Compliments & Gratitude....& Microgreens?

by Paul Kim
(Atlanta, GA)

I am working on building an indoor micro-green system using sure-to-grow mat. I've considered NFT, but there are two drawbacks: 1) the edges roll up and dry out, and 2) I want to go organic and am concerned about the drippers clogging. I am trying ebb and flow, but concerned that too much water will stagnate and cause disease.

1) Can you recommend a synthetic grow medium (other than sure-to-grow)?

2) What is your opinion on sure-to-grow mat for micro-greens?

Answer: An ebb and flow system would be a good solution for you. Stagnant water would not be a concern, as the water in the system will not be standing long enough between flood cycles to actually stagnate. Another solution would be to use a small water pump to maintain a constant (although very shallow) flow of nutrient solution over the capillary mat at all times. This would at least prevent the edges of the mat from drying out.

Using organic nutrients in a drip system can be tricky. If you are set on this path, you will need to use an in-line filter with your water pump to prevent any sediment in the nutrients from clogging your drip emitters. This is a non-issue if you choose to go with a flood and drain system or a deep water culture (DWC) system.

By keeping several inches of nutrient solution flowing through the bottom of My Most Successful Homemade Hydroponic System, I was able to run an NFT type hydroponic system very successfully without the need of any capillary mat in the bottom. Whenever you can eliminate recurring expenses (like having to purchase rockwool or capillary matting), you increase the profitability of your operation.

If you are only growing micro-greens, you may want to consider the hydroponic system that I linked to above....or perhaps a DWC system for lettuce. These systems are very popular with commercial salad producers. Lettuce, spinach, and herb crops all do very well in these systems. Growing in standing water does not seem to bother these types of crops as long as you keep the nutrient solution well oxygenated with an air bubbler. It also becomes important to keep the nutrient solution between 65 and 72 degrees, as warmer water will not hold as much dissolved oxygen and may begin to cause problems.

In my opinion, using capillary mats to grow micro-greens would actually be making things more difficult than they need to be....especially since they grow very well in systems that require much less maintenance to manage (not to mention the need to purchase new capillary mat from time to time). The ideal situation would be a low-maintenance system that does not require the purchase of new capillary mat or new rockwook growing medium to run properly....the profit margins on micro-greens can be slim (especially if the operation is a small one), and as I mentioned before, all recurring expenses come right out of your bottom line.

I did come across an interesting site while looking into other sources for matting. It is If you decide to go with capillary matting, this is worth checking out. The Alternative Garden Supply catalog also has some capillary matting products. If this were my operation, however, I think I would use some type of DWC system with expanded clay pellets as the (re-usable) growing medium. I hope this helps you out, and Happy Growing!

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(10 week update below)

Find out the cheapest and easiest ways to garden productively in this article.

Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 24 years ago, my first garden used rockwool cubes and B.C. Nutrients....and I remember thinking to myself yeah, sure, there may be a lot of advantages to gardening with hydroponics, for example there are very few pest problems, therefore very little pest control, no weeding, no plowing or tilling the soil, no soil testing or having to add things into the garden soil, no watering the garden....but for someone who just wants to grow their own vegetables and have more control over their food supply and the quality of the food that they eat, the cost of constantly having to buy grow media and hydroponic nutrients makes this an expensive hobby for most people...

Epic Nutrient Change

I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn't have a whole lot of money to work with and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as possible....and in the last 24 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!

As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol)...

Homemade Cloner

And, regarding the cost of the nutrients....I experimented for about 3 years with making different compost teas and nutrient teas, but there is still a lot of expense $$$ associated with making high quality nutrient kelp meal, liquid seaweed, rock dust, bat guano, un-Sulfured molasses, worm castings. You can eliminate a lot of this expense by becoming an expert at making high-quality colloidal humus compost, and use your properly made compost as the basis of your hydroponic nutrient solution.

Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 24 years and I have only just recently mastered this difficult skill....and even then, only because I happened to find a very easy to follow, high quality technique and decided to follow the instructions to the letter. I produced more high quality compost in just one week than I was able to use in a whole year! If you can master the technique, I highly recommend it. It is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase the productivity of your food production efforts, while at the same time decreasing the amount of effort required to grow all of your own food, and decreasing the total cost of operating your food production system.

And when I say decrease operating costs, I mean decrease them to almost ZERO, especially if you are producing your own nutrients...

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The ultimate solution to eliminate the cost of your hydroponic nutrients: Imagine a hydroponic system that does not require you to buy any nutrients, does not require you to make your own compost, and does not require you to brew your own nutrient tea. Seriously! No cost and no effort as far as providing nutrients to your plants! Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the system--->


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This solution is aquaponics. If you are serious about producing all of your own food and being self-sufficient, this is the ultimate solution for reducing expenses (as much as possible), reducing the total amount of work required, and maximizing the productivity of your gardening efforts. I have been gardening for over 24 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.

Produce garnden vegetables AND fish together. Eliminate fertilizer costs!

Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!

The Same System/ 10 Weeks Later!

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