Below are some of the comments we have received from our customers:
We are having great pickings from our salad crops grown using your products of course. We will soon have to be making tomato soup for freezing if the plants keep producing at the present rate. Celery is growing well with drainpipe covers to blanch the stems. Spring onions like the Vermiculite/Perlite medium and are so much easier to clean before serving - just a quick shake and rinse. The larger onion sets have done well and will be harvested soon to make room for more things. Water cress is excelling itself, we have already made batches of watercress soup and lettuce soup for the freezer for winter consumption.
The one thing which hasn't done too well was the cabbage but when I gave up and put out in the soil in the garden they soon developed hearts and we've eaten a couple of those already. So they had a good start in the greenhouse in growing medium but seem to like the outdoors better?!
Our lettuces and other salad crops including tomatoes are not very photogenic because as with all of our produce we pick as it is almost before it is ready. Many of the lettuces we use as 'cut and come again' even if some of them are 'Little Gem' that way you always get small fresh leaves. I'm trying to think of a way to sleeve celery to blanch it but still harvest outside stems before they get too stringy and still keep the plant planted, to keep it growing.!
As a Christmas present I gave my wife a 'Grow and name your own rose' kit. We ignored the growing instructions and just sprinkled the seeds on the growing medium to see what they did 20 - and they are loving it. Nothing too spectacular but from what I hear growing from seed can produce anything from beauties to pug ugly, you cannot predict. So we are keeping an eye on what characteristics each of the 8 plants has for future cuttings (using your nutrients of course!)
Peter and Val Russell, Blackpool July 2009
HYDROPONICS IN THE GREENHOUSE
In 2003 whilst enjoying a short vacation in Achiltibuie, my wife and I visited The Hydroponicum (now Achiltibuie Garden) there. We enjoyed the conducted tour which revealed a fascinating array of plants, flowers and shrubs being grown in this intriguing manner.
Consequently we purchased a starter kit and proceeded to find out if the outcomes we had seen were reproducible in our small greenhouse.
Since that early start we have expanded to grow a variety of different plants in six troughs with either three or four growing containers in each of them. Spring cabbage and herbs give us outstanding results but salad crops also grow well. The cabbages are clean, deep coloured and wonderfully flavoured whist the herbs—especially basil—have the most intense flavours and aromas.
Throughout these six years The Hydroponicum has provided an efficient and supportive background service. Requirements for growing medium, liquid feed together with replacement wicks etc are always supplied promptly whilst phone calls for help and advice are welcomed and quickly handled. Our gardening lives have been greatly enhanced by this new interest---we will continue to experiment.
Derek Bucknall, Tewin
We purchased a two plant tomato kit from you last year, we have found it really easy to use with clear instructions, all we need now is some more sunshine to ripen the tomatoes or we will be making lots to green chutney.
All the best
I have a garden only about twenty feet square, plus a patio about half that area, so I need to be pretty efficient if I'm to achieve my long-term ambition of growing all my own vegetables.
I've been interested in hydroponics since I read about it in science fiction in the fifties, but I was never much into gardening at all when younger. That's how I came to live in a place with such a small garden. Discovering The Hydroponicum (now Achiltibuie Garden) on the Internet finally got me started a few years back, and I've even visited it since. Very inspirational.
My 'salad bar' is in standard 4-pot troughs in a small lean-to greenhouse to keep the rain and the slugs out, and I power the pump with a solar panel. Predators get in, of course, but quite late in the season. The greenhouse is built on a brick plinth, to house the tank and supplies, and to leave the whole glass area for growing. One day I plan to introduce a second storey of troughs in the upper half of the lean-to instead of using it as a handy garden cupboard; though the present set-up is so space-efficient that it's hard to imagine what else I could grow for summer salad when there's only me to eat it. A useful tip: for radishes, I cut standard conical pot covers to about half their height, to give more depth but enough exposed surface. Might work for carrots, too.
This year I'm trying larger self-watering pots in a new free-standing 5ft x 2½ft greenhouse on the patio, again built on a plinth for extra storage. It takes taller plants, so I'm growing various sweet peppers and chillies, as well as aubergines and two kinds of pampered tomatoes. I'm especially proud of my crop of long sweet peppers, on two plants grown from seeds from a supermarket food purchase. Oh, and I've got purple sprouting broccoli and calabrese in pots, waiting to go in as a late crop when I finish harvesting the potatoes from their two 1m square raised beds.
Next year... I'm flirting with the design of a free-standing outdoor hydroponics planter to replace the two ordinary planters in which I normally grow eight different tomato varieties, with much feeding and watering and small yields from each. That will use two standard troughs and eight pots. I hope to power it with the pump for a solar fountain, bought cheaply in an end-of-season garden-centre sale a year or two back.
I'm still working, so I hardly get time to keep up even with this tiny garden, but I learn a little each year. I'm philosophical about mistakes, and enjoy my summer self-sufficiency of vegetables. I'm beginning to think the lawn may have to go, though, in favour of more raised beds. It's all part of man's perpetual ambition to control nature, and it's all in vain, but it's a quiet kind of fun.
B Tregar, Brighton
I tried some of your systems last year and was sufficiently impressed to go 100% Hydroponoic this year. I am pleased to say I have not been disappointed with everything doing well despite an indifferent summer. I have three tomato two pot systems,two with Alicante and one with Roma. They are excellent.I also have a three pot system with chillies and two two pot systems with cucumbers and capsicums. Finally,I have three hanging baskets with yummy trailing tomatoes and a herb system which has kept me going with my two favourites - basil and coriander! I find the systems so easy to look after with none of the mess associated with soil and compost,the plants have retained their vigour and last,but by no means least,they are easy for my neighbours to look after when I am away! I wish you every success.
D. Grieve, Perth
I have now operated a hydroponic system in my greenhouse for the past three years thanks to the service from the Hydroponicum (now Achiltibuie Garden).
Each order has come promptly and when I had trouble with the pumping system help was given quickly.
Alastair Cormack, Pitlochry
My wife and I bought a set of 'pyramid pots' five or six years ago but never got round to setting them up then last year we visited the Hydroponicum (now Achiltibuie Garden) again (any excuse to visit the west coast of Scotland) bought more items with a definite resolve to have a go.
This we have done and we now wish we had begun years ago.
We use far less potting compost - the system is cleaner and the growing medium is reusable. The photos show a variety of containers adapted or adopted for growing - 'pyramid pots', troughs and hanging baskets with water reservoirs, old seed trays for mustard and cress, polystyrene platforms floating in plain troughs of water (water cress loves this - we bought salad pack from a supermarket and took out some of the 'tougher' stalks popped them in a tray with Hydroponicum liquid mixture and we have had to make water soup with the excess). We have had great success with salad items and indoor plants (spider plant especially), now we are going to experiment with other heavier items like brassicas.
We have used the small fibre seed blocks but find that it is as easy to grow drectly into small pots of perlite and vermiculite mixture.
If any one is unsure about trying this system we can assure you that it can be as simple or complicated as you want to make it.
One slight problem we experience is green algae enjoying the nutrients in the troughs but although it looks bad, the plants grow above the water level and are not affected.
Peter and Val Russell, Blackpool (2008)
Dear Alison, Di and Julie,
I have attached my son's Science Fair essay and poster. He chose to experiment with hydroponics after visiting The Hydroponicum (now Achiltibuie Garden) about 7 years ago. We are currently staying in Singapore but were very pleased that you were able to send us the necessary equipment to complete the experiment. I would also like to say that the tomatoes were the tastiest I have ever eaten!!
Good luck with the new website.
Katrina and Conar Fraser, Singapore