The Hydroponics Experiment (Part 6 – Mulligan)

Burpee Heirloom Tomato Seeds PackageAfter 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.

Considering that two pounds of cherry tomatoes are $5 at Costco, this really is turning into a money pit. “Red Currant” tomato seeds, from Burpee, are $1.89. While that’s not a humungous cost, it highlights one of the points of this experiment. If I was stuck in a post apocolyptic world, could I survive? Would I be able to grow my own food? Humanity depends on food that is cheap and mass produced. The food is so cheap that its true value is masked. If something should happen to upset the steady flow of edibles, the results would be horrific. Shortage of food is already a reality in some parts of the world.

That’s why I decided to try again. This knowledge is important. The art of agriculture is not something that most kids aspire to do. Growing up in NYC, having my own farm didn’t seem like a possible career path for me. Farming was something that wasn’t held in high esteem. But now that I’m trying to grow my own food, I better understand the difficulty and complexity involved.


Tomato plants can be quite tall. With traditional backyard gardening, I’ve seen them reach about six feet high. It’s amazing that something so large can start from something so small. The Burpee envelope is much larger than the seeds contained inside. I carefully set six seeds on a wet paper towel. I already folded it once, but then I folded it again. I then placed the wet paper towel inside a clear sandwich bag. While the bag is sealable, I left it open.

So now, it’s more waiting. The bag is under the two grow lights. I suppose I could leave it in natural sunlight. But again, I’m imagining a post-apocalyptic world. What if nuclear winter blocked out the sun? What if a super volcano saturated the atmosphere with ash? Could humanity tough it out in their basements? Are seeds, water and grow lights enough to live?