accident several years ago). :p

    Luckily the spare (longer) one from downstairs turned out to NOT be toughened glass so it cut cleanly rather than shattering into cullet - and it makes sense for it to be plain glass ... :)

    One thing that remains to be seen is whether watercress will lend itself to being trained on wires to maximise the limited light ...

  13. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Meanwhile the cuttings are raring to go so I hope I manage to get some proper hydro nutes on Saturday- otherwise the plants only have the yellowing lower leaves to eat.

    Meanwhile I'm trapped at home recovering from flu while my new PH pen languishes at work.

    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017
  14. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    My first hydro experiment begins.

    I went to the local grow shop on the bus and annoyingly paid as much for the nutes as a bigger place charges including postage... oh well ...

    The nutes cost me £14 for 2 litres and the tank holds 10 litres of water - which needed 60ml of nutes at 0.7p per ml = 42p ... a bag of watercress costs about 90p .... :hmm:

    I will tweak the PH with lemon juice next week when I have my PH pen. These are hard water nutes and apparently it shouldn't take much adjusting.


    nogojones likes this.
  15. nogojones

    nogojones Well-Known Member

    Nutrients for hydro setups tend to the really fucking expensive, because 98% of the time they're being used for a cash crop.

    I'd consider using a general purpose fert with a steady NPK (say 6-6-6) or one that leans towards nitrogen, because for watercress you're really just after leaf growth and see how you get on. Most GP ferts have all the micro nutrients that plants require as well
    campanula and gentlegreen like this.
  16. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Thanks. :)

    I may try that later - I thought I would start off doing it a bit scientifically.
    In retirement I will almost certainly be feeding it on fish poop :)
    nogojones likes this.
  17. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    I've just taken delivery of some more seeds from ebay - not sure how they will work out as this is a very extravagant way to grow chives and beets for instance - I can see that in the future I will be setting aside garden space for seed crops.
    The chives will stay right at the bottom until I establish whether they taint other sprouts.
    At some point I will get myself to my favourite deli and see which cheap bulk seeds are worth growing.

    Meanwhile I have a massive glut emerging and I have no fridge - so I may take some to work and use the fridge there ...

  18. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Meanwhile, in spite of blocking as much light as I can, my watercress seems determined to do almost as much growing under the cover as over ... hopefully the shoots will find their own way up through the holes ...
    The plants on top are growing, but have been making flower buds - which I have been nipping off ...

  19. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    After 14 days, my green curtain is developing nicely :)
    I may nip the tops off soon to encourage sideshoots - hopefully above the polystyrene.
    I found today that the shoots that develop under the cover don't need much encouragement to grow up through the planting holes.

    I checked my PH for the first time and found it to be only slightly above 7.0, so I will buy some cheap lemon juice later - though I'm told that proper "PH down" actually lasts longer and works out cheaper.

    I've yet to calibrate the cheap PH meter, but it suggests that the nutrient manufacturers have the hard water nutes almost spot-on - since I'm using the lowest suggested strength. I will be ordering an EC / TDS pen.

    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017
    nogojones, BoatieBird and scifisam like this.
  20. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    You can never have too many mung sprouts :)
    I don't think I will persist with the beetroot and chive sprouts - I will sow them outside instead.

    The next phase of my bathroom garden will be things that need to have their roots in compost - pea sprouts, ful medames (broad beans) and sunflower.
    I'm not sure how I'm going to handle the drainage for these as I don't want nutrient runoff into the water supply for the sprouts.

  21. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    This weekend I hope to use a sheet of perspex I have lying around to box-in the lower part of the assembly - in the first instance to keep the sprout finishing area more humid - though it will also help me to extend the production season.
    I already have a secondary glazing panel for the water cress area.


    I also need to sort out the water delivery system - not least because I have just discovered there is a film of organic material building up in the sump (toilet cistern) - in spite of the lack of light and the contents getting replaced in between irrigation cycles.

    So I have a handful of options :-

    1. periodic bleaching and flushing using chlorine or sodium metabisulphite bottle steriliser or hydrogen peroxide.


    2. DIY ozone generator on a timer using a high voltage transformer :hmm:

    The second option doesn't worry me in terms of the high voltages so much as the expense of having to buy another expensive air pump for approx £15 ...

    Since I am very pleased with the performance of my £5 water pump, one option would be to convert the watercress unit to flood and drain using clay pebbles ... and in any case somewhere in my accumulated collection of junk I have two rather expensive pumps I bought 15 years ago for my first (aborted) attempt at hydroponics... and a rather noisy air pump come to that...
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017
    antimata likes this.
  22. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    I'm back from my favourite food shop with a huge haul of sproutable goodies - plus a few speculative ones such as celery seed.

  23. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    I'm serious about dealing with potential pathogens in the cistern, plus this will be a useful learning exercise for future rainwater harvesting - so I have found a caseless ozone kit that fits a standard airline for £14 - so, given I have a hefty air pump and I'm growing watercress that doesn't need the full whack, I will use the second output for the ozone and put the generator on a timer so that it doesn't operate when I'm around.
    In any case I probably need to come up with a cistern cover that I can make holes in for the pipework ...

    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
  24. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    All this may look a bit gratuitously technical, but at the end of the day, I should be producing the most amount of nutrients from the smallest space for what's actually a modest outlay - and no need for an actual garden :) (and the sort of stuff hipsters pay a mint for. ("microgreens") - it remains to be seen if I could be self-sufficient in green veggies - I would miss my broccoli and onions - and I would need to add mushroom production - though that only needs a bit of UV exposure post-harvest do do the vitamin D magic...
    Add a balcony facing almost any direction except north and you can easily scale-up hydroponics and really get to town - perhaps cut and come again pak choi ... (got to get the daily brassica ration).
    I wonder if they could genetically engineer cabbage to have as many nutrients as broccoli ? :hmm:
    I'm going to have my work cut out in the future raising my several hundred annual heads of broccoli even with an excess of land.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
    Idaho likes this.
  25. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Tomorrow I will get my first cut from the watercress when I pinch out the tips to encourage branching.
    My mesh pots arrived today, but the watercress is doing so well simply planted through holes that I'm planning instead to train all the plants back to wires across the window frame leaving room for me to insert 4 pots into which I will put clay balls and plant some supermarket basil. Hopefully pruning will get them growing again - failing that I will need to sow seeds.

    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
  26. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    And speaking of seeds ...

    I found why salad cress is usually grown as microgreens on a substrate ... the seeds produce masses of gloop which blocked the flow of water through the trays ... so I will spread them on kitchen towel instead.

  27. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    I managed to make the holes for the mesh baskets with a soldering iron and have stared tying the watercress to horizontal wires - all with only a couple of minor casualties - I'm guessing the brittleness of watercress stems helps it to spread in the wild.

    I fitted two extra baskets at the nearside - both to enable checking the level and sampling and also for syphoning and refilling / topping up.

    I washed most of the compost from the five best basil plants and have loosely placed them in the tank. Once they've had time to recover, I will adjust their planting depth and bed them in with clay balls - I was pleased to see aerial roots on one plant - doubtless due to the way they're so tightly packed. I've potted up the remaining plants and will put them outside.

    Harvesting them will be a challenge once the watercress spreads out ... :hmm:


    Last edited: Jun 21, 2017
    nogojones likes this.
  28. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    I've decided that having the plants tied to wires fixed to the window frame is massively inconvenient - not least because I want to experiment with different sorts of bubble-makers.
    I'm currently using 4 golf ball sized ceramic stones, but I have porous rubber hose to try and have ordered some porous plastic "curtain" pipes ....

    But also because I now have basil plants on the window side that need attention.

    But the polystyrene is somewhat fragile so I'll need to start with some sort of 18mm channel to run the full length so I can build a lightweight frame off of that ...
    Since I'm not actually floating the polystyrene on the nutrient solution, for the future I may be looking for an alternative - though it is very easy to make holes in with a soldering iron ...

    Today I will be finishing off the "staging" either side of my sprouting tray tower - and also the perspex boxing to keep the moisture in (and potentially the warmth in winter) and after fiddling around with fencing wire, I remembered I had some spare mini-greenhouse mesh shelves I can cut up.

    Another potential improvement is to make a cover for the cistern through which I can easily make holes - both to keep light out to minimise algal growth, and also to keep injected ozone in ...

    I caved in and ordered a second powerful airpump for my ozone injector instead of tapping off my current one - but I really needed a backup for the main one in any case ...

    I suspect though that when I scale this up for the greenhouse and outside I will be using flood and drain.

  29. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Starting to take shape ...

    As per usual I have failed to get the drip irrigation working for the microgreen area on the left ...
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
  30. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    57 varieties ...


    I've started off some of the soil-grown sprouts.
    I read somewhere that I should use mange-tout pea seeds rather than ordinary dried peas because of some "anti-nutrient" or other - more research is needed.

    EDIT:- apparently that's overly-recycled bollocks and it's only wild species that are problematic.

    Which reminds me that I will have to buy lupin and soya beans next time I go to the deli.

    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017

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