Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Hydroponic Garden Collapse! | NFT 72 Update Week of June 15, 2020

I've shown you guys the massive tomato plant growing in this hydroponic system. It's HUGE. So big I've been having to trim it because it's growing so much foilage. I had transplanted a 2nd tomato plant into this system and that one had started to get bigger. Seeing that the biggest plant had taken over a whole channel, I needed to find the second plant a new home. I rescued another used kitty litter container from the dumpster and made it into a soil-based planter for this tomato plant. Transitioning from hydroponic to soil based isn't easy on a plant, but since it had a lot more roots, it was easier to get it to stabilize in the soil. Think of it as an extended time cloning experiment....

A few days later, I came home to find the reservoir in the hydroponic system empty. Although typical, I looked at the growth channels and saw one starting to overfill. Guess some debris blocked the downspout. Now you'd expect to see this problem happen a lot more, but surprisingly, this has only happened to me a handful of times.

While I was trying to unclog the channel, I figured that this wouldn't be a bad time to empty the reservoir and rinse it out. That's something you've got to do every so often. However, as I was attempting to move the reservoir out, the entire garden... it collapsed.
Yikes!

So how does one go about fixing this you ask? There are pipes and plants everywhere!

For starters, I had my back up frame lying in pieces not too far away. So I quickly assembled it. And started picking up the growth channels one-by-one. With the channels stabilized and out of the way, I picked up any of the plants that fell out of the system. I will tell you now that some of the plants didn't make it. One in particular, that big tomato plant, was not spared. The plant was just too heavy. Since I had it supported with twine to the growth channel above it, I'm of the opinion that the plugged channels with this tomato plant weighed the whole thing down.
The tomato plant did have a lot of unripe tomatoes on the vine, so I made sure to save those as I was removing the plant. These I could ripen up inside the house. Take a look at the roots on this thing. You can see why this system was going through so much water so quickly!
With all the plants out the way, I had to pick up the pieces of the original frame. From my analysis, it looks as if gravity caused it to capsize by shifting hard in one direction. Looks to me like a design flaw that can be remedied. I think if I used some PVC glue on some of the frame end pieces, it would prevent this from happening...

So with the original frame back up, I transferred each of the growth channels back into position. I noticed that some of the irrigation tubing got bent during the collapse, so I had to check to see if any of the tubes were leaking. After getting it reassembled and the reservoir refilled, it was time to leak check.. and surprisingly, nothing was leaking. Impressive! I dodged a real bullet there.... but I did lose quite a few plants.
Well, the garden survived, but I'll have to continue without any tomato plants in this thing. With all these basil plants, I've got plenty of pesto to make over the next few months. I'll have a guide showing you how I make fresh pesto with these leaves in the near future, so be sure to subscribe to the Greens and Machines YouTube channel so you are notified when that video goes live.

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