After harvesting our plants last week and refreshing our system, things seem to take taken the turn for the worst. It has now been a week since our first harvest and we haven’t seen any new growth. In fact, the plants appear to be dieing. To my knowledge our harvest went well. Other than that, all we did was clean out the system an put new nutrient solution with the propper pH in it. Maybe the plants were out of the water too long? They were only out for no longer than 15 minutes. Anyway, here are some pictures of what we are dealing with.
Looks dead and wilted
Maybe some life left
It has been two days since we harvested our lettuce and the plants haven’t changed much since then. We figured it would be a good idea to clean out the system to give our plants the best chance to regrow. We carefully removed the plants and dumped out all of the water. Once it was empty we wiped down the inside of our system with paper towels to make sure we got rid of any type of residue that may have been building. We also mixed up a new gallon of nutrient solution. After making sure the pH was around 6 we filled back up the system and put the plants back in. In a few days we hope to see some new growth, providing some promise for another harvest down the road.
As we checked on the plants today we observed even more growth, which is good because we had planned on harvesting today. At the beginning of class we topped off our nutrient solution to give our plants until the end of class to soak. At the end of class we got the plant trimmers and started cutting. We left a good 1.5″-2″ of the main stem in hopes of another harvest. The lettuce looks tasty and I can’t wait to get it hope and put some balsamic vinaigrette on it.
On Wednesday we checked out our system and plants. Everything is still going well except for the radish, unfortunately we haven’t been able to come up with a solution. The radish plant did sprout its leaves through the top of the rockwool but the radish did not come through the bottom. I’m am not sure but maybe the seed needed to be placed deeper into the rockwool when we first planted it. The lettuce on the other hand is growing so well, that on Monday we are planning to cut off some of the longer pieces. We will make the cuts about two inches above the rockwool, this way will should be able to get at least one more harvest. It is possible to get three harvests out of each plant and it seems like our plants are healthy, so hopefully we will get a couple more.
On Monday, March 26, I checked out the plants, checked the pH, and checked the nutrient solution level. The solution level was a little low so I added some. I then checked the pH and it was spot on where we want it right around 6.0. Plants are continuing to grow, except for our radish. Other than the radish problem, everything is looking good. On wedensday we are going to try to address the radish.
I checked on our plants today to take a few pictures. I really can’t believe how our lettuce is taking off. It is growing really well. On the other hand, our single radish isn’t doing so hot. We haven’t done much research about growing radishes and we’re not to sure what the optimum pH should be. We have really been focusing on the lettuce. Last class we rotated our crops just to get some differentiation and even things out. Check out our lettuce. Any suggestions for our dying radish? Also, our plants seem to be really flimsy, is it too late to add a fan?
Mesclun and a dying radish
We were very worried that since we were not able to tend to our system, due to spring break, that our plants might have died. Thankfully when we showed up this morning our plants were alive and healthy. While were we away for a little over a week, we were surprised to see how much our lettuce had grown. Unfortunately our radish doesn’t seem to be doing very well. Our water level had dropped so we were able to bring our water level up as well as check the PH level. The solution we added to our system had a slightly high of PH so we brought it down to around 5.5 before we added it to our system. Our rockwool is now sitting in about a quarter inch of water which seems to be working nicely.
Today we checked in on our system. It looks like we survived the weekend and our water level really hasn’t changed. Did not have much time today, but we decided to check our pH level of the solution in the system. To our surprise, the pH was very low (dark red). We could not make much sense of this other than some one has tried to sabotage our growth, or our fence post sleeve has caused the pH to lower. Regardless, we added a few drops of pH up and retested. Perfect. We left class today with the pH around 6.0. As you can tell from the picture below, the growth seems to be coming along nicely. Everything is going well. Hopefully we do not run into a pH problem next class.
Planted on 2/29/2012. Now that we have our system fully tested and operational, it was time to get ready to plant. First we mixed up a gallon of our nutrient solution and checked the pH level. It turned out to be a little high so we had to add some pH down to get it right where we wanted it, right between 5.5 and 6. Next we soaked our rockwool cubes in the solution for 30 minutes, because we read that rockwool has a tendency to raise the pH level. We rechecked the pH level and it was sufficient, so we began the planting process.
Next, we made small holes in the rockwool about 1/2″ deep, placed the seedlings in so the sprouts were just surfacing, and closed up the holes. After getting our planting cups set up, we established the water level in our system. We made it so the solution filled the bottom of our planter cups up about 1/8″. We did this because we did not want to provide too much water. We wanted the roots to have to search for nutrients in the downward direction and establish themselves. Once our cups were set and our water level was correct, we chose our territory under the grow lamp, plugged in our air pump, set up the lighting timer, and powered the light up. Our location on the grow tray is almost directly under the light with no interference (so far) from other systems. Growing is underway.
Once we started the germination process, the race was on to finish our growing system. We decided to use the wick system, primarily because of expenses, and also because we found that a complex system is not needed to grow mesclun. The body of our system is made from a plastic/pvc fence post sleeve. We cut two pieces to meet our size restrictions. We then drilled three connection holes. We then glued three 2″ pieces of 3/4″ pvc pipe. After the glue dried we then applied silicone for sealing. We thought that creating these connections between our two body pieces would allow for a shared nutrient solution reservoir, possibly slowing down the evaporation/use of our solution. Next we used silicone to install our end caps, drilled two small holes for the airlines, cleaned it up, and tested our system. Everything tested well. Here is our completed system. System completed on 2/27/2012