Patio in South Florida

by Michael
(Fort Lauderdale)

In the process of imagining a small NFT system (2 vertical "walls", maybe 8-10 channels altogether) for our outdoor patio here in South Florida, partly for the fun of trying it out, partly for aesthetics, certainly to enjoy whatever we choose to grow. We've been moderately successful with square foot gardening in our tiny urban yard. It won’t be screened in. Plan to run it DIY off solar cells, battery, microprocessors.

Looks like summer will be a struggle, yes? Is there ANYTHING that will grow over the summer in the hot months? Hardy herbs? Was reviewing this site for ideas: http://bit.ly/10YrYjn - black-eyed peas, perhaps? Rosemary and Oregano seem to grow in our yard with little attention required. Perhaps some aromatics that can be harvested for use in making homemade soaps and things? Plants to ward off mosquitos? Not everything has to be eaten.

Would love to have some feedback and advice on what things might be easier to grow for beginners. In the meantime, we’ll just keep reading everything we come across. Thanks for your website!
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Answer from Stella/Simon:

Dear Michael,
You could try growing anything in a hydroponic garden that you would dare to try in your soil garden there.

The absolute key to success would be in fighting off the bugs (I grew up in Miami) and most importantly, keeping the nutrient solution cool. One possible option if feasible in your situation would be to actually bury the nutrient vat down in the soil so it would stay cool, or super insulate it. If you could keep the solution below 80°, you should be fine.

Another solution if you're willing to invest $ in this project would be to buy a chiller for your nutrient vat, but they can be expensive.

One other consideration, how long are they in direct sunlight, or can you use shade cloth at least part of the day?

You are up against a lot of heat there, but if you're determined to make a productive plot out of a small area, keep on surfin' and I'm sure you will come up with ideas for a highly productive unit, year round.

Good luck to you Michael,
and most of all, have fun!

Stella
Hope this helps!

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