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When my friend Nicole started talking about hydroponics, of course I was interested. I love love love gardening, getting dirt under my fingernails, finding frogs on the undersides of leaves, and scaring snakes… or is that the other way around. It’s so easy to grow plants outside in Florida. Why would I want the fuss and to do with this unique type of container gardening? Grow plants with water. Hmm.

I come from cold country where the soil is rich and loamy. We grew abundant summer gardens, picked apples, pears and peaches in the fall, and canned our wealth. Ferns, and ivies, Christmas cactus and other indoor potted and hanging plants were carefully tended in the winter. Our gardens inside and out grew in dirt!

Miracle Gro was my go to. It worked for almost everything.
Understanding pH and nutrients with hydroponics is a little different but not complicated.
Checking pH is easy. Dip one test strip in the water. Generally, most plants you’ll grow like a low pH, mostly in the pale orange spectrum, ideal range between 5.8 and 7.

TIP – You can lower pH with one teaspoon at a time of vinegar or lemon juice. More is not better. I wrecked a tower by putting too much vinegar in.

We have a pool, and my husband and I take care of it ourselves. Temperature, weather (rain, rain, sometimes hail, more rain), and light, dark, atmosphere and chemicals, and season affect its pH; everything is connected. Is it not?

Research the plants you want to grow, what nutrients they need, and if they like their feet wet. You’ve probably already talked about this with Nicole. You may purchase well-established seedlings.

Or, maybe you want to germinate your own seeds.

GROWING HINT: Hydroponics is a more hygienic and efficient method of germinating compared to soil based growing.

USING ROCK WOOL, COCOA CORE, OR PEAT PELLETS: Prep/soak germinating medium in distilled water for a couple of hours. Shake out excess water. Place a few seeds in each cube or pellet. Place pellets or cubes in a domed tray and add an inch or so of distilled water. Place in a low light to dark area until you see sprouts (about 5-7 days).

ALTERNATE METHOD: Purchase some seed cell plug trays and another tray to set them in. Using slightly moist potting soil (or another grow medium – cocoa core, rock wool), plant your seeds 1/8 inch from top, cover with a thin layer of potting soil, and lightly water.

If you bought seeds in a packet, (most times) the sprouting/germinating instructions are on the back: germinating time, water and light requirements, i.e.; full sun, shady, etc.

I’ve had good success with all of the aforementioned germinating mediums.

TIP –Once the seeds sprout, the key is to let them really root well before transplanting to the tower. Thirty days is a good rule of thumb.

GROWING HINT: No matter how much research you do, some plants won’t survive. Home Hydroponic gardening is somewhat trial and error, and seasonal.

Consider keeping a journal right from the start. Over time you will log and learn what grows best and when.

Nicole and I compare growth progress. Busy with designing towers, she often trusts her own towers’ eco-system and lets them be. Her plants thrive… or not.

I test, and fret, and experiment and journal. My plants thrive… or not. We’ve both transplanted our towers at least three times since February. It is now the end of August. Coleus love getting their feet wet.

Lettuce grows best in cooler weather. Okra goes nuts and may require special tending, like trimming its roots now and then.

TIP -Have Fun. Sit back sometimes and let nature takes its course.

Happy Gardening!

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