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Research | Hydroponics


I wasn't sure where to put the hydroponics page. It's not really scientific research, but it sure is an experiment! So, I decided I would put it under the research logs after all.

On this expedition we will often not be able to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. When we go to Chagos there will be a period of about 2 months when we won't be able to buy anything, it's uninhabited. Healthwise we'll be fine because we have the LifePak supplements from our sponsor Pharmanex/NuSkin. But we really love our greens and will miss salads. Growing some on our own hydroponically will be fun and give us that little bit of green flavour.

I'm grateful to Ngee Ann Poly and Gregory Chow for setting me up with the hydroponics and Alvin for providing me with the maintenance manual. Any mess ups will be entirely my fault (or our cat Cannelle).

20 June 2005

I threw all the plants away and started again. The seedlings were fine when I put them in the solution. A week later they were covered again in lice. As soon as I saw lice on a leaf I would take that leaf off. That didn't help. In the end I threw all the plants away again. I don't have much hope for a new batch now, and haven't stared one. It's a real pity.

2 May 2005

The plants are save from Cannelle, but now they've developed some kind of lice. The leaves have lots of white grobbly bits on the top and bottom of the leaf. Some leaves also have black bits on the underside. I first noticed this in Zanzibar and thought it was because we were so close to land. When we left I started a new batch of seedlings. Now in the Seychelles I'm having the same problem. I don't know how to get rid of these beasties other than throwing away all the plants and start over (again). Do we pick these bugs up from the air or are they on the boat now? How to get rid of them?

11 March

Finally, I have started the hydroponics again. That's because finally we have a cover to protect the little plants from Cannelle's grazing. The cover is made from chickenwire and stands on top of the tray giving plenty of room for the plants. Cannelle is very disappointed she cannot get to the leaves and can be seen staring at the plants often. I tried several seedlings, but have come to the conclusion that most do not stand up to the salty and sometimes windy environment. One plant that seems to cope okay is water convolvulus (kang kong). The seed is bigger than most other seeds and the seedling already has a thick stem. It also grows quite quickly and we all like to eat it.

23 December 2004

I have not started a new batch, because we will be leaving the boat for a couple of weeks in Tanzania and will not be able to look after the plants. When we leave Tanzania I will start again. It's in Chagos that we really need to have some vegetables. When we arrive there I want the plants to be big enough to start harvesting.

20 November 2004

About a week after we arrived in Rodrigues a prepared 20 sponges with kang kong seeds. They have been very slow in sprouting. One month later I only have 6 seedlings, most of which have suffered from Cannelle's bites. I'm now planning to make a proper cover to keep that cat off the plants.

28 September 2004

The environment on the boat is not a very good one for the plants. They cannot really cope with the salt and the wind. During the passage to Cocos it was quite rough and the plants got a little bit of salt spray on them. This destroyed quite a few of them. The tomato plant which was doing really well on the aft deck died within 2 days out at sea. On top of that they sometimes get eaten by a cat (we caught Cannelle redpawed). Since we have a long passage to Rodrigues coming up I think I will wait until our arrival there before starting with new seeds.

31 August 2004

We've had mixed results with the new seeds. The kang kong is growing well and some of the kai lan, but I have no luck with the European salads. I think the wind is a problem for many seedlings. When we're rolling I'm having a problem keeping the water in the tray. Still, with some experimenting and finding out which veggies grow best on the boat I'm sure we'll manage to grow some things. I'm waiting for one tomato seedling to grow a little bigger before putting it on its own in a pot. We are still using the salad, but it is starting to look a little old and sad now.

9 August 2004

The lettuce has been growing well. There's enough of it now to start harvesting some leaves. We had some today on tuna sandwiches. It's fun eating lettuce you've grown yourself and it gave a nice crunch to the sandwiches. The cucumbers, however, are in a dreadful state, it looks like a disease got to them. They will have to come out and we'll start over again. With Casper's help we started a variety of new seeds; spinach, rocket, kai lan, lettuce, kang kong, tomato and chilli. We'll see what comes up. (If we remember where we put which seeds!)

4 August 2004

The situation is reversed! The lettuce is looking much better and has definitively grown, whilst the cucumbers are looking kind of sad with drooping curling yellowish leaves. Maybe they need more water, maybe they need a little more nutrients.

31 July 2004

The lettuce seedling have been placed in the growing trough, but I've left them in the rain and now the box has overflowed and the nutrient content will be all wrong. The cucumber pots have been attached to the davits with Casper's help and are looking great.


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