At the local mall, there’s a kiosk for “As Seen on TV” items. In a bright yellow and triangular shaped package stood the Wallet Ninja. It reminds me of an old photography saying. “The best camera is the one that you have with you.” It’s the same with tools. My mobile phone has replaced so many tools. It’s a camera, but it’s also a flashlight, GPS, compass, music player and more. What if the Wallet Ninja (a credit card shaped multitool) worked the same way? Since it was only $10, I thought that it would be cool to try it.
After watching my lettuce slowly decay, it took me a while to regain the motivation necessary to continue with this project. When I started this project, I thought hydroponics would be easier and less stressful than app or web development. Perhaps, for those with experience, it is. But for me, it’s been quite frustrating. Yet, I decided to try a do-over. I did learn some important lessons during my first attempt at hydroponics. Perhaps a mulligan — with tomato seeds instead of lettuce seeds – would yield better results.
Since this is my first shot at hydroponics, some mistakes are to be expected. Although, after battling with a few recent issues, I started losing enthusiasm with this project. My imagination hit reality. I wasn’t seeing big leafy lettuce. Instead, I started seeing green slime on the Jiffy pods. I started wondering if I should just have gotten an AeroGarden. There certainly would have been less fuss. But instead of giving up, the project just needed some rethinking.
What’s nice about hydroponics is that the pace is slow and predictable. About two weeks after the first seed was placed in a Jiffy pod, a sprout was ready for transplanting. I moved the Jiffy pod – including the plant – into a net cup. Rocks were neat placed to fill the insides of the net cup. A circular hole was cut in the lid of a plastic container, allowing just enough space for the 3-inch net cup. With the nutrient and water mixed, that was it. The lid was sealed. The only thing left to do was to wait for my first head of lettuce.
While waiting for the lettuce seeds to grow, I started to rethink my process. I don’t think I needed to spend nearly $40 on a hydroponics bucket kit. Instead of a deep water culture setup, with lots of air bubbles, I decided to try the “Kratky” method. It is extremely low maintenance, but should produce similar results. Now that I don’t need to run an air pump, this should be quieter and cheaper too. The new plan is for five one-gallon containers, instead one five-gallon bucket. Being easier to move, that also makes the project more manageable.