Just when I was about to give up on the aeroponic lettuce, I noticed the plants had grown quite a bit. Adding more nutrient solution was the trick. I had only been “feeding” the plants once a week, they need to be fed more like four times a week. The nutrient solution is not expensive, one bottle goes a long way.
I pulled out the plants one by one, replacing each one with a new plant from the little flat of seedlings my husband started in the first place.
It’s amazing how tough the little plants are, I yank them free of the mass of other plants and set them in the little net pot, then place the ceramic rooting rocks around the base. The toughest part is setting them into the rain gutter so that the stream of nutrient water spraying from below doesn’t leak out. I check them at least once a day, and adjust any pots that are leaking.
The water gets pretty green and slimy, plugging up the spray emitters (holes punched in the hose with a piece of wire). Once a week I dump the nutrient solution and scrub out the tub, then go over all the emitters with toothbrush. I check the emitters regularly to make sure they’re running. I don’t think I put a half hour a day into it, and I’m finally getting a payoff. I was going to quit and start over again in Fall, but I decided to place another set of plants, now that I seem to have it figured out, see if I can get bigger plants faster.
I’ve been working on my aloe vera garden too, trying to get a steady enough supply to furnish me with gel for my morning smoothie, as well as my hands. I get sore hands this time of year, all the gardening. Aloe vera gel is the best thing I’ve tried for those cracked fingers and knuckles, and I love being able to grow my own.
We’ve made adjustments in our gardening to be water wise. It’s good to live within your means, and good to remember – times aren’t always hard, California is a land of plenty. Right now, we’re having plenty of drought. Kris Kuyper said on the weather report the other night – this is the third major dry spell we’ve had since the 1970’s, and each of the previous two were followed directly by several years of steadily increasing rain, flooding, water levels above and beyond “normal.”