Hydroponic gardening (or hydroponics for short) is the system of growing plants with just mineral rich solutions instead of using soil. It is a system that is getting more recognition as being a safe, productive, and land resource conservation method (more information on different types of hydroponics here).
Herndon Elementary School was lucky enough to receive an OPCOM Farm GrowBox (donation) this year. We will post periodically about our progress, but here are photos of the setup!
- First we opened the Growing Started Kit (read the directions!) and filled the table with water:
- Then we turned the lights/pump on:
- We added starter (a nutritional solution to give the plants some food to start their little lives). After waiting 30 minutes we checked the pH and EC. The pH of the soil (or hydroponic solution) controls the availability of the nutrients to the plant. EC is a good measure of how much salt is in the hydroponic reservoir. The salts are the mineral salts that are used in fertilisers to provide plants with all the elements they need to grow. More information about pH and EC here.
- We then added seed capsules (lettuce, provided with the OPCOM system) and seeds (tomatoes, that we had from our garden) to square sponge seed holders. Each capsule holds 3 lettuce seeds. We added 4 tomato seeds to each sponge.
- After 30 minutes, we removed the top part of the capsule (for the lettuce seeds) so that the seeds were exposed to the air. Now we will let the seeds germinate for a few days…
- We have had classes visit the table to learn about what we are growing. It is exciting to see everyone’s amazement…No dirt? No sun? Why are the roots showing?
- We have had some bumps in the road (someone turned the system off, a two week holiday vacation!, tripping the power limits) but we are slowly learning what it takes to grow things with our new table. And our tomato plant has buds!
- The next step? Self pollinate the tomato and hope for a good harvest! Stay tuned for more pics!
More information about OPCOM Farm’s GrowBox
A video about OPCOM Farm’s Hydroponic systems