Seed Starting in Rockwool Plugs Hydroponically

There are so many different ways to grow your seedlings for hydroponic gardening.  No one way works better then another, you just need to decided what works best for your situation.  We are growing in an Omega Garden Volksgarden, which uses a rockwool cube as the growing medium.  We could simply have germinated he seeds between soaked towels, in Jiffy peat pellets, clay growing medium, or rockwool plugs.  Most of these methods require you to transplant the seedling, which can cause shock and the plants might die.  We went with the least traumatic method of rockwool plugs.

Rockwool Plugs

Visit this past post for a step by step guide to starting your seeds in the rockwool plugs.

Here is a day by day look at our first batch of hydroponic seedlings.  We have planted, bush beans, cherry tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, Russian kale, red lettuce and arugula.

Day 1:


Day 2:


Day 3:


Day 4: by tomorrow we will have the majority of the plants breaking the surface of the rock wool and we can remove the cover. This will allow them fresh air and room to grow tall. If we leave the lid on we run the chance of rotting the tender baby plants or growing a mold.

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Day 5: Look at those crazy tall beans!

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Day 6: I just cannot get over the beans lol

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I will continue to update the pics as the seedlings progress, in about a week we should have enough height to transplant them into the Volksgarden unit.

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80/20 Organic: Feeding a Family of 4 for under $100 a week (plus pantry staples)

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So many families are on a super tight budget these days, honestly, I would say almost every family I know is.  Just trying to stay under $100 normally is hard to do when buying food for four people, but then to up the ante even more and say go organic?  For some that just feels impossible.  Impossible? I don’t think so, but, it does take more time and effort.

Pictured is our grocery haul this week.  We try to stick to an 80/20 rule and purchase at least 80% of our food in organic and all natural varieties (please be careful with the term all natural, a lot of companies are just throwing those words around and there is little to no regulation).  If we only end up with half organic, we don’t stress too much.  We just try to do as best we can with the resources we have.  Also, 2 of us eat lunch at work so only 2 people need lunches, and it is usually leftovers of some sort.

The total cost for all of this was $65 and there is also about $35 worth of fish, chicken breast, ground turkey meat and shredded cheese in the refrigerator.  Using these items, along with pantry staples, I am going to outline a sample meal plan you can use to feed your family of four for under $100 a week.

I did not list exact brands, just try to find an organic brand that you feel comfortable with and is in your budget.  Brands vary from state to state and even town to town.  Also, it is MUCH easier to budget in the summer when you get the majority of your produce from your own garden or CSA.  In the winter, you can rely on your home canned produce and frozen harvest from last summer.

Breakfast: Whole grain waffles and sliced strawberries
Lunch: Scrambled eggs with spinach and toast
Dinner: Breaded eggplant, penne with tomato sauce, a green salad and homemade bread made into garlic toast

Breakfast: Fruit yogurt and toast with jam
Lunch: Leftover eggplant and garlic bread
Dinner: Baked lemon butter fish with peas and a green salad

Breakfast: Breakfast cookies and grapes
Lunch: Leftover fish on a bed of salad greens
Dinner: Rice and beans topped with a fried egg

Breakfast: Whole grain waffles with sunbutter and jam
Lunch: Grilled cheese and peas
Dinner: Taco Tuesday ground turkey tacos with rice and beans on the side

Breakfast: Banana and fruit yogurt smoothie
Lunch: Cheese quesadilla with rice and salsa
Dinner: Chicken and asparagus bow tie pasta tossed with olive oil and garlic

Breakfast: Breakfast cookies and sliced strawberries
Lunch: Leftover chicken and asparagus bow tie pasta
Dinner: Breakfast for dinner. Banana pancakes with scrambled eggs and toast.

Breakfast: Leftover banana pancakes
Lunch: Grilled cheese and any leftover fruit
Dinner: Treat yourself to take out for a job well done!

Some Tips!

  • Try to make only as much as you need for the meal and just a little left over for lunch the next day, we used to (and sometimes still do) throw out SO much food that was leftover.
  • Going meatless a few dinners a week can save some major cash.  Just substitute the meat protein with beans, lentils or eggs.
  • Make your own bread.  The recipe I shared makes 2 loaves of bread for about $1.25 each, a major saving since a normal loaf in the store runs close to $5.00.
  • We make a bag of greens last all week and have salad at every dinner, so I am not too worried if we don’t have a specified vegetable because there are plenty in the salad.
  • Keep your pantry stocked with dried beans, rice, tomato products, dried pasta, nut butters and spices.  Also, keep your freezer stocked with frozen fruit for smoothies and bulk shredded cheese.  We usually take a big trip once a month to a big box store and stock up on these items as well as paper goods.
  • Skip the processed snacks.  We try to stick with nuts, fruit and homemade cookies when it comes to snacking.  This will save major money, because the cost of packaged snack cakes and crackers is CRAZY.
  • While you’re at it, skip the processed beverages. We drink primarily water with some almond milk and hot tea here and there. The little guy also drinks extremely watered down (I am talking a 40 to 1 ratio here) apple juice in his sippy cup.  We even got rid of bottled water and just installed a drinking water filter on the sink.

If you have any other tips or ideas please share!  We love to hear what others do to eat well on a budget.