Hydroponics Are NOT Set It And Forget It! But They Can Be Less Work.

I had visions of extreme gardening ease dancing in my head when I started out on the indoor-on-my-windowsill hydroponics journey, but I’ve learned a few things in the last 4 months.  It does require maintenance even though it’s less maintenance than required in outdoor-in-the-dirt gardening – no weed pulling, no critters eating plants, few to no bugs, no worrying about serious weather like late unexpected frosts.   It was necessary to check the water levels in the jars every couple days and replenish as needed, especially the kale – it drank at least twice as much water as the lettuce.  Eventually – after about 3 months – I had to clean out the jars and clean up the clay pebbles, and replant.   The greens didn’t seem to be as cut-and-come-again productive as they had been when planted outdoors.   It took about a month for most greens to grow, longer for basil, and the plants seemed smaller than ones growing outdoors, though I didn’t keep exact measurements, and they produced for several weeks as I was cutting leaves off of them for dinner.  I  had about 4 mason jars with lettuce growing in them – some buttercrunch lettuce and something else, 2 jars with basil plants, 2 jars with kale and 2 jars with cilantro.   The cilantro was especially unimpressive – it grew to be big enough to eat, but it seemed a lot more vigorous when I planted those seeds outdoors last year.   Those jars produced enough for 4 cups of very loosely packed cups of greenery in about a month, took 2 – 3 weeks to grow back and produce enough for another 2 rounds of 4 cups maybe?   Then the lettuce plants seemed to be in distress though they’re re-growing somewhat now, the basil plants are anemic but still producing and both the cilantro and kale are still producing a little.   It was a mistake to wait so long to clear out the jars and clay pebbles and re-plant.   I used the made-in-USA HappyLeaf LED light    kit to get started and it has worked well, but $15 LED lights from Menards also worked surprisingly well.

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