Lot’s of Fresh Hydroponic Strawberries


All my strawberry systems seem to be working very well at the moment, After only a few weeks each plant is providing several fresh strawberries every day or so.

Here are a few pictures of the strawberry plants at the moment.

 

First Strawberries in the Flood and Drain System

First Strawberries in the Flood and Drain System

 

First Strawberries in the Aeroponic System

First Strawberries in the Aeroponic System

 

The strawberry plants in the water culture system

First Strawberries in the Water Culture System, Unfortunately I’ve eaten the ripe ones at the moment so you can’t see them.


The only thing I’ve been having to do on a nearly daily basis is to check for greenfly or whitefly. A few leaves have had quite a few of these nasty insects trying to destroy them. I’ve found the easiest way to get rid of them is simply to check each leaf in turn for them and simply squish them with your fingers. It’s not the nicest thing to have to do but it’s a lot better for the plants than spraying them every time you see them, and it only takes a few minutes each day.

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Being energy efficient with LED and energy saving light bulbs


Low Energy Bulb from LED HutFor some reason in our fairly new house the electric circuits are very fussy and easily trip out when things like a light bulb blows. What makes things worse is that the circuit breakers which we need to reset to bring the electric back on are in our Garage which you have to get in through the garden.

This is not exactly an ideal situation when a bulb pops at midnight just before you are going to bed and it’s pouring down with rain. After this exact situation occured the other week I had had enough. What made matters worse is that when the electric was turned back on our alarm system decided to get utterly confused as it’s back up battery had gone flat over the years. I’m sure our next door neighbours loved us that night with the alarm going off in the middle of the night.

Anyway after that occurred I decided that now was a good time to change all the lighting in our house to low energy light bulbs. In the UK over the past few years standard Incandescent light bulbs which have a filament have been faded out and some are now banned from being produced such as the 60 watt light bulb. I’m hoping that with a change to low energy bulbs there is now little chance of them tripping out the circuit breaker when one fails, Or at the very least with the expected life of them being several years I shouldn’t be doing the late night trip to the garage very often.

We have had several low energy fluorescent lights in the hallway for quite a while, but these are always been really ugly and take so much time to light up were not really useful in the main rooms like the dining room and living room. Having a look at what is available now though LED light bulbs seem to have come a long way and looked like a useful replacement, they also use even less energy than the fluorescent low energy equivalents.

The first rooms I wanted to replace where the kids rooms which had normal 40 or 60 watt bayonet standard bulbs and also the utility room. I found a place on the internet which makes there own bulbs and gives a guarantee of 5 years if one fails. I know sending things back for replacement would always cost me at least a little bit of postage but as I was planning on buying quite a few I knew this didn’t matter too much as if one fails I could wait until another one did and then post several back for replacement.

The website I’m talking about is a company called LED Hut, I’d never heard of them before 99.9 percent of the reviews recommend the company which is always a good sign. Looking around their website they have a huge selection of bulbs. Most of which can be selected in several different colour options depending on where abouts the bulb would be used and if you wanted a cool light or a warm light.

The bulbs we chose were an led bulb which had a power consumption of 5 watts but was the equivalent of 60watts power.  The bulbs are quite expensive at over 10 pounds each, But factoring in the 5 year guarantee and electric costs we’d save made it look worth while. The colour we chose was the warm white clear ones as they were going in the kids bedrooms and they wanted it look cool and modern. The lights look very robust and when we put one in our son’s bedroom he made the mistake of looking at it when we turned it on, Let’s just say they were quite bright and it took a while for the dots in front of his eyes to disappear.

Low Energy Bulb from LED HutLow Energy Bulb From LED HutYou can see from the photo here what the bulbs look like in the different colours, The one of the left is the warm white clear showing easily the led emitters within the bulb, The one of the right is the warm white frosted which we purchased afterwards you can see how the colour of this might be better of in normal rooms where you want a smoother light bulb look.

Candle Shaped Light Bulbs from LED HutWe also purchased several candle shaped LED lights to the ones we had in the dining room light fitting, You can see the light fitting here with the lights in place. These bulbs were only 3 watt bulbs which are the equivalent of 40 watt light bulbs. Usually I wouldn’t believe these figures but on this occasion I do thing all the bulbs we have are very like the equivalent they are supposed to be replacing.

Some R80 low energy downlights from ledbulbsWe then had the task of replacing the Kitchens downlighters, for some reason the ones the builders have used were in a fitting called R80, This doesn’t seem much used any more and there was no equivalent LED available from the LED Hut shop. And I didn’t really want to be spending a lot of money on them. After what seemed like ages hunting around the internet I found another shop called ledbulbs.co.uk , These also seemed to be a respectable web site and have a huge range including not just led bulbs but other styles of low energy bulbs including Aurora 11W R80 bulbs for just over 2 pounds each. This website doesn’t give the same 5 year guarantee but by this stage I just wanted to get the bulbs so I placed an order for 4 of these. Both of these companies have very efficient delivery and I received this order at the exact time they told me. To be honest when I fitted the lights I wasn’t that impressed that they stuck out quite a bit from the light fitting as you can see in the picture, But my wife says they look great so I’m happy to leave them.

The other challenge we had to complete the light changing mission was to change the dimmer and light bulbs in the living room, Thinking this was going to be quite easy was a big mistake. The first thing I had to investigate was whether the lutron dimmer we are using could cope with LED Bulbs, And the answer was a big no. So another trawl around the internet was called for to find a dimmer to replace it. All I wanted was a dimmer which could control LED lights which also had a remote control. I didn’t even want the dimmer really, Just being the lazy person I am I wanted to be able to turn the light on and off when I’m slouching on the couch. I did like the way on the Lutron dimmer it would raise the brightness to full and then dim it completely off when you turned the light switch on and off. The dimmer I found does go from off to full brightness over the space of a second but when you turn it off it’s just an instant off. It would be nice if there was the option to make it dim to off when turning off. But as it’s less than a quarter of the price of the lutron dimmer I couldn’t accept this little foible.

The dimmer I found was a V-Pro Eclique Dimmer from a company called Varilight. This looked just the job so I ordered one ready for fitting.  According to the instructions this dimmer required a minimum of 10 watts load for it to work, This would mean all the wattage of the bulbs in the light fitting in the living room would have add up to at least this. Unfortunately LED bulbs I was planning on using from LED Hut are only 3 watts so wouldn’t be enough, So I had to investigate and find some alternatives. I wanted to stick to the Varilight recommented manufactures also to make sure they worked with the dimmer.

Philips Novallure Clear Flame Tip CandleI decided on some Philips Novallure Clear Flame Tip Candle 4W these would be just enough to ensure the dimmer works, And looking at the pictures on the web of these they looked really nice with their pointy candle tip. I must say I’m impressed with the way these light up and they do look nice in their fitting. They are Philips Novallure Clear Flame Tip Candlesupposed to be a replacement for a 25 watt but we think they are underestimating slightly on these as it certainly feels brighter in the living room with these compared with the original 25 watt filament bulbs.

Unfortunately I have to say that so far I have not managed to get the varilight dimmer to work successfully, At first try it seemed to work a little oddly with the philips bulbs and on first turning on it seemed to get slightly stuck at a certain dim level and then after a second carry on to full brightness, There are options on the dimmer to set the switch up to work optimized for all bulbs, But this didn’t seem to make much difference. And I cannot get the infrared remote control part  reliably, It is supposed to allow you to learn from a spare button on one of your remotes which it does, But then it seemed to randomly turn the light on or off when ever it felt like it even if you were not using a remote control in the room, Although it does do it more when you are using a remote. I’ve tried on two seperate occasions to get this to work but ended up putting back the original plain old switch. So far the switch is the biggest let down of this exercise.

Was all this hassle worth it ? I’m not quite sure yet, but I’ve had an electricity monitoring thing running on my computer for a year now, So over the next months I’ll have a look and post exactly how much I think I’m saving over time using these new style bulbs and if it stops me having to go into the garage in the middle of the night to flip the circuit breaker then I’ll be happy anyway.

 

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