rooftop and balcony growing

Growing on your roofs

Growing on your roofs

Growing on your roofs

I must confess right now that I have never been a city dweller. Because of this then I have picked up ideas from other people who know about this subject. However I have seen many great gardening ideas in built up areas and city centres in many countries on my travels. Even in huge cities like New York then things can be seen growing from the roof tops of the lower buildings. My own capitol city of London has splendid roof gardens. Growing many things in the micro climate created by the heat and shelter coming from the many buildings.

City dwellers dont have the space

So, when walking through our city streets then it is easy to see that a conventional garden would b out of the question. Most, people have paved over any space that they may have for parking their cars. Whilst many UK houses have a pitched roof, so it would not be possible for a roof garden. However, small apartment blocks do have access to a flat roof. Inner cities are full of suitable apartment blocks on which a roof garden could be growing flowers and vegetables for them.

canal boats can also offer the opportunity to grow plants using the lighter hydroponics methods. But I think thats another story.

Soil of course could be a problem! Due to the weight and accessibility on to the roof top. So why not try the hydroponics method of growing without soil. A hydroponic rooftop garden would be an excellent choice for you if you want to have a hassle free gardening experience. All sorts of plants can easily be grown and cared for from your balcony. We often see this in Mediterranean countries with many balconies growing wonder geranium plants and of course bougainvillea’s trailing down with their wonderful purple and red flower bracts shining in the sun.

Tomatoes and excellent choice.

Of course tomatoes would be an excellent choice to grow using hydroponic methods. Along with peppers and herbs. Importantly though it is always a sensible idea to check for any weight restrictions or building regulations before going ahead with your growing plans. Newer buildings have special roof areas to carry extra weight. So it would be well worth checking! So, to start rooftop hydroponic gardening. Then, you should decide on what plants or herbs you want to grow and how many of each.

Once you decide the amount of plants you want to grow, you need to get plastic containers or plastic tubes to grow your vegetables or herbs. Next, you need to cut holes in them to place your potted plants properly. You can either buy seedlings from a reputable garden centre or grow your own seedlings. Perhaps on your windowsill! Once you have your seedlings, take them out of their pots, and rinse the roots to remove the dirt.

After washing them properly, you need to place your plants in some sort of growing medium such as rockwool, vermiculite, or any other suitable growing substrate and then fed with a nutrient solution to make them grow.

Conventional or Hydroponic

Conventional or Hydroponic growing methods

Conventional or Hydroponic

Conventional or Hydroponic

So, because I am an old style gardener, then this dilemma has come to me at a late age. Excitingly, though then I have decided to “raise the gauntlet” and take on the challenge of growing hydroponically. Because of the terribly bad cold start to the gardening year then many of us have had to wait patently for the weather to warm up. Here at the end of may the temperature has broken the 20c temperature for the first time in 2021.

So our growing season is on the way! However I must confess to be a composting freque. Indeed keeping worm boxes to produce to feed the worms with our scrap vegetable waste to produce excellent compost. This I have started to use on my citrus and fig plants. Vermiculture, is the name given to this worm farming compost maker. However I digress!

Since starting this blog then I cant fail to be impressed by the number of young people taking up growing.

I say growing and not gardening. Mainly, because of the modern and diverse methods of growing all sorts of things indoors and outdoors. Also I am also impressed by the number of females that are taking up this wonderful hobby and pastime.

YouTube videos offer help and advice for anything and everything to do with growing things. Whatever system you use then the advice is there for all to see. This was the inspiration for starting up my worm farm. The energy given out by the presenters of these videos is sometimes overwhelming and inspirational. Therefore these new growing methods are giving growers and gardeners big decisions about which methods to try. Conventional or Hydroponic !

Although a newbie to hydroponics then I will try and give a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of using the hydroponics system.

Hydroponics is a water based system

Basically, a simple description is that hydroponics is plant growing by using water and water based nutrients. So the plants are not grown in soils but other mediums. Of course these other mediums can come in many different things ! Including coco products, rockwool, clay ball pellets, vermiculate and of course perlite. Plants are grown in these types of materials with the use of nutrient solutions to feed and improve growth rate and crop size.

For example I used to grow my tomatoes in grow bags. These grow bags were peat based with added nutrients for the first part of the plants life. After that then I had to manually feed the tomatoes to ensure a good crop. So, this would be both time consuming and also unpredictable due mainly to the weather conditions. Hot weather would mean more watering and more irregular feeding. However always came up with a decent crop by the end of the growing season.

So what now!-Conventional or Hydroponic

Well now that I am experimenting with hydroponics then I do this differently. Hence, my tomato plants are grown in a “Autopot System” as seen in the attached image. Although the initial cost can stretch your pocket the initial outlay can last you years. These systems are made from good quality materials and can be used for many seasons. The growbags are now replaced by a mixture of clay pellets and coco fibre. This medium “Hydrococo” can now be made ready mixed and ready for use.

Combining new and old then I still plant a French marigold with my tomato plants to ward of whitefly and other aphid types. This “companion planting” has worked for me for years now. Of course the Autopot system is fed by a large plastic reservoir. The tank is of course filled when required. Including the addition of nutrients. This growing season then I have been recommended to try out “CX Hydro-Base A and B” by my local Hydrostore shop in Leeds.

My belief is that the whole project is easier without the use of soils or garden composts.

Of course the big winner is that the plants only take up the water and food they require. Also a big bonus is that we can now go on holiday. Without having to ask a friend or neighbour to reluctantly look after your precious plants.

Other growers also use perlite as their preferred growing medium. especially for smaller project. At the moment I am experimenting with lettuce growing in water in plastic boxes<see attached images. of course their progress will be monitored for another blog when the lettuce is ready for eating.

, So to summarise, then researchers have found that your plants will grow 25% faster and produce 30% more growth than soil based growing methods. Importantly, this is because the plants root system has easy access to food and vitamins that ill boost the plants growth. Gardeners can easily control the correct amount of nutrients that your precious plants require. far better than the old individual pots and grow bag systems.

Novice gardeners -Conventional or Hydroponic

In my opinion then novice gardeners should start their new past time/hobby by trying the traditional soil growing methods. However this only applies to people who have a garden or are willing to take over an abandoned or disused allotment (this was by first option at the age of 14). Otherwise, a simple hydroponic system can be set up in the home? Hydroponics do use chemicals so soil gardening can satisfy the people would be the way forward for the more ECO friendly person growing organically.

Finally the choice is your! However as an elderly person then I am already looking forward to my newly found way of growing by using hydroponics supplied online by my local Hydrostore shop here in Yorkshire UK. Finally, like most things in this life , then you pay for what you get.

long winter 2021

Long Winter in 2021

Long Winter in 2021

Long Winter in 2021

So, this year has been a long cold winter. Especially for us growers who should be getting growing around this time of year. My own situation is that I have a heated greenhouse for my citrus trees. However it is too cold to move them outside onto a sheltered spot. Moving them gives me space to plant out my seedlings and prepare for the tomato plants into their final planting spot.

Accordingly, I have not yet planted my seeds and realise that I am running out of time. This year I have decided to try some different seed varieties. I love to grow the big size tomatoes that are generally very tasty and a good choice for summer salads (Thats if we get a summer this year?)

I am a great fan of watching “YouTube” videos and I think they offer some great advice. Especially the different choices of tomato seeds that I have never heard of before.

Kellogg’s Breakfast and F1 Super Mama

This year I will be trying five different varieties from Nickys Seeds. Consequently these will include the much raved about Kellogg’s breakfast and another heirloom variety the F1 Super Mama.

These seeds will be planted this time by using the soil-less method of “Rockwool Blocks” . These are only £7.50 for 150 blocks to sow your seeds into. Of course the seeds are then placed into the blocks singularly. Hence they are then covered with a small quantity of “vermiculite“. Vermiculite, can be bought in small or large quantities. However I prefer to buy the larger bags because this is something that is important when growing hydroponically.

The blocks are always to be pre-soaked before placing one seed in the centre hole. Some growers advise placing two seeds and then selecting the strongest seedling when they have germinated. However these seeds are very expensive any you only get ten seeds per packet. So to me you should just plant a single seed. The blocks are then placed into a tray of water until germination. I prefer to use a heated propagator unit for better results as long as the area where the seedlings will be grown on is also heated.

Dont forget the in this weather then rooms in houses can become very cold without any form of heating. I am sure that there will be growers pout their who have made this mistake in the past. Losing plants due to stress because of a drop in temperature in the middle of the night. When the seedlings have germinated they can be grown on to whatever system you prefer.

Auto Pot System

This year I am going to grow my larger crops using a flexi water tank that feeds an Autopot system . These systems come in many sizes but the nine pot system is ideal for my space in the greenhouse.

Once the system is set up it just a case of training your plants as they grow, (I prefer to use large canes). Water tank levels must be watched with the added A and B nutrients also added to the correct dose. This year I will try out CX Hydro base from Canada. So, when your plants start to grow you must remember to taking out any side shots, between the stem and the main branches.

Also remove any dead leaves and give the plants plenty of room to grow flowering buds for a good crop. All the products necessary to grow a good crop most plants are available online from “Hydrostore” in West Yorkshire.

Growing Food-First time Hydroponics Tomato Growing

Growing Food-First time Hydroponics Tomato Growing

Home » tomato

Growing Food-First time Hydroponics Tomato Growing

So , I am starting off my growing experience by experimentation! In other words I am going to start at the beginning by setting up my own hydroponics planting systems from the very basic ideas available.

Of course in the past couple of years I have made a start by creating a set up for a different way of growing some tomato plants. Of course I also used the traditional growbag method ! Just to compare the results if this was going to be possible. Tomatoes are always a favourite fruit to grow. Because the are fairly easy for a beginner to try and the final product, (large juicy tomatoes) are always a popular gift to any visitors to your garden. Including of course your friends and family.

Equipment from Leeds Hydrostore

Simply because my daughters husband works their then I decided to take his advice and tell me what equipment I should be needing to set up my tomato growing system. When I visited the well equipped store then I was unclear to the things that I would require. First thing was to be somewhere to store the water! So I chose the large 400 litre Flexi-Tank . I found this very easy to erect and it slotted into the corner of my 12ft x 10ft greenhouse perfectly.

The next piece of equipment was to be an “auto-pot system” . This was to be connected up to the water tank to supply my plants with water and nutrients. Although I found the connecting up of the various small pipes and plastic connections a little fiddly, but finally it was then complete.

Once in place it was ready for planting up. I was going to use “Canadian Xpress Hydro Grow” for the first time. The growing medium comes in two parts A and B. However I found the instructions easy to follow and added it to the now full water tank. Believe it or not this was going to enable me and the wife to have a few days holiday, without worrying about the tomato plants getting stressed out dur to lack of watering .

So, the plant medium that I chose was to be a mixture of “clay balls” and “Coco natural Coir“. These were supplied in 50 litre bags and easy to handle. So, after the set up was all ready then I planted my young tomato plants and sat back to see what would happen. Consequently, having never done this method of growing anything before before!

Growbags at the same time

So, at the same time them I planted out ten growbags using this traditional method and watering by hand. I must say the hydroponics method truly produced the best results. I was amazed at the amount of water and nutrients that the plants would use to grow properly. My tomato trusses went right up to the greenhouse roof producing truss after truss of excellent quality tomatoes.

This was in the end to be the far better method of growing and I will not be using growbags any more. The results of the hydroponics method were tremendous. So, we had fresh grown tomatoes right in to the autumn and I cant wait for the new season to begin again.