The Urban Farmer, Issue #026 *

July, 2010: 



We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."

        ~Abraham Lincoln



Remember pH from chemistry or biology class? The pH is a number that tells how acid or alkaline your solution is. And yes, the control of pH is extremely important, not only in hydroponics but in soil as well. Plants lose the ability to absorb several important nutrients when the pH is out of whack. If not in the proper range, the essential minerals get "locked out".

The ability to quickly and easily test and control pH in hydroponics is a major advantage over dirt gardening, where testing and adjusting the pH is much more complicated and time consuming.

Luckily, pH is a very easy thing to control. All you need is a pH test kit (like for swimming pools), or pH "dip" strips. Either testing method is inexpensive and very easy to learn. You do NOT need to buy an expensive electronic pH meter, which also requires quality control procedures.

The proper range of pH for your hydroponics nutrient solution: 5.5-6.5 (6.0 is ideal).

When to test:

* When you mix up a new batch of grow juice. Let it settle for a couple hours. Then test and adjust the pH. Let set an hour and test the pH again...

* Twice a week thereafter. If you are a worrier, test your hydroponic solution daily. It only costs a few drops of test solution.

How to adjust the pH:

* Buy a "pH up & pH down" kit. Follow the directions on the bottle. A little bit goes a long way, so be careful. You'll soon figure out how much is about right.

* In a pinch (if you run out of the kit solution), you can fix the pH with these "home remedies". White vinegar will lower the ph; baking soda raises it. But these agents are not stable and buffered, and should not be used in the long run.


Do yourself a favor: Get a simple kit put out by GH (General Hydroponics). It includes the test kit plus a bottle each of pH up & pH down. It costs about $15 and will get you through many gardens. Keep it simple!

Order one here:  pH Control Kit



Aero Garden featured on City TV!

The aero garden is the easiest all-in-one kit to get started with hydroponics. This is a mini-garden, more for fun and a simple look at hydro than a serious learning project.

But we love ours and always keep it bubbling in our kitchen for a lively, earthy touch to the decor. The garden is started with "seed pods" or little pre-planted cups, which help to ensure success. You can order kits to grow: tomatoes, peppers, green beans, lettuce, and various collections of gourmet herbs. Even ornamentals (flowers).

This ready-to-use garden and light will look perfect on any counter top so that you can have fresh vegetables or herbs year round in your kitchen. It also makes a great gift for the "hard to buy for". Read more about the Aero Garden or order one here:  Aerogarden.


Students win Best Global Impact Award for Hydroponics vertical farm project.


Recently, a team of 4 students (Scott Mills, Amelia Slick, Elise LaRussa, and Mareya Welsh) from Ballard High school in Washington submitted their project “Imagine Tomorrow” to the science fair. The team ultimately took their project all the way to Washington State University to compete, and won the award for Best Global Impact.

For their project, they built a model vertical farm, with the thinking in mind of growing up rather than out, saving space which will help the world because of the growing population and finite amount of space on our planet. The model used filtered rainwater to feed the plants. Mills said that with this type of vertical skyscraper farm built “we wouldn’t need or focus on imported food, thereby saving money and cutting down CO2 emissions from transportation.”

We congratulate the team and all of their hard work on the project and hope this sparks future interest in hydroponics careers (or home hydro gardens).

Hydro Tip of the Month

Can't decide which vegetables to grow in your new hydro garden? Start with vegetables you and your family love. It might be fun to grow 40 radishes, but if y'all don't like them, why waste the space? (Note: give radishes a try before you rule them out. Fresh from the garden to your salad tastes delightfully different).

We hope you have enjoyed this issue of The Urban Farmer Ezine. Each month, we will bring you another inspiring photo, gardening quote or idea, plus fresh new hydroponics news, techniques & products.

Insiders tips to get you growing...


~Stella and Simon from Hydroponics-Simplified.


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