I made further progress this week and assembled the system. First I covered the bin with two layers of duct tape to make it opaque.
Outlined the formation of airstones and airpump tubing with respect to the plants. It took a while, but spending time on initial setup would save a lot of trouble in future phases. This exercise made sure that all plants will get enough air bubbles reaching to their roots.
Next I added 2-1-6 NPK FloraGro to the container. I followed the application table and used 4 teaspoons (20ml) chemical for 4gal water, which is the volume of the container.
Next phase needed precision, concentration, and a lot of time. I transferred 4 lettuce, 3 spinach and 1 parsley seedlings to the system. Steps were 1. Loosen the soil, remove the seedling carefully with its roots intact, wash away the soil with lukewarm water till you see clean, white roots. 2. Cut open a rockwool cube and place the seedling in it. One face of the cube has leaves growing out of it, the opposite side of cube has roots growing below. 3. Fill a net cup to an inch with leca clay granules. Place the rockwool cube in it and fill up the cup with more granules.
I used strongest of the seedlings that I could find. The roots were mostly around an inch long, and had very few or no branches. I am curious if this is the right time to transfer a seedling to hydroponic system. If this experiment fails I’ve few more seedlings from the same batch still growing in soil pellets, and maybe after a week I’ll try transferring those once they have stronger roots developed from soil-based model.
Aftermath! The whole process created some mess, and planing it ahead saved me lot of trouble. Loose soil is a quality resource that I moved back to the seedling bin.
I accidentally damaged a couple of seedlings and couldn’t use those any further- so I ate the leaves. Delicious!