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Hydroponics Tuesday: Eggplant Flowers by the Pound
10/30/2007 8:42:00 PM

Just as last week, the eggplant is the biggest feature in the garden.  It's sprouted tons of little flowers, probably 30-40 at this point.  If every one of them turns into an eggplant, I'll be my own farmers' market...

Although I make no claims of being a subject expert on the topic of eggplants, here's what I've been doing.  Much like the strawberries from previous batches, I do the pollenation manually.  I keep a paint brush near the plants.  When I see flowers, I brush the inside of them with the paint brush.  Truthfully, I don't know if an eggplant needs this treatment; but I'm doing it anyway.  It's always given good results with the strawberries, and I'm not enough of a botanist to question it.

Although the plants seem pretty happy, I do notice some unexpected downward curling in the leaves of the strawberries, tomatoes, and basil.  I'm not sure the cause, but I'm suspecting that I haven't been adding enough of the Mag Pro supplement.  I have recently changed the water, and I'm thinking that the plants were running low. 

Here's this week's overview photo:

Hydro2-ZB.jpg

Please Note:  I will *not* be writing a Hydroponics Tuesday next week.  I'm going to be on vacation, and I won't be here to tend the plants.  Our pet sitter Danielle will be taking care of the garden for me.  I'll resume the normal schedule when I return from our trip to Orlando.

For any of you who happen to be visiting the Maximum Yield Indoor Gardening Expo, we'll be there on Saturday the 10th.  If you'd like to meet up, send me an email through the site. 

PlantTypeStatus
#01Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 12" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#02Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 12" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#03Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 13" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#04Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 11" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#05Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 11" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#06Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 12" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#07Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 10" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#08Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 12" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#09Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 12" long (longest leaf).  It's leaves are visibly "reaching" for the light outside the massive "eggplant canopy".  It's not getting as much light as it's relatives, but it's healthy.
#10Andrew Rahart's Jumbo Heirloom TomatoApproximately 4' long (supported by the lightstand).  It's beginning to recover from it's previous rough week.
#11Delicious Heirloom TomatoPreviously killed through personal stupidity.
#12Bambino Baby EggplantMonsterously large.  It's at least 30 inches tall and 30 inches wide.  It's supported by twine anchored to the light stand.  At least 30-40 flowers visible.
#13Monet's Garden Lettuce
Regrowing.
#14Monet's Garden LettuceRegrowing.
#15Monet's Garden LettuceThis fellow has become a bit of an experiment.  Since it was the strongest of the letti, we're attempting to let it go to seed.  It's starting to look more like a lettuce "vine" than a "head".
#16Monet's Garden LettuceTasty.  Eaten on 09/29/2007.
#17Lime Basil
Roughly 22" tall.  Several flowers are visible.  Additionally, there seems to be some downward curling in some of the leaves.
#18Delicious Heirloom TomatoStill not terribly strong, but looking better than last week.  New leaves are beginning to grow.
Halloween Pregame 2007: Decorations, Props, Animatronics, & Remote Controls
10/28/2007 9:37:00 PM

The time has come for the big Halloween post of the year... As some of you may know, we spend way too much time and money preparing for Halloween.  It's a big deal, and it's a lot of fun for us.

This year, we've got a new array of decorations and props, including a number of animated ones.  Additionally, for the first time ever, we'll be introducing remote-control into the equation.

First things first, here's the front yard at the moment:

Halloween-2007-House.jpg

We've added a number of new features to the yard this year.  For starters, we've got a new fence for our cemetery.  We found a closeout on steel fencing earlier this year, and we thought it would look great in our graveyard.  We had to visit seven different Home Depots to round up enough parts; but it really looks great.

Just for reference, larger photos are available in the photo gallery

we spend a while in the woodshop manufacturing new tombstones for the front yard.  The new tombstones are made of solid wood (much stronger than their foam predecessors), and are anchored into the ground with tent stakes (the don't blow in the wind anymore).  I did the woodwork, Jessawick did the artwork.  We're really pleased with the results.  Also, since the new tombstones were finished properly, they are much more water resistant than their predecessors.  Everyone in the family gets a tombstone... Myself, Jessawick, Pica (dog), Ion (dog), Faraday (dog), and even Sandy Earth (skink).  We know that Sandy passed away a few years ago, but she gets her own tombstone anyway.

Our tombstones, with the creepy red floodlight effect.  All the markings are routed, then painted.  We cut the "damage" on the scroll saw, and finished it with the Dremel, for realistic weathering.  Jessawick did a great job on the painting and finishing.  She used black washes to create the "old" streaking effects; and even added green lichen on the face of each tombstone. 

Halloween-2007-TombstonesA.jpg

This is a wide-shot of Sandy, Ion, and Pica's tombstones.  They're a bit smaller than ours, but are made in a very similar way.  The designs are routed into the face of the wood.  Jessawick did a great job with Sandy's especially, a lizard is a complex shape to rout in the woodshop. 

Halloween-2007-TombstonesD.jpg

Faraday's tombstone has a striking resemblance.  Faraday is our baby dachshund.  She's not very tall, but she's very lengthy... just like her tombstone.

Halloween-2007-TombstonesC.jpg

A better angle for Ion and Pica's tombstones.  The weathered finish looks great (it's actually layering of various stone paint textures).  The designs are routed, and the marking at the top is a bit of moulding, for a full 3D look. 

Halloween-2007-TombstonesB.jpg

Next, we move on the rest of the yard.  This is our family scarecrow.  This fellow's got some history.  I don't know when he was first introduced, but he predates me by a few years.  My mother originally made him, back on the family farm.  His head is a recent addition, as it became misplaced somewhere along the way.  He's survived a long time.  Scarecrow: we salute you.

Halloween-2007-Scarecrow.jpg

The skeleton and the coffin return for another year.  This year, we've added some mood lighting into the mix.  Actually, the lighting situation is pretty interesting this year. We've integrated spotlights and floodlights into some of the animated props.  We've refitted several of the low-voltage landscape lights with high effeciency LED's to save power.  More on that later.

Additionally, don't forget the venerable family farm bell.  It dates back to my great-great grandfather, Holland Shaffer.  Through the years, the bell has passed into my possession.  It proudly stands in the front yard, even during the fall, when it's flanked with cornstalks and straw bales.

Halloween-2007-SkeletonBell.jpg

Here's a closer look at our hanging skeletal friend.  We built the coffin to fit him, when we picked him up a few years back.  He doesn't seem to mind the weather, as he has yet to complain. 

Halloween-2007-SkeletonFace.jpg

We've got one last new addition to the front yard... We've boarded up the windows on our "abadoned" house.  I'm actually really proud of this little prop.  Although it doesn't look like it; it's actually made almost entirely of pink insulation foam.  The whole thing is foam on a light pine frame.  The "boards" are just carefully cut and painted, they aren't boards at all.

The whole thing was done using a scroll saw and a hot glue gun.  It's supported by a very small pine frame, and all the "board" are just carefully cut foam.  The entire fellow weighs only about two pounds.  It's very light, and you're about to see why... 

Since I really didn't want to put holes into the house, it's hung in a very interesting way... The whole thing is hung like a large picture. It's supported entirely by suction cups on the window glass.  We thought that if we made is light enough, we could get away with only suction cups for support.  Thus far, it's worked out spectacularly.  It really adds a nice dimension to the yard.  I like it a lot.

Halloween-2007-Windows.jpg

Part 2:  The Props

Now that we've seen the front yard, let's discuss all the parts of the Halloween setup that aren't visible just yet...

We've spent quite a lot of time this year on props for Halloween night.  We always go overboard to make Halloween fun for the neighborhood children, and this year is no exception.  We've got 600 glowsticks ready, 40 pounds of candy, and an army of custom made props.

Jessawick made an amazing spirit ball for her witches' table this year.  It's actually made from several different items, and the effect is great.  She started with a base made of insulation foam, cut on the scroll saw.  It was shaped into a "cone" form.  Next, we got it wired up as a 110V light fixture.  The whole thing is basically a candle-bulb under a frosted light globe.  After the electrical part was finished, she finished it by covering it with bones and moss.  We scored a bunch of reject bones from the medical school skeleton factory (yes, there is a medical school skeleton factory, and most of their rejects go to the Halloween industry!).  She carefully covered it over, and the results look amazing:

Halloween-2007-SpiritBall.jpg

Also, this year the Reaper is making a return appearance.  We originally got him last year (and rigged him with an air cannon).  This year, he'll be returning, and he'll be tooled-up with a new and improved air cannon.  The new cannon triggers differently, and is much more potent than the previous incarnation.

Halloween-2007-Reaper.jpg

After last Halloween, I started working on a remote control system for our props.  Originally, I was just planning to have some remote controlled air cannons (to scare the kids with a blast compressed air).  Last November, I completed the first of our remote control units.  Here's a photo from last year, when I finished the first one:

RemoteValves.jpg

The big black box contains a custom relay circuit board.  Here's how it works:  The remote control works by RF (radio) control.  I decided to use RF rather than IR (infrared), as RF doesn't need line-of-sight, and we can trigger is covertly.  Each of the control boxes needs a 12V power supply to operate.  Since I want the props to be covert (and not look "wired"), I power them off packs of 8 AA batteries.

Since I need 12V power to make the remote relay boards work; I got an idea... Why not use 12V control systems, and power it all off the same battery?  Here's how things work:  The fellows at the bottom of the photo are solenoid valves (electrically triggered valves). These valves basically turn an air compressor (like you'd use for air tools) into an air cannon.  When the valve is triggered, air suddenly passes through, and a forceful "blast" of air hits an unsuspecting guest.

Each control box has two independent channels, so you can trigger two props off each remote.  I've tied the outputs to positive 12V, which results in a convenient little package.  Each control box output is basically just a remote-switched 12V power supply.  This allows you to turn innocent solenoid valves into much more interesing air cannons.

Here's a closeup of the circuit board that I use to make things work:

Halloween-2007-CircuitBoard.jpg

I've got great news for anyone who would like to try this at home... My whole control system is made from standard and inexpensive parts.  The circuit board in the photo is an HD2RX (two channel RF relay board), that can be purchased from Carl's Electronics for just under $30 (includes remote too).  I just mounted it into a housing and added some modular connectors to make it more friendly.  I use an N-type power connector (Radio Shack) for the 12V supply, and simple RCA jacks for the switched outputs.  Why RCAs?  They're cheap and plentiful.  Why go exotic when you can go standard?  The housing is just a cheap Radio Shack project enclosure.  Shockingly, the only soldering required was on the connectors in the project housing.

If you've ever worked with relays, you know that they aren't particularly energy efficient... How can I run this thing off batteries?  Well, you'd be surprised what you can get away with.  Think about Halloween props... They are triggered for an instant, and stay dormant for most of the night.  I've done the math on the battery pack's rating vs. the relays (and the draw from the solenoid valve too, as it's just another relay).  Here's the short answer:  You'll get about 25 minutes of "burn time" on a set of 8 AA's.  However, remember, you aren't going to have a cannon on "full blast" for 25 solid minutes all night long.

At this point, you're also probably wondering why I used AA's...  I've got an answer for that too.  They're cheap.  Other types of battery may be better suited for the application, but AA's offer two things that are helpful in the case.  Firstly, they're very inexpensive.  I can buy 30 of them for under $10.  Secondly, they're easy to get.  I don't need exotic chargers, and I can easily swap them in a hurry.

I'll admit though, I use a converted power supply from a dead external hard-drive in the workshop.  I don't want wires in the field, but a plug-in power supply is convenient in the workshop.  Note to Al:  Thanks for letting me take that power brick about 6 months ago.  It's powered my props in the workshop ever since.

Since we've got remote controls now, we decided to branch out into other air-powered props.  We've made two remote controlled tombstones (which aren't out in the yard yet).  They contain a bit of electrical giblets, so we don't want them exposed to the weather.  Here are some photos of them on the back table.  They're the same size as the others, and they shouldn't raise any suspicions when they "appear" on Halloween night. 

Halloween-2007-PopperADown.jpg Halloween-2007-PopperAUp.jpg

Both of these "head popper" tombstones are built using solenoid valves (to trigger air flow from the compressor) and pneumatic cylinders (a air-powered moving rod).  I scored the parts from Doug at FrightProps.  Doug is a great guy, and can be quite helpful in your haunting projects.

Although they are both air-powered, the two tombstones are quite different in construction... The first one (Orange / Skull) is directly driven off the cylinder.  The skull has a threaded receiver for the cylinder, and it rides directly on the rod.  Additionally, the skull has been fitted with glowing red eyes, that I wired into the voltage that drives the solenoid valve.  It's a nice touch.

Below is the second tombstone, which is actually a bit more complicated in construction:

Halloween-2007-PopperBDown.jpg Halloween-2007-PopperBUp.jpg

The second tombstone is made with an actual mannequin head.  Since it's fully life-sized, it can wear regular masks, and they can be interchanged at any time.  The mannequin head is much larger than the skull, and requires a different mounting system.  This tombstone actually works a lot like a "vertical drawer".  The head is mounted on a platform, which slides up and down on drawer slides (mounted to the inside walls of the tombstone).  The cylinder pushes the drawer "up" when air is applied, and gravity brings is back down when the solenoid valve is released (I got away with just using 3-way valves, as I didn't need a "powered" return).  The return is forced by gravity, and regulated by a flow restrictor on the exhaust.

Important safety note:  All my props have flow restrictors built into them.  A flow restrictor limits air flow, to control the speed of a prop.  This also adds a level of safety, should other components in the system fail.  Do not ever try to "get away" just using the regulator on your air compressor.  Buy restrictors.  Additionally, they're convenient for setting your "down" speed, when they're used on your exhaust ports.

Also, the mannequin head is fitted with glowing red "eyes".  I picked up some indicator bulbs at Radio Shack, and wired them into the switched voltage that drives the solenoid valve.  It's a really creepy effect.

Although I don't have a picture of it, I've got another interesting gadget for this season... I've made up a remote-adapter for the fog machine.  I found that you can simply replace the corded switch of the fog machine with one of your own design.  The 400W fog machine that we own is triggered by an IEC C14 (the female version of a standard computer power cord).  The wired trigger just closes the contacts on two of the connectors.  With just a relay and a cord to butcher, I made an interface to let our remote control boxes take control of the fogger.  Sweet.

Ok, on to the main event... We've built ourselves monster.  The monster is our biggest, baddest, and most intimidating prop this year. Just tell me this dude isn't intimidating:

Halloween-2007-MonsterFace.jpg

Here's the idea... The monster is actually a specially made prop frame (steel frame that moves under air-power).  When the remote control triggers the monster, he leaps up and forward, striking fear into anyone nearby.  It's actually quite intimidating.  He stands at over 7 feet tall, and he moves quickly.  He's outfitted with the same glowing red eyes, and he's really quite scary.

Halloween-2007-MonsterMechanics.jpg

The whole motion is controlled by a single pneumatic cylinder.  We used an 8 inch long cylinder, with a 1.5 inch bore.  He's controlled by a single 3-way valve, triggered by our standard control boxes.  The steel frame pivots up and down, depending on the position of the air cylinder, and it "jumps" to full height in a single controlled motion.  The frame is counter-weighted with springs, so the cylinder actually isn't moving all that much weight.  The monster doesn't require as much air as you'd expect.  We're easily able to run him off a pathetically small "1 gallon" compressor with a tiny motor.

We've bolted the frame to a big piece of plywood (painted black).  This allows of a bigger "footprint", and also lets us stack plate weights on the back, for counterbalance (he tends to jump forward with each firing otherwise).  Also, his body isn't as solid as it seems.  He's mostly just a large black cape (Jessawick made it for him) that's suspended on a steel frame.  This lets him fold down very small when he's "hiding".

Here are a few photos of him in the daytime, as he stands up.  He's much scarier in the dark.

Halloween-2007-MonsterDown.jpg Halloween-2007-MonsterMid.jpg Halloween-2007-MonsterUp.jpg

I've shot some video of the props in motion.  I'll be the first to admit that I am woefully inequipped for video work, but here are the results anyway (shot with a craptastic point-and-shoot in video mode!):

Well, that sure was the longest blog posting ever... 

Hydroponics Tuesday: Huge Honking Eggplant
10/23/2007 7:03:00 AM

From the title of this post, you can probably realize that the eggplant in the aeroponic system is getting absolutely huge.  To be honest, I'm thinking that I may have to cut back some leaves (or move the neighboring plants to different sites).  It's really starting to shade the adjacent strawberries.  The eggplant has lots of flowers, and seems quite happy.

In related, but unexplainable news... The pH seems to have stabilized more than usual.  Normally, we have rapid fluctuations.  For the first time in a long time, I haven't raised the pH is almost four days.  That's a big deal, as I usually have to raise it daily (in the aeroponic system).

The larger tomato (#10) is getting quite large.  In fact, since you can't see the whole thing in this week's "overview" photo, I decided to give it a photo of its own.  At it's tallest point, it's still about 30 inches from the light source.  No burning is visible, but to be safe, I probably won't let it get much closer.

Strangely, the smaller tomato (#18) is really struggling.  I'm not sure why.  It appears weak, spindly, and has few leaves.  Additionally, it's leaves show curling (but no burning).  I'm not sure if it's going to live.  This is particularly odd, as everything else in the same aeroponic system is looking great.

Here's this week's overview photo:

Hydro2-Z.jpg

Additionally, here's a vertical shot of the larger tomato (#10):

Hydro2-ZA.jpg

PlantTypeStatus
#01Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 11" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#02Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 11" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#03Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 12" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#04Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 0" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#05Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 10" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#06Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 11" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#07Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 9" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#08Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 12" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#09Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 11" long (longest leaf).  However, it's obviously being cramped by the enormous eggplant "next door".  It's leaves are visible changing direction, moving towards the areas not shaded by the eggplant.
#10Andrew Rahart's Jumbo Heirloom TomatoApproximately 4' long (supported by the lightstand).  Has some old burning visible, but appears quite strong.  Although it has grown to within about 3' of the light, no burning is visible yet.  I'm pretty sure that the previous burning was due to heat exposure.
#11Delicious Heirloom TomatoPreviously killed through personal stupidity.
#12Bambino Baby EggplantThis fellow is really dominating the TurboGarden.  It's big and wide.  I need to add twine to stabilize.  Flowers are visible, and I'd expect baby fruits soon.
#13Monet's Garden Lettuce
Still alive, starting to regrow.
#14Monet's Garden LettuceStill alive, starting to regrow.
#15Monet's Garden LettuceSurprisingly, it's regrowing quite well.  It's staring to look pretty strong again.  I never know you could get away with harvesting a lettuce and letting it regrow.
#16Monet's Garden LettuceTasty.  Eaten on 09/29/2007.
#17Lime Basil
Roughly 22" tall.  No burning visible anymore.  Very healthy.  Very tasty.
#18Delicious Heirloom TomatoNot looking so good this week.  Appears spindly, and the leaves are curled a bit.  One of the main branches "fell off", and I'm not sure why.  The water and light chemistry should be perfect, and I don't see any kind of physical or pest damage.
Hydroponics Tuesday: Aero and pH
10/16/2007 7:53:00 AM

This week's report really isn't as dramatic as some previous reports.  Things are growing at a good pace, but the situation is fairly stable.

However, I would like to mention something, in case you haven't heard it before...  An aeroponic system (like my TurboGarden) helps plants grow very quickly.  Since so many changes are taking place under an aeroponic setting, you have to be very mindful of the condition of your reservoir.  Normally, the water chemistry is fairly stable... However, in an aeroponic system, like the TurboGarden, this really isn't the case. Admittedly, the TurboGarden has a fairly large reservoir tank (about 25 gallons when full).  However, there's so much growth activity going on, that the chemistry changes rapidly.  The TurboGarden consumes a lot more nutrients than my other system, and the pH changes much more dramatically.

This may sound strange to someone new to aeroponics, but I add almost 1 pint of pH increaser to my TurboGarden each week.  That's a lot of pH increaser.  Although I don't understand all the plant biology involved, I can tell you from experience that the plants just suck the pH right out of the water.  I check the pH every morning, and most of the time I find it around 6.0.  I realize that 6.0 is still in a good range for the plants; but I also know that it will continue to drop unless I supplement it.

I really need to buy more twine.  I need to tie some of the plants, like the eggplant.  It's not being a good neighbor at the moment.  Additionally, the eggplant is flowering.  We have several flowers, but no baby fruits yet.

I'm not quite sure what's going on with our younger tomato plant.  It doesn't look as good as I would expect.  The chemistry is good.  I'm suspecting a heat issue (as it's tall, and closer to the light source).  As an experiment, I've laid it down, in the strawberries. 

Here's this week's photo:

Hydro2-Y.jpg

PlantTypeStatus
#01Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 10" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#02Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 10" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#03Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 11" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#04Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 9" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#05Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 10" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#06Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 10" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#07Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 7" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#08Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 11" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#09Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 11" long (longest leaf).  No burning.  Looking good.
#10Andrew Rahart's Jumbo Heirloom TomatoApproximately 33" long (it's not standing straight anymore, as it's tied to the lightstand).  Has some old burning visible, but appears quite strong.  I'm starting to become concerned that it's grown tall enough to be too close to the light again.  If I see more burning appear, I may relocate.
#11Delicious Heirloom TomatoPreviously killed through personal stupidity.
#12Bambino Baby EggplantThis fellow is really dominating the TurboGarden.  It's big and wide.  I need to add twine to stabilize.  Flowers are visible, and I'd expect baby fruits soon.
#13Monet's Garden Lettuce
Amazingly, still alive.  We ate almost all the leaves, but somehow, it's living and sprouting new ones.
#14Monet's Garden LettuceAmazingly, still alive.  We ate almost all the leaves, but somehow, it's living and sprouting new ones.
#15Monet's Garden LettuceAmazingly, still alive.  We ate almost all the leaves, but somehow, it's living and sprouting new ones.
#16Monet's Garden LettuceTasty.  Eaten on 09/29/2007.
#17Lime Basil
Roughly 19" tall.  No burning visible anymore.  Very healthy.  Very tasty.
#18Delicious Heirloom TomatoOddly, not as strong as it's older brother.  It doesn't have as many branches or leaves, and it appears to be having trouble with the heat from the lighting system.  I've laid it down horizontally in the strawberries to test my theory.
Hydroponics Tuesday: Big & Leafy
10/9/2007 9:01:00 PM

Things have really started to take off in the TurboGarden.  This week's title comes from the big and leafy results that I'm starting to see.  The eggplant is of particular interest this week.  It looks like I've got a good balance going.

The leaf burning is gone.  Since I acted decidedly unscientifically during the trouble, I cannot cleanly attribute the success.  However, I've got it narrowed down to two solutions.  Firstly, I moved the 400W light further away.  This significantly lowered the heat on the leaves.  Leaves love light, but aren't so much in love with overheating.  Secondarily, I've started supplementing the plants with MagPro supplement on the advice of Beau, my local hydro-guy.  He's always given good advice.  This appears to be no exception.

The eggplant has gotten so large that I'm thinking about cutting back a few leaves... It's shadowing it's neighboring strawberry.  Things are going very well.

Take a look for yourself.  That's one big eggplant. 

Hydro2-W.jpg
Also, my lime basil has sprouted a little flower.  I didn't know that basil produced flowers.  Live and learn.

Hydro2-X.jpg

Keeping with my promise of solid record keeping, here's this week's chart:

PlantTypeStatus
#01Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 9" long (longest leaf).  Starting to spread out, rather than stand tall.
#02Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 9" long (longest leaf).  Starting to spread out, rather than stand tall.
#03Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 10" long (longest leaf).  Starting to spread out, rather than stand tall.
#04Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 8" long (longest leaf).  Starting to spread out, rather than stand tall.
#05Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 9.5" long (longest leaf).  Starting to spread out, rather than stand tall.
#06Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 9" long (longest leaf).  Starting to spread out, rather than stand tall.
#07Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 5.5" long (longest leaf).
#08Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 9.5" long (longest leaf).  Has largest leaves of all strawberries.
#09Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 9" tall (tallest leaf).  Starting to spread out, rather than stand tall.
#10Andrew Rahart's Jumbo Heirloom TomatoApproximately 29" long (it's not standing straight anymore, as it's tied to the lightstand).  Some burning and curling is noticeable (older leaves only).  Some leaves are slightly curled, but appears quite healthy.
#11Delicious Heirloom TomatoPreviously killed through personal stupidity.
#12Bambino Baby EggplantIt's about 22" tall, and is looking big and leafy.  Flowers are visible, and I'd expect baby fruits soon.
#13Monet's Garden Lettuce
Approximately 18" tall (if it stood).  Fully mature.  Missing more than a few leaves from nibbling.
#14Monet's Garden LettuceApproximately 18" tall (if it stood).  Fully mature.  Missing more than a few leaves from nibbling.
#15Monet's Garden LettuceApproximately 18" tall (if it stood).  Fully mature.  Missing more than a few leaves from nibbling.
#16Monet's Garden LettuceTasty.  Eaten on 09/29/2007.
#17Lime Basil
Roughly 15" tall.  Burning has subsided.  Leaves curl downward slightly.
#18Delicious Heirloom TomatoApproximately 21" tall. Slight burning and curling is noticeable on a few of the leaves.
Hydroponics Tuesday: Tenative Leafy Resolution
10/1/2007 8:08:00 PM

I've spent some more time working with the plants this week, and I have a tenative solution for the burned leaves issue...

I think the root cause was the proximity of the 400W HPS (High Pressure Sodium) light bulb.  I had it previously positioned approximately 3 ft. from the top of the plants (only about 12 inches from the tallest plants, the tomatoes).  This lamp generates a lot of heat.  It's amazing, I never really noticed it until I removed the lamp for a while.  Here's a great example:  All the plants are sitting in hydroton (clay pellets).  Normally, the hydroton would be constantly damp, from the continual circulation of the water in the aeroponic system.  I only learned this after removing the 400W system for a few days.  The 400W system generates enough heat that the top layer of hydroton was always dry.

I removed the 400W system for a few days, and ran only on the underpowered 125W compact fluorescent.   I wanted to see if it would stop the leaf burning. I admit that this experiment is far from scientific, as I also added the Mag Pro supplement at the same time.  Regardless, the burning has stopped.

As a more permanent remedy, I've added the extensions back into the lighting frame.  Take a look at the picture below; you'll notice that the frame is much taller than last week.  This makes the light less harsh on the plants, and the heat less intense. 

Hydro2-U.jpg

I don't think that any of the plants suffered irreparable damage.  Regardless, I'm going to limit the cycle of the 400W light for a few weeks.  I'm going to start it around 9 hours a day, and see how we do with it.

Lettuce is tasty. I must report a casualty this week.  #16 is no more. 

Here's this week's overview photo.  The strawberries are finally getting moving.  Finally.

Hydro2-V.jpg

Keeping with my promise of solid record keeping, here's this week's chart:

PlantTypeStatus
#01Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 8" tall (tallest leaf).  Starting to spread out, rather than stand tall.
#02Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 8" tall (tallest leaf).  Starting to spread out, rather than stand tall.
#03Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 9" long (longest leaf).  Starting to spread out, rather than stand tall.
#04Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 7" tall (tallest leaf).
#05Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 9" tall (tallest leaf).  Starting to spread out, rather than stand tall.
#06Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 8" tall (tallest leaf).
#07Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 5" tall (tallest leaf).
#08Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 9" tall (tallest leaf).  Has largest leaves of all strawberries.
#09Alexandria Alpine StrawberriesRoughly 8" tall (tallest leaf).
#10Andrew Rahart's Jumbo Heirloom TomatoApproximately 27" long (it's not standing straight anymore, as it's tied to the lightstand).  Some burning and curling is noticeable (older leaves only).  Some leaves are slightly curled, but appears quite healthy.
#11Delicious Heirloom TomatoPreviously killed through personal stupidity.
#12Bambino Baby EggplantIt's about 18" tall, and is looking big and leafy.  Flowers are visible, and I'd expect baby fruits soon.
#13Monet's Garden Lettuce
Approximately 17" tall (if it stood).  Fully mature.  Missing a few leaves from nibbling.
#14Monet's Garden LettuceApproximately 17" tall (if it stood).  Fully mature.  Missing a few leaves from nibbling.
#15Monet's Garden LettuceApproximately 17" tall (if it stood).  Fully mature.  Missing a few leaves from nibbling.
#16Monet's Garden LettuceTasty.  Eaten on 09/29/2007.
#17Lime Basil
Roughly 13" tall.  Burning has subsided.  Leaves curl downward slightly.
#18Delicious Heirloom TomatoApproximately 17" tall. Slight burning and curling is noticeable on a few of the leaves.