Tuesday, January 8, 2013

DIY Paper Seed/Seedling Starter

I just graduated from college, so I have a huge rack of notes and photocopies that are calling in dust bunnies as the days go by. My mom's fed up with the mess so she told me to get rid of them. I found it wasteful to just throw them away so I looked up ways to use them in the garden. 

Here's a wonderful way to recycle any scrap papers, magazines, news papers or parchment papers you have lying around. Turn them into seed/seedling starters! These are little paper pots that will nurse your seeds until they sprout and are ready to transplant into the ground, pot or whatever system you have going at home. 

DIY paper seed/ seedling starter

The great thing about these starters is that they're biodegradable. You need not need take them off when transplanting. Simply transplant the whole thing into the ground and they'll eventually break down and tear once the roots push through. They won't tear for about 15-20 days, so they can hold onto your seedlings without breaking down. Remember, REDUCE-REUSE-RECYCLE! 

Materials needed:
  • Scrap paper, newspaper, parchment paper, old magazines 
  • Scissors
  • Sticky tape/ masking tape
  • A round water bottle. I used a 250ml juice bottle. If you want a starter with a bigger diameter, you can use a 500ml bottle or a glass cup. You can also use the cardboard roll of a tissue. Anything with a round surface will do. 
Materials needed

STEP 1: take a sheet of paper and fold it lengthwise several times until it's width is 4-5 inches. The longer the width, the taller your seedling starter.
STEP 2: Roll the strip of paper against the bottle / round surface. 
STEP 3: Take the edge to secure it. Leave about 2inches hanging from the edge of  the bottle.

STEP 4: With the excess 2inches from (Step 3),  Fold the edges in so against the bottle of the bottle.

STEP 5: Using one strip of tape, tape the folds loosely together. 

STEP 6: Pull out the cup from the bottle and VOILA! You're done!

These guys are addicting to make! Within a few minutes, i found myself  with a bunch of them! haha

There are many other ways of making paper seed/seedling starters out there. You can scan through a few articles on google and you can find so may other variations on how to do it. This method that im sharing with you is the simplest and less time consuming for me, though.

Don't forget to have fun! 

'Till next entry! HAPPY GARDENING!


Friday, January 4, 2013

How to turn empty PET/Soda bottles into a hanging hydroponic & container garden!


Now that the Christmas and New Year season is over, your trash bin must be full of empty soda bottles! I know ours was (haha). You can turn those 1-1.5 L bottles into a hanging hydroponic and container garden by following the instructions in this entry. You may also use 2L bottles as well!

This is a great way to recycle plastic bottles and a wonderful activity you can do with the kids too! Not to mention how good it looks once you finally have them set up.

Materials you'll need for this activity are: 

  • Empty soda bottles: 1L - 1.5/2L bottles
  • White enamel paint: this is used to keep sunlight from entering the bottles. If sunlight does enter, algae will start to form. For hydroponics, this wont be a good thing since it'll compete for nutrients as well as contaminate the water. 
  • Cutter/blade
  • Paint brush and thinner
  • Soldering Iron
  • Growing medium :
    •  for hydroponics- a mix of vermicompost & rice hull. If you dont have any access to this, then perlite, gravel, coco coir, rock wool, clay pellets or a soil-less potting mix will do.
    • for container gardening - a mix of vermicompost & rice hull make a good potting mix. Mixing in some chicken manure, guano, leaf compost, kitchen wastes or garden soil will also be a good medium.
  • Styrofoam cups
  • Live seedlings: this is important in the hydroponic aspect. You need live seedlings to place into the set up. As for container gardening, live seedlings will adjust better to the environment since the amount of growing medium is low and the heat may cause sprouting seeds to wither quickly. 
  • Garden gloves
  • Nylon rope : any color will do. 
  1. Take an empty soda bottle (make sure it's been rinsed out) 
  2. Take your paint brush and paint the entire outer side of the bottle with the white enamel paint. You may paint it another color, but the benefit of white paint is that it will reflect as much heat as possible. 
  3. Place in a well aerated area to dry for at least 24 hours. 
  4. The thinner will be of use after the painting is done and you have paint on your fingers or legs. Enamel paint is difficult to wash off with water. 

Don't forget to place some paper underneath to keep the paint from dripping onto whatever surface you're leaving the bottles to dry on. 

White enamel paint
Remove the labels from the bottles

  1. Turn on your soldering iron and wait a few minutes for it to heat up
  2. Using a blade, cut out a 2 inch diameter hole on both ends of the surface of the bottle. I, personally, use the soldering iron to melt a circle out of it since blades/cutters are kinda tricky to work with when cutting out any curves. NOTE TO SELF: When using your blade, make sure to "CUT AWAY FROM YOUR SELF". Kids! If make sure you get an adult to do all the steps that require the cutter/blade. Ensure a distance of about 2 inches or more between the holes. 
  3. With your soldering iron, melt a hole on both ends of the top surface of the bottles. This is where you'll tie your nylon rope through when hanging it. 
  4. Take your styrofoam cup and cut 4 triangles at the bottom. This is where the plant's roots will eventually grow out of and into the nutrient enriched water
  5. Fill the cup half way with your chosen growing medium.
  6. Make an indent in the middle of the medium. Deep enough to reach the bottom of the cup
  7. Place your live seedling into the indent and cover the roots with the medium. This is what we'll call a 'seedling plug'.
  8. Take your soda bottle and cut the nylon rope into 2 pieces, about 4-5inches each (it can be longer or shorter, depending on how high/low you want to tie your bottle).
  9. Insert one rope inside the holes you made on one end of top surface of the bottle (refer to step 3).
  10. Tie a single or double knot to lock one end inside the bottle, keeping it from coming through when pulled on. 
  11. Repeat step 10 on the other end of the bottle.
  12. Find a well lit area against your fence and tie the bottle against it. Make sure that each side is even. Adjust the rope knots where necessary. 
  13. Mix your nutrient enriched water. The nutrients we sell, the ratio is 25ml set A & 25ml set B to 10-12L  of water. 
  14. Pour in about 0.5-0.75 liter of water. It should fill about half way. 
  15. Take 2 seedling plugs and place it in the 2 slots (refer to step 2)
  16. Check if the bottom 1/8th of the cups are touching the water. 
And you're done! Maintain your hydroponic set up by checking everyday if the water levels have lowered due to evaporation. Since you're plants are still seedlings, they'll be a little sensitive to drying out, so check up on them as much as you can. Refill the bottle when you notice that water levels have dropped. Once roots have grown own, maintain a water level where the bottom roots are partially submerged in the water. 


  1. Take your painted bottle and your cutter. Cut a long rectangle on the top surface of the bottle. Leave about 1 inch from the edge. This is where your holes will be for the nylon rope to go through. Don't cut the entire top off. NOTE TO SELF: Cut away from yourself! 
  2. Turn on your soldering iron and wait for it to heat up
  3. With your soldering iron, melt 2 holes on each end of the top surface of the bottle. 
  4. At the bottom surface of your bottle, melt several holes through the bottom. These bottles will allow excess water to flow out when watering and enable good drainage. The more holes, the better. 
  5. Cut the nylon rope into 2 pieces, about 4-5inches each (it can be longer or shorter, depending on how high/low you want to tie your bottle).
  6. Insert one rope inside the holes you made on one end of top surface of the bottle (refer to step 3).
  7. Tie a single or double knot to lock one end inside the bottle, keeping it from coming through when pulled on. 
  8. Repeat step 7 on the other end of the bottle. 
  9. Find a well lit area against your fence and tie the bottle against it. Make sure that each side is even. Adjust the rope knots where necessary. 
  10. Fill the inside of the bottle with your compost/ potting medium. You can fill it up as much as you can. The more medium, the more moisture it can hold throughout the day. 
  11. With your finger, make 2 indents on each end of the medium. About 1-2inches deep. 
  12. Take your seedlings and place it in the indents. Cover the roots with the surrounding medium. 

And you're done! Spray/water the container 2x a day, preferably early morning and late in the afternoon. 



This set up is best for leafy veggies, herbs and small crops. Vine plants (tomatoes, cucumber, pumpkin) may need a larger container while hydroponically, the set up cannot support heavy crops. 
Examples of the best plants to grow: lettuce, pechay, kangkong (water spinach), chilli, culinary herbs, etc. 

Yes, of course! You can do this with ice cream containers and larger containers (oil, soap detergent, water, etc). You can even use your plastic pots in this kind of set up. You may need to apply more nylon on each end to support the weight. 

Start recycling those bottles! They're not only easy to clean out, but they look really pretty as a hanging garden, don't they?

You can paint the bottles, decorate them or design their position any way you want to. For the hydroponic bottles, just make sure that the water levels are even. Aside from that, you can design it to any way you prefer. It's your garden, so have fun with it! 

'Till next entry!



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

2nd batch this August: HYDROPONIC SEMINAR, Aug 18th, Saturday : 12-2pm

The Hydroponics seminar last Saturday, Aug 11, went really well. An almost full house turned up and it was happy to hear some positive feedback from them.

Since the number of participants went over the capacity of the restaurant, i've decided to open a second batch for the HYDROPONIC SEMINAR this AUG 18th, SATURDAY: 12-2pm at CHEZ TOZTAR RESTAURANT, CAPITOL, CEBU CITY. 

Refer to this link for more info, maps and others:

-What is hydroponics?
-Benefits of Hydroponics
-Materials needed to set up your own hydroponic garden
-Step-by-step process on setting up a hydroponic garden
-Maintenance on the system and plants
-Differentiation between organic & in-organic hydroponics
-Innovating your own system
-Open forum (Q & A)

Text me your full name & contact number at 09393257253 / 09475847023. This is to ensure that we do not go over the capacity the restaurant can cater to. If you are a walk-in participant who did not register in advance, you will need to wait for another participant to cancel his/her registration if all the seats are occupied. :)

Praying for another successful seminar! See you all there!


Thursday, August 2, 2012


For small scale gardens, home backyards and beginners
Learn this simple, low maintenance, convenient, clean, safe and eco-friendly gardening method. Promote self-sufficiency!

WHEN: August 11, 2012 - Saturday. 12noon-2pm

WHERE: at CHEZ TOZTAR RESTAURANT. Address: 0392 Orchid Street Capitol Site, Cebu (infront of STK restaurant) 


  • Starter kit
  • Manual & Handouts
  • Certificate
  • Lunch
  • What is hydroponics?
  • Benefits of Hydroponics 
  • Materials needed to set up your own hydroponic garden
  • Step-by-step process on setting up a hydroponic garden
  • Maintenance on the system and plants
  • Differentiation between organic & in-organic hydroponics
  • Innovating your own system
  • Open forum (Q & A) 
Contact me/ Message/comment or text us with your COMPLETE NAME and CONTACT NUMBER. Payment will be on the day of Seminar.

CONTACT: 09393257253 / 09475847023
Sketch to the restaurant

Learn to have this in your back yard!

Space efficient! In 0.5sqm, u can already harvest 40 plants!
Clean, presentable and convenient backyard gardening
Fast & Bountiful harvests at your own convenience
Cheaper alternative set ups to innovate and play around with
Grow expensive crops at home! For exmaple, Cherry tomatoes cost over P400 a kilo in the groceries. Why buy when you can grow? 

FOR MORE INFO, contact me at 09393257253 / 09475847023 or chat with me on facebook: 

Monday, July 30, 2012


I just realized after scanning through my entire blog, that it is named, "Hydroponics in Cebu" and yet i haven't covered what HYDROPONICS is exactly. *FAIL!* I realized that most of my blog entries were simply sharing my experiences and so on, but have not introduced hydroponics in general. Perhaps I assumed that people viewing this blog would already have, if not an expert, at least a little information/background on hydroponics. After being approached by several customers who have viewed my blog to know what hydroponics is, and having not been enlightened when coming to this blog, I will dedicate this entry to answering and covering most of the FAQs that i receive on Hydroponics as well as giving an brief insight on what Hydroponics is all about.

First off....


In my seminars (that i hold once every month), I always use 3 points to define hydroponics. You may find more complex or detailed information in other sites, but in the simplest way i can define it, one should take note of these 3 essential points:


Hydroponics does not use and or require any soil. Using soil is a NO-NO! In hydroponics, as a growing medium (term used to describe what the plants are planted onto), you can use several alternatives. This includes:
-Vermicompost (this is the one i use)
-Peat moss (or the moss that you can find in the clay pot section in the markets)
-Perlite (a light weight volcanic rock. It's hard to find in Cebu, but you can find them in pet stores since its commonly used as a bedding for pet geckos)
-Rice hull / rice husk
-Coco coir / coco peat (this is dried coconut husk that is shredded. This is one of most commonly used growing mediums in hydroponics)
-Clay Pellets (commonly used with orchids)
-Rock wool (commonly used to insulate or sound proof walls)

These are the many different alternatives to soil that is used in Hydroponics. 

FAQ: Can I mix different mediums up?
ANSWER: Yes you may. I usually mix up Vermicompost, moss and rice hull. 

FAQ: Can I use animal manure?
ANSWER: No. Animal manure is too strong for hydroponic plants since it contains a lot of nitrogen.Since it also contains salts and bacteria, it can contaminate the water beneath the plants, cause rotting in the water and attack the roots. Vermicompost is not a strong deposit (deposits of worms), so it is safe to use. 


Hydroponics literally translates to: HYDRO - Water, and PONICS - Work. 
That being said, yes, hydroponics involves the growing of plants on water. Here is a diagram to illustrate how this works:
A plant cup, holding the growing medium and the plant, is submerged partially in the water. As the plants grow, it looks for nutrients. Thus, the roots start to grow out of the plant up and into the water. 

FAQ: Can the plant grow directly on water without the growing medium?
ANSWER: Yes, it can. You would need a system, however, that can suspend the plant above the water for only parts of the roots to touch the water. If you are familiar with hydroponics, this system is known as NFT (nutrient film technique - in which there is a thin film of water running through the lower part of the roots of the plant).

FAQ: What kind of water can i use? Tap?
 Any clean source of water you have is viable. If you are REALLY conscious with chlorine in the water, let the tap water stand still for 24 hours before using. Rain water (if your area is not overly exposed to air pollution) is good as well. I, personally, use deep well water since that's my source of water here. 

FAQ: Is it only water? Or do i have to mix something into it?
ANSWER: This leads to the next point : "Water is enriched with nutrient solutions". 


The answer to the previous question as to if one can use just water without mixing into it -- That would be NO. 

**IMPORTANT** - water enough cannot supply the plants with the food or essential elements that they need to grow healthily. There needs to be fertilizer or in this case, it is known as HYDROPONIC NUTRIENT SOLUTION, mixed in the water to supply the plant with the nutrients it needs to grow.

FAQ: Without the nutrients, will it still grow?
 Yes, it will - in the sense where it wont die. It will live, but will be malnourished. Here are some signs of a malnourished plant (lacking nutrients or have no nutrients to absorb):

- Stunting of growth
- Pale yellow or white leaves
- Thin, fragile stems

FAQ: What are the components of a Hydroponic nutrient solution?
ANSWER: "Macro and Micro Nutrients". I already have a blog entry talking about the components. Refer to this link: BLOG ENTRY ON MACRO AND MICRO NUTRIENTS
**IMPORTANT** Read the entry to understand the importance of the Hydroponic Nutrient Solution as well as other questions you may have are answered there. 

FAQ: Where can i get the Hydroponic Nutrient Solution?
ANSWER: I sell Nutrient Solution for P350 (good for 2-3 months use). There also other commercial hydroponic nutrient solutions out there. You may also give them a try.

FAQ: Can I mix my own Nutrient Solution?ANSWER: Yes you may, HOWEVER, you will need a chemist or someone licensed to purchase the elements for you as well as mix it. All the elements can be found at a pharmacy, however, only a licensed chemist can purchase them. Mixing them might be too complicated as well (if you're a noob at chemistry like me), so you will need the chemist help to mix it as well as his equipment. 

FAQ: Can I use normal fertilizer as a nutrient solution?
ANSWER: Yes you may, however, since they were not made specifically for hydroponics, some fertilizers might not work very well. Fertilizers (not meant for hydroponics) were formed to work with the components in the soil to be converted as food for plants. Since hydroponics is soil-less, some elements might not be converted and thus not be absorbed by the plants, that could lead to undernourishment or lack of certain elements. You are free to experiment with different fertilizers though. Bring out the scientist part of you! (haha)

AS A SUMMARY, in one sentence, what is hydroponics?

Hydroponics is a SOIL-LESS gardening method in which plants are grown on NUTRIENT ENRICHED WATER. 

Here are some actual pictures of root systems of hydroponic plants as they grow, so that you can have a better idea on how it looks when you look inside a system and lift a plant cup:

Basil plants rooting before placing them into the system

Root system of a mint plant after  1 week in the hydroponic system
Root system of Corn plants

And there you have it! Just a brief, basic view on what Hydroponics is about. I hope this gave you an idea on what it's about. In my next entry, i'll cover the advantages and other questions that i frequently get. I can't drag on this blog any longer since most readers have a certain attention span (a.k.a me). I don't want anyone getting bored now. (haha!)

'Till next entry! Happy gardening!

09393257253 / 09475847023

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Importance of Nutrients for Plants

Hi everyone!

There is a very frequent question that I receive from a lot of customers that I find difficult to answer thoroughly in a single sentence. Actually, the reason is because after that question, follow up questions proceed and it somewhat closes the minds of several customers.

That question is;


Now, since The Hydro Garden is technically, a legitimate business (with Govt. Permits), i would like to point out that i cannot give specific information as to the formula of the nutrients for that would be disclosing a trade secret, which is counter productive. So kindly excuse me if i cannot give you formulas or instructions on replicating my nutrient solutions. 

But my answer this this is:

"The contents in the nutrient solution are MACRO AND MICRO NUTRIENTS." 

This leads to the follow up question;

"What are Macro and Micro Nutrients?"
This section needs a bit more information than a single sentence. You might get bored reading the next few lines but to educate one's self about this, keep reading :)

MACRO AND MICRO nutrients are essential (meaning important or a 'must') in the growth of plants. Without these nutrients, plants cannot grow properly or to it's potential. Each element has it's own use and importance:


H) Hydrogen - Essential for photosynthesis
(C) Carbon - Essential for photosynthesis
(O) - Oxygen - Essential for photosynthesis
(N) Nitrogen - A vital constituent of amino acids, proteins, nucleic acids etc
(K) Potassium - A building block for 40 or more enzymes, and also has a important role in stomatal movement. Potassium also helps to maintain electroneutrality in plant cells.
(Ca) Calcium - A vital constituent of plant cell walls amongst others.
(Mg) Magnesium - This is required non-specifically by a large number of enzymes and is also a vital part of the chlorophyll molecule.
(P) Phosphorus - This is a vital component of sugar phosphates, nucleic acids, coenzymes etc.
(S) Suphur - A vital component of proteins, lipoic acid, coenzyme A, thiamine etc.


(Cl) Chlorine - This is required for the photosynthetic reactions involved in the production of oxygen
(B) Boron - Used for carbohydrate transport within the plant and also forms complex molecules within certain carbohydrates
(Fe) Iron - Vital for nitrogen fixing and respiration, iron is also a constituent of cytochromes and iron proteins involved in photosynthesis.
(Mn) Manganese - This is required non-specifically for a large number of enzymes as well as for the production of oxygen during photosynthesis.
(Zn) Zinc - This is a vital constituent for a number of important enzymes such as glutamic and alcohol dehydrogenase.
(Cu) Copper - This is an essential component of - amongst others - ascorbic acid oxidase, tyrosinase and monoamine oxidase.
(Mo) Molybdenum - This is an important constituent of nitrate reductase and is essential fornitrogen fixation.

NOW THAT THAT'S FINISHED, (haha), here come's the next question:
"Are these nutrients poisonous? Or in other words, does this mean that your nutrient solution is poisonous?"

The answer is, "No". My nutrient solution does not consist of any steroids or excess of these nutrients. Take note that all the elements mentioned above are essential for plant growth. These elements can also be found in the ground, where the plants outsource their food. It is only dangerous if there is an excess (leaves will burn) or if there are extra elements added in as steroids to push the plant's growth. My nutrient solution doesnt have any of that, so there's nothing to worry about. It doesn't contain any excess or any less than what's needed by the plants. 

"Why are the food of the plants chemical? Why aren't they in organic form?"

Do take note, that plants cannot absorb organic matter. The roots of the plants convert organic matter into chemical forms before absorbing them. Therefore, the macro and micro nutrients are stated as thus above. So why are they in chemical form? Because plants cannot absorb them if they arent. 

And that covers it. Now you understand why it's a little difficult for me to answer if one day you ask these questions in person. You'll probably see me stuttering or trying to find layman's terms to explain the whole thing. Haha.. 

I hope this opened your mind to Hydroponics more. Most customers tend to black out or stop listening since it get's too complex. It's safe and controllable. 

'Till next entry!

09393257253 / 09475847023

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The first HYDROPONIC-THEMED Restaurant in Cebu


GREETINGS! It's been quite a while since my last blog entry. If you're subscribed or friends with me on facebook, you'll notice just how busy i've been for the past few months.

On June 15th, I ventured into the start of a large leap in the Cebu Hydroponic Garden enterprise so far. In collaboration with a friend who set all his efforts in opening his very own restaurant, we both agreed to make his restaurant different from the others out there.

THE FIRST HYDROPONIC-THEMED RESTAURANT IN CEBU! The restaurant "CHEZ TOZTAR-House of Roasts" is the very first restaurant in Cebu to have its very own Hydroponic Garden in its premises and a mini set up inside the restaurant itself. The garden will be used as a source of the restaurant's salads and other veggie needs in it's dishes, harvesting it in front of you to guarantee a fresh and healthy meal.

All the vegetables grown there are guaranteed ORGANIC and PESTICIDE-FREE as well! How do i know? this is where i come in. All the veggies in the restaurant are grown by the Cebu Hydroponic Garden and transported to the restaurant when they are ready for harvest. All the plants are live and also available for sale for those of you who would like to take them home to replant or use in your cooking. Simply ask the waiters/waitresses to call up on the chef for you to inquire.

Hydroponic Set up
The restaurant opened this JUNE 15th, and so far, it is doing incredibly well. The cuisines range from American, Asian Fusion, Brazilian, Chinese, Diners, Burgers, French, Mexican, Sandwiches, Seafood, Steakhouses and Thai.

Personally, my favorites are the PASTA! Specifically the Zitti and the Tuna Pesto. You must definitely give it a try.

The dishes range between 160-180PHP in average. one dish is enough to fill you up, really. "It creeps up on you". You may not think that you'll get full with it, but trust me, you will! This is coming from a person who has a big appetite, yours truly. hahaha 

Restaurant Interior

Indoor mini Hydroponic Set up under LED lights

Hydroponic Set up
Since my garden is located in TALISAY CITY, which may be quite far for most of you to travel to, the answer is, YES, you can pick up Starter Kits, lettuce plants, seeds and materials from the restaurant. I have left several kits there at the restaurant in which you may pick up at the restaurant at your convenience. Kindly ask for the chef to inquire. if you would like to order specific items, you may text me at 09393257253 to order in advance and for me to make sure that it is at the restaurant before you pick it up. 

032 Orchid Street Capitol Site, 6000 Cebu City, Philippines


10.30am-2.00pm (lunch), and 5.30pm-9.30pm (dinner)

So stop by and enjoy a meal or view the simple yet beautiful hydroponic set up! 

'Till next entry!

Cebu Hydroponic Garden
09393257253 / 09475847023