Friday, January 20, 2017

Setting up the 'old' system

We dragged the old hydroponic system out a few days ago, and then put it together.
We think we have it set, now it is a matter of getting the elevations set up. We ran water though with a hose the other day and it all held and the water did water things.
We now have to figure out how it all sets up together, with the drains and the like.

We have a very large farm tank, and a smaller 50 gallon tank, I am hoping to use the 50 gallon. The piece of pipe sitting on top in the above photo is what I think was used to fill when it was first used. We need to figure out how to re-attach so we can control the flow. We also need a pump.

This is a less confusing picture of the pipe, the piece closest goes into the system, at the T is the input and then the right side is the overflow.
Me trying to figure it out- Thanks to S for the photo

Looks like a trip to Lowe's this weekend, and maybe Harbor Freight.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Upon further review, it appears we may have some mice nibbling on our plants.
When H looked at his sunflowers, there were no leaves, and the shoots look as if they have been cut off.
The watermelons and cantaloupe look as if something has dug up the seeds.
This afternoon we will put covers over the seedlings to see if that helps. Perhaps over the weekend we will need to pick up a few dozen mouse traps.
We finished pulling the older hydroponic system out and now it is a matter of finding a place to set it up and piecing it together, several of the connecting pipes have been cut, so we will need to re-glue a few things.
R looked up how and when to thin the basil seedlings, he learned what thinning is and why we need to do it.
Many things to do....

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

We Have Sprouts

After a week, some seeds have sprouted.

Many basil plants have started, so much for 2-3 seeds per pot.

The sunflowers have popped up, but waiting for H to observe the plants.

The watermelon has not come up, we feared a mouse came through, but T dug into one of the pots and saw a germinating seed.

E's cantaloupe has a couple of sprouts, but it was started a day later than the others.

As for S's plot of many plants....
S's many plantings

We have had a couple more poinsettias donated. These seem to be rotten from freezing, but we will let them try to rehabilitate. Right now our inventory is 8 plants, with three cuttings in various stages. In about a month we will cut all of them back and try to propagate from the cuttings.

The drip system works, now to get permission to use it, we are starting to get a good number of spider plants, and I would like to put them in hanging baskets
A couple of seeds are working in the aquaponics bed too



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Iver, Cantlopes and Sprinklers

Nice day out, so we took a walk to the greenhouse to see what we can see. We knew that after one day, there would be nothing growing, but what the heck.

E had a chance to plant his cantaloupe, but upon checking we saw that he watered too hard and the seeds floated out of their pots. These were pushed back down in the afternoon. Hope we get a good crop of these, would be nice to have some early season melons.

The class will need to figure out how to build some trellises for plants to grow upon. These will be needed for the aforementioned cantaloupe, watermelon, and some bean plants S planted. First we have to see if they will grow.

I gave the students a demonstration of the sprinkler system, they wanted to be sure their plants were getting water. The sprinklers are set to turn on every three days for a half hour. All the plants were watered, so that is a good thing.

Looking into getting the drip pipes set up for hanging baskets, it would be nice to get some started.
The drippers hang above the bench

We have a small supply of spider plant cuttings and some other things which would work.

Had two small poinsettias donated, they  were watered and put on the bench.

We planted some cuttings of "Iver" a plant from my great grandfather's house. It is a climbing plant that works well in hanging baskets. Put some in soil and some in the aquaponic system.

Speaking of aquaponics, I need to get a picture of the fish.-Took this picture then next day.

Another to-do is to dig out the old pipe hydroponic system and see if we can set it up. It will need a pump, but they are not that expensive.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

And So It Begins

Greenhouse Day One.

Today I brought my class of four out to the greenhouse. It was not our first time out there, but we really got some things done. We have gone out to look around and see the place, and we started some cuttings, but now we are serious! Seriously.
Long view of the greenhouse

Yesterday each student chose a packet of seeds, they did some research on planting and growing.
T picked out watermelon, and during his research decided to make some square watermelons.
S decided to grow tomatoes, H picked sunflowers, R is growing basil, and E cantaloupe.Yes, this is five students, but one is in another class. S did not stop there, the student found other seeds and started them. S has about 20 pots started.

Each student was to start 10 plants and take some data, so each was issued a notebook to record what they are doing and their results. Spent some time afterward going over their journal and any expectations.

One of our plans is to sell starter plants this spring, the data they will collect will help us decide when to start the starters.

If you notice, the photo below has a poinsettia, we hope to learn how to propagate these plants and sell them for next year.

our plantings
So we will check back in a few days and see what has happened.

Monday, January 9, 2017

In The Beginning

The Varick School is part of the Hillside Families of Agencies. It is a residential school located south of Geneva, NY. I was hired as a science teacher in October. I have been a public school teacher for about 30 years, and this is the first time I have been asked to teach Living Environment (Biology to the non- NY folks), most of the time I have taught earth science and chemistry.

One thing I found on campus was an unused greenhouse. The building is huge and it has a working aquaponics system,
drain and pump for the system

The Whole system

Bed with some of our stuff. Cilantro growing in the other bed

 So what is a teacher to do with such a resource? We will find out.

With one of my classes, we will be figuring out the wonderful world of growing things in the greenhouse, and this will be a blog of our misadventures