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First Hydroponic setup - slow?


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Old 02-03-2016, 10:58 AM
Gjn Gjn is offline
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Default First Hydroponic setup - slow?

I just built a lean to type of drip system. It's a tremendous accomplishment as I am not a carpenter at all!
I started this in mid December.
I'm using it from a 5 gallon bucket. The water is revers osmosis water to which I add Dave's Base Formula (4 TB) and Dave's GROW formula (4 TB) typically every 2 weeks.
I have two 45 watt led panels about 18 inches or so above two of the rows.

The mechanics sit next to a furnace so that the water is fairly warm during the day but most likely gets a bit cooler (68?) during the night.

I'm Growing: Basil, Holy Basil, Dill, Cilantro and Tarragon

The Tarragon is doing the best so far.
I would have thought that the basil plants which I transplanted would have doubled in size by now. But they appear to be growing very slow as does the dill.

So how do I approach this - what is the order of importance:
water temp
light
fertilizer
??

Would I be better served if I purchased something like the 90 wt BloomBoss (UFO) (Amazon) ?

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  #2  
Old 02-03-2016, 11:31 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello Gjn,
Glad you were able to post in the forum.

Quote:
I'm using it from a 5 gallon bucket.
1. Is 5 gallons your total water volume for the system?
2. What is the water level in the tubes?
3. Is the water running 24/7, or on a timer?

Quote:
I add Dave's Base Formula (4 TB) and Dave's GROW formula (4 TB) typically every 2 weeks.
1. Do you have a link to the nutrients your using? I'm not familiar with that brand.
2. How often do you do a complete nutrient change?

Quote:
The mechanics sit next to a furnace so that the water is fairly warm during the day but most likely gets a bit cooler (68?) during the night.
You don't want the water to get much warmer than 68 F. The optimum water temp is between 68 and 75 F. Water temps above 80 begin to cause heat stress.

Quote:
I would have thought that the basil plants which I transplanted would have doubled in size by now. But they appear to be growing very slow as does the dill.
1. What is the air temps (day and night)?

Their all herbs, but they all have different environmental condition requirements (light, nutrient, temperatures). But looking at the pictures the basil plants are on the ends and not getting close direct light, dill is a lower light requirement plant than basil. led's don't work very well at a distance. Temperatures are likely a factor as well.

Quote:
So how do I approach this - what is the order of importance:
water temp
light
fertilizer
??
Order of importance:
1. Water temp
1. Light
1. Fertilizer

The chain is only as good as the weakest link. Neglect one of the links, and the chain breaks.

Quote:
I have two 45 watt LED panels about 18 inches or so above two of the rows.
Quote:
Would I be better served if I purchased something like the 90 wt BloomBoss (UFO) (Amazon) ?
While 18 inches is within the 2 foot threshold for LED lighting, it's on the far end of that range. There are three main disadvantages to using LED lighting. The high cost of equipment, the drastic light intensity drop off beyond 2 feet, and the watt for watt ratio.

The drastic light intensity drop off beyond 2 feet means that multiple light fixtures are needed. While LED manufactures boast (misrepresent) electricity cost savings using LED because their light fixtures use less wattage, the actual watt to watt ratio needed because of the light intensity drop and multiple lights needed means the actual wattage needed to grow your plants is much higher than LED manufactures lead you to believe. Therefore there is actually very little electrical cost savings if any, that is unless your growing small plants that don't get bigger than 10-12 inches tall. Even then, a LED panel or UFO wont grow many plants because the light drop off beyond 2 feet from the light source means the actual square footage of grow space is very small. Commercial operations using LED grow in rows, and usually use custom designed modular LED tubes or ropes the length of the rows to get even coverage.

(Note) That's using good quality LED's only. With the popularity of LED's on the rise, and thousands of manufactures in china making LED's. Many manufactures are jumping on the bandwagon and producing low quality LED's as well, but selling them at high prices like good quality grow LED's. You can't tell the difference with the naked eye. So unless you have deep pockets, you really need to do your research on the manufacture if you plan to experiment using LED's.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 02-03-2016 at 11:50 PM.
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  #3  
Old 02-04-2016, 09:29 AM
Gjn Gjn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Hello Gjn,
Glad you were able to post in the forum.
Yes, it took a while but I'm happy to be here!



Quote:
1. Is 5 gallons your total water volume for the system?
2. What is the water level in the tubes?
3. Is the water running 24/7, or on a timer?
5 gallons is the total volume. I made it so that I can adjust the water level in the tubes if need be. The current level is minimal, maybe 1/2 inch? The system drips water into rock wool cubes that are supported in net pots by grow rocks 24/7


Quote:
1. Do you have a link to the nutrients your using? I'm not familiar with that brand.
2. How often do you do a complete nutrient change?
The links are David's Grow and David's Base

I dont know of any others, so I'm open to recommendations.
I had been doing a total change about every 2-3 weeks. I read that a full water change doesnt need to happen. I'm using reverse osmosis water.

About 1/2 gallon evaporates and I replace that. I add about 2 TB of each nutrient every week (that's about 1/2 of a 4 gallon dose). I have an air stone in the 5 gallon bucket to keep the water oxygenated.





Quote:
What is the air temps (day and night)?
I'll have to check, but I would anticipate maybe 71 day/ 67 night. Water temp is around 68-70 around the clock



Quote:
Order of importance:
1. Water temp
1. Light
1. Fertilizer
Ah light. I'm concerned about that. I used to have a reef aquarium. Had 2 600 watt halides. They gave a ton of light and quite a bit of heat. At one point I was running them 12 hours each day. That is until I saw the electric bill!
I'm open to suggestions. I'm just starting. Each tube is about 18 inches lower than the previous and there are currently 3 tubes.

My gut is telling me that my problem is light, but I dont necessarily want to use 600 - 1200 watts 12 hours a day.

In your opinion (and anyone else reading), what is the best light and the most economical?

I'm extremely open to suggestions using the current lean-to

Jerry
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  #4  
Old 02-04-2016, 11:01 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Lake Havasu AZ.
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Hello Gjn,
Quote:
5 gallons is the total volume
Considering the size the plants are right now, 5 gallons is probably fine. But with 12 plants that will get medium sized in the system, you'll need to increase the water volume to a minimum of 18 gallons (1.5 gallons per plant). I personally try to double the minimums. For the plants you have going, I would probably use a 32 gallon trash can for the nutrient reservoir.

Quote:
The current level is minimal, maybe 1/2 inch? The system drips water into rock wool cubes that are supported in net pots by grow rocks 24/7
Just to clarify, you built a combination Drip/NFT system. It drips from the top to the plants so it's part drip system, and the 1/2 inch of 24/7 flowing water at the bottom qualifies it as part NFT as well.

Quote:
The links are David's Grow and David's Base, I dont know of any others, so I'm open to recommendations.
I just asked because I wasn't familiar with them. I wanted to make sure they were actually hydroponic nutrients. As well as see if they had a mixing chart to see if your mixing them correctly. I took a quick look, and they are hydroponic nutrients, though I haven't had time to look for their mixing chart yet.

Quote:
I had been doing a total change about every 2-3 weeks
Considering the size of the plants and total water volume, that's probably fine up until now. But if you don't increase the water volume, you'll need to start changing them out sooner. You'll need to increase the water volume soon anyway.

Quote:
I read that a full water change doesn't need to happen.
Commercial operations have ways of getting around doing full nutrient changes. But your system is a recirculating system, and even if you paid for lab testing it wouldn't help because you can't separate your nutrients into separate individual mineral salts. When you add nutrients your adding a balance of all 13 necessary nutrients. But the plants don't use the nutrients in a balanced manner. They use more of some and less of others. When you just add more nutrients your not only adding the nutrients the plants used more of, but your also adding the ones the plants didn't use much of as well.

Think of it like this. Imagine getting a bowl of mixed vegetables to go with your dinner. But you don't like all the vegetables equality. So you pick out the ones you like, and leave the rest. Night after night you get the same bowl of mixed vegetables, except you don't dump out the ones you didn't eat. You just keep adding more of the same mixed vegetables until the bowl is full. Night after night you pick out the ones you don't like and leave the rest. It wouldn't be long before the bowl was full of the ones you didn't eat, and very few of the ones you actually eat. Slowly but surly the balance/ratio of mixed vegetables is thrown off because you never dumped them out, to the point there is nothing in the bowl but what you don't eat/use. In the case of hydroponic nutrients it's the same thing, this balance/ratio is thrown off to the point where the nutrients the plant uses most are depleted, and the ones they don't use reaches toxic levels.

Quote:
I add about 2 TB of each nutrient every week (that's about 1/2 of a 4 gallon dose)
If I understand you correctly, your nutrient strength is too concentrated. It sounds like you started with a full strength nutrient solution, and have been adding 1/2 strength to the same nutrient solution each week. That means by the third week your nutrient solution is almost 250% strength (2.5 times as strong) because you started with 100% and have added 50% three times (a total of another 150%). I say almost 250% because the plants have depleted some, but nowhere near that much. If your adding 50% strength each week, you could have done a complete nutrient change every 2 weeks withough't using any extra nutrients. Besides that, for plants that size you shouldn't use the nutrients at 100% strength to begin with. For plants that size 50% strength is plenty.

Quote:
I would anticipate maybe 71 day/ 67 night. Water temp is around 68-70 around the clock
OK, From your earlier statement "The mechanics sit next to a furnace so that the water is fairly warm during the day but most likely gets a bit cooler (68?) during the night." that sounded like the temps were much higher during the day than the 68 at night. 68-70 around the clock is perfect for the water temps, but if that's the air temps as well, that's a bit cool and will result is slow plant growth. If you can get the air temps up to around 80-85 during the day, and keep it 68-70 at night, that will increase plant growth quite a bit. Just don't let the water temps rise, that's perfect at 68-70 (both day and night).

Quote:
My gut is telling me that my problem is light, but I dont necessarily want to use 600 - 1200 watts 12 hours a day.
You don't need anywhere near 1,200 watts of HID lighting. If you reconfigure your setup a little so all three levels are at an equal height, a single 150 watt halide in the center should be all you need. Put the higher light requirement plants in the middle directly under the light, and the lower light requirement plants around the edges. By raising the lower levels up so their all even, that also gives you space that you can use a 32 gallon trash can for the reservoir.

You could use florescent light as well, but I would recommend at least one 4 foot twin bulb T5 light fixture per row. More if you use T8's. However the electrical cost to use florescent's would be higher than HID. 6 T5 bulbs (52 watts ea) total 312 watts. Twice the wattage of HID. Even if you upped the 150 watt HID bulb to a 200 watt bulb your still using 1/3 less wattage/electricity than florescent.

Here's an electricity cost calculator so you can estimate your monthly electrical bill. You can just estimate using the national average of 10 cents per kilowatt hour. Or if you want to be more exact, you can find the amount you pay right on your electric bill, just make sure to include the surcharges.

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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 02-04-2016 at 11:11 PM.
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