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April - Hydroponic self-supply balcony project

  • Planting Pedestal Deep Water 44 and Drip System for Tomatoes

  • Deep Water Cultivation (DWC) plant container for cabbage vegetables

  • Tomatoes in droplets irrigation System

  • Greenhouse with chili, paprika and aubergine

  • Net pots with herbs in plant tower airponic

  • Gurken in DWC - Deep Water Cultivation

  • NFT Balkongeländer und Airponic Pflanzsäule

  • NFT wall system cultivation

  • Herbs in NFT vertical wall system

  • Planting tower, NFT wall system and NFT balcony railing

16.04.2019 – Plant check - tomatoes in drip system - view of the roots

Here you can see a tomato plant that has already been planted in clay ball substrate for several days. The roots are nicely wrapped around the clay balls. Automatically watered and fertilized by a drip system /droplets irrigation system.

13.04.2019 - First salad harvested and moving of the seedlings to the balcony garden

The seeds sown in February have grown into strong young plants with beautiful roots. They are now ready to move to the balcony garden. The cabbage varieties are mainly used in a hydroponic Deep Water System, in which they have space to develop vigorously. After all, we want to use our balcony garden as a self-sufficient balcony.

25.04.2019 – Consumption of water and nutrients in one week, in the hydroponic balcony garden

Over Easter we went on vacation. That means that we had to leave our "Hydroponic self-catering balcony" alone for a week - we were allowed to... See also entry 17.04.2019

As reported, our 260 balcony plants were inserted into hydroponic planting systems shortly before Easter. Before Easter it was still cold during the day, but especially at night. During Easter temperatures between 20-27 °C were announced during the day. All in all not so good for the plants. The young plants had to fight with low and for the season also much too high temperatures.

Losses were therefore planned. Planting the young plants into the hydroponics planters was the only chance to supply them with water and fertilizer during this holiday week without anyone having to intervene. 

The central nutrient container was filled up to the emergency overflow, approx. 200 litres. In the overall system, approx. 400 litres are in circulation, i.e. recirculating. 

Getting the following listed numbers look difficult, but you can easily get them by using an EC and pH meter. Try to measure a normal garden soil - whether it has too much or too little fertilizer - is difficult.

CONSUMPTION of nutrient solution in hydroponics in one week

The consumption of nutrient solution (water/fertiliser) for the 260 plants was 65 litres of nutrient solution - i.e. approx. 10 litres per day - about a watering can. 

After consultation with professional home gardeners, this is not much compared to conventional watering in the garden.

Before Easter the nutrient solution was adjusted to the pH value of pH 6.5 and the EC value to 1550 µS/cm. After this week we had a pH value of pH 6.8 and an EC value of 1290 µS/cm on the displays of our measuring instruments.

FILLING nutrient solution into the hydroponics after one week

The 65 litres of water were then refilled into the central hydroponic supply system and the nutrient content was raised to 1470 µS/cm using 120 mL mineral fertilizer.

The pH value was lowered to pH 6.5 with 50 mL pH Down (pH reducer). 

Our tap water has a value of approx. pH 8 and a conductivity/EC of 550 µS/cm (always slightly fluctuating).

LOSS of young plants

The loss of young plants was in the tolerable range with approx. 7 plants. We permanently grow young plants from seeds or cuttings, also to ensure a continuous self-sufficiency.

24.04.2019 – Cabbage varieties - growth one week

Various cabbage varieties in a Deep Water planter after a week on the self-supply balcony.

Cabbage varieties in Hydroponic: Savoy cabbage, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower.

24.04.2019 – Planting tower before and after Easter - Hydroponics planting tower

Top: Pak Choi, Stielmus, Asia Salad, Parsley. Middle: Lettuce, Komatsuma. Bottom: Pickled lettuce, Pak Choi, Asia salad.

Not to see: Parsley, lovage stick, strawberry

24.04.2019 – Tomatoes - Growth in a week - Drip Planter

Drip irrigation system tomatoes - growth within a week over Easter on the self-supply balcony.

17.04.2019 – Easter - vegetables, herbs, salads and berry plants are now on the self supply balcony

Since we have little time over Easter and due to the good weather forecasts we decided to use all plants on the balcony, quasi in the open air, in the hydroponic planting systems. In the hope that the nights will not get so cold and that everything will work.

We have now inserted approx. 280 plants (planting holes). All Deep Water, NFT systems, Airponic and Drip systems are in operation. Everything is automatically watered and supplied with nutrients via timers. The central nutrient container is filled up to the emergency overflow, approx. 200 litres. It will be exciting how much nutrient solution (fertilizer / water) the plants will consume. The entire hydroponic plant is operated recirculating, so that no nutrient solution is lost unnecessarily.  We would like to have another week to observe the 2 balconies and to be able to solve possible problems - but unfortunately not possible.

The pH value was adjusted to pH 6.5 and the EC value to 1550 µS/cm with the help of the measuring instruments.

So the plants will now be left to themselves for a week. Hopefully everything goes well. 

On the pictures you can see the current planting status of our self-catering balcony.

Hydroponics Urban Gardening. 

After germination of the peppers, chili and aubergine seeds, the small plants were placed in net pots and stabilized with expanded clay granules. In a bowl with water, they were grown into young plants, which - without a net pot - were now converted into an active drip system. Since peppers, chilli and eggplants love warmth, they were allowed to move into the greenhouse.

Two of our three planting towers have already been put into operation and the first harvest has already taken place. Komatsuma, Asia salad, picking salad, purée and parsley have already been processed into delicious dishes - the reward for gardening! The Pak Choi is also almost ready for harvesting and will soon be processed into a delicious wok dish.

Vertical planting tower - covered

Since it got cold again in April, we protected the plants with hole foil as a precaution. Despite nightly temperatures close to 0°C, the water still has about 8°C in the morning, so there is no danger of frost. 

We have not yet set tomatoes outside. They have to wait until the days and nights get a little warmer - it should be soon.

10.04.2019 – Ready to Grow - on the self-supply balcony

The construction of the hydroponic plant container is completed.

It is completed, both self-catering balconies are equipped with hydroponic systems. A few small changes have been made to the original design.

Now with central irrigation

Originally we wanted to operate all plant containers as single solutions. This would have meant that we would have to adjust the nutrient solution in all the different hydroponic planting systems and refill the water with the can.

The fact that we are often on the road, this business was too cumbersome for us.

Automatic central supply

Now the hydroponics systems, such as the vertical planting towers, are automatically (timer) supplied with water and nutrients via a central nutrient container. The nutrient solution is simply pumped in a circle and fills the planters again and again. Once a plant container has been filled, the surplus is returned to the central nutrient container. In doing so, we have made use of gravity. It is well known that water flows downhill by itself.

A pump in the nutrient container pumps the nutrient solution to the highest point, i.e. "balcony 2" above. From there it flows through all the plant containers until it returns to the nutrient container.  

Exceptions confirm the rule - on "Balcony 1" there are two plant boxes with trellis and two Airponic plant columns. Although both are filled via the central nutrient container, they are not circulated. Since the nutrient container is on the same level as the planters, the return to the central container does not work. The surplus is therefore fed into a flatter container, which is returned to the central container from time to time.

Sounds complicated, but isn't it?

Not everyone will try to grow as much greenery themselves as we do. Without central irrigation, each plant container can of course also be operated manually as an singl solution - just refill with the pot.


Disadvantage of the central solution

Of course, the central solution also has the disadvantage that if the central pump fails and no one notices, there will be a lot of loss. A further disadvantage is that if the central nutrient container is contaminated with something that damages the plants, all the plants get it right away. But "no risc no fun".

It still looks pretty technical - but it's going to change fast!