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Hydroponics Advice Answered

I'm interested in starting up a little NFT hydroponics system. I just want to grow some stuff like lettuce and cucumbers, etc. Living in Florida, is my timing really bad (is now a bad time to start)? Also, with hydroponics and veggies, after a harvest, do I need to replant, or will the plants simply continue to grow? (I'm new to plants, if you can't tell) Also - where can I find supplies like an inexpensive pump, expanded clay balls, and nutrients? Any other advice that you think I might need would be greatly appreciated, thanks!


Tool Using Animal

10 years ago

Your timing is terrible ;-) it's much too hot for lettuce and borderline for cukes, you'd lose much of your crop to pickleworms. You can plant "alternative" crops right now like quail grass, Okinawan spinach, malabar nightshade, http://www.echotech.org/mambo/ is a good source for info on those kind of crops. As to replanting, it depends entirely on the crop, if you grow loose leaf lettuce (in the fall and winter) then you can cut it back for a salad and it regrows. Cukes would keep growing if they were vining and would fruit once, and then be removed, if they were "bush" varieties, the same applies to tomatoes.

Good source for local gardening info is http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_vegetable_gardening

Good local supplier in Altamonte Springs is http://www.sunshinehydro.com/ not cheap by any means...........

Does that mean that even if I did start at the right time, my lettuce and cucumbers would die during the summer? If cucumbers vine, do they need a post to grow up? Can the fruit be used to replant in hydroponics? Are there any normal foods that I could start planting soon? Would local garden stores, like lowes or home depot have the clay balls? And lastly, is it possible to keep the pickle worms out? I would be growing in a screened in area, if that makes a difference.

In reverse order You might keep the pickleworm out on a screened porch, the moth is too large to pass through screening. You should just start looking at different lowes and HD's, I've seen it once at an HD but that was many years ago. But you can get a 50L bag for $30 from sunshine, you'll pay much more at HD or lowes because they will only have small bags, look by the Orchids. Right now, hmm, basil, southern peas,corn,pole beans,cherry tomatoes and peppers. I wouldn't replant from the fruit because most seeds or plants you get from the store are F1 hybrids, your saved seeds would then be F2 hybrids with wildly unpredictable characteristics. You can grow them up a post or even a rope hanging from a sturdy support. Yes your cukes will die, with increasing humidity and temperatures they develop powdery mildew which eventually defoliates the plant killing it. The hot temps make the lettuce become very bitter and cause it to "bolt" or flower and being an annual it dies.

I'm going tomorrow to get a pump, clay balls and nutrient. Do you have any particular recommendations for which nutrient mix to get? Also, how important is monitoring the ph for a small system like this?

I've used General Hydroponics "Flora" Series in the past and been happy with it. Honestly I've never tested my pH, it's easier to change the solution every week. You might want to test your water initially to make sure it's near neutral.

Cherry tomatoes seem like they could be a good one to start with. I'd just have to design my system to be easily expandable. I already have some nice tubing that I bought a while ago and never used. I checked it all out on google maps, and there's a harbor freight (if they have the $8 pump on their website) about 10 miles down 436 from me, and the hydro store is somewhere in between my house and harbor freight.

Lithium Rain

10 years ago

Some plants are annual (like sweet peas) and will need to be replanted, others (like tomatoes) are perennial (but in practice will eventually need to be replaced also).