Hydroponics – Signs of success

I continued my hydroponics experiment this year also and to my joy and surprise it worked! yeah it really produced fruits of success (wouldn’t call it fruits of labour as it was not required much) It was a passive hydroponics system the materials used were a 2ltr soda bottle, a net pot, hydroton, and ofcourse nutrients.

The net pot story is interesting, I was looking for a medium sized net pot for quite some time but could not find them in local gardening shops, So I made holes in plastic glasses using soldering iron, but I was actually fascinated by good looking net pots shown on the  internet.  One fine day I noticed a net pot like object on a household utility pull cart, I stopped and had a look, it was a tooth brush holder of exactly the size which was needed, I bought it for Rs. 5 and just cut off the elongated top portion which was meant for hanging the brush holder. The desired net pot was ready. Sometimes we look out and search and search for things which are easily available in surroundings.

Coming back to the signs of success. Have a look …

another angle.

This is the same long purple eggplant which I also grew in soil less medium.  though the plant size, number of fruits and the vigor were less than the formar, but still I am happy that I was successful in growing a plant hydroponiclly and which also produced fruits.

There is another hydroponic success story and it is a rose plant, yes you heard it correct. I bough this rose plant last year, it is a miniature rose variety which was blooming like crazy, but when it found a new home in my balcony it just didnt grow, when all my other rose plants were in full bloom this plant was not even showing signs of new foliage leave alone the flowers. I decided to experiment, I used a cover of a CD box (got this idea from internet), drilled holes abound 2 inches from the bottom filled it with hydrton and added mild nutrient solution, the area below the drilled holes became the reservoir, the plant started growing and flowered and now it been around 8 months and the plant flowers continuously.

Have a look:

This is the image of the plant when I had initially transplanted it in the passive hydroponic setup. See how weak and dull it looks. Apr, ’09.

It already had flowers in June, ’09.

This is the latest snap of the plant, see how many buds it has. Dec, ’09.

Now the update about the latest  plants which I have in hydroponic setup.

This is cabbage and tomato (F1 hybrid – Tumbler). – Few days after the transplant.

The cabbage plant, I changed the reservoir as the roots stared outgrowing the smaller one.

The tomato fruits have started setting in. Pics in next post.

This all inspired me to buy a timer device, to have proper active hydroponic system in place, before my cherry tomato, cabbage and chili saplings are ready for transplant.

The plant which you see at the top right corner of the starter tray is garlic, I have planted it in all my containers as it respells pests.

It has become a long post. Thanks for stopping by and showing patience for reading.


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60 Responses to “Hydroponics – Signs of success”

  1. geekgardener Says:

    Awesome FG!. I really appreciate your determination. About the netpot thing, toothbrush holder idea is awesome. Its a perfect piece and there is more. small fruit basket and we can also use the ventilation cap that they put on drainage/sewage pipes. 10-15 bucks a piece and available at different sizes!..

    Your cabbage is looking very healthy. Make sure its in a sunny spot. Is it an early variety?

    I am gonna pay Ratanshi next week and I couple of weeks, I should be having hydrotons..


  2. fungardener Says:

    Thanks gg, the ventilation cap idea seems interesting would look for it. The spot where the cabbage is kept gets around 3-4 hrs sunlight, have been planning to move it, for that i’ll have to adjust my air pump location thats why its taking time. The variety is golden acre I think its early verity, the new batch is F1 hybrid.
    The max sunlight my balcony gets is 6 hours in summer and 5.5 hours in winter (that too only in some pockets).
    Have you ever thought about artificial lighting sources, I am thinking about it for quite some time now, want to try it. The LED lights are becoming common these days, but will need to study whether the spectrum and the intensity required by the plants are fulfilled by them or not.

  3. Shashank Patkar Says:

    Hello Fungardner,

    I am too a hoby terrace gardner and doing lot of experiments with Hydroponics.

    As you are from Pune, I would be interested in meeting/talking to you.

    I would appreciate if you could let me know your contact details.

    You can reach em on 98901 99363


  4. fungardener Says:

    Hi Shashank,
    Great to know that you are experimenting with Hydroponics.

    What all plants you are growing on your terrace? and in hydroponics?
    Would be good if you could post a link to the snaps of ’em. or else you could mail me on : gardeningfun@gmail.com

    I would give you a call sometime in near future.

  5. PK Says:

    Hi FG,
    Where do you buy your hydroton from? I am doing an aquaponic setup with gravel. I want to switch to Hydroton. I need about 10 ltrs.

  6. fungardener Says:

    Hi PK,
    Nice to know that you are setting up aquaponics.
    Buying Hydroton depends upon where are you based in. in Pune is is available in garden centers such as Jagtap Nursary, Girme farm if not then you can buy from Ratanshi Agro Mumbai you talk to them send MO/DD and they will send it to you.

    Ratanshi Agro-Hortitech, Jijamata Udyan 175, Dr. Ambedkar Road Mumbai(Garden Products) 02223723296, 02223782596


  7. PK Says:

    Great!! Thanks a million. I will speak to Ratanshi. Can I gmail you pics of my set up? Its some thing you too must try.

  8. PK Says:

    Girme I know is in Baner Road. Where is Jagtap? Nagar Road? I think it costs about Rs. 60 per ltr. Is that right?

  9. fungardener Says:

    Jagtap is near golibar maidan http://www.jagtapnursery.com they have 10 ltr packings costing around Rs. 120.
    Please send me the pics at gardeningfun@gmail.com I am keen to have a look at it.

  10. PK Says:


    I used to work on Tilak Road some 4 years ago!! I have moved since then. Incidentally the packaging is 5 ltr for 120 not 10 ltr. Just spoke to them. Also spoke to Ratanshi and I have already ordered a 50 ltr bag for Rs.1120/- Pretty cheap. They are putting it on the bus once I transfer the money in their account

    Mailing you the pics in a while.

  11. fungardener Says:

    Hi PK,
    Your setup is amazing. as you said you plants are also doing pretty good and are showing no sign of stress. changing the growing media from garvel to hydroton would significantly improve the results. I am working on setting up a hydroponics system I wont be taking up aquaponics at this point of time.
    Hence currently I am working on the nutrient formula. by the way how did you get inspired by aquaponics was it a live inspiration or internet?
    By looking at your system it seems that you are using a timer to circulate the aquarium water between fishes and the plants
    what is the frequency of the circulation?
    do you also use air pump for oxygen supply?
    which nitrients do you add to the solution?

  12. PK Says:

    Thanks. This was entirley inspired by the fact that I got bored watering the plants, weeding,digging etc which used to be quite a chore! So I was searching the net for self watering cans / hydroponics and such. Stumbled upon Aquaponics and was totally hooked. It looked amazingly simple and that it uses very less water, no fertilisers was a boon.

    My set up is on a loop syphon and uses what is called a flood and drain system. Basically the white pipe in the center is the loop syphon. When the water in the grow beds reaches the highest point on the loop (this point is set to the level I want in my grow beds) the syphon kicks in and drains the growbeds. The pump is a small air cooler pump 16v incidentally bought in Pune (near Kacheri) ! It is on continuously from 6 am to 10pm. Ther is no timer.

    The grow beds take about 2 mins to fill and 2 mins to drain. Yes there is an air pump that is on 24/7.

    I need to add some trace elements only when there is any sign of deficieny – like a bannana for pottassium, an iron bar that is rusting in the water for iron, some shells for PH buffer, sea salt for others. It is recommended that one can use a seaweed extract solution for all this also. But I have not been able to source one yet. Would appreciate if you can let me know in case you know where I can find one.

    Almost all veg plants do well in aquaponics. My next system will be much bigger and will have a much larger variety of plants!!

    Please feel free to ask any other thing you want to know.

  13. fungardener Says:

    Thanks PK,

    You have done a wonderful job I really appriciate your efforts, I would get in touch with you once I start working on my flood and drain hydroponic system.
    Keep posting pics of your plants or better start blogging.

    About Seaweed – I had purchased liquid seaweed from Naik swargate (Biozyme – http://www.biostadt.net/businessarea/biotech/biozyme.php) Jagtap nursary also has seaweed in powder form (it is also from Ratanshi agro).

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks, FG.

    Will speak to Ratanshi. Can’t access the site you have listed. Let me google biozyme and see.


  15. Rajvi Shah Says:


    Its really interesting. Pictures motivated me to add tumbler plants to my organic farm.

    I would like to know more about tumbler gardening, hydroponics and also i would like to experiment aquaponics pls post me some more details so i can start it.

  16. FunGardener Says:

    Thanks Rajvi,

    It good to hear that my plants motivated somebody.

    Tumbler is a tomato variety which is suitable for containers and hanging baskets, its a hybrid hence you can not save seeds, you have to bye them always. The variety is high yielding and good in taste.

    Now, the tumbler gardening (container gardening) – I live in an apartment and have a limited space and hence have no other options than to grow plants in containers, however gardening in containers can be very enriching and rewarding experience as you get more affectionate to the plants that gives you so much in return using a very limited space.

    I do not use soil in containers ‘the best soil to use in containers is not to use soil at all’. Instead I use cocopeat (50%) + compost (30%) + perlite (20%)
    Cocopeat holds the water and nutrients results in less frequent watering.
    Compost – supplies all the essential nutrients to the plant.
    Perlite – Helps better drainage. Keeps growing media well aeration which improves oxygen supply to the roots.
    This growing mix has lot of other benefits also.
    -It’s light weight.
    -It can be reused seasons after seasons.
    -and above all plants really like them more than the soil (not mentioning soil problems here)

    Hydroponics is growing plants in water, and Aquaponics is growing plants and aquatic animals in circulating water (the waste from animals works as a nutrient for the plants)

    Hydroponics is really interesting there is a lot of scope for experiment but needs precision and a lot of patience. You can find a lot of material about it on the internet.

    Do write to me if you need any other information.

  17. Rajvi Shah Says:

    Thank you very much,

    Sure i am going to try it out.
    I want to know one more thing tht where should i keep the container in shade or sunlight?

    Thank you.

  18. fungardener Says:

    Your welcome!
    Sunlight requirement varies from plant to plant. If you are talking about tomato’s they need 6-8 hours sunlight to produce a good harvest. Now in summer the intensity of the sun is too high and we should change the watering schedule to avoid wilting also when the fruits are set plants need a lot of water. If some sort of shade could be provided in summer it would be great.
    You had mentioned about your organic farm, I would be interested in knowing the details of that farm, is it an open land or a poly house?

  19. narul Says:

    Hi fg,
    Your garden pictures are awesome! I am just getting ready to start my hydro gardening. Your blog has inspired me.
    How do you provide aeration? How often it is required? I would appreciate having you reply with the photograph showing aeration method. Best wishes.

  20. FunGardener Says:

    Thanks Nurul,
    And welcome to the wonderful world of hydroponics.
    I provide aeration through an aquarium air pump. For the passive systems, where the water is not flowing, aeration only helps even if it is on for 24 hours a day. The roots need oxygen to grow (and there are many other benefits, which you might already be knowing), however the active system such as flood and drain, get the oxygen from the top also as the water drains back and makes way for the air to fill the top container through the growing medium, but still, it is always good to supply aerated nutrient solution.
    I will post some pics, I am also planning to upload a video of my latest fully automated flood and drain setup.
    Keep watching this space.
    Happy Gardening

  21. PK Says:

    Hi FG,
    Long time. Just thought I will share this link with you. Looked very interesting and doable for a slightly larger setup. He has made the piping so simple! I think those net pots are 4″ dia.



  22. FunGardener Says:

    Thanks PK,
    Yes the pvc pipe setups have always fascinated me. You could also look at Anil’s (he is a fellow gardener of geekgardener) album at : http://picasaweb.google.com/anil.hande look for PVC Hydroponics.
    You could create NFT system using these pipes. And actually by growing in pipes as the 4″ dia horizontal space would provide a lot of space for the roots to grow and would occupy just a thin strip(a single pipe).
    How about your plants how are they doing? have you started using hydroton? how was the tomato harvest? did you try other plants?
    Too many questions. I think you should start a blog 🙂

    Happy Gardening

  23. PK Says:

    Hi FG,

    Anil is really doing a terrifc job!! In fact I have 6 pcs of 1mtr 4″ pipes cut , with 6 holes each punched in for the net pots, since last feb!! I just have not been able to get around to doing the hydroponic set up. I have since got a stand made, bought the seeds, bought the 100 ltr barrel, bought a timer, bought a pump, etc etc!!. Just need to do the plumbing and start. What do you recommend as the initital solution? And what timing? Anil is using 10 minutes every two hours.

    In the meanwhile got excited with Auaponics. Here’s the latest on that:

    Please follow the link to my pictures. The bananna and mint are doing roaring well. Harvested over 3.5 kilos of tomatoes adn then pulled them out. Since then the mint has taken over the tub!!

    Hydroton is reserved for another system still in the making. More on that later.


  24. Korou Says:

    A very lively garden you have got here. The development of the rose plant is interesting. I found out about hydroponics and aquaponics just recently and am about to start one aquaponics system. Just a small one first. And later I plan to initiate a whole farm! Felt good to see people in India are also adopting these technologies. I am based in Delhi btw. and it’s proving hard to find supplies for the system around here. Do you have any idea where I can find hydrotons in Delhi? or in bangalore. Please let me know if you have any infos.

  25. FunGardener Says:

    Thanks Korou,
    When I visited Delhi a few months back I saw hydroton in big plant containers kept at domestic airport, it must be available there, but I dont know where. I will try to find and let you know. By the way you can call Ratanshi argo in mumbai and checkh whether they can ship it to Delhi.
    All the best for your venture into hydroponics.
    Happy Gardening

    • Korou Says:


      Thanks for the info. I called up Ratanshi and asked them if by any chance they knew any suppliers in Delhi. They told us about a place and we went there today and got some. A bit costly though, they are charging 1600 for a 60 L bag. But I am glad that I found it in Delhi itself.

      The place is Kitchen Garden Center, 80 Bhogal Road, Jangpura if anyone needs the info in future.

  26. PK Says:

    When I got my Hydroton to Hyderabad, I simply spoke to Ratanshi got their bank and account number and deposited the cash there. In turn Ratanshi put the Hydroton in transport and gave me the receipt number and the trasporter’s local number. I went to the depot and fetched it. Quite simple actually! It cost about Rs.1120 per 50 ltr bag. The thing is amazing!! You must try it specailly if you want to go either the Hydroponic or Aquaponic way.

    FG: Can you tell me what to use as an initial solution for my Hydroponic tubes? 19:19:19 will do? Have started the seeds in a tray. Will be transplanting in the net pots in two weeks.


    • fungardener Says:

      Hi PK,
      1 gm/lit. 19-19-19 will do, however I feel that you should start with a complete nutrient mix (half the strength).
      what are you growing?
      Happy Hydroponics

      • PK Says:

        Thanks. Wil try that out with foliar sprays for the micronutrients as and when needed. Looking at doing leafies – Spinach, Basil, coriander, parsley and Ambada and among veggies: Cherry tomatoes, Cabbage chilly and capsicum. Might even do spring beans.

        I have totally 36 pots, Looking at a 200ltr loft tank underneath the table on which the pipes will rest. It came to a 30″x40″ footprint. Asked my brother to send me a timer from the US. It has options of 15mins cycles. Which means I can do 15 off/15 on or 15 /30 or 30/15 and so on. Basically in multiples of 15.


        • fungardener Says:

          That would work, however it is better to have all the nutrients always available to the roots. but you can experiment. So finally you have the setup ready, it would be interesting to see them growing.
          You are based in Pune right? You dont need to look that far for timers. they are available in Pune costing around Rs. 500/- at the electronics market in front of Dagdu Seth Ganpati temple.

          • PK Says:

            No I am based at Hyderabad. Used to work in Pune till sometime ago. Will check out the timers next time i am there. What are they called? Any specific shop?

            All they used to show me was the washing machine dial timers that you rotate and they keep going for 30 minutes and then you have to spin them again!!

            PS: That should be a foot print of 3 ft x 4 ft not 30″x40″

            • fungardener Says:

              They must be available in Hyd. also. You will have to look for the area where the electrical/electronics shops are. They are solid state relay based timers.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    Hi FG,
    I understand you are using compost in containers (your Apr 23 post). Do we need to add any fertilizer? If so what is the name and composition? Kindly reply.

  28. narul Says:

    Hi FG,
    I understand you are using compost in containers (your Apr 23 post). Do we need to add any fertilizer? If so what is the name and composition? Kindly reply.

  29. Fungardener Says:

    Hi Narul,
    To get the best results you need to add fertilizers. Plants need 16 elemtnts to grow. What you can do is fix the micro nutrient ratios, and change the primary(N, P, K) and secondary(Ca, S, Mg) macro nutrient ratios depending upon the plant growth stage.
    You can refer to howard resh’s formula for tomatoes. (http://www.howardresh.com/Hydroponic-Culture-of-tomatoes.html)
    Let me know if you need more details.

  30. kishore Says:

    hi i have planted tomatoes in hydroponic with soluble fertilizer 19:19:19 but it does not contain trace elements in it . so please tell if there r any ready made avaliable in market

  31. FunGardener Says:

    Yes there are readymade available.
    I will let you know the company names. Vardhman fertilizer surely has it.
    Are you based out of Bangalore? did you try Mangalore chemicals liquid ferts?

  32. kishore Says:

    i am from mahad [raigad] near to mumbai where i work. please tell me the retail shop to buy he nutrient.
    i also want to know about hydroton, how they help in hydroponic plantation as i am now using saw dust with sand.

    • fungardener Says:

      Hi Kishor,
      Its difficult to point out to the retail shop in Raigad. You will have to look for agri / chemical shops and search either for pre formulated mixes, or you will have to mix your own, ratios are available on internet.
      hydroton has excellent wicking properties, it holds air and water well, its very lightweight and the cleanest medium to use, though sand and saw would work as well.
      Would be interesting to see the snaps of your setup.
      Happy Gardening

  33. Milind Patil Says:

    Hi FG
    Great blog, just wanted to check how do u take care of the other two parameters, namely measuring of pH and Electric Conductivity of the water.

    Milind Patil

  34. fungardener Says:

    Thanks Milind,
    The systems seen above are all passive, and I even though I had a ph test kit (bought from an aquarium shop) was not that accurate. I used to change the nutrient solution ever 15 days. My active system is ready and waiting for the tomato plants transplant.
    Are you also into hydroponics?

  35. kishore Says:

    thanks for ur advice FG. i would have shared my garden pics with u but the rain and birds destroyed my terrace garden . now i have planted tomattoe and chille plants in 1/2 litre pepsi bottles in the nutrient solution with out soil or media. i will send u the photos of that in 2 to 3 days. my question is that i want tracr element solution and i want mumbai address as i frequently visit mumbai.

  36. fungardener Says:

    Hi Kishore,
    You could try at Ratahshi agro, Mumbai ph. (022-23723296, 022-23782596, 022-23727245) They must be having it.

  37. Sudhir Agashe Says:

    Dear FG,
    I hv sent you following email on the email address given by u on 14/01/2011. Have u recd it.

    Dear FG,
    Thanks for the reply, I am staying at kothrud, my flat hv a terrace of about 250 sq. ft. towards the west side of our building, hence sunlight is available for about 4 to 5 hours from January to August. from September to December sunlight is available in very small part of the terrace. I hv abt 25 concrete pots available filled with soil. Presently large part of this terrace getting spoiled by pigeon’s dropping, hence I am looking for some sonic bird repellent device (Do you know where I can get such device) & also thinking of covering some part of the terrace with translucent sheet.

    Initially I am planning to convert ( step by step) existing pots to passive hydroponics system using coco pit. Here I need your advice whether to use compost in this pots or to use water soluble nutrients only.

    Also would like to know about the care to be taken while transplanting existing plants. If it suits you would also like to visit your Hydroponics garden & talk to you personally.

    Thanks & Regards

    Sudhir Agashe
    Cell No. 9822050925

  38. fungardener Says:

    Hi Sudhir,
    I have replied to your email.

  39. david de Souza Says:

    hi, I dont know if I am asking a dumb question, but where can one get a readymade hydroponic nutrient mixture, preferably in powder form that I can dilute as per my requirements.

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  42. anil d gore Says:

    i very much interested in hydroponics pls give me details. my number is 9371015923. or let me know ur no. so i will call u. or mail me. my email anilgore1812@gmail.com

  43. Rozario Says:

    Hi FG,

    I am a complete novice in hydroponics. I have read a whole lot of stuff on the internet. I want to begin somewhere but dont know how. I have a small place in my Mumbai home. I get 3-4hrs of sunlight. I am interested in growing capsicum and tomatoes. Can you advise me on how to get started?

    • fungardener Says:

      Hi Rozario,
      3-4 hours of sunlight is a bit less for tomato and capsicum, however you can still grow them with a little bit lesser yield.
      How much space you have? do you receive the morning sunlight? do you want to grow hydroponically?

      • Rozario Says:

        Hi, I have a balcony which is 12ft X 6ft. I get sunlight in the afternoon from 2 pm onwards. I want to grow them hydroponically. I could do 2 layers. I had been to Ratanshi’s in Byculla but didnt know what to lookout for.

  44. Hemant Says:

    Excellent blog i must say ,I live in mumbai and i am trying to grow lettuce hydroponically , i am facing a lot of difficulty at the germination stage itself , havent been really successful inspite of trying 4 -5 times , everytime the growth is spindly , i would like to know if any nutrient i require to spray it with onto the seeds and other necessary measures to keep in mind in order to keep the plant healthy , i would appreciate all the help and support and reference images i could get my email i.d is hshivdasani@gmail.com

  45. kelp4less Says:

    Paying for water sucks. Why buy watered down nutrients. Buy direct bulk nutrients and make your own liquids for 1/4 of the cost at Kelp4less

  46. shabbir Says:

    I am from pune, interested in hydroponic cultivation in my balcony,have no idea of such cultivation,can you suggest how to start & complete activity.

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  48. Milind Says:

    Hello FG,

    This blog is very helpful for me. Actually I was looking for the blog like this since long time. I am very much interested to set up the garden and grow my own vegetables.

    Here is my background:
    I am professionally Software Engineer and belongs from Farmers Family. I just love working in my Farm and in long term planning for fulltime career.

    Your guidance will definitely boost my confidence and it will be great help if you suggest some books or websites for learning ABCD of Hydrophonic gardening.

    Here are my details:
    Milind Patil
    email: milind3.36@gmail.com
    9320846424 (call me if possible or email me)

    Again thankful to you and all guys who are sharing their valuable knowledge 🙂

  49. Northys Urban Hydro Says:

    Hi Fungardener,

    Great post and a nice garden you have, also the description makes it easy for the 1st timers who are trying their hands in hydroponics.

    Northy’s (Urban Hydro)

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