About Hydroponics

Well it’s that time of year when we turn our attention to the garden. The rain and longer, warmer days has the weeds going crazy, it’s also that time we get into veggies, my soil is no good. I have limited water and my back isn’t up to digging or weeding. I changed my modus operandi from the way I have done it all my life to Hydroponics… ohhh and I can hear you sucking in your breath, I can hear your thoughts… Shock horror as your mind goes to images of chemicals and drugs. All the things we don’t want on our table, well I can tell you most veggies in your supermarket are now grown hydroponically, the reason they don’t always have flavour is they were picked green and may have been in a cold store for weeks before they hit the shelves. So now that we have dispelled that theory let’s look at how you could grow your own at home.. I have a couple of cheap green houses at home and am picking tomatoes most days for lunches or brekkies.. I have carrots, beetroot, radishes and onions in tubs I have tomatoes , cabbages, lettuces , bok choi, silver beet, cucumbers and caulis in buckets and I use pipes with holes in them to grow lettuce, bok choi and anything else that  will grow out in water and fertiliser..

The pipes are still a bit cold for vegies as the running water tends to be too cold for larger plants and too wet for the younger plants. Another few weeks and I’ll be able to fill them up with seedlings of all types to grow them till they ready for the table. The best thing about growing my own veggies is I don’t pick them till they ready for me to eat.. If I have too many I pickle and put in my pantry. I also bottle or can as the pundits call it.. this means I get to eat things like pickled cucumbers and tomato relish and sweet mustard pickles as well as sour kraut all year round but ill talk about preserving foods another day.. today its all about hydroponic growing of veggies.

Let’s look at the benefits of small scale hydroponics. No Weeding.. yup and No Digging.. and you use way less water.. so in the last year I grew vegies in the ground I got a summer water bill of a $1000. The bugs ate a good third of my veggies and by the time I got veggies to my table they cost way more than at the super market. I see you all nodding your heads wisely and thinking yup that’s why I don’t do it.. well then I went to hydroponics. I put in a small green house at my old house in Adelaide and inside 8 weeks my shopping bill was slashed.. we picked fresh every night for tea and I picked every morning for breakfast and it cost me 10 minutes every morning.. I topped up my water tubs every couple of days and used liquid fertiliser at the rate of 150ml every couple of weeks.. we acquired a few chooks and fed the veggie scraps to them and found eggs every day.. Then we moved to Palmer..

First thing we did when we moved here was put in a couple of cheap green houses, made all new hydro gardens and planted them out.. planted veggies in the ground as well.. Proof was in the eating folks, during our first summer we used up to 250 litres of water per week for 2 green houses of hydro veggie gardens and on the veggies growing in the ground we used 750 litres per week.. the heat waves sucked up lots of water.. from the green house we got heaps to eat and from the ground we got some beanz and a couple of cobs of corn and a couple of pumkins. We have learned a valuable lesson and this year even the pumpkins and corn will be grown hydroponically.

We battled bugs and weeds in the ground and used way to much water and if it hadn’t been for some unseasonal rain to top our water tanks would have lost everything. With all my veggie gardens at waist height its easy to wander around and use a natural bug spray like pyrethrum to keep the critturs under control.. its natural and my  veggies are organic.. My companion planting regime is more about which plants use what nutrients or need how much water so they can be watered and fed from the same pump.

My veggie garden is open to view in Palmer by appointment only..

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security

hi folks… lots of attempts to hack our site.. if you dont use your real email you dont get the key.. what can i say.. real name real email you get the email from me with the key and you can then add comments and have your say.. post pics of your garden.. tell a gardening story give advice or ask for advise.. thanks for visiting

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New Filters

well the mark 2 filter design only partially worked.. had to go back to the drawing board and finally came up with a design that seems to work.. so now have ordered some custom made bits and bobs and will assemble them next week into the new mark 3 filter.. i think they will work fine.. Also this week had some interesting chats with some old folks.. my gardens were too big for their needs so a new design is coming for the balcony or small unit back porch.. the parts for the new combo unit are nearly all assembled and ready to put together in the next week.. this should make it easier for singles to grow just what they need in a smaller space again.. will post pics when tested and running…

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In the beginning

Welcome to Urban Farms SA. If you are here then you have an interest in Urban Farming.  “Someone once said if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day but if you teach him to fish you feed him for a lifetime.” When I was growing up my parents and grandparents had vegie gardens, and chooks. On school holidays us lads were sent off to dig nanas garden and shovel out the chook shed. Back then our parents had large blocks in the suburbs and no shortage of water. Now days many of our families live in units or town houses with no room to grow vegies. World wide there is a resurgence of folks wanting to grow their own vegies. People no longer trust the shop bought produce. No one knows what chemicals have been used on it while it was growing let along what chemicals have been used on it to keep it looking good while it travels to the local store. And the prices will not go down. When a farmer on the other side of the country gets flooded the price goes up. Its a given as water and fuel prices go up our food will go up.

So Urban Farming is taking many forms in cities all over the world. In Asia and America folks grow on tenement and office rooftops. In other parts of America and Europe the shared community  garden is up and running. Whole streets in the suburbs have taken to planting out the nature strips. Here in OZ the movement towards fresh healthy LOCAL food production is gaining momentum. Folks are putting mini gardens in the small yards of their units. All those involved are concerned with the food security of their family.

I used to go dig up my yard and prepare the soil to grow my vegies relentlessly. Bottled and pickled and dried my surplus and shared with friends and family. My back finally wore out. I can no longer dig my garden. And this brought me to the concept of patio gardens. No digging, No weeding, and a 90 percent saving on water. So first came the need to have nutritious chemical free food for eating fresh and bottling and pickling. Water was so expensive my water bill the last year I grew out the garden was over a thousand dollars for the summer. A flawed economy of scale.. hence I turned to hydroponics for my answers.

Commercial farmers use vastly different equipment to what is sold at online hydro shops.. specialised buckets that would grow one cabbage for 500 dollars with another few thousand dollars worth of electronics to monitor and auto adjust everything needed for that plant in the 500 dollar bucket. Yup ideal for growing that $10,000 cannabis plant, but I didn’t want to spend thousands for a few tomatoes and lettuces so it was onto  research what the farmers were doing. Still looking to service myself and my family. At some point it became a business.

I hope you find the things I am doing interesting. I hope some of you will buy my patio gardens. More importantly I hope this site motivates you to seek food security for you and yours. I hope you enjoy your families journey to healthy sustainable food.

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food security

food security first requires you to make the changes to bring it on.. its not accidental, its not luck, its a little planning and a desire to provide your family with food security. let me share some of our improvements.

I got 9 jars of baked beanz for 6 bucks and 5 ltrs of soy milk for $1.50 and I got a kilo of chook food. in return I got 2 eggs off the chooks.. all in all agood deal. I put the beanz in the pressure cooker so they have a shelf life of 6 to 12 months.


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retail gardens under construction..

The new standardised frame has made production cheaper, uses less timber and requires less labour. All growing surfaces are at a height where you can work comfortably without having to bend down to manage plants. These frames will now make it possible to make shade  cloth and green house covers to extend the growing season.

 

 

The new tub configuration will reduce the time taken to set up plumbing. Cant wait to see one planted out with carrots.

 

 

 

The new bucket array will make it easier to grow tomatoes and other vine crops while at the same time growing vegies like cabbage which have a large root mass.

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Prototyping

All the units so far in the green house started off as drawings.. some looked really functional until I made them. Some I had to make multiple times to get them in a working state. So even tho costs blew out of the budget and tooling cost heaps for all the stuff that didn’t work, it was rewarding. I now have some great working designs which reduced the cost of the units and increased the productivity for the given foot print. And now I have completed these units I am now starting on the new simplified cost reduced models I will have for sale in the coming weeks.

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Testing

So I filled buckets with nutrient solutions and tried different cups and media to see what worked the best. Was surprised how much quicker they grew compared to in the ground.

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In the beginning..

Got the green house online on special. It was cheaper than the smaller one from the same company. The grandies lined up to assist with the assembly. It went together smoothly and grandson Zac learned some hand and eye co ordination with nuts and bolts and spanners.

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