My husband has been working every evening for the last couple weeks, getting the hydroponic garden up and running. The goal is to automate as much as we can, so that the upkeep going forward is minimal. Tonight he plumbed in a water line coming from our under-sink water filter, going into the crawl space. That way he can just turn a faucet under the house to refill the water tanks for the garden. They’re 20 gallons each, and need to be refilled every two weeks. Since we wanted to use filtered water, it would otherwise have involved standing at the sink filling buckets, and then carrying them down under the house. So by spending a couple evenings getting the extra water line set up, he’s reduced considerably the amount of effort needed to maintain our garden. I love that guy.
Another thing we needed was containers to hold our plants. Each reservoir is 2 feet by 4 feet, so we needed quite a few containers. The store where we bought our hydroponic supplies was selling them for 80 cents each. But we figured we needed between 50 and 70 containers, and at 80 cents each, that was going to be a serious chunk of change. So we came home and dug out all the containers we could find in our recycling bin that would fit the bill. We had three. Then I went to the recycling center to drop off all of our stuff, and looked in the big bins there to see what I could find. Good idea, but it was slim pickins because the bins had just been emptied and I couldn’t reach far enough into them to get much. I got five containers that day. We checked out local thrift stores, but they didn’t have anything either. Then my husband went to our local nursery and hit the jackpot. It’s the end of the planting season, and they had piles of containers in various sizes, that they were giving away for free. I think that the nursery does landscaping for people, and these were all the leftover pots from the plants they transplanted this summer. We have a stack of pots about four feet tall, and they were free. Pays to keep looking, even when the first few places you look don’t work out.
So now we have 35 plants growing in our crawl space. The swiss chard is doing the best – some of the plants have four inch leaves already. We also have lettuce and Japanese mustard growing, along with various other salad greens. We’ve filled one of the two reservoirs, and now we’re going to start working on the second one. So far it’s working out great, and it will be wonderful to be harvesting our own veggies all winter long while the outdoor garden is buried under snow.