Hydroponics System: My Review, Thoughts, and Experience/Advice

In my last post, I told you about the hydroponics system I bought. Now that I’ve had it for over a month, I feel I can now provide an honest review based on what I have learned about it since set-up.

Disclaimer: Links within this post are either to my own products, or products I endorse. I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. My blog is supported through commissions and sales of my products. Plus, if you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.  Thank you for your continued support.

My Review

The system I bought is a Kalolary Hydroponic Grow Kit with Wheels, which has 108- 1 ½” plant sites. The kit came with everything needed for assembly, including a rubber hammer. The pipe diameter is 2 ½”, which is ample for the 2” long plant baskets. (I ordered the unit from Amazon but do not have an affiliate account so will not get any commission from your purchase, but don’t let that disuade you from buying. And as of the day of writing, they are on sale.)

Assembly: A diagram of the pieces included was provided, as well as the assembly diagram. The rubber hammer included was not strong enough to tap the pieces together so I used a bigger one I have. Note they are a tight fit, so making sure they’re right from the start is beneficial.

The system stands just over 5 ½’ when placed on the casters. Having a step stool handy is recommended for anyone who is height-challenged like I am.

The pump and hose are included, but a water reservoir is not. I used a rectangular plastic tote that has over a 30-liter capacity.

The system also includes 110 baskets (at least mine did) and foam seed-starting cubes. I opted to use grow plugs I bought for use in my other hydroponics grow units.

My Thoughts

From what I have seen so far, the system works as mentioned in the product description. There is, however, a learning curve. More on that in the next section.

My Experience and Advice

This will probably be the longest part of my review, but all points will be covered.

I assembled the system on my own but could have used an extra pair of hands; especially when putting the levels together.

Pay careful attention to the diagram, as the plug placement is crucial to correct water flow through the tubes. If you have to mark the levels to distinguish front from back, I recommend you do so. And always work from the same side, otherwise it’s easy to get messed up.

The included casters are adjustable which is great for levelling the assembled unit. I suggest placing it in its intended location before adding the nutrient solution. A little word of advice here: level the unit, fill it with the nutrient solution, then check the level within a few days of operation. I failed to check to see if it was level beyond the initial setup and the solution wasn’t getting everywhere it was supposed to. I ended up losing all my strawberry plantlets, that I had on the top level.

Nutrient Solution

There wasn’t any nutrient solution included with the system, so I initially used the one that came with my other hydroponics system (similar to AeroGarden). I have since purchased another type, which is more concentrated and seems to be working well.

As for the amount of nutrient solution needed, the instructions weren’t clear on a starting point. It said to put the solution in a reservoir (which is not included), run the pump for 10 minutes, then top it up. After some trial and error, I have decided to go with 24 liters. And as more recent experience has taught me, do not let the solution level drop below 16 liters.

The Reservoir

Now more on the reservoir: I am using a plastic tub (approximately 12” x 18” x 8”) that fits below the assembled unit. The drain tube ends 4” below the bottom of the lowest layer, so the reservoir needs to be below that. I cut a 4” hole in the corner of the lid so I could place the pump, hose, and drainpipe. As the container isn’t quite high enough, I used a plastic cup with the bottom cut out as a drain extender. I found it necessary because the water splashed onto my floor when it was draining back into the reservoir. To keep algae from growing in the reservoir, it’s best to use an opaque container. The lid also keeps foreign objects and little hands (my granddaughter loves to play in the water) out of the solution.

I have the container at an angle because it’s too wide to fit directly under the drain tube. I initially had it beside the unit but that just didn’t work well for the space it’s in. It’s not an ideal size, but until I find another it works.

Lighting and Temperature

Lighting and temperature are also things to consider when placing your unit. I currently have mine placed in the spare bedroom in front of huge south-facing windows, so there’s a lot of natural light. It also means a lot of heat this time of year. I initially didn’t have any air circulation and I think some of the plants got too hot. Now that I have a fan circulating the air they seem to be doing better.

The spot that works now will not work well in the winter, as the big windows are not energy efficient and that room does stay much cooler. The plants will not appreciate the cooler temperatures (aside from the kale and lettuce). Perhaps they may be the only crops I grow in this unit during the coldest months.

I did put LED lights above the lower three levels for the plants that are further from the window as they were stretching out quite a bit. The top level doesn’t have an artificial light source but will have to once winter sets in.


Something else to check regularly is the water flow. I was away for a few days and when I came home, I noticed there wasn’t any dripping between cycles. Before I go further with this, I have my pump set on a 5-minute on – 30-minute off cycle; and there’s generally dripping into the reservoir between them. It didn’t click the first day, but the next I realized something was wrong. What had happened was the tube disconnected from the pump, so there wasn’t any water flow into the unit.

That did not end well for several of my remaining plants, as their roots dried out and they couldn’t be revived. The pump was still in the nutrient solution, so even if it did continue to run it wouldn’t have overheated.

Record Keeping

As for the unit itself, there was no numbering system on it for record-keeping so I created my own. Each level was designated a letter (A-D) and each hole a number (1-27). I have a dot grid journal to keep track of what I’m doing so each letter was given its own page and numbered from 1-27. Each number has its own line, and I recorded the planting date, seed planted, and later the germination date of each.

I planted a variety of seeds but only had successful germination of some. As you can see in the photo above, the germination of some was nonexistent. First, all of the seeds I planted: Dwarf Bok Choy, Leeks, Italian Parsley, Garlic Chives, Blue Curled Scotch Kale, Dukat Dill, English Lavender, Lemon Bergamot, Lemon Balm, Leaf Lettuce, Spinach, Arugula, Marigold, Celery, Cranberry Bush Bean, Butter bean, Sugar snap Pea, Nasturtium, Cilantro, and Oregano. And of course, there were about 15 strawberry plantlets put in, but due to some not taking root and others dying because they dried out, I don’t have any left. (I will try again.)

I’m not going to go into detail about which germinated and which didn’t, but my highest rate of germination was the kale, lettuce, marigold, and arugula. Oh, and the Bok Choy. So, with that information in hand, I’m going to plant more of what germinated and grew, and less to none of what didn’t. Keep in mind some of my seeds may not have been viable as they were from an older seed stash.

Before I wrap this post up, I am going to say this: it is nice to harvest greens that are flavourful, tender, and not full of bugs like the greens I have in my straw bale garden (namely the kale). I’m looking forward to having more fresh vegetables in my diet this winter that I don’t have to buy at the store.

Wrapping It Up

I am happy with this system overall as it has met my expectations. The placement of which level certain seeds should be planted should be taken into consideration, as the bottom level isn’t the ideal spot for marigolds. Apparently, they’re a bigger variety than I have planted outside in my containers and flowerbeds.

If you want to give hydroponics a try but aren’t sure about the size of this unit, there are smaller ones available on Amazon as well. I chose this one because I tend to go all-in when it comes to anything plant related. (Hence my site name.)

If you have any questions about this unit or hydroponics in general feel free to ask them below in the comments. I’ll answer them to the best of my ability, or at the very least, point you in the right direction. This is a new way of growing for me so there’s also a learning curve.

Greenhouses, Straw Bale Gardens, & Hydroponics

Once again I have been lax in my posts, and for that I apologize.

This summer has been a busy one for me as I am creating my own garden oasis. The acreage I bought almost a year ago (July 4 will be my 1-year anniversary of owning this place) has been a learning curve for sure. I think I have all the quirks figured out now, and I have lived here all 4 seasons.

I am gradually converting over an acre of lawn into outdoor living space, gardens, and an orchard. The latter is the next project, and the groundwork for it will be done within the first week or two of July. I don’t have the equipment to do it myself, so my boyfriend will bring his little tractor and rototiller over and do it for me.

As it sits I have 7 saskatoon trees, at least 10 raspberry canes, 3 rhubarb plants, 6 very thin asparagus plants (started these from seed a few weeks ago), and 5 or 6 goji berry bushes to plant in the new space. (That space should take close to 15 minutes off my mowing time.)


I invested in a 10 X 10 greenhouse this spring, and regret not doing so years ago. It’s smaller than the porta-garage frame greenhouse I had at my other place, but being built from wood, tin, and polycarbonate panels it is much heavier and has withstood some wicked winds. I also added a wood bench to one side, which added more weight to it as well. And the anchors holding 2 of the corners down aren’t going to hurt either.

Inside I have 12 tomato plants, which I planted in 5-gallon buckets, several peppers of various kinds, 2 cucumbers in pots, all of the fruit/veggies listed two paragraphs earlier, plus other random plants. It’s a little like Heaven walking into it each day.

The inside of my greenhouse earlier this month.
Straw Bale Garden

I am also trying Straw Bale Gardening this year, as there wasn’t a garden space in the yard when I moved in. I’m not completely sold on the idea, but I may have been too impatient and planted in them before they were conditioned properly. The book I have on the method does recommend setting the bales out in the fall, letting them overwinter, and planting in the spring. I didn’t get my bales until mid-spring so I honestly can’t ditch the concept just yet.

I also built 2 raised beds and filled them with straw bales. I have potatoes in one, and an assortment of veggies in the other; along with a pansy and strawberry plant. It took awhile for the potatoes to grow, but they seem to be doing alright now. I did notice a couple are ready to bloom, which means new potatoes are on the way. When the crops are harvested I’ll cut the strings on the bales and let winter take care of the decomposition process. In the spring I should have some healthy soil to plant in.


The price of fresh produce keeps increasing, and the quality and flavour are decreasing. Summer is great because a lot of people are able to save money by growing their own. But what about those who don’t have the space to have a traditional garden? Or what about the winter months (of which never seem to end here in Alberta) when growing outside is impossible?

Enter, hydroponics. I dabbled in growing houseplants over 30 years ago using a passive hydroponics system and didn’t take the time to understand how it worked so gave up. My ex-husband and I lived in an apartment in the city then, and had I inquired about the other systems available, I could have had a lot more years of experience under my belt.

Jump ahead to a couple months ago and I once again decided to give it a whirl. This time I did more research, and also got to see an AeroGarden in use. I ordered 2 of them and am hooked. I have started plants for my greenhouse, and have been enjoying fresh lettuce leaves directly from the system every few days.

Yesterday my 108-plant hydroponic system arrived, and today I have been familiarizing myself with the way it works. Sadly the directions didn’t state how much nutrient solution to use so I have been letting the system run and adding as necessary. At present I believe 18 litres is sufficient, but I may add another 6 litres just to be sure.

I’m excited to have my own fresh lettuce, herbs, and strawberries all winter long. As the weeks go on I’ll be adding what I have learned to my blog and website. And my family and friends will also benefit, because I know I will not be able to eat as much as I grow.

In conclusion I would like to once again apologize for being so negligent with this blog. Getting back in the swing of things since Ross passed away hasn’t been easy, and I’ve basically done the bare minimum. Grief is a crazy thing, and when we lose a spouse it’s hard to remember who we were as individuals before two became one.

I’ll be posting reviews on the tools and systems I use for my gardening adventure so feel free to follow my blog.

7 Gifts for the Gardener on Your Christmas (or “Just Because”) List

Winter may be on its way in, but the gardener is most likely already thinking about the next gardening season. Fall is when the garden gets put to bed, and winter is when the seeds and plants are ordered for spring.

If you have a gardener on your gift list, the 7 suggestions below are sure to be a hit with him/her. And if you’re also a gardener, feel free to treat yourself as well.

Disclaimer: Links within this post are either to my own products, or products I endorse. I may receive a small commission should you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no extra cost to you. My blog is supported through commissions and sales of my products. Plus, if you like what you read you can show your support by pinning this post, sharing on social media, or buy me a coffee.  Thank you for your continued support.

Garden gloves
A good pair of garden gloves is a must-have for any gardener. They will protect your hands from thorns, dirt, and other potential hazards. Look for a pair that is comfortable to wear and made from durable material. Leather fingers and palms with a breathable fabric on the top is, in my opinion, the best. A soft leather works best as it gives more mobility, plus a better fit.

When I find a good pair of gloves, I tend to buy an extra pair the same; simply because styles are often discontinued. (That said, I should go to my local UFA and get another pair.)

Garden tools
Every gardener needs a good set of tools. Look for a set that includes all the basics, such as a trowel, rake, shovel, and pruning shears. If you are looking for a more comprehensive set, look for one that also includes a wheelbarrow and gardening hose.

For the indoor gardener, a set of mini tools is ideal. A full-size rake and spade are not the best choice for miniature gardens. A tool that’s often overlooked is a wooden platform (rectangular of circular) on wheels; ideal for moving heavy pots and planters.

Gardening books or journals
If the gardener in your life is always looking to learn more about gardening, give them a few good books on the subject. A few popular titles include The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, The Flower Gardener’s Bible, and The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control.

One of my personal favourites is Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholemew. It has taught me a new way to garden in less space, yet have a bountiful harvest.

(If your gardener is into ebooks, grab them a copy of my gardening books over in the sidebar.)

A gardening journal is also a wonderful gift. Your gardener can keep records of their very own garden: seeds, plants, crop rotation, harvest dates, tools used, photos, and more.

Garden tools and journals. Image generated by Jasper Art.

Seeds or bulbs
For the gardener who loves to start their own plants from scratch, give them seeds or bulbs that they can plant in the spring. Some popular choices include sunflowers, tulips, daffodils, and lilies.

Putting together a combination of flower and vegetable seeds, along with blank plastic labels and a permanent marker, in a basket makes a wonderful gift.

Garden statue or birdbath
A garden statue or birdbath can add beauty and interest to any garden. Look for something that fits the style of the gardener’s garden. Popular choices include classic Greek or Roman statues, whimsical gnomes or fairies, or elegant angels or cherubs.

If the gardener on your list loves birds, a birdbath and bird feeder can be bundled together, along with a bag of bird seed.

Gazing globes are also a pretty addition, and are perfect for small gardens. I have a cherub with a 3 inch globe, but would love a 6 inch (or bigger) globe. The beauty of the gazing globe I have is it is made from a virtually unbreakable material. This is ideal because there’s no danger of pieces of glass everywhere when a rock from the mower hits it.

Garden furniture
If the gardener in your life enjoys spending time in their garden, consider giving them some new garden furniture. A comfortable chair or bench is perfect for relaxing in after a long day of gardening. A patio table and chairs would be ideal for entertaining guests in the garden.

A wrought-iron bistro set is a nice addition to a small garden, and can be purchased in green, white, or black (that I’ve seen). I have a white set that I bought over 10 years ago, and it has weathered well.

Gift certificate to a nursery or garden center
For the gardener who has everything, a gift certificate to their favorite nursery or garden center is always appreciated. This way they can choose exactly what they need or want for their garden.

Gardeners aren’t hard people to buy gifts for. It doesn’t take much to make us happy. Give us some seeds, potting soil, and a book about plants and we’ll be forever grateful.

So the next time you’re wondering what to get the gardener on your list, go back over this post and you’re sure to come up with a gift they’ll love.

What is the best garden gift you’ve received?