Anyone ever get involved in hydroponic? I'm interested in starting indoor growing of some fruits to have year round crops. I've seen some very nice hydroponic tomato plants but know nothing about it.
Ok, what do you want to know? Basically, hydroponics is growing plants, no matter what type, by delivering a nutrient solution (fancy fertilizer) directly to the roots. Out of the last 6 years, we have grown hydroponically produced vegetables for 5 of them. The system is totally homemade and works very well.Anyone ever get involved in hydroponic? I'm interested in starting indoor growing of some fruits to have year round crops. I've seen some very nice hydroponic tomato plants but know nothing about it.
The pump I mentioned is inside a tank which is just to the right in the photos of the greenhouse. It ties into 1/2" pvc piping that runs underneath the troughs to the high end and there is a spigot there also made of pvc with a shutoff valve. The spigot allows the water to enter the high end of the trough and the valve allows me to reduce or shut off the flow.How do you get the water to flow in that system?
That is called aquaponics and is a little different than hydroponics though not that far away from it. Same idea, nutrients delivered right to the roots, just a different method. The bubbles are mainly to keep a higher concentration of oxygen in the water than normal still water.What if you used a method like have a fish tank and bubbles come up under the roots to move the water?
Just as safe as the chemical fertilizers they put on the ground save for the fact that these never enter your surroundings so they don't kill off mass amounts of beneficial bacterias in soil or cause nutrient salts to build up. Granted, if you had the land, there are more natural ways to do things that are good too. We have livestock and their waste is a very nice fertilizer but I can grow much more food in a much tighter spot with the hydroponics. In summer, I get 100 lbs of cucumbers and about 25 lbs of tomatoes from an area that's 16'x12' and I never have to worry about bugs. That eliminates any need for any type of pesticide or companion planting.The thing I've wondered about with hydroponics and growing eatable produce is the nutrients you use in the water to allow for growth. How safe are they?
Nutrients can be stored in a five gallon bucket with an air tight lid. To combat cost, get them from a large company like southern agriculture. That's where I got mine. For less than $100, I got about 3 years worth of nutrients for my system using it 6-7 months out of the year.my thing with hydroponics is the price of nutrients as well as electric needed. Since this is a preparing site i need to remind folks that we are preparing so think ahead of what you may have to take into consideration in a worst case scenario. Do you have the ability to store any and all nutes and do you have a means to have power in any given situation we may face in the future..
The troughs are covered in black polyethylene plastic. I stretch the plastic over the flat bottom and use hot glue underneath it to stick it down. Then I work my way up the sides and secure it underneath the outside bottom of the trough with duct tape. The gray kind, not the foil (real stuff). Most of the time a piece of good 2x4 about 4' long works well to help. After a season, I check the plastic. If the finished look of the plastic is fading I replace it. I don't want excess decomposition to contaminate the root system. I don't actually know if it will but I'm just playing it safe. To replace it, the easiest way is to cut through the old hot glue with a knife and recover it the same way.What kind of film are you using on the troughs?
That's very cool. I'd go solar if I had the money for it. It would definitely eliminate my power outage problems.Blister, I didn't know the names for the different systems, I just had ideas and tried them out.
Ebb & Flow sounds about right!
I use solar pump now, when the comes up, the water flows, when it goes down, the water stops.
(old cordless drill motor, and PV solar panel was intended to charge batteries on a house boat that was totaled during a hurricane)
There are some VERY reasonably priced, high quality pumps out there, but I'm a consummate tinker, so I made my own...
Something I have learned, Fish Crap is the best natural fertilizer you can find!
There is a fish hatchery down the road from us, and they just throw out the fish crap from the tanks, but it works GREAT!
I also know that the small concentrations of chemical fertilizers we use, insect larva can live in the water, and although I personally have never tried it, people tell me even fish can live in the water tanks (if you aren't stupid with the chemicals!)
What I'd like to know...
Do you use pea gravel or anything for root holding?
Stuff like potatoes/carrots I know you have to use something to hold roots/tubers in place, but when I tried stuff like sweet corn, the pea gravel tubes seemed to do a lot better...
When doing lettuce, cabbage, ect, they seemed to like it without anything around the roots...
And I couldn't tell a difference with tomatoes, peppers, ect.
(Never tried cucumbers! Might do that next year!)
I never did root crops or one-time producers like lettuce or cabbage. I purposely grew only vining plants that continually produced fruit to get more out of each dollar. The tomatoes (couldn't find those pics) were in 1gal pots filled with untreated cypress mulch as a medium. They were in a trough 3.5" deep and 24" wide. A .5" pvc pipe ran down the center with .25" tubing coming from it to feed each pot.Blister, I never used pots, except for trying to grow potatoes in 5 gallon buckets...
Just stuck the plants in PVC tubes with holes drilled in the sides and when I used a rooting material, I used washed pea gravel...
I had mixed results.
I use wires on the cantaloupe and tomatoes. Then, with the tomatoes, I tied nylon string loosely around the stem to keep it somewhere in the area of the wire and try and make them do one, gradual loop around the wire. The cantaloupe do well on the wire and just climb it by themselves. The cucumbers don't need anything. I just keep them at two stems only, 6" off the ground.I used to tie the stems in place with old panty hose,
Flexible, and didn't damage the plant stalk or stem while the roots were spreading.
Once the roots take over, you don't need anything to hold the stems in place!
(you know that already! The root balls grow QUICK and THICK!)
The flow rate is around 1100gph from a 1400gph pump. It's magnetic drive so it's not that powerful and has to push water upwards which really isn't it's function but it takes very little current to run it. It runs 24hrs a day.Some plants just DEMAND something for the roots to get a grip on, Corn being one...
And you can't grow potatoes without a container full of something for the tubers to get started in...
How about some more pictures!
I'd be REAL interested in knowing how long per day you water and what your flow rates are!
Since it gets so hot here, the plastic is necessary to keep the solution and root zones cool. The light is a pretty good (very good actually)idea but the plastic fills several needs at once and I still have a couple hundred feet of it left.Here is a tip for algae growing in your nutrient solution...
Trickle your nutrient water under, on or around a UV-C bulb and it will kill ALL living bacteria, algae, ect. in the solution!
Cheap, and it works GREAT!
I even use it to kill off pathogens in my drinking water from a well, and the water has always come back from testing with 'No Detectable Pathogens'.
It's virtually a 100% kill rate, and you can't get that from chemicals without harming the plants!