YAGU – Yet Another Garden Update

A few odds and ends. Photos of the three hydroponic systems I have running. The Lettuce in the Bag-O-Dirt, and a note on edible nearly weeds.

The prior update on the Hydroponic Deep Water raft system is here (and includes links to prior pictures):

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2019/06/26/hydroponic-update-26-june-2019/

Open it in another tab if you want to do A/B compare on this image vs the Others. Yes, I know it has only been 3 days, but this stuff is just growing so darned fast…

Deep Water Raft / Float

Hydroponics in Construction Tub 29 June 2019

Hydroponics in Construction Tub 29 June 2019

Here it is 3 days ago:

Hydroponics Raft 26 June 2019

Hydroponics Raft 26 June 2019

So first off, those green onions in the front are doing great. They are greener, growing faster, and generally just better than their mates that were left in the dirt pot (potting soil).

FWIW, I had some “green onions” from the store that had been left too long in the “Vegetable Crisper” drawer and gotten limp, wilted, and with some of the tips shriveling. Normally when that happens, I’d just pitch them. What’s 50 ¢ worth of green onions? This time I decided to use them as an experiment. Put them in a quart jar in a 3 inch net cup, roots just at the bottom of the cup, and filled it with hydroponic solution to about 1/2 inch above the roots. Well, the shriveled bits didn’t recover, but the rest of the onion did. They are now green, full, and growing on my window ledge. Note To Self: Future commercial green onions go in a Kratky System jar, not the fridge, until eaten… It will keep them in perfect condition while awaiting the kitchen.

Notice, too, that the back right 2 lettuces have been harvested, and the one in the second row left is growing back already. The 2 in the front are also starting to grow back, but it’s a bit shocked the first few days after a cutting.

Then there’s all the Chinese Broccoli (Front row) and what I think is a green glaze collards / dinosaur kale cross (2nd row, glossy). I’ve nibbled some of each leaf and it’s nice. They are ready for a “Stir Fry moment”.

So since I’m about to harvest them, and have it with a salad of that last back row lettuce, I think this is the last photo of this grow that I’ll be posting. Essentially we’re well into harvest of the various plants and from here on out it is just “Clip, regrow, and occasionally replant”. At some time I’ll need to replenish the nutrient solution, or just replace it, and that is unclear as to when. I intend to just grow and harvest until things slow down (topping up with water as needed to maintain float height), then deal with it.

I’m absolutely sold on this system as a “greens growing” system. It also looks like “green onions” work well, and while onions and legumes are not good companion plants (so either the peas or the onions need to move to a new system…) it also looks like growing one of these that’s closer spaced and “all peas” would be a winner. (Close enough bush type can mutually support).

I’m ready to move from the “experimental” stage with “throw a lot of things at it and see what survives” to the “production” stage; with a dedicated Salad float, a dedicated “Asian & Stir Fry” cooking greens float, and a Peas float. Onions may also get one, but I’m hoping to work out a slightly different solution for them. Onions spaced at net cup distances are not effectively using the sunlight or grow area, so I need something more “close packed”. For now I’ll just put a couple of cups in the other two “greens” floats.

Kratky Method Bucket & Tub

These have been a bit more problematic. Since the float rests on the water, one plant growing faster than the other doesn’t matter. In the Kratky Method, the height of the cups is fixed and the water drops with use. There’s a race condition of the plants growing roots vs water drop rate. This doesn’t work well if some plants grow very very fast and others are slow. The slow ones have the water fall away from their net-cup, then dry out and die.

So the Bucket has 2 dead cups in it. These were some slow growing thing. Celery or Parsley I think. There is one herb hanging in there (middle left 9 O’clock position, I think it is sage) and 3 of what I think are the Tomatillo seeds I started. They have just taken off like a rocket ride…

Tomatillo in 5 Gallon Kratky Method bucket

Tomatillo in 5 Gallon Kratky Method bucket

So, OK, it proves the bucket Kratky Method works. Got it. Since Tomatillo can take a very long time to fruit, and love hot weather while we are having a cooler than usual summer, these guys may not make it to maturity before it’s too cold for them. I intend to just set this in a sunny spot and let it run as an experiment.

In the future, I’ll set these up with “all the same or very similar things”. I could see it as a sage and oregano herb bucket ;-) As I have three very nicely rooted basil starts in a jar on the shelf in front of me, maybe a bucket just of basil too ;-)

The biggest disappointment so far has been the 17 gallon box / crate run as Kratky Method. Part of the problem is that is big enough that the lack of level of my patio shows up in the water height being different across the box. The bucket doesn’t have that issue. Then, it is in a shadier spot so the plants got less sun (so less growth), but still some of them “dried and died”.

OK, I know I tried setting the rock wool cubes in too early. Things with more roots did better in the Kratky systems. Then some of the replacements, being late to the party, were not well positioned for the race of the root growth…

17 Gallon Kratky Tub / Crate

17 Gallon Kratky Tub / Crate

In the middle are what I think is 2 celery plants. (Might also be parsley or cilantro. I tried starting seeds of all of them, and they have very similar leaves. Ill find out who survived when they are bigger and can spare a leaf for tasting ;-) There’s also a nice sage, some smaller sage and oregano, and a couple of others.

This one has had the most issues from water level and differential growth rates. Starting it with bigger starts, with more roots already below the root cup, and all of one kind of plant; then moving it to level dirt instead of the “drains well” sloped pavers, and not having the last row of it (on the right) under the bench holding the raft (so it would get more even sun); do all that it will likely be fine. As it is, I’ve had to raise the water level to where some “down hill” cubes were overly saturated while others were barely touching the surface.

Large size Kratky Method needs a level planting field / liquid, uniform plants, and reasonably uniform sun.

I’m likely to turn this one into an herb garden, after I move it. (It is also so much heavier than the bucket that it is very hard to move. 17 gallons at 8.25 lbs / gallon is 140 lbs. Call it 70 kg give or take). Not something you just pick up and move. Or even slide much. So I put this where it gets morning sun for a milder start on the little plants just sprouted, then shaded in the afternoon. Now it’s hard to change that for a full sun growout.

OK, lesson learned… Eventually when it weighs less (or I’m feeling more macho and willing to drag it a dozen feet) I’ll move it to a patch of sunnier more level dirt. Then I’ll figure out just what I want in it. One very GOOD thing is that you can just move the plant (net cup and all) to a different place if you like. So I could just move the non-herbs to the raft, and put all the herbs (and maybe onions) in this box once relocated.

So, hard to move the box, easy to move the plants.

So far, I like the raft in a construction tub the most, and this “the usual” Kratky Method box the least. I expected it to be the other way around. The bucket is in the middle, and the Kratky Quart Jars on my window ledge are best for starting things and experimental stuff. (I’ve seen photos of folks with herb gardens in them, and even tomatoes in the gallon sized jars; so they can have broader use).

Bag-O-Dirt in a Tub

This is likely also the final report on the Bag-O-Dirt in a plastic tub on the patio. It’s continuing to work great, but the lettuce has been harvested a few times now, is getting a bit older, and the last harvest had a bit of bitter showing up. While I like bitter, the spouse doesn’t, so this is not ideal for communal salads.

Lower right has some of my Cherokee Trail Of Tears beans in a pot, intruding into this space. The colors in some of these pictures are a bit screwed up. Afternoon with the sun setting, and then this camera isn’t the best at color rendition. Those bean flowers are really a lovely lavender, the tray / tub is an aqua green. The top of the hydroponic box above is really a deep yellow and the pavers behind it are grey, not blue. Oh Well.

Lettuce in Bag-O-Dirt 29 June 2019

Lettuce in Bag-O-Dirt 29 June 2019

It clearly works very well. The plastic tub holds a shallow puddle of water that wicks into the bag, solving one of my biggest problems (as I am in a more or less desert like climate during middle summer with zero rain, very low humidity, and sometimes high temperatures). Things in pots, especially, tend to dry out a lot and fast. My 8-Ball zucchini in a 20″ pot gets a soak watering every day, and still sometimes looks all droopy on a hot afternoon.

As this was just intended to be an experimental thing (to see if the Bag-O-Dirt on a box lid with clear box as cloche would really work for greens in winter, I’m not seeing the need to keep it in “production” when I’d rather have a hydroponic float lettuce bed in summer. The Bag-O-Dirt uses a lot more water than the float system as it has a lot more surface exposed for evaporation (that whole end where the bag doesn’t fill the tub, and then the dirt surface).

I think it is now well proven that it works. So when fall approaches I’ll set up a proper one as in the original video and see how late into winter I can grow lettuce using one as a miniature greenhouse.

So whenever a harvest from this Bag-O-Dirt system shows up too bitter, then it’s all going to the compost pile and that funky tray / tub goes back to the “Misc. Odds & Ends” storage… I expect that lettuce in July & August when it is usually really hot here will have bitterness and bolting issues anyway. (By then I hope to have an all-lettuce hydroponic float tub set up under the shade trees in the back yard ;-)

Edible, Decorative, and Grows Like A Weed

Here’s some Grain Amaranth that has volunteered in some hot dry dirt without me doing anything. Since it showed up, I’ve started giving it occasional water. I had grown some Hopi Red Amaranth about a decade ago. It is a very beautiful deep red plant.

https://myfolia.com/plants/5866-amaranth-amaranthus-cruentus/varieties/70853-hopi-red-dye

The next year, some of it volunteered in the same pot where it had been grown, along with lots of places around that pot. That year I was trialing a bigger green grain amaranth from seed bought at Whole Foods as food. A very big plant about as tall as a person.

Well, it seems these two got together…

1/2 Hopi Amaranth with Beans Background

1/2 Hopi Amaranth with Beans Background

The red stuff is the Amaranth. The green stuff in the block behind it is my bean patch. It is a mix of Crimson Runner (the red flower kinds), a few Cascade Giants (green with purple streaks in the pods) being grown out for fresh seeds, and a couple of pole snow peas also being grown out for seeds. One of my “strings” has come off the fence and is laying on the Amaranth. I’ll need to find out if the squirrels on the fence chewed it, or if it came off the nail. I usually have some Runner Beans on string to the fence as a kind of ersatz arbor.

Sort of a Christmas kind of red / green look to them. Leaves are edible, and almost worth eating when young and not yet full of fiber ;-) The grain is also edible (IF you can get any once the birds know it is there… OTOH, “bird stew” is a good survival food…)

Notice that the dirt under it looks like dead dry grass. That’s because it is dead dry grass. Not even weeds were growing there when up popped the Amaranth. Realize it has been many years since I deliberately planted any of this. It just shows up in the margin areas (those that showed up in the garden squares got turned under). After these got about a foot high I decided to give them some water. Now they are about 5 feet high.

In anything like a real food crisis, where you needed to grow something, anything, to eat, this is your goal. Quoting from the link above:

the Hopi Indians still use this variety to make red corn bread. Have tender baby leaves for salad in 3-21 days. Have flowers in 70 days, and collect seeds (also edible) in about 80 days. Plants get 4-6 feet tall.

Got that? Salad in 3 days? You get many thousands of pin-head sized jet black seeds (probably really just intense red) from these things. (The commercial one was white seeded). Just sprouting them and letting them grow for a week would give you a very large salad nearly instantly. They also have a far collection of protein, vitamins, etc. etc.

I have an envelope of these seeds in my freezer. In any real Aw Shit, I’d sprinkle them over the dead margin areas of my garden, water them in, and have a salad next week.

As a test, I did try some of the older leaves as a pot herb. You CAN eat them, but there’s a LOT of tough fibers. Think “old string beans with lots of string”… Not ideal. OTOH, if you were starving, it is not the kind of plant someone is going to steal from your garden and it will keep you alive, even if not quite happy. It also looks really good in a flower garden ;-)

There are a great many kinds of Amaranth:

https://www.rareseeds.com/store/vegetables/amaranth/

And while I’m fond of my Back Yard Creation, there are likely known types more suited to actual survival food needs. In particular, there is a “Vegetable Amaranth” that does not have the “strings in leaves” issue. It is sometimes called “Chinese Spinach”:

https://www.rareseeds.com/chinese-multicolor-spinach-a/

Chinese Multicolor Spinach

A heat and drought tolerant green in spectacular splashes of color! Leaf amaranth is popular in Asia, eaten raw, stir fried or steamed. This is by far the most tender and sweet amaranth for edible greens- making for vibrant and delicious salads. The young leaves make a perfect spinach substitute, intricately colored leaves are juicy and succulent. The go to green for mid summer when all others have bolted, harvested in just 30-40 days from sowing.

Full growth in 30 to 40 days. Heat and drought tolerant. Eaten raw or cooked.

I don’t have any of this type yet, but I will ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Emergency Preparation and Risks, Plants - Seeds - Gardening. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to YAGU – Yet Another Garden Update

  1. H.R. says:

    I’m glad you included a picture of the Bag-O-Dirt garden, E.M. I knew what you were doing but I’d never seen it done. Looks like it came out pretty well and the slugs didn’t get the lettuce.

    I’m finding the hydroponic gardening to be intriguing, but I have enough on my plate right now. I might try a bit of it next year. The results are impressive and BONUS! no weeding.

  2. p.g.sharrow says:

    It’s got my attention, no weeding, no gophers, reduced bugs, better salad greens. I have a large garden that does well BUT, good dependable salad greens so far escapes me…pg

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    The stuff in the middle of the yellow top tub is Cilantro (just had a taste ;-) Guess the parsley and celery were the ones that didn’t make it…

    Just had a big bowl of the biggest leaves from the 2nd row or the raft, the Kalards (Dinosaur Kale / Green Glaze Collards / Purple Cabbage 3 way cross – not as strong a flavor as kale, less bitter than collards, not as hard to grow right as cabbage. Basically just makes a lot of collard like leaves that are tasty with a hint of kale and a tiny bit of bittering in the background. Thicker juicer leaves than kale or collards too.

    We’ll be having the back row lettuce for dinner tonight.

    The Chinese Kale or Chinese Broccoli in the front row has just started to make flower heads, so it is going into stir fry tomorrow or the next day ;-)

    Yeah, I’m liking this system ;-)

    @H.R.:

    The interesting thing for me is that, after the startup learning curve, it’s just so darned quick. Making a tub is a dozen drill holes. Spoon in nutrient mix, fill with water. Put plants in cups in tub. Walk away… About once a week I top up the water in the raft tub (about an inch, maybe) and at some time I’ll need to add more nutrient, but not yet ;-)

    I’m looking at my “next square” to turn over in the back yard and having a very hard time getting motivated enough to take the shovel and turn over a 4 x 4 x 1.5 foot chunk of dirt… I keep thinking “It’s already level, just set a tub on it…”

    @P.G.:

    Same problems I had with “greens”. This is so easy it’s just me shake my head at how long I spent feeding snails on gourmet “Baby Lettuce” and such.

    I know a big part of my “problem” is just our climate. We go from “overcast, cold, wet” to “bright, sunny, HOT and VERY DRY” and my soil just dries out down to about 6 inches… then shallow rooted things die or can’t get started. I can run a half foot of water on it and get it wet again, but then the water bill goes nuts.

    Then it seems everything that likes to eat greens crawls around on the ground. Get it up on a table and that stops. So far just a few minor leaf holes from some flying bug ( I think) but the wasps have cleaned them off.

    I’m VERY fond of the little construction tubs as they are small enough to put anywhere, I already owned them, and 12 gallons of nutrient solution isn’t so heavy that my “1/4 a trunk” bench sitting on cut outs of other chunks of tree trunk has any issue at all with it. The only issue is that I had to cut the foam in a quilt pattern to make the float, or waste a LOT of a large sheet.

    What most folks commercially do is make a “table” about comfortable picking height, line it with plastic sheet or rubber, and then just float a 4 x 9 foot panel of insulation board on it (aluminum layer side up). On “build” I saw just laid 2 x 6 planks on Cinder Blocks to to make the base (leveled) then placed is “water bed like” growing tables on it and laid in the cut foam. Most at that scale use a small pump to circulate the nutrient solution, or put air bubblers in them. LOTS of YouTubes…

    Were I doing this on more dirt, I’d be tempted to do that, or do two 4 x 4 tables. Just so it was “cut one sheet in half & drill it” and be done cutting. But that isn’t very portable…

    Saw another video on making a rooting system. Had a 5 gallon bucket with a small pump in the bottom, a straight up PVC 1/2 inch segment to one full circle sprinkler head. Filled 1/2 way with solution and run (timer) 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off, doing aeroponics to start cuttings in net cups in the top (like my can above, but 7 holes). Just used plain water to root, not nutrient solution.

    BTW, found a guy / video where it did a test of rooting with plain water, nutrient solution, rooting hormone, and one other thing… Plain Water BY FAR had the most roots after a couple of weeks. Seems that plants are lazy and once they have enough roots to get the nutrients, they slow down in the nutrient solution. Then the rooting compound is designed to work with dirt and just washed off into the water and then suppressed rooting more than helping.

    So that aeroponic rooting can is run with just straight water in it. (For growing out, put in nutrient solution…) That guy said he does most of his vegetables from clones and not seeds as it is a lot easier. Hmmm…. I now have 3 nicely rooted Basil starts from my prior Basil… It was darned fast and a lot faster than seeds. (The rosemary has not rooted, though, so some variance).

    IIRC, my “construction tubs” were about $10 to $15 at Home Depot (but many years ago). A sheet of foam is way cheap. Nutrient is about $25 for something like 10 to 20 lbs and it takes about a table spoon per gallon, so nearly nothing. Net cups were 19 ¢ each at the expensive local store (and are reusable) and more ceramic balls than I’ll ever need was something like $6? Basically, your first batch of lettuce pays for the whole thing. (My second batch will pay for my Aeropoinc system and bubbler upgrade ;-)

    As I mentioned before, there’s lots of folks who just take a soldering iron and poke holes in plastic “Dixie” cups.

    The one I’ve not tried but very much do want to try, for things like squash and tomatoes, is the Dutch Bucket system. Row of buckets on a raised area about 1 cinder block off the ground. Each has a drain about 2 inches off the bottom into a return pipe below them.. That drains to a tub with pump. Once or twice a day, it runs and pumps solution into dribblers on the tops of all the cans. Cans are filled with perlite (or sand or…). That’s pretty much it.

    It may have the best mix (for me) of larger scale along with portable / stack-n-store. It will be a while before I get around to trying it, though. I’ve got 2 more tub / raft systems to build, bubbler to add and assess, and then I want to make an aeroponic bucket as my first pumped system.

    “Whenever” winter returns, there’s a NFT system I want to try making. 4 inch PVC pipes on a rack with cups in it, crate as tank with pump. Just pump to the top and let it drain around the long pipe rick-rack-run back to the tank. Put some LED lights over it and it’s an all winter growing system. Just a couple of hundred watts grows a decent salad garden and them some.

    So watch a load of videos. You will see folks doing all sorts of ways with all sorts of materials. Some using formal methods and purchased stuff like net cups and pumps. Others doing “hardware store specials” and recycling the cups from the office party ;-)

    Oh, and the thing that surprised me the most?

    I’m “Muldooning” this. Cheapest way I can do it, NOT doing all the recommended things, NOT fussing over it; and it is STILL beating my dirt garden for greens and green onions! So I’m checking pH with some cheap pool strips (and then only once at the start and it was fine), I’m not doing any kind of aeration (yet… H2O2 to be tested ‘soon” ;-) nor any active pumping in the systems at all. There’s a LOT of room for improvement in my technique and completeness.

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    Well it’s almost another month later, the weather has been quite warm / hot for this area, and the lettuce has finally bittered, some are bolting.

    So that’s the end of the lettuce experiment.

    Next lettuce will either be “new in the shade”, or in fall, or perhaps indoors where it’s cooler. Indoors hydroponics ought to cure both cold winter and hot summer limits on growing things…

    With that, I need to go find something other than salad to go with dinner tonight ;-)

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    While preparing a slow cookrr dish, I discovered my store bought onion had a couple of dark rings and soft dpots. It had “gone off”. What to do…

    The green onions on my Window ledge had gotten big…. so scissors in hand, snip snip!

    My first INDOOR hydroponic harvest!

    As these only got morning sun, I’ve been running a white LED and a 23 W CFL bulb over them too. It has worked rather well.

    I’m now even more encouraged to build that indoor grow rack :-)

  6. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – I’ve already posted that I’m only doing dirt gardening from seed this year. I am really, really intrigued by the hydroponics (and I’m glad to see Larry L giving it a shot on his balcony) but it ain’t happenin’ for me this year.

    Two of my tomato plants are over 6-feet tall. The pole beans have done really well on that cattle fence arch. The only problem is I should have planted twice the number of plants. I’ve had 3-4 green bean dinners so far and the beauty of that arch is that it is a lot harder for the beans to “hide in the bushes.”

    Anyhow, I always just went out and picked beans, but this time I’m using scissors. I never noticed before, after quite a few years of harvesting green beans, that they form triplet and quadruplet blossom bundles. If you carefully snip each bean, you don’t disturb the rest of the blossoms, which will keep putting out pods. So I have been getting a better yield off the cattle fence arch and using scissors to carefully harvest the beans.

    Yip-yip-yippee! I expect to harvest my first vine-ripe tomato in about two days, after a horrendous cold, wet start to the season, and the beans just keep on keepin’ on.

    Oh! One of the tomato plants (6′ – 7′ tall) is near the cattle fence arch and has quite a few baby tomatoes on it. I trained it over to the arch to support the plant and the tomatoes. This could get interesting if it takes a liking to the cattle fence. I know there are some ‘climbing’ tomatoes, but this isn’t one of them. It will be a couple of weeks before it all plays out.

  7. Larry Ledwick says:

    Which raises an interesting question, on the lettuce, how frequently can you harvest a leaf or two from a leaf lettuce plant based on your experience E.M.

    (indirectly then how many plants would you need to have growing to allow a continual harvest of a couple leaves of lettuce each day for a single person?

    Given the plants age out after a while what would be your rotation for starting new plants to replace the older plants who want to bolt and turn bitter? )

  8. Quail says:

    @Larry L This guy has his lettuce going for months. Last few minutes of the video and blurb below the video.

    https://www.charlesdowding.co.uk/how-to-grow-lettuce-sow-plant-protect-plus-the-charles-dowding-picking-method/

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    @H.R:

    Unfortunately, in my hydroponics enthusiasm I didn’t do as much with the dirt garden as planned. My trellis isn’t…. and I’ve stopped adding squares. Oh Well…

    @Larry:

    I think your question my be of the form: How high is up?

    You can harvest just one leaf, or the whole plant, and points in between. I’ve done it.

    What is optimal? Who knows…

    How many to start how soon? How good is your garden and skill and how often do you want salad? My best guess so far is that at about 2 weeks to make a salad, you would need 14 for a salad every day. Keep them cool, replace every 5 or 6 month. Let them get hot and they bolt so you start over. Similarly, I think heat drives the bitter as much or more than calendar age.

    Lord knows I don’t have it right yet. Too much for three weeks, then zero at the moment due to bitters and no seeds started…

  10. Larry Ledwick says:

    That is pretty much the debate I was having with myself, do you grow and then take the whole plant or grow and sequentially clip a few leaves off each plant (and how often do you do that without killing the plant or stunting it so much you break the cycle.)

    Did a little digging and found these items which create a broad guide line to start with.
    Combine these tips and you would have a good starting point outline for a continuous harvest setup by using staggered planting so they come of age for harvest in cohorts

    https://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/how-grow-and-harvest-cut-and-come-again-lettuce-perpetual-salad-greens.html

    https://bonnieplants.com/how-to-grow/growing-lettuce/

    Looks like to grow lettuce in the heat of the summer you will have to play with shade cloth and perhaps a spray mist system to keep the plants cool or for aquaponics and Kratky systems just bring the containers indoors into the air conditioning on really hot days.

    https://www.almanac.com/plant/lettuce

    https://www.almanac.com/news/gardening-news/lettuce-grow

    https://www.almanac.com/news/celestes-garden/planting-lettuce

    plant when soils are above 40°F.
    Seeds germinate best at 55 to 65°F and will emerge in only 7 to 10 days.
    ready to harvest at 35 – 40 days after sowing
    plant groups every 10 -14 days
    over plant and eat the young shoots you thin out to get the plants you want to grow out to maturity.
    Mix varieties to get a little variation and different maturity dates.
    Use garlic and chives as co-crops to discourage pests

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    Other pest repelling plants (mostly for flies and mosquitoes) are basil, rosemary, catnip, chrysanthemum (that can be eaten…), Marigolds, tobacco (acts as a deadly leaf for leaf miner insects so in a border is a trap crop that keeps them off the leafy vegetables in the middle) and citronella. Among others.

    FWIW, I did 3 croppings of “cut the whole thing about an inch off the roots” and it would regularly grow back. The leaf margins were a bit odd at the cut, but OK. I think “best” is likely to plan on taking the whole plant but with a series of succession plants behind it. IF you get “behind” a little, just cut one or two and let them regrow to fill in the gap. Essentially over planted and using full plant harvest to keep up with that (you CAN harvest them very young…) and for better quality, but shifting to “cut and come again” if you fall behind.

    That way you need to “start” each week about the same number you eat in a week.

    I’ve got a LOT of stuff I’m trying to do and the lettuce seemed happy, so I didn’t start anything. Then they all got hot and started to bolt & bitter together. Oops. I’ll start more “soon” so that I have a nice fall crop going. Likely no harvest through August (as it is hot anyway) but we’ll see.

    I’ve tried several starting methods. The Rock Wool really bothers my nose with the irritating dust. To keep using it I’ll need to wet it down in the package first thing. I’ve found that it comes in blocks with different sized holes for bigger seeds, which is why my beans / peas in it were a failure. Size 10 seed in a size 2 block hole…

    I’ve tried some “sprout on paper and place into nutrient” and it was OK at best. They end up “planted out” way too small.

    What looks like it will work best for me is to start things in “Six Packs” like I always have using decent potting soil, then when the plants are relatively large ( i.e. root ball fills the cup) rinse off the dirt in water and place them in a net cup. The commercial “starts” in a six pack (that were a bit older than optimal / late in the season) that were fairly root bound, I just placed the whole thing in the net cup with the ceramic beads around it. They have done great too. The root bound mass preventing the soil from getting into the water and no trauma from the washing.

    Those six packs without root bound condition were easily washed mostly free of soil with a swish in a bucket of water, placed in the cup with the beads and into the tub. Also worked very well.

    THE key bit being that the plants had a LOT of roots already. My early losses at planting out were clearly due to planting out way too early as a tiny sprout without roots visible outside the rock wool. Like 1 inch tall tiny.

    So I need to set up some kind of “nursery” in between the seed sprout step and the planted out step. We saw that in some of the professional hydroponics grow houses in the videos. They had a step where the sprouted cubes were in trays of nutrient under lights going from sprout to small plant. So I need to scale that down to the “dozen plant” scale from the 100 plant scale…

    Or explore that whole “microgreens” thing and just start way too many and eat the rest ;-)

  12. Larry Ledwick says:

    Ahh yes this is the one I was looking for, on the greens. I didn’t think it was near this old a thread.

    So will cross link here to my post earlier today:

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2019/07/20/w-o-o-d-20-july-2019/#comment-115029

    Seems there are some heat tolerant greens available, so a switch in varieties as the summer develops might solve part of the problem.

  13. H.R. says:

    I am cleaning out the garage, something I feel is necessary to do every 6-8 years whether it needs it or not. I had to make room for the potting bench I finished on the 18th (Wife’s birthday present) and clear a corner for the trailer gear that has value which we unload when we are not on the road.

    -*-*-*- I found two nice foam panels that fell down behind a large plastic storage bin and the ol’ lightbulb went off.

    There is an unlimited supply of nice foam panels from appliances and flat screen TVs headed to the landfills (and they worry about a few plastic straws… hah!).

    I’m on nodding terms with my least known neighbors, well acquainted with many, and good friends with a few (keys to each other’s houses friends), so I have no qualms about asking for foam from appliance purchases if I spot them on trash day, and I’m sure a few neighbors would be mildly interested to find I was using it for hydroponics.

    But if you need foam sheets right now there’s no harm in driving any neighborhood on trash day and scarfing up some foam when an appliance box has been set out.

    Also (looking your way, Larry L.) anyone living where there are communal dumpsters just needs to keep an eye on them and I’m fairly certain every few days some suitable foam is being pitched out.

    I’m just not seeing the need to ever buy foam. Recycle, reuse, repurpose.

  14. p.g.sharrow says:

    Got a Garden tail to top them all! My lady brought home the fixins for a Chinese Chicken salad and as she began to assemble it discovered that she forgot the Lettuce! No problem says I, got leaf Lettuce in the garden. Went out with the shears into the garden and began gathering a few handfuls and I hear this leak/hiss a few feet away to my left. Hum that is strange, I thought I had the water off. Went over and checked it, yup! water is off but hiss still there. Went back and looked closer. Ahah! Rattle Snake about 30 inches long slowly sneaking away through the squash vines.

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    @P.G.:

    And you didn’t have BBQ Rattler for a side dish?!

    OTOH, maybe a good idea to leave the “rodent control” alone…. ;-)

  16. p.g.sharrow says:

    yes that is what I thought, something had been helping it’s self to the lettuce patch from the time it sprouted,, look like mouse working

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