My New Hydroponic Garden!

Here’s my new hydroponic garden setup. The tank is 120 liters (32 gallons) and its filled to 88 liters.

The thing that took the longest to set up was the frame for the florescent lights. They have to be maintained at 4-6 inches above the tops of the plants throughout their growth. So I came up with a spiffy mechanism to raise and lower them.

As you can see, string (mason line) is attached to the light’s horizontal wooden frame. The string goes over the vertical frame and is tied to the dowel (just below the top bar). The dowel is held in place by nails at the back of the frame. There nails are at 2 inch intervals.

Just for perspective, the lights are 46" long and the vertical frame is 36" high.

Right now, the whole righthand two thirds are planted with lettuce and the right third is brocolli and basil. I’ll post more pics as this thing gets going.

I had a six-pot system about 15 years ago. I tried growing everything green in it, but eventually settled on lettuce and basil as the most practical. The basil leaves got to 6" tall four or five inches wide. That’s each leaf! I was snipping individual leaves for salad for a month or six weeks, easy.

Now I’ve got an 18 pot system.The idea is to be self-sustaining in greens all year. The guys at All Seasons Garden Centre, where I bought the system on Monday, were extremely helpful. I asked them how much power this thing would draw (2 lights, one submersible pump). I was concerned we’d end up with a $20 head of lettuce. They did a quick calculation and said it’d cost about $10 a month in power.

Compare that to the cost of a month’s worth of salad greens from the grocery store. And that’s consumer cost plus hidden costs, like government subsidies and environmental costs.

One lettuce plant will produce for 30-45 days. For us, there was about thirty seconds debate over whether to buy a garden or not. The cost for the garden was about $350. That’s everything included, organic nutrients , pH test kit, pump tuning, seeds, everything. The frame set me back about $70.