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Noob to hydro, first attempt at NFT system


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  #41  
Old 02-24-2016, 04:10 PM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
I know the plants aren't really big enough to be drinking much water right now, so you don't want to dilute your nutrient solution as the ice melts. But when they get bigger and start drinking up more water, you can just replace the water their drinking daily with ice blocks. That at way you can do both (add ice and water) at the same time, thus help keep the nutrient solution cool, while topping off the water volume.

P.S.
Depending on how much ice you add daily (frozen water volume), you may want to pH adjust the water before you freeze it. If not, it can change your nutrient solution pH. Depending on the pH of the water source and volume of water your adding in ice daily, it can change the pH fairly quickly. If you pH adjust the water before you freeze it, you won't have that problem. To make it easier, I'll pH adjust about 5 gallons of water at a time, then freeze it a few blocks at a time (using cleaned out butter or whip cream tubs) until I'm out of room. Then just use the ice blocks as I need them, and their already pH adjusted. There's been a few times I have even frozen nutrient solution, so when I added the ice it also added some more nutrients to the reservoir. I did so because I wanted all the water I added back to be ice because I needed the cooling effect, but I also wanted to add some nutrient solution back as well. So I just froze it first.

I'm not actually exposing the ice to the water. I took 2 - 1 liter pop bottles and filled them with water and froze them. I just take them out and pop them in the freezer in the evening and repeat the process. It seems to be working out OK. It'll work at least until the temperature outside warms up and my AC starts running more frequently.

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  #42  
Old 02-24-2016, 05:09 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Yes, I know your not exposing the ice to the nutrient solution at this point. Your putting the water in plastic bottles and freezing it, so when the water in the bottles melts it stays in the plastic bottles. I'm just saying when the plants get bigger and start drinking more water and you start having to replace that water volume the plants are drinking with more water. Instead of replacing that water volume with water, you can replace that water volume with ice instead. Thus, not use the plastic bottles.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 03-01-2016 at 10:14 PM.
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  #43  
Old 03-10-2016, 09:47 AM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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I hadn't had a chance to update my blog recently but I wanted to share what the status of my garden is. It's growing pretty big. I switched from the MH to hps after about a week. The HPS is causing the plants to get, as Bernie Sanders would say "YUGE". They each have at least one runner, and a couple of them have one or two berries growing. The largest so far is about the size of a nickel.

I have got around the super high water temperature for the most part. I added a few more gallons to the reservoir and lowered the light intensity to 75%. The water is now staying around 68-75. A little on the high side on colder days when the AC doesn't run, but as the weather warms outside and the AC runs more frequently the temps seem to be dropping.
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  #44  
Old 03-12-2016, 10:42 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello brandonbelew,
Sounds like their doing good, any new pictures?

P.S.
Have you gotten your new strawberry plants in the system yet?
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  #45  
Old 03-13-2016, 02:53 PM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Hello brandonbelew,
Sounds like their doing good, any new pictures?

P.S.
Have you gotten your new strawberry plants in the system yet?
Sure, attaching a few here taken today.

The white "pineberries" are started but only a couple of them are doing anything. My wife has 5 going in potting soil that i'll probably transfer over to replace the ones that didn't grow.







And now for the new guys



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  #46  
Old 03-14-2016, 12:18 AM
mitchnc mitchnc is offline
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P.S. With a 600 watt HID you can easily cover a 225 (15x15) square foot area..
This is the info I've been looking for! I'm new, only been at this for a couple months but I'm hooked. I'm harvesting full heads of lettuce in my basement almost every night.

I'm using fluorescent shop lights with T12 bulbs...nothing special, but they do fine.
I also just set up 12 buckets in a 34 grid, with a shop light over each row.

But my goal is a small grow room like YouTube John from Indoor Hydroponix.
Basically he can stick anything in the room, whether it's soil or hydro, and it grows.

So after this grow I was hoping to set up a grow room with overhead lights.
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  #47  
Old 03-28-2016, 04:54 PM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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Something bad happened

It's been 2 weeks or so back but... I had a water flow issue that I didn't catch for 13 or so hours. The front row of my plants died during that time. They went all floppy and stayed green for a week or so then started drying out and dying. I trimmed them back hoping for a miracle but I don't think they'll survive.

Is there a better grow medium or something I can add to the grow medium to make them not die so fast if something happens with the water? For example a pump going out or in this case the water dropping slightly below the top of the pump inlet? I've been checking it more frequently, adding about 5 gallons of nutrients a week.

Also the plants that are thriving are spitting out berries but they are fairly tiny and don't seem to get very big. Any suggestions? Should I change my light cycle? I'm still running 16 hours on and i've increased my nutrients to the high end of the range on the mix chart.

Thanks!
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  #48  
Old 03-28-2016, 08:58 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello brandonbelew,

What caused the water flow problem???

My favorite growing media is coco coir/chips. Not only is it inexpensive, but it holds moisture well, and without being saturated. However it doesn't mater what growing media you use when the roots are hanging in mid air. The only roots that benefit from the growing media are the roots in the growing media. The roots hanging out of the basket/s in mid air will dry out very quickly regardless. The more growing media you use, the more roots that growing media can hold. That's part of designing the hydroponic system.

Another part of designing the hydroponic system is deciding on the water level in the off cycle. If you design the system so there is a small pocket of water/nutrient solution 1/2 inch to one inch at the bottom of the tubes during the off cycle, the roots that hang out of the baskets can still access water during the off cycle, as well as if there is a water flow problem. That helps even watering, and can buy you some time in case of a problem. However strawberry's don't like wet feet, so you wouldn't want the water pocket at the bottom to be to deep for them.

If your nutrient reservoir water level is doping to low for the pump, your reservoir is to small for your plants. You don't want your reservoir water level to drop below 75% of full volume. When it does it causes major fluctuations in your nutrient concentrations, and that's stressful for your plants. Stressed plants aren't healthy plants. When you replace the water the plants drink, you want to add plain water, not nutrient solution. By adding nutrient solution back instead of plain water, you increases your nutrient concentrations. Again causing stress for the plants.

You could increase your light time to 18 hours on. I could be wrong, but I thought you were using the Verti-Gro nutrients? I didn't know they had a mixing chart. But since I use them myself. I know the directions. Equal parts 15 ml (1 tbsp) per gallon of water of both fertilizer and calcium nitrate for full strength nutrient solution.

I believe you said your plants were growing runners. Are you cutting them off? They will take energy from the mother plant, and not produce anything. You can get them to root into a growing media, then when they do, cut them from the mother plant. But depending on the variety of strawberry, they will need to over-winter before they produce any fruit. Strawberry plants don't produce fruit the first year (except for a specific varieties).

I have two articles written by by Dr. Lynette Morgan I could send you if you send me a private message with an e-mail address you want them sent to.

HOW TO GROW STRAWBERRIES
Berry Bonanza: Growing Indoor Strawberries

I cant just post a link to them because they aren't online anymore, but I have them saved in text documents I can e-mail you.
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  #49  
Old 03-31-2016, 05:20 PM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Hello brandonbelew,

What caused the water flow problem???
The water level dropped partially below the top of the intake screen on the pump. It was still pumping water but the water was going through the path of least resistance and making it to the rear two runs first, not leaving enough water for the front one i'm guessing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
My favorite growing media is coco coir/chips. Not only is it inexpensive, but it holds moisture well, and without being saturated. However it doesn't mater what growing media you use when the roots are hanging in mid air. The only roots that benefit from the growing media are the roots in the growing media. The roots hanging out of the basket/s in mid air will dry out very quickly regardless. The more growing media you use, the more roots that growing media can hold. That's part of designing the hydroponic system.

Another part of designing the hydroponic system is deciding on the water level in the off cycle. If you design the system so there is a small pocket of water/nutrient solution 1/2 inch to one inch at the bottom of the tubes during the off cycle, the roots that hang out of the baskets can still access water during the off cycle, as well as if there is a water flow problem. That helps even watering, and can buy you some time in case of a problem. However strawberry's don't like wet feet, so you wouldn't want the water pocket at the bottom to be to deep for them.
I need to redesign my tubes a bit, right now they drain completely when the water is off. I don't have an off cycle though, the water is pumping 24/7. The root growth on them has been quite impressive about 6" down the tube for each one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
If your nutrient reservoir water level is doping to low for the pump, your reservoir is to small for your plants. You don't want your reservoir water level to drop below 75% of full volume. When it does it causes major fluctuations in your nutrient concentrations, and that's stressful for your plants. Stressed plants aren't healthy plants. When you replace the water the plants drink, you want to add plain water, not nutrient solution. By adding nutrient solution back instead of plain water, you increases your nutrient concentrations. Again causing stress for the plants.
I have a 17 gallon tote that I started filling with 10 gallons. I've been increasing it to 15 gallons since I had my water issue. I've been putting nutrients back in, i'll stop doing that and just put the plain RO water in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
You could increase your light time to 18 hours on. I could be wrong, but I thought you were using the Verti-Gro nutrients? I didn't know they had a mixing chart. But since I use them myself. I know the directions. Equal parts 15 ml (1 tbsp) per gallon of water of both fertilizer and calcium nitrate for full strength nutrient solution.
I am using vertigrow, I couldn't remember how the mix was setup when I wrote my post. I'm doing the 1/2 to 3/4 oz per gallon. I'm mixing it closer to 3/4 oz per gallon at the moment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
I believe you said your plants were growing runners. Are you cutting them off? They will take energy from the mother plant, and not produce anything. You can get them to root into a growing media, then when they do, cut them from the mother plant. But depending on the variety of strawberry, they will need to over-winter before they produce any fruit. Strawberry plants don't produce fruit the first year (except for a specific varieties).

I have two articles written by by Dr. Lynette Morgan I could send you if you send me a private message with an e-mail address you want them sent to.

HOW TO GROW STRAWBERRIES
Berry Bonanza: Growing Indoor Strawberries

I cant just post a link to them because they aren't online anymore, but I have them saved in text documents I can e-mail you.
They are producing a ton of runners. I haven't been cutting them, I was going to try to get them to root but of course that wouldn't work with the clay medium i'm using. So I just recently cut all of the runners off. The runners were quite impressive, one of them stretched from the plant ( 4' off the floor ), down to the floor and had a couple offshoots. Was kind of shocked it was getting enough light down there to put out that kind of runner but it was growing quite well.

I'll send you a PM for those papers, that would be great.

Thanks!
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Old 03-31-2016, 10:21 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello brandonbelew,

Quote:
The water level dropped partially below the top of the intake screen on the pump. It was still pumping water but the water was going through the path of least resistance and making it to the rear two runs first, not leaving enough water for the front one i'm guessing.
Ah, the plants drank most of the water so water level drooped to much and the pump was sucking partial air. It's always one of the first lessons new hydroponic growers learn the hard way. Their amazed at how much water the plants will drink. When their small they don't drink much because they don't have much foliage to support. But as the plants get bigger and grow more foliage, they quickly drink more and more water daily, and new growers just aren't expecting it and are not ready for it. I don't know if you have seen it, but that's why I wrote this article What size reservoir do I need, to help people avoid learning this lesson the hard way.

Not only does low water levels run the risk of running the pump dry and/or killing the plants. But low water levels also affect the nutrient concentrations, and the fluctuating nutrient concentrations cause stress for the plants. The more the water level fluctuates, the more the nutrient concentrations fluctuate (normal, strong, normal, strong), and thus the higher the stress on the plants.

Quote:
I need to redesign my tubes a bit, right now they drain completely when the water is off. I don't have an off cycle though, the water is pumping 24/7.
I'm sorry, for some reason I thought you were running it as a flood and drain system. Probably because earlier you mentioned you were having an issue with the overflow not working right all the time, so I assumed it was a flood and drain system. You don't need a water pocket (reserve) with a NFT system because you run the pump 24/7 and there is always supposed to be flowing water at the bottom anyway. The flowing water is the water pocket.

Quote:
I have a 17 gallon tote that I started filling with 10 gallons. I've been increasing it to 15 gallons since I had my water issue. I've been putting nutrients back in, i'll stop doing that and just put the plain RO water in.
The bigger the plants get, the more water they will be drinking, so you'll want to keep an eye on the water level daily. You'll want to keep the water volume up/topped off so the water volume doesn't fluctuate to much. Like I mentioned earlier, when the water volume fluctuates, so does the nutrient concentrations. The more the water level and nutrient concentrations fluctuate, the more stress on the plants.

Just to be clear, you still want/need to do regular complete nutrient solution changes. Considering the current size of the plants, amount of plants, and total water volume you mentioned of 15 gallons, I would probably do complete nutrient changes every 2 weeks. In-between these complete nutrient solution changes is when you just want to add plain water back in order to replace the water the plants drink, thus keep the total water volume up and the nutrient concentrations from fluctuating. I always mark the inside of my nutrient reservoirs so I know exactly where the water volume should be, as well as know exactly how much the plants are drinking.

Quote:
I am using vertigrow, I couldn't remember how the mix was setup when I wrote my post. I'm doing the 1/2 to 3/4 oz per gallon. I'm mixing it closer to 3/4 oz per gallon at the moment.
I'm not sure if your using them correctly because you say your using 1/2 to 3/4 oz per gallon of water. So just to be clear, first you should NOT mix the fertilizer and calcium nitrate concentrates together in the same container. Doing so will cause the calcium nitrate to bond with mineral salts in the fertilizer, and thus become useless to the plants. I use 2 one gallon water bottles. One for the calcium nitrate, and one for the fertilizer. I take a clean 5 gallon bucket and heat about 1/4 of the water to boiling point, then mix it with 2 lbs of the dry mix in the 5 gallon bucket. The hot water helps it to dissolve quicker and completely. Then I add the rest of the gallon of water and mix completely. Then I use a funnel and pour the mixed concentrate into the one gallon water bottle. After I clean the bucket out, I do the same thing with the calcium nitrate. So now you have two bottles of concentrates, one the fertilizer, and the other the calcium nitrate.

Now note mixing 2 lbs of dry mix with one gallon of water will increase the total liquid volume by about one cup (8 oz). So in the end you have one gallon and one cup. I also have a smaller water bottle with a drinking nipple lid (like on a sports bottle) I use for the extra cup of concentrate. The drinking nipple makes it easy to pour and measure smaller amounts. Trying to pour a tablespoon out of a gallon jug can be messy and spill a lot. But it's easy to pour out of the drinking nipple.

Now you say your using between 1/2 and 3/4 ounce per gallon. One ounce is 30 mL (two tbsp). I don't know if your saying your using 3/4 oz of each calcium nitrate and fertilizer, or calcium nitrate and fertilizer together. That's why I feared you may have mixed both concentrates together.

Total of 30 mL per gallon (or less) is fine
15 mL (one tbsp) per gallon (or less) of calcium nitrate
15 mL (one tbsp) per gallon (or less) of fertilizer
Total 30 mL

Total of 60 mL per gallon (or less) is too strong
30 mL (two tbsp) per gallon (or less) of calcium nitrate
30 mL (two tbsp) per gallon (or less) of fertilizer
Total 60 mL

You want to use equal amounts of each, and you don't really want to exceed 30 mL total (except for especially heavy feeders like peppers). You don't want to mix the concentrates together. You should be adding them to the full volume of water in the reservoir one at a time.

Quote:
I'll send you a PM for those papers, that would be great.
Not a problem, you can either send me a PM with an e-mail address you want me to send the articles to, or e-mail me at the e-mail address on the contact us page of my website from the address you want me to send them to.

P.S. if you e-mail me at my website, be sure to mention who you are and you wanted me to e-mail you the articles on strawberries. I get lots of e-mails daily from all over the world, so I won't know who it is e-mailing me unless you mention it.

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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 03-31-2016 at 10:27 PM.
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