Where do I buy seeds for hydroponics? And assorted questions.
November 22, 2011 9:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about starting an indoor hydroponic garden soon, using a guide I found on Instructables for DWC. What are some good vegetables/fruits to grow beyond tomatoes and herbs, which would ideally grow at similar temperatures and light levels as tomatoes and herbs? And what's the best place to buy seeds, either online or in the Princeton/New Brunswick, NJ area?

I prefer heirloom seeds rather than commercial ones. Recommendations re: specific varieties would be nice, too.

I'm probably going to start off with some heirloom tomatoes or basil in a 5 gallon hardware store bucket, just to get the hang of it, before moving on to herbs and other plants in a 18 gallon Rubbermaid style container as done in the guide.

I'm particularly interested in trying Thai basil, as I like Thai cooking and the sweet Italian basil never quite tastes right in Thai recipes. I like the idea of strawberries and peppers as well, but I'm wondering how they'd work.

I'm not a picky eater, so anything that grows in this setup is a candidate. I might even be curious to try catnip, even though I don't own a cat (friends do, though).

Illumination is an issue. I'd like to start off with using a close-up utility CFL (120 "real" watts, not the equivalent) to start with, maybe upgrading to an LED light box (using a few of those 3 watt LEDs that need a heatsink since they uses ~1 amp) later. I really can't see buying a $150 sodium lamp.

And to be 100% clear: I'm not being euphemistic. I'm actually growing vegetables.
posted by mccarty.tim to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I have tried the following all with good results. Bush beans, Peppers: Bell/Jalapeno/Chili, Strawberries, Catnip, Lettuce, spinach. This was my first try they were all Heirloom except the peppers which I got from the peppers I bought at the grocery store! (and the catnip was a seed pack which by the way the cats thought was PRIMO)

I used an 120 Watt LED grow lamp which wasn't cheap but I will warn you my Tomatoe which was a dwarf Heirloom got 7 foot tall and caused a canopy situation on my light so make sure you only do the vegetative growth for a short while I have heard it is 1/2 the height you want to have your fruiting plant but I have not tried that yet.

I did two buckets with 3 plants in each and it worked out so well I am making an NFT setup today actually to try a little more complex process.

I really don't "know" what I am doing either. but I have made some FUN mistakes.

One other thing I found out was that many of the Nutrient solutions have Molybdenum in them which is dangerous to ruminants so if you have deer or livestock you want to get the non-molybdenum nutes so you don't need to worry about where you put your old water when you do a water change. Just on my tests I found no difference in nutes.
posted by mrgroweler at 10:04 AM on November 22, 2011

Best answer: Seed Savers' Exchange has some pretty good heirloom varieties for you.

Peppers would work pretty similarly to tomatoes, as would eggplant. The plants are going to have similar physical structures and needs, so once you get the tomatoes down, these are logical next steps.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:06 AM on November 22, 2011

Also, to add, letuces, spinach, and your other early leafy greens are going to be super easy. Those whole head bibb lettuces you see in the grocery store are hydroponic floaters planted on little foam blocks with their roots hanging down. They fill in the new ones behind the older ones on a huge covered pond, pushing them along to the other side where the full grown heads are taken out for wash-down and packaging. You could do this easily in buckets and have nice salad greens all year round.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:11 AM on November 22, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the tip re: ruminants. I'm not on or near a farm, but I do get a lot of deer in the yard. I was thinking about dumping the old nutrient on the lawn, as I'd heard it's if anything beneficial to the grass, but is it possible it could harm the deer?

They're over populated, eat everything and are kind of a road hazard so I'm not that fond of them, but I really don't want to cause them any suffering.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:16 AM on November 22, 2011

I grew thai basil in a fairly small hydro setup and it worked great. Mint I could not get to work. Butter lettuce was great. Tomatoes work, but they drank so much water I found it challenging to keep EC/PH levels in line. Those suckers would go through ~4 gallons per day, and I was using a 5 gallon bucket as the reservoir. All in all I think for successful tomatoes you either need a really big reservoir.
posted by H. Roark at 10:40 AM on November 22, 2011

I am pretty sure in the doses you get it would be little harm from what I understand but I asked about non-molybdenum nutrients and got some Organic ones that were the exact same price and really seemed to work just as well so I figured better safe than sorry.

I, like you, am not a big fan of deer and we have probably 100 on our land at any given time.
posted by mrgroweler at 1:33 PM on November 22, 2011

Also in Canada there are these people http://www.seeds-organic.com/ the tomatoes are staggering though! like heirloom tomatoe porn.
posted by mrgroweler at 1:35 PM on November 22, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, Seed Saver Exchange was exactly what I was thinking of. I really like heirloom vegetables over the bland commercial stuff.

I'm going to try some grape tomatoes, basil, red cabbage, jalepeno peppers, and some cucumbers, all from seed. All of them are heirloom varieties. If tomatoes are really that thirsty, I might not try again, but I'm really curious to see what happens. Ditto for all the other ones.

Later on, I might even try hops if I'm feeling crazy an experimental. It's not a well documented thing, although people on Homebrewtalk have mentioned it working out to differing degrees. It sounds hard to make a rhizome take root in a netpot, so I'm almost wondering if it'd strangely enough be easier to start from seed, sorting out the males from the females to maximize flower development (wow, this is starting to sound like that "other" plant).
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:07 AM on November 23, 2011

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