Hydroponic Bok Choy Grown By My 4 Year Old

My 4 year old wanted to grow something in our garage garden so since we cook a lot of Asian food (my wife is Filipino), we decided we should plant some Bok Choy.  

Now, keep in mind that Bok Choy is NOT a warm weather plant and our garage easily gets close to 100 degrees so I wasn't sure if this would even work, but I figured it's worth a try. 

4 Year Old Chloe Planting Hydroponic Bok Choy

90+ Degree Rez Temps

So throughout this grow, the temp was between about 75-93 degrees (water temperature). That is in and of itself pretty amazing for any plant, let alone a plant which tends to go to seed once it gets above 70. 

On top of that, I did NO water changes for the entire 30 days and only adjusted pH 2 times. This wasn't intentional, but I put way too much nutrients in at first like an idiot and about killed them, so I just kept diluting the water as it evaporated. I added new water 3 times during the grow (RO water only, no nutes).

 At 90+ degrees, the water can evaporate relatively quickly, in fact there is some yellowing of the tips of some of the leaves here because I left it while on vacation and came back to maybe 25% of the water left in the rez which meant my PPM was insane (1.5k!).

But, all in all, I think they did pretty well given the circumstances, even with all that heat and lack of water changes and drought, the roots were pearly white!

After 2 Weeks

After 30 Days

So What's The Secret To Mitigating Against High Rez Temps?

I honestly don't know. I have never grown anything in an environment as hot as this before and I tried a few new things at once so it's hard to tell which one made the most difference.  

There are 3 things I believe to have affected the plant's resistance to heat: 

 

Posted on August 27, 2013 .

Aquafarm Pump Failure Disaster!

So I was out for a couple of days and didn't think anything of leaving my Aquafarm running like it had been for over a month now. Last night, I walk downstairs to get some water and hear a humming/buzzing noise coming from the Aquafarm. I go to see if maybe the noise suppressing insert on the pump had become dislodged again.  

NOPE

Turns out that while the pump was still operating and blowing air, it for some reason didn't have enough power to get water up to the grow bed, meaning that my grow bed had dried out completely and was now covered in dry mold. I has a sad :(   

So what happened?

Truthfully, I have no idea still. I came and found that the Aquafarms pump wasn't pumping water up into the grow bed, yet it appeared to still be blowing air out of the hose, and upon my playing with it for a few minutes it seems to have started pumping water again. 

My current theory is that the Aquafarm's pump slowly rattled until eventually the air hose became partially detached and thus couldn't maintain enough pressure to keep things going. 

What about the lettuce?

Turns out that I cannot grow lettuce in my Aquafarm. My window has quite a bit of sunlight but apparently not enough. After 1 full month, all that's grown is some bolted lettuce that would barely constitute a single bite of food for anything larger than a rabbit.

Here's some pics of the aftermath

In the end I had to remove the top even though I got the water pumping again because I didn't want all that nasty dried mold to get into my  fish's water so I took it off and left the air hose running directly into the water for him.  

How to avoid Aquafarm pump failure next time? 

For those with an Aquafarm, you know that this unit is so set-and-forget that you may forget it even exists sometimes. But like all things with moving parts, it needs to be maintained, and apparently that includes making sure the air hose is snugly connected to the pump as it has a tendency to vibrate off. 

Oh well, now I can get started on my next project: Growing in the Aqufarm under a T5 light.  

 

Posted on August 23, 2013 .

Buddah Box: The Most Compact Grow Op You've Ever Seen

Today I stumbled across this BEAST of a system pictured above. Meet the Buddah Box by SUPERCLOSET, one of the coolest designs for a grow tent/NFT system I've ever seen. 

What Is It?

According to the makers, The Boodah Box is an all-in-one system that packages a "verticalponics" system and a "superponics" watering system into a grow tent. This is a tent of their own making, instead of being sourced by another company like Gorilla Grow Tents (review here). Random meaningless proprietary names aside, what this system is is a very compact tri-level NFT system using fence post style gutters and a  10 gallon reservoir. 

It's sexy and it knows it.
 

How Does It Work? 

So now that we've stripped it down by removing the grow tent, we can begin to see a little more about how the Buddah Box actually works.   

Basically it comes with two 600w HPS fixtures/bulbs and they hang suspended in the middle of the tent, giving ample light coverage to each row of NFT gutters. It can be upgraded to carry two 1,000w HPS bulbs as well.  

It also comes with an integrated trellis system which I think is pretty neat. It manages keeps cool by sucking all of the hot air out from the HPS lights via a duct fan on the ceiling as well. 

But how do I get into the thing? 

It appears that their solution is having their grow tent unzip to expose most of the outer walls, but I feel like this would still not be ideal as the interior would be essentially off limits to the grower once a lot of foliage starts growing. Not a huge deal, but one of the setbacks of the system.  

So in a 5x5x5 area you can grow 48 medium sized plants in this thing, which seems pretty efficient to me. Plus, the system is plug and play, it comes with everything you need, even TDS and pH meters, pumps, fans, aeration, the whole 9 yards. Sign me up right? 

WRONG: They are charging the laughably outrageous price of not one, not two, but $5,000! 

Don''t make me laugh, you could build this yourself for under $500 (the frame/NFT) and then buy all the fans and lighting and stuff for another $500. The only thing that would be tricky is setting up the light to hang in the middle of the tent but I bet something like that could be rigged up in no time. Build this at home yourself kids, don't pay this completely unjustified price.  

Are Bigger Buddah Box Models available? 

Absolutely. For the even more laughable price of nearly $5,500, you can get the (arguably way cooler) walk in system that can grow 78 plants.

This one is really cool actually if you can take a moment to stop laughing at the price tag. 

This larger model (8x8x8)  allows you to grow up to 78 plants, and you can actually walk into this unit to tend to the plants from inside the square there. 

I really like this setup. So much so, that I am going to make building one of these for outdoor use my next priority. I will of course give a step by step in both written and video format so you can follow along at home and build your own.  

To see how cool this thing is, check out the video below (then imagine how cool it would look in your backyard!) 

Posted on August 19, 2013 .

OutdoorHydro T5 Grow Light Raffle

CONGRATULATIONS to Vineet Velagandula , the winner of this month's Outdoor Hydro Raffle! 

Check back in a few weeks for our next raffle and maybe you too can win free hydro gear! 


Welcome to the first of many monthly raffles here at OutdoorHydro! Each month we will be raffling off one item; sometimes some lights, sometimes some nutrients or supplements, and sometimes something like a ballast. 

There are several ways you can win, you get one "ticket" for entering, and you can then gain additional entries by doing things like following us on twitter, liking us on Facebook, checking out our partners at EpicGardening etc. This will give you a chance to have 5+ entries and increase your odds of winning!  

Each raffle will be two weeks in length, and the shipping is all on me so sign up fast for your chance to win! 

 

This month's giveaway: 

The T5 light I used to grow my indoor basil! It's used, but it works as good as new! This light is perfect for any type of green, non-fruit bearing plant such as basil, lettuce, bok choy, arugula. The possibilities are endless.  

After entering, share on facebook, twitter etc to gain additional raffle tickets and increase your odds of winning! Each contestant can earn 8 entries just by sharing with their friends, and each person who clicks your link on facebook or twitter will earn you another entry! 

Some pics of the light: 

Posted on August 6, 2013 .

Watersafe Hydroponic Water Test Kit

I ran across this Hydroponic Water Test Kit while I was at the 2013 Indoor Gardeners Expo hosted by Maximum Yield. This is something I think a lot of people can benefit from, and something which I was looking for when I first got into hydroponics but it didn't yet exist yet (or at least I wasn't able to find anything like it at the time). 

This Hydroponic Water Test Kit is made by Discover Testing  and is ONLY $17.95, which I think is a great price considering what it accomplishes. 

What This Kit Tests For

So what this kit comes with is various supplies which can be used to test for 6 different factors that, if they aren't up to par, can inhibit growth of your hydroponic plants. It is one time use and only really needs to be performed on your tap water once unless for some reason you expect that the quality of your tap has changed drastically since the last test. 

Highlights of this product: 

  • Detects six common growth inhibitors
  • Get professional lab results on the spot
  • No wet chemistry
  • Single use

The kit itself test for these factors: 

How To Use The Watersafe Hydroponic Water Test Kit: 

Test#1: Bacteria

Take your water sample, insert it into the test vial. The vial contains a powder which is what will react with your tap water in order to determine whether it contains harmful levels of "bad" bacteria. 

Simply add water, shake for a few seconds, then leave somewhere that has a temperature of 70-90 degrees and let sit for 48 hours.  

How to Read The Results: 

  • Negative: Liquid will be purple
  • Positive: Liquid will be yellow

Test#2: Pesticides

The second test will test your tap water for the two most common and harmful pesticides that are found in drinking water: Atrazine (3 ppb) & Simazine (4 ppb) 

Take the included pre-measured pipette and use it to fill the vial with a single squeeze of your water sample. It will only be a few drops but this is normal. Next, take your test strip and put it into the vial, and let it sit for a period of 10 minutes. 

How To Read The Results:

Once 10 minutes has elapsed, compare it with the provided chart to see your results.  It reads similar to a pregnancy test:

  • Positive: Right line darker than the left line
  • Negative: Left line darker than the right line, or if both lines are equally dark.

Test#3: Iron Content

The third test will let you know if you have levels of iron in your water which are above the threshold for water used in hydroponics. 

Simply take the included test strip and place it into your water sample, wave it gently back and forth for 5 seconds in the sample and then remove. Wait two minutes and read results. 

How To Read The Results: 

Compare the color of your test strip to the below chart to determine the iron content (in PPM) of your sample.

Test#4: pH / Hardness / Chlorine

The final test included with the water quality test kit will determine the pH, Hardness & Chlorine content of your water sample. 

Simple dip the included test strip into your water sample,  remove, and wait 15 seconds.

How To Read Results: 

Simply compare the colors on the test strip to those in the below chart: 

For those of us not using reverse osmosis water, this is by far the best way to determine if your tap water is of acceptable quality to be used with hydroponics. All growers using tap should perform this test on your water prior to use, to determine if additional filtration is required. 

Please note that in the final test, the pH can be changed after the fact and the chlorine can be removed by simple letting it sit out in the open air for a day (it evaporates within 24 hours). So don't fret if those numbers don't look good to start out with as they can easily be corrected. Everything else will require some level of filtration.  

This kit can be purchased for $17.95 from the Discovery Testing here

Watersafe Hydroponic Water Test Kit Video Review

Posted on August 4, 2013 .