Oops! Hydroponic Experiments Gone Wrong

taylorhorticultureco(5)April 28, 2011

I'm an experienced hydroponics grower, but new to gardenweb. Forgive me if I am starting a post on an old topic, but I am pretty interested in hearing the human side of our passion. For example, silly mistakes...

Years ago when I was a graduate student, I began experimenting with hydroponics both to save money on food and stimulate my engineering and scientific interests. Until my death, I'm sure, I will continue to spend a portion of my time experimenting with the infinite combinations of media x system x plants to discover new things...

As I look back on many of my experiments, pride washes over me when I think of my successes - adapting one of Resh's formulas to better fit my particular cultivar of lettuce, growing a monster tomato that won the local contest, etc.

Unfortunately, I also think of some experiments that drive me crazy and cause me to blush red if the embarrasing moment comes up in conversation (my wife likes to make fun of me from time to time).

One such experiment I did should be a cautionary tale to newbies...I decided to grow a bed of mixed herbs (i.e. five types of basil and sage) with sawdust as the medium. I obtained some sawdust, flushed salts from it, then planted the bed; the only problem was that I didn't have enough sawdust to fill the bed completely. Being on a tight budget, I decided against buying the extra needed and simply added some sawdust cat litter (unused mind you). Because I assumed that sawdust might compact in general, expanded clay was mixed into the bed.

Seriously bad mistakes - THE CAT LITTER CLUMPS!!! My poor little seed plugs never stood a chance. After the first watering, I could see the surface of the bed drying out except, of course, the thick clumps of litter - talk about moisture retention AND slime production. So disgusting! The whole endeavor was aborted after I realized my soggy-slimy seedlings wouldn't sprout. And then the true disgusting reality hit me - I would have to clean the litter off the clay!!! Buckets of slimy water (unsure whether the slime was the clumping agent or mold) were used through several washings and still, to this day years later, some of my clay has cat litter on it.

Anyway, please post some hydroponics experiments gone wrong - both to entertain, and to serve as a cautionary tale!

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Yet another reason I am not a "cat person".


    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 9:41AM
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Here's another, halway: My wife's cat got to my plants and pulled my seedlings out of the pots and just left them laying next to the tray. Didn't try to eat them or anything and didn't just stop on 1 or 2. It's like he did it just to piss me off. It worked. I woke up to that this morning.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 10:26AM
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