Hydroponics is Not Plant and Forget Gardening

Hydroponic IssuesWhen I started hydroponics last year I’ll be honest with you it was partly because I’m lazy. The lure of work free gardening was nice but deceiving. Granted there is no weed pulling and I don’t have do get out and water every day but there are regular garden in tasks you still need to do, even some new ones.

I still head out each morning to check on the plants. As they get bigger I still need to prune them, removing dead leaves and scaling them back so they produce great veggies. The advantage I have is I built the systems at a height that I really don’t have to bend over to do so (sometimes I even need a step ladder). I still get critters once in awhile and have to deal with them but not as much as if it was in the ground.

When the Lights Go Out

There are other issues unique to hydroponics to deal with as well, like electricity. Or loss of to be more exact.

A week or so ago I went out in the afternoon to find all the plants were wilted and flat, also noticing the fan not on even though it was warm out. I have GFI outlets throughout the greenhouse so while panicking I started unplugging and plugging things in while resetting the breaker to find out what happened. Turns out the pump for the squash system shorted out tripping the GFI and when one GFI trips they all go. So I grabbed the pump from the tower that I have yet to get restarted and played musical water pumps and got everything back up.

Thankfully the plants recovered within an hour of pumps being back on.

Plumbing Issues

2014-03-28 11.23.37Another issue is leaks. Leaks can cause you to run through your nutrients pretty quickly when you are not aware of it. The drip system in the back of the greenhouse was sucking up water like an elephant, or at least I thought. At first I thought it was evaporation from the drippers, so I buried them under the hydroton.

Nope

Then I noticed the ground wet under the reservoir by the drain. I didn’t glue the drain pipe so I could move it easily so I went ahead and glued the parts and refilled he reservoir.

Nope

Still wet under the reservoir and after looking some more it was wet under the whole back side. Check all the other plumbing and no leaks. Then when I was peeking behind the reservoir I actually leaned on the top and notice a little flow of water under the back corner. FOUND IT. Turns out there was a small crack in the bottom so that I wouldn’t notice a drop in the reservoir over a couple hours but over night it would drain quite a bit. This process cost me a whole bottle of nutrients, hope the weeds outside the greenhouse enjoy them.

So you see it’s still not for the lazy, but I will say it is still easier in my book. With my health issues I prefer it over typical in ground gardening and the benefits out way any issues I may come across.

What issues have you run across with hydroponics?

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