Sunday, November 22, 2015

We're moving !

Our landlord decided to get back the apartment so we are moving. Sorry, I can't change the name of the blog to 28th Floor mini farm, but the spirit is still there... Unfortunately the balconies are different but at least we got 2 !
I tried to pack everything for our movers to process without killing too many plants, but that's where hydroponics aren't easy... traditional soil plantations, they know how to handle, but hydroponics... not really. So I disassembled the whole system and reorganised the plants to fit one or two Ikea green Trofast.

The good thing about Hong Kong, is that they are super fast... 3 hours after packing the plants, they slammed the door of the new one, and everything was installed... Ok, it took me the afternoon to setup the new system (I cheated a bit by preparing the frame on the little balcony).

Unfortunately, moving tomatoes in November with all the rain and humidity didn't help, and they never turned ripe... and the vines rot :(

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Typhoon cheap protection

This time, I didn't want my seedling to die after the strong winds of the Typhoon (not that bad in fact after wise). I had to protect the setup, without creating a sail... A simple food wrap around the structure gave enough protection to the young radis, tomato plants & basil...

For sure we are less exposed as we are facing west/north west, but we had enough wind gusts to slice the seedlings during the previous Typhoons. We'll see this week if they survived.

New water tank system

Last summer, I ran out of water because of a tiny leak, but also because my daisy chained IKEA Trofast buckets system didn't work. So September was a fresh start, with new ideas. A lot of garden hydroponics/aquaponics systems are using food grade blue barrels, and it happens that they are widely available in Hong Kong: any construction supplier have these as bins, or they recycle them as so.
I went to a nearby shop and selected a 60 Kg barrel, 80 HK$: worth it ! Cheaper than 2 IKEA Trofast for more than 4 times the volume. It comes with a locking top, so I wonder if it can be pressurised or not...

I also ordered some 1/2" Uniseal online as they are an easy solution to have the PVC tubes going thru the buckets and keep a good seal. I also got a little UV light from the Fish Market. They are made to be inline in your water flow and kill all nasty bacteria.

3 holes are drilled on top and fitted with the Uniseal: 2 in the front, one in the back. Another 12V pump will go at the bottom equipped with the same inline 25cl bottle filter (so cheap & so efficient). The 2 front hole will connect with the sump. One is coming from the sump pump, and the other is the overflow. You need an overflow system as it is a 2 pump system and whatever you do, the two identical pumps will not have the same flow after a while.

The overflow is going thru a syphon with the intake about 20cm below the max level, so as soon as the water reaches the top of the Uniseal, the water drop will initiate the syphon, and will empty the top of the barrel in less than a minute, back to the sump.

As the sump will get all the water system and the main tank overflow, it needs to handle a bigger amount of water. By linking several Trofast buckets from the bottom (with Uniseal), I manage to enlarge the water reservoir.

As you can see, there are 4 buckets linked, but the last one has an elbow and a vertical tube. This is the overflow for the sump system. When too much water is getting in the sump, the water level will go up, and reach the top of the tube, and overflow in the last bucket. This is the last chance before the sewer ! In fact, I could put a security pump here with a water level switch: if it reaches the max level of this bucket, then we can pump the water back to the main barrel...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

How to grow chili flakes

It is quite simple: you leave your setup during summer in Hong Kong, and when you get back, the mix of high heat, evaporation, and caterpillars you'll have dry chillies !


Ok, I modified my setup in July, and it wasn't a bright idea... I ended having a tiny leak at the bottom of the sump/filter and I couldn't manage the daisy chained water tanks to work properly.

But now the temperatures went down a bit, it's time to grow things again.

Lots of seeds !!!

During the summer break in France, I was able to collect some seeds for my friends at Amazing Green Hydroponics (I got my seedling foam & nutrients from them).

We'll give a try for some different species. I had some help from the Gamm Vert sales guys picking species that grow during the heat season, so we'll see how they perform in Hong Kong.