We introduced everyone to starting seeds in the Smart Farm in earlier posts. I thought it might be a good time to show you what the Smart Farm looks like approximately 24 days later. The picture on the right shows the current Smart Farm. Some of what you see is the lettuce that we started from seed, while other things are transplants. Can you find the basil, tomatoes and squash?
In less than a month, we have a gorgeous planter that is filled with green. The maintenance at this point is very easy. I just have to keep the bottom reservoir filled and the pump plugged into the timer. If you’re wondering how much fertilizer that I’ve used, I am still running off the initial small bottle that was sent as a sample. I initially poured the whole bottle into the reservoir once the seeds sprouted. Although I have added water, I have not added new nutrients. However, it is overdue for a refresher.
What do you think of my Smart Farm?
P.S. The pic to the left is a reminder of how bare it was before the seeds sprouted and other plants were added. What do you think you can grow in one month? If you need help, please write me on our Facebook page. I’m happy to answer your questions and help you grow whatever you dream about.
The picture to the right is the nearly finished product after growth. Cheryl
Lettuce is one of the easiest seeds to start. All you need is sun, warmth, a growing medium and humid conditions. Unlike many other vegetable seeds, lettuce tends to benefit from having light while it sprouts. Thus, you don’t need to worry about how deep the seeds need to be planted. This makes planting lettuce seeds great for beginners, as you’re just basically placing seeds on top of soil and brushing it around a bit before watering.
If you really want to be sure your lettuce seeds are happy enough to sprout, you need to add humidity. How do you do this? Once you have planted your seeds and watered them, cover the container with clear plastic. The clear plastic will keep the humidity high, while allowing sunlight inside. A thin plastic drop cloth from the hardware store works great. Just be sure to weigh down the ends at the bottom with a rock to keep the drop cloth from flying away in the wind.
Please keep in mind that lettuce is a cool weather crop. If your temperatures are extremely high, you may cook your seeds under the plastic.
How do you know when is the best time to plant lettuce seeds? Your local extension office should be able to provide you a list of the best planting times for various vegetables. If you’d like help locating your local extension office, you can click this link at NPIC.
The video below from our Facebook page shows a quick way to plant lettuce seeds. If you’d like to chat with our gardener, please visit us on Facebook.
Growing food using hydroponics can be easy with the Smart Farm. Once you have your Smart Farm assembled, it is time to begin growing by adding your growing medium. While you can use soil in the Smart Farm, we recommend using a mixture of 80% coco peat and 20% perlite, gravel or growstone for hydroponic growing.
Why grow hydroponically? Hydroponics can create a cleaner and more controlled environment for the even distribution of water and nutrients to your plants. The coco peat helps retain moisture without a lot of compaction, while the perlite, gravel or growstone that we recommend in the Grow Guide creates space for roots and encourages healthy drainage. Roots need room to grow and don’t do well when soggy.
Mixing your growing mixture is easy, but you need to make sure you have everything you need. Gather the following items:
Mr. Stacky coco peat block (You will need 12.5 gallons of the fully hydrated block)
Perlite, gravel or growstone (Hint: You will need 12.5 quarts. If you also raise chickens, a #50 bag of Cherry Stone #2 grit is just enough with leftovers.)
Smart Farm reservoir
Smart Farm shipping box (Seriously. Why waste a good container?)
16 gallons of water
An old pitcher
Place the unwrapped coco peat block inside the empty Smart Farm reservoir and add 16 gallons of water. As it expands, break up the coco peat block with your hands.
Once the coco peat is hydrated, you want to create a four parts coco peat/one part grit mixture. (Use your pitcher to pour four equal parts of coco peat into your empty packing box.)
Next, add one pitcher of grit on top of the coco peat in the packing box.
Repeat steps 2 and 3 until all the coco peat and/or grit is used.
Use your hands to thoroughly mix the coco peat and grit together.
Once your Smart Farm is fully assembled, use your hands to fill each stacking tray.
Rejoice! It is time to plant!
If you have any questions, our gardener is available to help on our Facebook page.
Growing your own fresh produce with Mr. Stacky can be an exciting adventure and we are here to help you learn. If you are a new gardener, starting vegetables from seeds for the first time might seem difficult. However, this series of blog posts will break down the steps for you and help make it a fun experience. This initial post will cover seed selection.
The most important thing when choosing seeds is to think about what you like eating. If you hate spinach, you won’t enjoy growing it. If you crave fresh greens on your salad, then planting lettuce is a fantastic choice for a beginner. It be easy to germinate and gives you results fairly quickly. Additionally, the showy leaves of lettuce look gorgeous in a pot.
What lettuce seeds are best? Little Gem is a favorite of this writer, as it sprouts easily and does well in a pot. If you plan on filling an entire Smart Farm with Little Gem seeds, you may want to purchase more than just a little packet of seeds. It is better to plant more than you need, as you can thin the seedlings, later. You can purchase the seeds in various quantities here.
Lettuce is a cool season crop and there are a lot of different vegetables that you can grow in a Mr. Stacky. If your weather is really hot and sunny, you may want to consider gardening something that thrives in heat. Bush beans do well in warm weather and the seeds can be planted directly in a pot. While green beans are the variety you may know best, consider choosing something fun like Dragon Tongue that have spatters of purple on the full grown beans.
Be sure to check this blog regularly for more tips on growing with the Mr. Stacky Smart Farm. If you’d like to order a Smart Farm, click here and enter in “growjoy” as the coupon code to save $50.