As we are currently in the process of moving house, This Greenhouse is the only one which I have to grow within this year. I have started trying all sorts of new ideas out though, And you’ll find more information about these as you read more of this page.
As you can see in the picture here we are still growing lettuces in a cold frame outside the greenhouses like we did last year. (Please see last years greenhouse post for more details on how this system works)
This year though I had to purchase a new air pump for the system as the belows inside the old pump had split during the winter. I also purchased two new ready perforated plastic pipes to use to supply the air to the nutrients. I am also running the air pump 24 hours a day to see what effect this has.
The system with it’s new pieces and adjustments is now performing much better than last year, To see an example of this have a look at our photo’s from this season by clicking Here.
Although this photo doesn’t show it we have also wrapped parts of the Greenhouse in large bubblewrap. This is because the cucumber plants were getting burnt from the sun.
As there is no electricity elsewhere in the garded I decided to try and use solar power, I purchased a Solar Fountain kit from a local DIY center, The kit came with a low power water pump and the solar panel you can see here.
Unfortunately due to the lack of sun in the UK the pump doesn’t run for 95% of the time which doesn’t make it much use, To fix this I decided to built a little piece of electronics consisting of a few capacitors and a timer circuit, What this basically does it charge the capacitors up using the limited solar power available and every 20 seconds pulses the pump for approximately 2 seconds. This is enough power to pump a small amount of nutrient solution up to the Watercress channel shown below.
The nutrient is pumped every 20 seconds for 2 seconds by the solar panel, The solution is pumped up into a piece of standard square guttering where it flows down into another piece of guttering underneath and back into the nutrient container to start the process again.
As you can see I have covered the whole thing with some clear polythene to keep rain water out of the nutrient solution and to give the watercress some protection from the elements, The whole system has been running now for just over a month and the watercress is growing well.
Here are some more pictures of the system.
The one to the far right shows the watercress from inside the channel, The other one shows a clearer view of the system with the polythene shown.
This is the current layout of the Hydroponics systems within the greenhouse itself, I have lowered the right hand NFT channel to give the plants more room to grow upwards. The left hand NFT channel is the same as last year.
Towards the end of the greenhouse you should be able to just make out the Strawberry plants that I am trying to grow, more information about this is below.
You can also see the fan towards the front which I have set up to provide some much needed air circulation and cooling within the greenhouse.
As you can see in some of the pictures on this page we currently have growing.
- 6 Tomato plants in the left hand NFT channel.
- 6 Cucumber plants in the right hand NFT channel.
- 2 pepper plants in the right hand NFT channel.
- 14 Strawberry plants in 3 perlite filled growing bags.
- Water cress in the outside NFT system.
- 15 Lettuces in the water culture system outside.
The system I have creates is made out of 3 hanging planting bags which I have filled with perlite and placed the plants within ensuring the crown of the plant is outside the bag so it doesn’t rot when the nutrient is dripped through the perlite.
The nutrient solution is then pumped from the same tank as the NFT system up to the top of the bags where it is then dripped into the perlite using small pipe, Using this method ensures that the plants themselves never become waterlogged as would happen if they were simply placed into the NFT channels.
So far the plants are progressing extremely well.
I hope you enjoyed having a look around the greenhouse this year and get some ideas to try for yourself.