Hydroponics Part V: How to Start Your Seeds

As you well know by now, hydroponics is a means of growing plants without soil. This adds a versatility that is hard to appreciate when planting a garden. You have so many additional options available to you.  But it also means that you have to do things slightly different.  In this latest post on hydroponics, I want to go through the step by step process to start seeds.  


Using a seed starting cube

By far the best way to start seeds is to use a seed starting cube. The advantage to these is that the cubes can hold water while allowing air to reach the seeds, which is important during germination. There are several brands on the market such as rock wool or oasis starter cubes. 

I personally prefer the Oasis brand because the cubes come in larger sheets that are easy to separate and they tend to be less expensive. Once seeds start to sprout and grow roots, the starter cubes make it easy to  transfer the seedlings to the hydroponics system of your...

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Hydroponics Part IV: Defining and Measuring pH, EC, and TDS

The beauty of a hydroponic system is that plants can be grown in the absence of soil. Additionally the water needed to grow plants is about 90% less than traditional gardening. Since soil is not used, the success of your system is truly dependent on the proper nutrient solutions. Just as soil types directly affect the growth of plants, the same is true for nutrient solutions. 

That said, once your nutrients are mixed in proper ratios that reflect the needs of your plants, transpiration and differences in plants means that nutrient levels can drift away from optimum levels. This simply means that your nutrient solutions need to be properly managed. This is accomplished by measuring certain parameters such as pH, EC (electrical conductivity), and TDS/PPM (total dissolved solids/parts per million).


The Importance of Proper pH

The nutrient solution pH level is crucial in hydroponics because it affects nutrient availability to growing plants.When plants are grown without...

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Hydroponics Part III: Nutrient Solutions Explained

The three things that plants need to grow is food, water, and air. Soil simply provides a structure or substrate to support the roots of the plants and provides a means of oxygenation. Water dissolves nutrients into a soluble form which can then be absorbed by the roots of the plants. Since hydroponics is growing plants in the absence of soil, that simply means your plants need to be fed by another method. That method is nutrients solutions.

If you are new to hydroponics, nutrients solutions can be very confusing. The good news is that there is science behind hydroponics but it is not rocket science. These are just basic principles that are easy to understand. However, it does require a little bit of explanation.

There are two types of nutrients that plants need: macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients. These nutrients are essential for growth and normal cell function. The macro-nutrients are in much higher demand and are essential for normal cell function. Micro-nutrients are also...

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Hydroponics Part II: How to Set Up a Hydroponics System in 8 Steps

Hydroponic farming is a fantastic way to cultivate plants because it does not require soil. This type of cultivation allows us to manipulate the growing environment in such a way to maximize production and minimize the use of resources. We now have the technology to grow food anytime and anywhere in the world. Despite the advanced technology, you can also learn how to set up a hydroponics system and have a small hydroponics garden even with little space.

But, if you are like me when I first became interested in hydroponics, I was a bit confused on where to start. Of course I consulted several references and read through them but it was also a lot of information. What I want to accomplish in this post is to give you a step-by-step guide on how to set up your first hydroponics garden. There will be other posts to explain lots of things in further detail. However, this guide will give you a good place to start.

1. Decide on what plants you want to grow

First decide on what plants you...

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Self Sufficiency is Impossible-yet Essential

True self sufficiency is impossible-yet it is essential. In many ways self sufficiency is directly connected to sustainability. But again, true self sufficiency is also impossible to attain. So, how do we get around that?

When I was growing up in north Georgia and Tennessee, both of my grandparents had working farms. And I spent a lot of time on those farms when I was younger. We had horses, cattle, pigs, chickens, rabbits, a huge garden, and numerous fruit and nut trees. And for an added treat, we would often forage for berries, especially black berries, and go fishing for trout. I am sure that at some point in time in my childhood I actually ate store bought meat but is was so infrequent that I do not remember.

My point being is that self sufficiency was never anything we actually talked about. It was simply how we lived.

Now fast forward into our present time, when you mention self sufficiency in front of a group of people, I can almost guarantee that 10 different people will...

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What Can You Power With a 100 Watt Solar Panel?

When it comes to living off the grid and being self sufficient, having a strong understanding of your renewable energy options is very important. It is possible to live without electricity.  I did it for over 15 years.  However, having a source of electricity was a game changer for me. I now power two cabins, a chicken barn and a 600 square foot green house all from solar energy. But I started out simple and first discovered just what I could power with a 100 watt solar panel.  

But in order to go big, you must start with the basics. Since some of my most recent projects have involved  a 100 watt solar panel, that is why I’ve chosen this as an example. Then you can build on the basics.  So, let’s first develop an understanding of what you can power with a 100 watt solar panel. 

A 100 watt solar panel is inexpensive, easily available, and best of all it is portable.  It has become a popular choice for RVs, camping, recharging portable...

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How to Get Started with Chickens

Not only are chickens truly fun and amazing animals to raise they also provide a host of benefits to the family. The obvious benefits are fresh eggs and meat. Additionally, they provide manure for fertilizing the garden, loads of entertainment, as well as companionship. Raising you own food source will also restore a close connection to your food supply, the realization of which is often lost in our modern culture. But, if you are new at this, then this post will help you to get started with chickens. 

Having grown up with two working farms in my family, raising and processing our own food was a way of life. In fact, I never really gave it much thought. I figured this was what everyone did. It was not until I was in my teenage years that I realized it was actually more common for people to purchase their meat and other staple items from a supermarket. In fact in our modern culture, people think their meat comes from the supermarket, not the farm.  Consequently, it...

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Learn How to Fish

As with hunting, if you have never been fishing, this whole process may seem like a big mystery. This sport may seem complicated to first-timers but it truly does not have to be that way.  With some basic gear and the information in this guide, you will be out fishing in no time at all.  Just follow these simple steps and you will learn how to fish. 

Different Types of Fishing

There are numerous ways to go fishing. As with hunting, it is a matter of choosing the type of fishing you would like to do and keep things simple in the beginning. Just to emphasize this point, I did a simple search on the different types of fishing and here is what I came up with: 

  • Angling
  • Bank fishing
  • Bottom fishing
  • Casting
  • Drop linning
  • Fly fishing
  • Freshwater versus salt water
  • Hand lining
  • Ice fishing
  • Jigging
  • Long lining
  • Noodling
  • Slabbing
  • Spearfishing
  • Surface casting
  • Trapping
  • Trawling
  • Trolling
  • Trot lining
  • Private charters
  • Commercial fishing
  • Hand gathering
  • Handling
  • Netting

In case you...

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Learn How to Hunt

Hunting can be an amazing resource for you and your family.  It is possible to provide yourself with a lot of lean, healthy meat. It can even be turned into a family institution. Most people I know that are avid hunters, grew up that way as I did.  However, if you have no experience or you did not grow up that way,  you can learn how to hunt with a little time and patience. 

Hunting used to be necessary in order to sustain life.  However, in modern times it is truly a choice. Just as raising farm animals and then butchering those animals is not for everyone, the same is true for hunting.  Additionally, many avid hunters learned those skills from their early childhood years. However, the simple fact is that in our present culture many people reach adult years and have never shot an animal for food.

This article is intended to address that very issue. Learning these skills can be intimidating. Consequently, I suggest that you take your time....

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Guide to Home Canning

Processing and preserving your own food has many advantages. Like any other form of food preservation, home canning is perfectly safe if practiced properly. Being careful to follow recommended guidelines and recipes will ensure that your family enjoys healthy, delicious home preserved foods. This method of food preservation is my personal favorite because there is so much you can do. 

Some people have the opinion that modern food preservation methods have largely reduced the need for home canning. They also question why it is even necessary. Furthermore, many people are concerned about the safety of home canning. With all of these concerns in mind, why would you do it when you can simply purchase canned food from the supermarket? 

Continue reading to find out the answer to that question.


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