Hydroponic Grow Trials Update 1-1

hydroponic growing trials update 1-1

Hydroponic Grow Trials Update 1-1

Man & Hydroponics VS Nature….


Welcome back, here at Hydroponic Grow Trials Update 1-1.  It’s only been a few days since we popped our homegrown hydroponics lettuce transplants into the back yard food production NFT system we have set-up, and are familiarizing ourselves with.

In case you are just tuning in, here’s a good place to get caught up quickly: | Click Here |

hydroponic grow trials update 1-1

Big Problems in Tiny Packages…

Ah, the eternal struggle….man versus ANT.  Yes, that right….ants. We mentioned previous that it looked like something very small was going after the early kale sprouts we placed into the backyard NFT system. Once all of the the young lettuce transplants were placed into the system (three varieties, plus one type of kale), over the next 48 hours the problem progressed.  The larger sized and more robust transplants have been left alone to date, however some of the runts from our experimental tray in this test grow were terminated by what has turned out to be ants.  Unbelievable!

One could  imagine having their last seed for survival sprout on a desert island, only to have it snipped clean off at the base by a tiny little ant as they slept.

hydroponics pests ants
ANTS! they prefer the kale sprouts, but have also gone after the weaker lettuce sprouts in the herd.
ant damage hydroponic transplant
ant damage in a young backyard hydroponic transplant
 First Attempt…Foiled!

Indoors, we have found yellow sticky traps to be a safe, easy and affordable way to deal with a variety of pests.  Since we had a few kicking around, they were cut into strips and adhered to areas around the NFT Nursery Gully that has been victimized by the local patio-dwelling ant population. Surely, their doom was imminent—not the case, watching in horror as they simply skirted over the sticky surface…a worthy adversary indeed.

 Next Step:  get some non-toxic to pets and animals ant bait killer traps and place them around the system.  This can take a while to start to work–so live and learn.

nft pests sticky traps
Turns out Ants can tap dance straight across sticky traps
Here’s the Take-A-Way:
  • raise transplants for outdoor growing to as big as size as possible while keeping them sturdy; larger transplants stand a stronger chance of surviving what nature may have in store once you turn your back
  • if you see little black ants around where you intend to garden, BEWARE, especially with very small and tender seedlings or sprouts; safe and effective traps are available but they won’t work instantly

Meanwhile, in the Soilless Garden Beds We Built From Re-purposed Materials:

soilless growing beds harves
Ah, Victory! Shallots from our budget built soilless beds.
Want To See How Build THREE Productive Raised Growing Beds just Like This, Super Cheap..or even FREE?

| Click HERE |

Purging as Hydroponics Reservoir Management

Last time, we discussed our concerns surrounding the reservoir temperature, which goes through a range of 67-76 Deg F during what are the hotter days in this geographic region, seasonally speaking to date.  The reservoir temperature typically average about 71 Deg F, that while not optimal, may suffice for our experimental test grow of lettuce varieties in this back yard hydroponics NFT system.

In Grozine Issue 12, we spoke with Michael Christian at American Hydroponics about maintaining reservoirs in commercial hydroponics. One of the management techniques discussed was purging, and here’s an example of how we were able to put that to work in our back yard hydroponics grow to keep the lettuce healthy and trouble free as inexpensively as possible:

  • As the peak heat portion of the day approaches, we choose this time to top up our hydroponics reservoir levels with fresh, filtered water (we’ll use a float valve if we vacation; but not likely soon!)
  1. Maintain very cold water from the tap-Try running to water other parts of the garden prior to reservoir topping
  2. During peak heat, or just priot, top up the reservoir to OVERFLOW from Purge Hole/Port (at Fill Line) until the temperature drops a few degrees; into the acceptable range
  3. Check pH, Add more Hydroponics Fertilizer to replace what you purged
  • microbial loads are lowered; water from the historical solution has been rep,aced with a fresh portion
  • provides additional aeration, nutrient mixing/stirring
  • lowers reservoir temperature without electricity
  • when water demand is highest (hot conditions), fertilizer demand lessens; helps balance plant requirements
  • once fertilizer elements purged with overflow are replaced with fresh, the life of the nutrient solution is extended before a complete change out is required.


warm hydroponics reservoir temperatures
This just won’t do! Too warm…
hydroponics reservoir purge
Hydro Res Purge: note the difference in read-out on the reservoir monitor
Whats Next:
hydroponics nft basil
gourmet basil seed varieties for hydroponic transplants
About Erik Biksa 247 Articles
Erik Biksa has been writing about and discussing hydroponics growing, related technologies and cropping methods since 1999 in a variety of professional publications and platforms globally Erik has travelled the world learning and teaching modern growing techniques and technologies and is appreciated by many growers for his informative yet hands on approaches. Presently, he is the Editor at Grozine Hydroponics Mag.