Friday, September 18, 2009

Hydroponic Waves

I know the above photo has nothing whatever to do with hydroponic gardening, however I wanted to share this unusual photo on the blog, as like hydroponics it has a lot to do with water. The term hydroponic means working water, and water working is what made this formation in the sand.

We spent the week in Wells Maine, and on Monday we went to Wells Beach to enjoy the sun and surf. After the tide receded I saw something on the beach, which from a distance I thought might be a dead critter tossed up by the ocean.

To my utter amazement I found this sand sculpture created by the wave action. I literally ran back to the parking lot to grab my camera before anyone else decided to investigate, and possibly destroy this unique feature.

This formation was about six feet from the large boulders forming a breakwater barrier to the harbor entrance. Signs warn of dangerous currents near the barrier, and the currents apparently created this sand circle.

The following two days I returned to the exact same spot at low tide, and there was nothing other than a few minor depressions in the sand. I can only assume that the creator was in a playful mood on Monday, and wanted to play in the sand.

While I was in Maine I left the cover on the greenhouse, and also left the door open with a timer for the fan. All of the systems are on timers, and the vents are controlled automatically with thermal vent openers. Everything worked as expected, however the seedlings were etiolated to the point that I simply tossed them when I returned. I suspect that the cause was that the temperature was too high during the time we were away.

In any event, I decided to add supplemental lighting in the greenhouse to compensate for the fading September sun. My intention is that the lighting will serve primarily for seedling development, so I purchased and installed a 48" fluorescent shop light fixture that is suspended 4" above the germination trays. Timers will turn the light on a 6 am until 10 am, and again at 6 pm until 10 pm, which, together with the natural light, will provide the seedlings with 16 hours of light each day. Measurements show that the light provides about 1000 foot candles 2" from the plant surface, and when the seedlings are receiving natural light the level can range to more than 5000 foot candles.

Lettuce, beet, chard and marigold seeds have been replanted, and I am anxious to see if there is a big improvement in seedling development with the addition of supplemental lighting.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dwarf tomato

A few years ago the local hydroponic dealer had an Aerogarden growing tomatoes on display, and I requested and received a few tomatoes to sample.

He gave me a few of both the red and yellow tomatoes, and I saved seed from both and planted them in our Aerogarden. As they reproduced true to the parent plant, I guess they were not a hybrid variety.

They are a true dwarf tomato, which I suppose could be grown as a house plant in a sunny location. The plants above were photographed eight weeks after the seed was started. The plant on the left is being grown in the DWC system and has a truss with a number of small tomatoes. The plant on the right was the runt of the litter, and I almost did not pot it up. As a trial it was planted in one of my homemade self watering planters, which seems to be performing nicely.

I have a small supply of seed of each color, and if anyone would like a few to experiment with I would be glad to put a few in an SASE.