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Tips ‘N Techniques

autopot system set up on porch

   Part 4: Tips 'N Techniques

STOP! If you have just arrived at this website looking for passive hydroponics, you might want to go back to page one of this mini-farm plan.


You can use just the light from a
sunny window if all you are growing are houseplants. Anything else requires some
supplemental lighting. A T5 compact fluorescent “grow light” will do fine for
houseplants, herbs, and leafy green veggies like lettuce. This one is available
for under $75, including the 125 watt compact T5 bulb:

compact T5 lamp

The grow room must be kept cool. Use a fan on low in there
to cool it down. HID lamps will really add some heat.

You can order this lamp and bulb here: Cheap Lighting.
You can get off much cheaper by getting a fluorescent “grow stick” at Walmart
for about $25, but you will not get the lush growth a better light setup will
produce. Also, for best results, upgrade to the 200 watt bulb listed on our
supplies page.

If you are interested in fruiting
veggies like tomatoes, or serious herbs, you will have to upgrade to an HID
lamp. Learn more about HID lighting and see our special combo lamp deal here: Hydroponic Lights.


We highly recommend the

Flora Series

nutrient solutions put out by GH (General Hydroponics). This stuff is superior,
easy to use, and reasonably priced. It consists of 3 parts (Flora Grow; Flora
Micro; and Flora Bloom). If you have hard water, get the Hardwater Flora Micro

For this smaller garden, order a quart of each of the three solutions: Cheap Nutrients.
Stick with Flora Series, follow the label directions, and you can't go wrong!

The growing area (and therefore nutrient bucket) should be kept
cool for passive hydroponics (55-70°). This is especially important for the cool-season crops like
lettuce and broccoli. Learn more about hydroponics nutrient solutions here: Hydroponic Solution. We also
provide a nifty little mixing chart there for the Flora nutrients that you can
print out and save.

GH Flora nutrients

For each 2-gallon batch of
nutrient solution, add 2 tsp. of each of the 3 parts, separately. Never
mix the nutrient solutions together, only add to the water. As the
plants mature, change the ratio of the nutrient solution as directed on
the bottles, or in Stella's mixing chart.

GH pH control kit

pH- It is a very good
idea for any serious hydroponics project to keep the pH of the water in the
proper range, which is 5.5 to 6.5 (6.0 is ideal). If the pH is out of range,
some of the nutrients get “locked out” and the plants suffer.

GH puts out a
simple test kit with pH up & down solutions
. It will last you through
gardens: Cheap Nutrients.


recommend a 50/50 Coco Coir and perlite mixture for the AutoPots. Line
the bottom of the pots first with the provided root mats. You cannot use
LECA (Hydroton or clay balls) in this system.

This is a brick of Coco-Coir, you can order one here: Cheap Hydroponics media.

Perlite can be bought at any garden
center. Coco Tek must be ordered from a hydroponics supplier.
Learn more about hydroponic growing media here: Hydroponic Growing Medium.


Return From Passive Hydroponics to Mini Farms


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