Today on the Urban Farmstead we experienced both highs and lows of growing hydroponically. With Hydro growing you have most of the woes of soil growing combined with the woes of plumbing. Anyone who has ever done plumbing will tell you that when you fix one leak you will create two more. That’s what happened to us the last couple days, I found one of the Bato buckets overflowing, a clear sign that those adventurous roots had clogged one of the drains.
Leaking blood red nutrients into the grass (which loved it) is never a good thing. Upon clearing out the roots, I restarted the system and filled it up only to discover that the reservoir fill valve was leaking water into the reservoir. This totally explained why I didn’t notice the bucket leak sooner, because the system was filling itself back up! With murphy bearing down on me I battled my plumbing demons and replaced the fill valve stopping the leak. Breathing a sigh of relief, I put the tools away and laid down for a good night’s rest. When morning light broke, I woke to check the tomatoes only to discover that the reservoir was overflowing into a gap in the double thick liner. This effectively reduced the size of the reservoir by half. Pulling out the old shop vac, I sucked out the nutrients and water which had pooled between the liner’s layers, discarding the enriched water onto my patio (I’m sure that made the weeds happy). The ballooning liner could still be an issue, but the fix will have to wait until the end of the season because the system is still in use. Needless to say, I’ll keep the shop vac on standby.
You may be asking yourself why I bother with all that. The answer is simple, hydro works when traditional soil growing simply does not. My hydroponic tomatoes have grown 50% faster than the exact same breed of tomatoes in our soil-based hanging pots. The hanging pots have access to more light than the Hydro tomatoes, but tomatoes are well suited to being hydroponically grown because they are very heavy feeders.
When you choose your method of farming, consider hydroponics and don’t listen to the naysayers who would tell you that Hydro is too hard or produces tasteless fruit, because I will tell you from experience, neither is true. However, it does take some patience…
and a fair bit of plumbing know-how.