Category Archives: How To

How To Transplant A Hydroponic Plant Into Dirt

I have many different hobbies that I enjoy. I sometimes use those hobbies to raise funds for projects that I’m doing. One way I’ve found to make some extra money is by selling some of the plants I grow. In the summer I take cuttings of our mums, clone them, and then transplant them into dirt pots to be sold in the fall. Aside from making some extra cash, cloning is also a great way to take a plant with desired characteristics and create copies to be used to beautify your yard and home. This is how you transplant a hydroponic plant into the dirt.

What You Need To Transplant A Hydroponic Plant Into Dirt

  • A plant from a hydroponic system, I will be using a mum that I cloned
  • A pot
  • Dirt
  • Water for the plant

Steps To Transplanting A Hydroponic Plant Into Dirt

Take the pot you are going to transplant your plant into and fill it with dirt. After filling, dig a hole in the middle that is bigger than the plant’s root system.

Next, take your clone and place it in the hole you dug. I used to net pots with foam inserts so will be removing my clone from them before planting, Plants don’t have to be bare roots to transplant. Rapid rooter plugs also work well for cloning a plant and can be transplanted into the dirt as well as hydroponics.  After planting cover the root system with dirt.

After the plant is transplanted it’s important to water it immediately. Hydroponic plants are accustomed to having water at all times so it will shock them at first. You should make sure to water the plant often with longer durations in between watering to get it accustomed to being in the dirt.

Often the sun is too intense to leave your plant out in permanently at first. It’s best to ease it into life outdoors by putting it out in longer durations of a period of a week to get it used tot he intensity. If you find your plant wilting, watering immediately can bring it back, waiting too long and it could be lost.

If it looks like the plant is lost, don’t get rid of it too quickly. Plants can be resilient and it still may shoot new leaves to replace the ones lost.

Here’s a short video walking you through how to transplant a hydroponic plant into dirt.

How To Transplant A Plant From Dirt To Hydroponics

I am not a patient person, it’s something I’m working on. I don’t always like to wait on germinating seeds and growing seedlings to start my hydroponic garden. To cut down the time I have to wait, I often purchase plans from the garden store then transplant them into my hydroponic system. It’s an easy process that cuts down time and ensures your starting with a strong healthy plant. Here’s how to transplant a dirt plant into a hydroponic system.

What You Need To Transplant A Dirt Plant To Hydroponics

A plant, I will be using a tomato

Container to discard dirt

Water to rinse root system

Hydroponic system or net pots with grow medium

Steps To Transplanting Plant Into A Hydroponic System

Before starting, have your hydroponic system or net pots ready with the grow medium that you’re using. Gather your supplies into 1 area. Transplanting can be messy so I recommend doing this project outside or put something down on the surface you’re using.

Plants that have not been watered recently work best. Dry dirt is easier to remove from the root system. Remove the plant from the pot or container that it’s in. Placing the plant over a container, gently start breaking up the dirt with your hand. Careful not to damage the root system too much. Continue until most of the dirt is removed from the root system.

After removing most of the dirt, dip the plant’s root system into some water to rinse away the rest of the dirt. The cleaner the better, you want the least amount of dirt as possible making it into your hydroponic system. If you’re using drip systems or small hoses, small particles will clog them.  It’s sometimes next to impossible to get off all the dirt off the roots and a small amount won’t affect the hydroponic bucket this plant is going in.

Place the plant’s roots in the hydroponic system or net pot and cover with your grow medium. Now I just hook up the airstone, plug it in and it’s ready to grow.  For more of a visual check out the video below.

 

Cut And Come Again Hydroponic Lettuce Harvesting

Cut And Come Again Hydroponic Lettuce HarvestingWhen it comes to harvesting lettuce, there are a few different methods you can use. One of the more popular methods of harvesting lettuce for the at home hydroponic gardener is the cut and come again method.

About The Cut And Come Again Method

Instead of harvesting the whole plant, larger leaves of the lettuce are harvested while the smaller leaves are allowed to grow longer. The process can be repeated several times to get multiple harvests out of the lettuce plant. Using the cut and come again method is often more efficient than growing from seed after each harvest. Another benefit to the cut and come again method is that it can reduce waste. If you allow your whole garden to grow the full amount of time and harvest all at once, you may not be able to eat it all before it spoils.

How Do You Know When Hydroponic Lettuce Is Ready For Harvest?

One of the great things about lettuce is you can harvest it when you want to. Whenever there’s enough leaf growth to supply the amount you need, you can harvest it. How many plants you have in your garden can be a factor. Harvesting a few smaller plants can equal the harvest of a single plant that has grown longer.

How Many Times Can You “Cut And Come Again”?

Using cut and come again you can get several harvests out of each plant. You can keep coming back until the plant starts to bolt, at that point the lettuce will begin tasting bitter.

How To Harvest Hydroponic Lettuce Using Cut And Come Again Method

This is a 2 x 3 ft flood and drain system I have set up in the corner of the garage. The lettuce had been growing for roughly a months time.

7 Steps To Starting Your Hydroponic Garden

7 Steps to starting a hydroponic gardenThere is a little more that goes into the planning portion of your hydroponic garden compared to the traditional soil garden. A little pre planning and time spent upfront can mean less of a chance of hiccup during your grow. Here are 7 steps to getting your hydroponic garden started for the year.

1. Decide What To Grow

The first thing you should do when starting a hydroponic garden is decide what type of plants you’re looking to grow. This decision will help determine what type of hydroponic system you should use, the lighting, and the amount of space you will need. Different hydroponic systems work better than others for different plants. If it’s your first time growing using hydroponics, I would recommend starting with a leafy green like lettuce. Different plants grow better in different environments so research the variety of plant that you’re looking to grow so you can best recreate that environment.

2. Decide On Your Hydroponic System

Before starting a hydroponic garden you will need to choose your hydroponic system. There are many choices when it comes to purchasing a hydroponic system. There are several different types of hydroponic systems to choose from. A few factors will go into choosing the best system for your garden. The amount of space you have, type of plants you’re growing, your budget, and the amount you want to grow all factor into the choice of a hydroponics system. Whether buying a hydroponic system or making your own, after assembling let it run before adding grow medium to make sure there are no leaks. A malfunctioning or un-level hydroponic system can lead to a water overflow mess.

3. Choose A Light Source

If you’re not using the sun as your light source then you will need to choose grow lights for your hydroponic system. Proper lighting is going to be a major factor in the success of your garden. Several factors come into play when choosing the best light for your system. There are different types of lights that have their advantages and disadvantages. Do your research to find what light setup will work best for your hydroponic garden. Some things you will want to consider when choosing a hydroponic grow light are cost, light intensity, the light spectrum and the coverage area. When starting a hydroponic garden, if you want quality choosing the cheapest route is not the best option.

4. Choose A Hydroponic Grow Medium

When planning your hydroponic garden you will have to determine what type of grow medium will work best your system. The type of grow medium you should use depends on what you’re growing and what type of system you’re using. There are several types of grow mediums offering different advantages. Some things to consider when choosing a grow medium will be cost, water retention,  aeration levels and pH stability.

5. Purchase Hydroponic Nutrients & Additives

There many different types of nutrients that come in 1, 2, and 3 part systems. For beginners to starting a hydroponic garden, I would recommend a 1 part nutrient solution such as Dyna-Gro Grow and Dyna-Gro Bloom. If you have a good understanding of a plant’s nutrient needs, General Hydroponics makes a great 3 part series. Many companies also provide general feeding schedules on their website as a guide.

You should also purchase a pH up and a pH down to adjust the pH of your nutrient solution. Plants can only take in nutrients when the hydroponic solution is within a specific range so it’s important to have some on hand in case of a spike.

There are many additives that will assist in the sterilization of your system, growth rate of your plant, the taste, and the general size of your plants. Think of them as vitamins to plants. While they are not necessary, they can give your plant that extra boost to produce at the highest level.

6. Purchase A pH Meter

You have a few options when it comes to measuring pH. You can get a liquid kit,  test strips, or an electronic meter. I prefer to use electronic meters. They are pretty inexpensive off the internet and also the most convenient.

7. Start Your Seeds

Once you get your system set up and have purchased all your supplies it’s time to start the seeds. It’s important to have everything in order before starting your seeds, in case you run into delays with your set up. To start my seeds, I prefer to use rapid rooter and place them in a greenhouse dome. When roots start showing out of the bottom of your grow medium you’re ready to transplant them into your system.

How To Grow Hydroponic Lettuce

Lettuce is the easiest vegetable to grow hydroponically. That’s why it’s a great vegetable plant for beginners to start with and used in so many hydroponic operations. Hydroponic lettuce grows fast, doesn’t take up much space and is easy to maintain.How to grow hydroponic lettuce

How To Germinate Hydroponic Lettuce Seeds

I prefer to start seeds in rapid rooter. It’s best to sow a few seeds to increase the chances of getting a successful seedling and then thin, keeping the healthiest. It only takes a few days for seedlings to show. After the seedlings rise above the starter cube, pinch the heads off of the multiples leaving the healthiest seeding. Make sure to pinch and not pull, or you may disrupt the root system of the seedling you’re going to keep. If you don’t want to start from seed,  you can purchase lettuce in dirt from the store and transplant it into your hydroponic system.

What Is The Best Temperature For Hydroponic Lettuce?

Lettuce is a cool weather crop. Lettuce grows best at temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees, going from warmer during to cooler at night. This temperature also happens to be in the range that you should keep the nutrient solution so it works out well. If your hydroponic lettuce gets too hot it will bolt, which means they start to go into the flowering phase of its life cycle. Lettuce that hasn’t bolted tastes bitter so it’s not good for eating.

Spacing Requirements For Hydroponic Lettuce

Different varieties require different spacing. I found that in most of my gardens about 8 inches apart works well. Loose leaf varieties you can put a couple of inches closer together. Lettuce that forms a firm head should be placed closer to 10-12 inches apart to allow fuller development. Lettuce has shallow root systems so they don’t require a deep grow bed.

How Much Light For Lettuce Production?

Lettuce does not require a long duration or intense amount of light to grow. Hydroponic lettuce should get between 10 and 12 hours of light per day. Since lettuce doesn’t need intense light, you have several lighting options.Many just growing hydroponic lettuce go with fluorescent lighting due to the minimal initial investment, the low power consumption, and low heat production.

Recommended pH For Hydroponic Lettuce

  • pH- The recommended pH level for hydroponic lettuce is 5.5-6.5

Days Until Lettuce Harvest

How many days it takes until you can harvest your lettuce depends on several factors. First, it depends on what variety you’re  growing. Lettuce can take can take 30 to 60 days to fully mature depending on the variety. The second has to do with preference. Growing indoors your able to control the environment allowing you to grow all year. This means your able to cut your lettuce plant down as you want when you want to eat some, then let it grow back until it’s time to cut again. In my 2 ft. x 3 ft. flood and drain I was able to have a salad at about 3 weeks. Cut from a couple of plants one day, another couple the next, spacing out your harvest and you could be able to have at least couple salads a week.

What Systems Works Best For Hydroponic Lettuce Production?

Lettuce can be grown in many different types of hydroponic systems. On a commercial level, nutrient film technique (NFT) is the primary method used. Other methods include water culture and raft systems. In my hydroponic lettuce gardens, I use a variety of methods such as water culture on a smaller scale, flood and drain systems, and nft systems. Below are some pictures of my hydroponic lettuce after I transplanted them into my a flood and drains system a have in my garage.

hydroponic lettuce 1 weeks

1 week after transplant

hydroponic lettuce 2 weeks

2 weeks

hydroponic lettuce 3 weeks

3 Weeks

hydroponic lettuce 4 weeks

4 Weeks

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5 weeks

How To Build A 5 Gallon Hydroponic Bucket

The 5 gallon hydroponic bucket may be the most simple hydroponic systems both to make and take care of. I like to use my 5 gallon hydroponic bucket systems for those plants that produce a lot of fruit, need a lot of water and/ or get big. I usually use hydroponic buckets when growing like tomatoes, watermelons, cucumbers and pumpkins, and they grow big! Why does the deep water culture hydroponics work so well? The plant roots are suspended in the nutrient rich water that is pumped full of oxygen, giving the plant what it needs. Instead of using energy to expand the root system in search of water and nutrients, the plants can instead focus all that energy on the production in growth and on its fruits.

Deep Water culture

Making a  5 Gallon Hydroponic Bucket

The 5 gallon hydroponic bucket is extremely easy to make! You probably already have many of the supplies around your house. Here is a list of materials I used to make my hydroponic bucket system:hydroponic bucket

  • 5 gallon bucket
  • Bucket lid and net pot ( You can purchase net pot bucket lids)
  • Grow medium
  • Aquarium pump
  • Air hose
  • Air stone
  • Check valve

If you don’t have a hydroponic net pot bucket lid then you can make one by cutting a hole in the bucket lid and using a smaller net pot. You can make your own but when the plant gets big a wobbly net pot is a headache. I would recommend filling your bucket with heavier grow medium, like river rock, to keep it upright if growing larger plants. Fill your hydroponic bucket with water and mix your hydroponic nutrient solution.

Hook up the air stone to the air tube and place the check valve on the end before connecting to the air pump. The check valve will stop water from coming into your air pump. Place the air stone in the nutrient solution, the bucket or net pot lid on the unit and it’s ready to go. A reservoir drain can also be added to the hydroponic bucket for easier water changes.

Deep water culture hydroponic systems can be made it reservoirs bother larger and smaller than a 5 gallon bucket. Air stones and pumps come in varying sizes means there are endless ways that you can make a simple hydroponic system!

 

How To Clone A Plant Using Hydroponics

Have you ever wished you could replicate that one perfect plant in your garden? Then you need to know how to clone a plant.  A plant clone is a shoot that is cut off a plant that is then used to grow a new plant. The plant clone grows with the exact same characteristics of the mother plant, so you know exactly what you’re getting.

I wanted to make some extra money to help with gardening expenses and know that nice looking mums can go between $5 to $15. After doing some research I found that starting mums from seeds wasn’t the easiest. It was recommended that I start new plants using plant clones. I just so happened I had an excellent mum plant decorating our home so I decided to share how to make cuttings to clone a plant.

Items Needed To Clone A Plant Using Hydroponics

To clone a plant you’re going to first need to gather a few things:

  • A healthy plant with shoots
  • A Sterile cutting tool (clean razor blades or a clean pair of scissors)
  • Something to start the clones in.
  • Rooting gel (optional)

How to clone a plant

Using hydroponic methods are probably the easiest way to clone a plant. I’m using a clone box that I made with some spare stuff I had and some leftover net pots. There are many ways to clone a plant and several ways to clone a plant hydroponically. Using this method, the plants will be suspended in oxygen rich nutrient water.

Steps To Using Hydroponics To Clone A Plant

1From your mother plant, cut away the number of shoots equal to the number of clones you’ll be taking. For this, I will be taking shoots least 5 inches in long. Some branches may have multiple shoots you can take for clones.

3If you’re using a branch,  cut off the shoots, then trim them all down to about 5 inches. Angle your cut to expose more of the inner stem. Pinch off any bottom leaves towards the bottom of the stem.

4To prevent contamination do not dip the cutting stem directly into your root gel container. I like to use a spoon and dip out some rooting gel to just use off the spoon. Dip the cutting into the rooting gel and place it into your grow medium.

IMG_6789

How Long Does It Take To Clone A Plant?

After about 2 weeks, some of the plant clones have started to show sign of root growth. When roots finally start to show, the process of root formation moves pretty quickly. When a good root system forms, it’s time to transplant them into some dirt and put them up for sale. With this method, I’m able to see the roots forming, whereas with other methods you have to wait for the root system to show through the grow medium.

root

A plant cutting 14 days after being started.

root2

The same cutting 2 days later.

Making A Hydroponic Reservoir Drain

There’s are a couple good reasons why it’s a good idea to make a drain for your hydroponic reservoir. Since light produces algae growth, the hydroponic reservoir should be dark so no light will penetrate through. This creates the problem of not being able to able to see the water level of the nutrient solution. You will have to open the lid to the reservoir, maybe even having to move things or shut down your system to get to it. A water level also makes for an easy was to drain your reservoir for water changes or just needing to move things around. It doesn’t take much water to make your reservoir heavier than you can lift or may want to lift.

Luckily it is extremely easy to make a hydroponic reservoir drain. Whether you’re using a bucket, tote or tube a drain can save you a lot of time, work, and headache.

Supplies You Need To Make Reservoir Drain

Before you start you will need to pick up a few items from your local hardware store

Hydroponic drain

  • Colored PVC tube that you can still see through works the best but is hard to find at your local store. It’s sold online but if you have to use clear or black PVC tube (I used clear for this reservoir drain) that will work as well. When using a clear tube you will have algae growth in the drain tube. Hard water buildup can also make the tube cloudy.
  • 1/2 inch elbow for PVC tube. I prefer to use rain bird elbows. They come in a 4 pack for a couple of dollars
  • 1/2 inch rubber grommet. This is something that I couldn’t find at the “major” hardware stores. They sell them online, but I was able to find them sold locally at ACE Hardware for a dollar and some change.
  • A bucket or tub to use as your hydroponic reservoir. For smaller systems, I like to use black 5 gallon buckets. For larger systems totes or tubs work well. Keep in mind the thickness of the plastic of the reservoir and the grommets spacing. Too thick of a plastic and your grommet will not fit.
  • Electric drill with a 1/2 in hole saw or 1/2 inch drill bit. A step drill bit makes things really easy.

How to Make a Reservoir Drain

Now that you have your supplies, it takes about 5 minutes to make your hydroponic reservoir drain.

  1. This first thing you want to do is decide where you’re going to drill the hole in your reservoir. You want it to be at the very bottom so when it comes time to drain your reservoir it will drain as much as possible.003
  2. Insert your rubber grommet into the hole. I suggest using a screwdriver or other tool to make sure it’s sealed well around the edges.012
  3. Take the 1/2 inch elbow and insert it into an end of the PVC Tube.030
  4. Next your going to insert the other end of the 1/2 inch elbow into the rubber grommet by slowly twisting it back and forth. Be careful not to force it or it will push the grommet through. If you take a little bit of dish soap and put it around the end of the elbow it makes this step easier.034
  5. Finally, fill your reservoir with water to make sure your seal is tight and that there are no leaks.044

You now have a drain for your hydroponic reservoir!

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6 Ways To Keep Your Hydroponic Nutrient Solution Cool

The temperature of your hydroponic nutrient solution is not something that should be overlooked. Too cold and roots will not form properly, the plant will grow slow and maybe die. A hydroponic nutrient solution that is too hot does not hold the oxygen your plants need to survive. This can cause stress to your garden and could eventually result in death. The hydroponic nutrient solution should be kept between about 65 degrees and 80 degrees. So what are some ways to cool your hydroponic nutrient reservoir?

thermo slide

Shade Your Hydroponic Reservoir

Try and keep you hydroponic reservoir in a shaded from the heat source. Hydroponic reservoirs are often dark colors to prevent algae growth. Dark color attracts light and with it heat. Building a box or cover for your reservoir can help cool down the temperature of your hydroponic nutrient solution. If your hydroponic garden is inside you may need to move your reservoir away from hot lights or equipment.

Add Ice Packs To Your Hydroponic Reservoir

Adding clean ice packs to your hydroponic nutrient solution is an easy way to combat the heat. Keep in mind you don’t want to cool down your nutrient solution too much or alter the temperature too quickly. Use an ice pack size that will make sense for the amount of nutrient solution you’re using. Frozen water bottles work well as alternatives if you don’t have any ice packs. You can use milk jugs for larger hydroponic reservoirs.

Change Your Reservoir Color

Altering the color of a dark reservoir is a good way to help control the temperature of your hydroponic solution. Painting it white will deflect heat away from the reservoir. An alternative to painting your hydroponic reservoir is wrapping it in something metallic such as foil.

Top Off Your Reservoir With Cool Water

If it is just a warmer day than usual, adding cool water to your nutrient solution may be all you need to cool down the temperature.

Bury Your Hydroponic Reservoir

If your hydroponic garden is outside, burying your hydroponic reservoir could solve your nutrient solution temperature problems

Purchase A Reservoir Chiller

If you have the money, the simple solution to cooling your hydroponic nutrient solution would be to purchase a water chiller. Water chillers can start at little over $300 and cost as much as you want to spend.

How to Adjust pH Of Hydroponic Nutrient Solution

Proper pH levels are important with hydroculture gardening. Most hydroponic nutrients have a pH buffer that helps keep the pH level of your solution at its proper levels, but a spike or dip can happen resulting in your plants not being able to take in nutrients. If your pH is off-balance, it’s important to adjust the pH levels back to the proper level. If the measured pH level doesn’t fall between 5.5 and 6.5, then you will need to adjust pH. pH balance isn’t a hard thing to correct. You may already have something around the house to use as a short-term fix until your able to pick up something more stable.

adjusting pH

What Is Natural Way To Adjust The pH Of A Hydroponic Garden?

You can adjust pH levels by adding an acid to lower your pH level or an alkali to raise it. Household items such as white vinegar or citric acid can be used to lower pH, while baking soda can be used to raise it. The problem with using these household ingredients is that it’s only a short-term fix. These ingredients don’t contain any buffer to help maintain the pH level, so you often you will have the same problem occur in the next day or two.

What is The Best Way To Adjust pH Of A Hydroponic Garden?

The most simple and effective way to regulate pH is to buy a product that is specifically made to adjust the pH of hydroponic solutions. Several hydroponic companies offer specific products for this issue, many simply called pH up and pH down. I would recommend keeping these on hand in case you do run into pH problems. Using pH up or pH down is simple and since it is made for hydroponics, is sure to be safe for the plants in your garden. As well as correcting the pH quickly, hydroponic pH adjusters also contain a buffer that keeps the pH regulated at the proper level. This will stop the pH problem from happening again in the next couple days.

I prefer to use General Hydroponic pH up and down to regulate my hydroponic gardens. First, you should test your hydroponic solutions to see what your current pH level is. Add a little pH up or down and wait about a half hour to test your water again. Repeat if needed. To change the pH level a couple of levels I usually add about 1 teaspoon per gallon. If you , you can use the other adjuster to push the pH back in the opposite direction until you get it in the desired range.