Fresh Winter Salads with Small Scale Indoor Hydro – Epi-3402 — 1 Comment

  1. A couple hacks to add…

    Greenhouse: The 5 tier models can offer 2 usable “tall” shelves for growing while leaving space for storage or a water tank. Counting up from the bottom, don’t install shelves #3 and #5. This leaves #1 for storage or a tank, #2 and #4 for growing with extra headroom. Hack: You can use the spare wire shelves to mount the Barrina-style lights to form an array.

    Note: The type specifying “PE Cover” are far more durable than the clear plastic covers. I’ve had mine outdoors, on the shady north side of my house for >7yrs, and they are just now breaking down. I’d be lucky to get through 2 seasons with the clear plastic.

    Nutrients: I have to plug Urban Farm fertilizer concentrates again, and for greens I recommend their all-purpose vegetable blend vs Texas Tomato Food to which can cause greens to bolt/flower prematurely. Urban Farm seem to have ramped up production, so sourcing is less of an issue these days. It’s great stuff, more “natural”, and very well rounded in that it includes more micro-nutrients, minerals, humic acid, lots of calcium, and even some mycorrhizae that’s missing from the full synthetics. All that while remaining a simple 1-part product. Hack: The high calcium content can cause it to crystalize and settle to the bottom. Add 1oz wood vinegar per gallon of concentrate and it’s far less prone to crystallization.

    Yet another simple growing method, this time hybrid hydro+soil: Use large-ish net pots as mini wicking beds or “wicking pots”. 4” pots are my sweet spot between the number of plants per shelf and stability vs smaller pots. Use regular potting mix or other wicking grow media and add whatever you want, biochar, rock dust, minerals, mycos, a little compost, etc. Put the pots in a tray (ordinary 1020 trays work well) with anywhere between ¼” to 1” of water. Lower is generally better, but you can go up to the 1” range if you’re manually watering and need an extended time between waterings. Refill by pouring water in the tray, not the top of the pots. The grow media will wick up moister and the slots in the pots will allow it to breath vs going anaerobic. The slots also do a decent job of air-pruning the upper roots, making extraction easier if you decide to transplant elsewhere.

    Pros: A bit more “natural” especially if you use regular fertilizer instead of hydro, just know hydro nutrients will outperform regular fertilizer because of their higher bioavailability. Net pots are very durable and reusable. Can be used to grow out plants for transplant. Water held in the grow media can save your butt if the tray goes dry. Plants perform well with the consistent air/moisture ratio, and air roots never drown from top watering. Roots air-prune rather than spiral like they do in regular pots. You can go days between manual refilling. Wicking pots also work great for rooting cuttings.

    Cons: Fine grow media will leak out of the net pot and into the tray. This is a potential problem if you’re using a pump, but just fine if you’re manually watering. You can use courser material for the bottom layer to mitigate this. If plants get too tall, they can become top heavy and tip over. You can use larger pots for better stability if you’re ok with fewer plants per shelf.

    FYI the link for lights is pointing to low power 10W Barrinas. The Barrina/Kihung grow lights are 24W. Right now (11/18/2023) the 6pk of Barrina are $10ea after coupon and 8pk of Kihung are $8.75ea after coupon.