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Hydro or Soil?


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Old 04-25-2011, 09:30 PM
nimo nimo is offline
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Question Hydro or Soil?

First off, please forgive my English, for it was never my strong point.

I live in the Carolina's and would consider myself an above average gardener.

Due to rising food costs and questionable growing processes by corporate America. I want to extend my gardening to year round instead of seasonal restrictions by mother nature.

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Here is my objective at this time: To grow plants like broccoli, Romaine lettuce, spinach and maybe a few other similar vegetables. (NOT POT!)

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The veggies stated above are not favorable in outside growing conditions during the summer time due to heat in my geographical location. These plants for the most part prefer a 65 to 75 degrees temperature for optimum growth.

My options for inside growing areas are 10ft X 3ft which would need lighting. 9ft X 4ft with optimal lighting? (big window that grabs 7-10 hrs of sun light)
12ft X 4 ft walk-in closet.

I am basically trying to grow the above stated veggies, year round. I will later try to address growing plants like tomatoes and Cucs, due to the factor of smell and growing space. The plants I mentioned Initially take minimum space, so I thought it would be good to start with them. I am growing tomatoes, Cucs and other weather tolerable plants outside in my garden at this time.

I have only myself to feed at this point. So, I was thinking of having 3 to 5 different plant types growing at a time with an estimate of about 8 plants per type. Presuming I would consume approx 2 plants per week(this would be a max), so I would have to keep the replanting cycle continuous as I consumed them. (Some plants regrow without replanting) I am aware of the void in time getting to the continuous cycle process. I am also aware this is a trial and error process; that will likely take time for me to perfect the process to get to the outcome I expect. I am also aware the time of plants growing to fruition, and my expectations of mass, being able to consume could be way off. I look at it as trial and error.

I guess, I am asking for guidance from the more informed. Should I embark down the process of Hydro or Soil for my indoor objectives. How should I tackle this project?

Other question I have:
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Expectations for energy costs for growing lights,ect?

Rough estimates on a set-up cost? I have the means, but I am looking for the bang for the buck just like everyone else. I am not looking for the chinse factor though! The equal librium would explain it best.

I do have time to attend to my system, but the more time I have away provides me more income to improve it. (This could be an ignorant statement, but I am just being honest!)

Does soil or hydro better benefit my stated goal?

I have searched and searched about Hydroponics for books and info and the top results always comeback for POT! Not my objective! Any solid books, PDF, website, ect. Are greatly appreciated for non-pot growing indoors.

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All constructive criticism is welcome!

I hope to gain knowledge from those who frequent this board and in return help those who seek help in the future; from my gains, success, non-success. (A pay it forward aspect if you understand!



Thank you for reading my post!

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  #2  
Old 04-26-2011, 02:25 AM
hydrophotobio hydrophotobio is offline
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Go hydro, do NFT for your vegetatve crops such as lettuce and herbs, DWC for fruit-bearing crops.

Just my 2c.
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Old 04-26-2011, 07:04 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hydro will take a little of trial and error, but you sound prepared for that. And hydro will be well worth the effort, especially for out of season crops. Broccoli is a cool weather plant, but it's quite a large plant (at least the ones I grew were). About 4 feet wide as well as 4 feet tall each plant. As far as how to go about it. First you need to decide on a space and budget, then decide what type of system/s to use for the plants you want to grow. Then work out a floor plan for that space. Here is a couple of articles on creating a indoor grow room.

Building your own Indoor Grow Room part 1
Building your own Indoor Grow Room part 2

I grow outside so I don't really have first hand knowledge of energy consumption for lighting. But you can get a kill-a-watt meter like this one kill-a-watt (they sell at most hardware stores). That will tell you exactly how much it's costing you, but a 400 watt MH light will cost just about the same to run as 4, 100 watt regular light bulbs. As far as how much it costs to to build the systems, that can vary greatly by your designs and what materials you choose to use. I have built a 8 plant water culture system for growing lettuce for about $30, to a 4 plant drip system for growing broccoli for about $80, to a 12 plant flood and drain system for growing peas for about $50 (not including the trellis for the peas to climb on) etc. etc. etc..

http://www.hydroponicsonline.com/for...rd-system.html (my peas plants)
http://www.hydroponicsonline.com/for...th-system.html (my lettuce plants)
http://www.hydroponicsonline.com/for...w-systems.html (my broccoli plants)

I can't post everything because it would be way too long, especially for a question so general. But as far as books check at the library first, I haven't read it yet but "Hydroponic Food Production" by Dr. Resh is supposed to be excellent (get the latest edition if you can). As well as anything written by Dr. Lynette Morgan like:

Hydroponic Lettuce Production
Hydroponic strawberry production
Hydroponic capsicum production
Fresh Culinary Herb Production


Magazine's
The Growing Edge
Maximum Yield - Indoor Gardening

Websites
Lettuce Handbook
Spinach Handbook

I try not to post links to my site in the posts, but my hydroponic website is about information as well. Although I still have a lot of work to do on it, it still has a lot of information you may find useful www.HomeHydroSystems.com
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Old 05-02-2011, 07:14 PM
nimo nimo is offline
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Arrow

Thanks for the replies!

I did more research and have much more to do. I think an "AutoPot" system is the way I am leaning with 20 pots. I just have to do more research and get more opinions.

If anyone has experience or knowledge about the Autopot system it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again!
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Old 05-02-2011, 08:30 PM
halfway halfway is offline
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Constraints with lighting require additional research. I could not justify the additional costs associated with hps. I could make it work with H.O. T5, but I lose the edge.

Note this is for my situation and constraints. I grow lettuce, greens, and some basil/cilantro as well as all my outdoor garden springtime "starts". With T8 light fixtures, I get the right amount of light without having to add additional cooling, dehumidifiers, red spectrum lights etc. It works well for me at about $6 electrical cost per month per 6 light system.

It took alot of research, number crunching, and stubby pencils to determine that flowering plants were out of reach for my basement grow.

I will have a hoop-house / greenhouse in the future to allow the flowering plants to align with my cost threashlds.

Best of luck with your grow rooms. Post some pics when you can.
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Old 05-02-2011, 10:34 PM
nimo nimo is offline
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I think I would actually use this on my covered porch for the growing season. In the mean time work on the inside set-up for the winter months. This set-up would save me valuable time. From what I have read so far, this is a very good set-up although not cheap.

500 to 600 from what I see, not including lighting and and whatever else when winter comes.
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Old 05-04-2011, 05:27 PM
hydrophotobio hydrophotobio is offline
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Minimize your costs by trying to DIY the majority of things.

Examples attached.
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Old 05-04-2011, 06:53 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Although I do understand that not everyone is comfortable building their own hydroponic systems, I do agree with hydrophotobio, it would considerably cut costs to build your own. Depending on your design, amount of plants, and type of plants grown in each system, you can build many systems for growing quite a lot of plants for $500.

A few examples:
(1) Here is a system I built for growing small plants like lettuce or strawberry's that only cost about $20-$30, and is an easily expandable design. http://www.hydroponicsonline.com/for....html#post4303

(2) Here is a system I built for growing larger plants like peas, green beans, and peppers. It only cost about $60 (not including the storage tote for the reservoir that you can get for about $5, and the wood to make the stand). This system is also easily expandable. Each tube holding the plants cost a total of about $20 to create, and can be put together in series for growing more plants, and using the same pump (the most expensive part of the system). http://www.hydroponicsonline.com/for....html#post3364

(3) Here is a system I built for growing large plants like broccoli, squash or tomato's. I built this complete system for about $80 including the pump (the most expensive part), even including the growing medium. This system is again easily expandable to grow as many plants as you want. Each bucket for holding the plants only cost about $5 to create. I have even created a pdf. file with complete directions on how to build this system that I can send you via e-mail if anyone wishes. Just send me a private message asking about it, and give me an e-mail address to sent it to. http://www.hydroponicsonline.com/for....html#post3238

These are just a few ideas, but you could build all three and expand them to grow more plants for much less than $500-$600. And/or similar setups.

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