A hydroponic greenhouse.

 

I think I have figured out how to beat the aging process. As I see it, the key is to elevate all of your work to a height equal to your kitchen counter. I have used this guide in almost everything I build and applied it to my latest endeavor, the garden project.

 

Okay, first off, I know I don’t have the aging process beat. I do know that not bending over removes some of the hurdles a person faces as they age. Gardening should be something a person can do all of their life and hopefully this project will support that thesis.

“greenhouse made mostly of old window sashes.”

 

Our greenhouse is pretty standard in shape and size. I did indulge myself in a few post and beam techniques I’d seen on the internet and so the structure is quite overbuilt. The walls are made mostly of window sashes that have been sitting in a shed for the last ten years. The roof is a clear, tough roofing sheet that will have a chance to prove it’s toughness this winter.

 

It might have been a good idea to provide for more natural venting however I decided not to use a roof vent. Instead, I left small openings at the bottom of three walls and use one thermostatically-controlled gable fan to cool the greenhouse. My idea is that the fan will draw the coolest air from the bottom as it exhausts the hotter air that collects in the roof peak.

 

I did not plant anything in black dirt and there is not one speck of black dirt in the greenhouse. We decided on dutch-bucket hydroponics. I liked this plan as we were able to arrange the plants at about waist-height for easy maintenance. There are also no weeds to pull with this method and watering is completed with a pump which is timer-controlled.

“all the plants, and the work, is at waist height”

 

Each tomato plant is placed inside a small dutch bucket which is then filled with perlite. Perlite is the medium which holds the plant upright and also retains some water. A small water hose is used to drip fertilized water into the perlite to feed the plant. Any excess water builds from the bottom of the bucket and drains through an inch and half pipe back to the reservoir which feeds the system.

 

We had three hot peppers and two green peppers on the vine two weeks after planting. Hydroponics are supposed to be quick and use only ten percent of the water necessary to raise the same plants in soil. The plants are heavy enough so they have begun to fall over. There is no room for tomato cages so instead we are using the “Rollerplast” trellising system. Basically they are little pulleys that hang on cable strung along the ceiling from which spool a thread is connected to the plant by a small plastic clips.

“trellising systems suspends much of the plants weight
from the ceiling”

 

I am an amateur at this process and the only education I have of hydroponics is book knowledge to this point. However, I am in the laboratory/greenhouse right now and getting some pretty good first-hand experience. From what I have seen to this point, this is a much easier process than raised gardens and we can raise approximately four times the plants we did in about one-third the space.

 

I guess the proof will be in the eating and canning.

dutch bucket lettuce

dutch bucket lettuce

2 Responses to “A hydroponic greenhouse.”

  1. Irene says:

    Is this food as nutritious as if grown in the ground? Do you grow your plants organically or do you use chemicals?

    It sounds great!!! Also, can you keep growing plants in the winter with some lighting in your greenhouse?

    Thank you so much for the article!

    Irene

    • Avatar of grant nelson grant nelson says:

      A plant converts sunlight, air, water and fertilizer into something people can eat. Hydroponics supply all of these elements, just in a little more efficient manner. For these reasons, I would guess nutrition is the same. In other words, I don’t know.

      I don’t believe you could call this organic as I use a commerical liquid fertilizer in the water.

      The windows are double-paned so they are more efficient than single panes and therefore woiuld retain some heat. You could keep a greenhouse going into the winter but you will have to provide heat (electric, gas) to keeps it warm enough to keep the plants productive.

      Thank-you for reading my column.

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