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Cleaning and Sanitizing ???


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Old 09-02-2011, 03:44 PM
T'Mater T'Mater is offline
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Default Cleaning and Sanitizing ???

Well think it's time for me to start cleaning my stuff and was just curious what everyone use's to make sure everything is clean and disinfected to make sure i don't carry over anything i shouldn't be.

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Old 09-03-2011, 05:54 AM
fintuckyfarms fintuckyfarms is offline
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I just plan on using bleech except in the pumps
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Old 09-03-2011, 06:08 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Well there are a few things I know of that are good for sanitizing.

1. Bleach
2. H2O2
3. Boiling water
4. Steam

I haven't used steam as a sanitizing agent yet, but the steam mop my mom got to clean the kitchen floor has giving me some ideas. There are various hand-held portable steam cleaners on the market, and I bet they would do a good job of sanitizing the inside of tubes if adapted right, as well as used on them long enough (10-20 min).

But first I wash everything with soapy water and a scrub brush (except the growing medium). Then depending on what it is I need to sanitize, I'll use either bleach, boiling water, or H2O2. For grow rocks, I'll let it dry out real good first to let all the organic material (roots etc.) dry up. Then I sift it out as best as I can. And soak it in water again and take out everything that floats. Then I rinse them off real well to get out all the organic material out, and soak it in a white vinegar/water solution for a few days to get off the built up mineral salts (string it up at least once a day), and then rinse it again. Then to sanitize it, I soak them in a bleach/water solution overnight (string it up a few times along the way). Then I rinse it out a few times, and if it still smells like white vinegar, I'll probably soak it in boiling water a couple of times to loosen up/dilute the white vinegar smell. Then let it dry out and store it dry for a while before I reuse it. Some day I may build a steam box for things like that, but I'm just not a fan reusable growing mediums anymore.

For the pumps, I take them completely apart and wash them in soapy water with a scrub brush. I don't usually sanitize them unless there was something in the water. But if I do, I usually soak it in straight H2O2. I also wash the air stones in soapy water, then soak them in straight H2O2 too.

The flexible vinyl tubing I let completely dry out so that anything inside drys out and sticks to the tube. That makes it easy to just flex the hose and break it off the inside of the tube. Then I flush hot water through it, and soak it in bleach water overnight, making sure the tubes get filled with the bleach water solution and all the air pockets are out (for complete coverage inside the tubing).

For PVC tubing I'll hook up an old pump, and pump bleach water through it. And for anything too big to soak in bleach water or H202, I'll wash it completely with soapy water and a scrub brush. Then fill a spray bottle with either bleach water or straight H2O2, and spray it down completely with it (repeatedly).
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Old 09-03-2011, 11:31 AM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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I am use Bleach to do the first cleaning/sterilizing. I put it in a spray bottle extra strong (like a 50:50 mix) and that is usually done twice. I let it sit a moment before scrubbing the system down where ever I can and then rinsing.

The final part of my cleaning is rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. I make sure I spray it EVERYWHERE i can possible reach. Then just let it dry on it's own.

It is probably over kill, but it definitly works.

While running the system I use 1ML per 4 gallons (makes it about 3ppm bleach) which is about the standard for pool sanitation. I also have a UV filter in my res ($50 at petco) and I have that running 24/7. My res is still perfectly clear and I havent done a full change in over a month. I just pull out a gallon every week to water the potted plants and replace it with a fresh gallon of solution. If you use bleach you have to remember that it will work as a PH up. It has a PH of 8+, so I put in the bleach before checking the PH and I set it at 6.8 and let it settle down as the bleach evaoporates to probably 5ish and then bring it back up. The plants are doing well and showing no signs of deficiency as they go through the whole PH nutrient range over the course of a day or two as the bleach disipates. This is more of a way to be lazy as I am experimenting with hydroponics than a final intended method. It also might not be a great way to manage larger plants. I am only growing some leaf lettuce in my system. I also am not getting TOO far into hydroponics while inside because it is going to cost extra in equipment to get the humidity in the root zone up being in the air conditioning. I am thinking a fogger (I am trying to find one of those sonic humidifiers to pull the parts out of).
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Old 09-03-2011, 05:39 PM
T'Mater T'Mater is offline
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Ya i use the sure to grow cubes, not to sure how well you could get them clean. Guess maybe the hail that didn't end up having roots grow through it i could boil and possibly reuse.

Bad thing about the 6x6, root's all through it LOL.
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Old 09-03-2011, 06:29 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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jamromhem
You can find ultrasonic foggers for as little as $25-$35 like these, Ultrasonic Water Fogger, and ultrasonic fogger, as well as even on eBay. But just make sure it has replaceable Teflon discs. The Teflon discs wont clog up as fast, but you'll want to be able to replace them when they do. I understand you can also clean the disc with white vinegar, and a Q-tip.

If your trying to create a aeroponic type system, ultrasonic fog carry's much less moisture than the mist from aeroponic misters. Also it's my understanding that the fairly dry mist promotes fungal diseases in the root zone. So it would be even more important to keep the root zone temps down to discourage the fungal disease from growing.

But if your are not getting the moisture you need to the roots, have you considered changing your watering cycles, or water delivery system. I'm sure it would be much cheaper than buying foggers. Not to mention the hassle of cleaning and replacing the disc regularly just to keep them working.
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Old 09-03-2011, 10:23 PM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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I have thought about changing the delivery. There is way too little humidity in the root zone right now and the roots refuse to grow down due to that. I am thinking I either have to swap to a water culture, or add real sprayers to the delivery to increase water contact with the air. I am curently on 15:15 cycles. I tried to drop the timing and the plants didnt like it much. I am considering adding some fog misters (the actual irrigation type), but that will be later. I am not in a hurry to make changes to the system right now as I work out other areas of my life.
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Old 09-03-2011, 11:57 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I'm a bit confused because you keep referring to humidity in the root zone. Humidity implies water vapor, but I think you are referring to "moisture" which is the water content in the growing medium (not vaporize, in the air). If I remember correctly your running NFT type system, but have a PVC tube with holes running through the NFT channel to spray water on the growing medium from below. The biggest issue with that is getting enough water pressure to spray the water out of enough holes for good even coverage. But a simple solution is to run a flexible line on top of the NFT channel, directly over the tops of the baskets. Then just poke some holes in the flexible tubing right over the baskets to drip the water directly down on the growing medium. That requires a LOT less water pressure, and making the holes exactly where you want them gives even coverage.

Another simple solution is to close off both ends of the NFT channel, run your fill line in the top end of the tube (like normal). But on the other end install a through hole (bulkhead fitting) in the bottom (for a overflow back to the reservoir). Then on the inside of the NFT channel insert a piece of tubing into the through hole (bulkhead fitting). Basically that temporarily converts the NFT system into a "flood and drain" system, and you can control the water height inside the NFT channel by the height of the piece of tubing you insert into the bulkhead fitting. When the roots reach far enough down, you can easily convert it back to a NFT system by taking out the pice of tubing from the bulkhead fitting, and letting the pump run 24/7.

Other than getting water to the roots, it dosen't matter how long your roots are for a healthy plant. In fact roots are more likely to grow long when they are lacking water. They grow longer to search out more water sources. But when they have plenty of water, they don't need to search for moisture. Thus they just don't need to grow longer roots, and instead focus energy on growing foliage.
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Old 09-04-2011, 01:26 AM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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The water hitting the growing medium is plenty to support the plants. The air is way to dry sitting in the tube. You are right on the setup. The roots that try to grow out of the medium dry up and die, so I haven't been able to use the system as NFT, only the spray is maintaining the plants.

That is what I am refering to, the air is too dry to let the roots extend down to the film.
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Old 09-04-2011, 04:25 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Ya, as soon as the roots come out of the growing medium they will die unless they are continuously misted (a aeroponic system). Even in a aeroponic system where the roots hang in mid air and are subject to high humidity levels, the roots still need to be misted way more often than flood and drain system cycles. Generally aeroponic systems cycle something like 1 minute or less on, and 5 minutes or less off. What you need to do is get the roots to grow long enough (to the bottom of the NFT tube) before you can run it as a NFT system. That's why I recommended raising the water level in the NFT tubes (as a flood and drain system) to keep the roots wet until they reach the bottom of the NFT channel. Dripping the water down from dippers can work for this purpose as well, by keeping them wet as the water drips down the roots on its way to the bottom of the NFT channel. However dripping it down from above may take more trial and error to get just right, as well as less complicated than starting it as a flood and drain setup. So running it as a flood and drain system is simplest and cheapest to me. Either that, or build a separate system (like a simple water culture system) to keep them in until the roots are long enough.

Also If I'm not mistaken your using the polyester material as a growing medium, and from what it sounds like the polyester material just dosen't hold moisture very well (but actually rather poorly). That would be contributing to the problem because it should be able to hold moisture when suspended in the air. If not it would need constant moisture from some source to keep the main root-ball wet. Thus rather than being able to slowly drip moisture down the roots as they grow down (from the growing medium), it rapidly drips all the moisture out quickly. Leaving the main root-ball to dry out, and nothing to drip down to keep the roots searching for the moisture at the bottom of the NFT channel wet until they get there.

P.S.
I would bet if you simply filled a couple of baskets with coco chips/fiber and stuck your plants in it (even with the polyester material), and changed nothing else (assuming your spraying the bottom of the baskets with a 15 or 30 minute on/off cycle), the plants in the coco chips would grow roots out of the growing medium, and all the way down to the bottom of the NFT tube.
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Old 09-05-2011, 12:10 PM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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Yes I have thought about making a more efficient system to replace my current one. This was deffinitly a learnign experience for me, and will give me plenty of room to think for the future. I am definitly moving away from the STG in my system as my mindset on the whole thing has reset to my normal growing techniques, and the less than natural look of my system is starting to bother me lol..

I will be letting what is in the system grow for now. I have the watering cycles down to help the plants grow, the roots are staying in the STG, but the plants are growing. It also changed my mindset on the way plants grow a little.. The size of root balls are a little less important in a hydroponics system, as the roots will take in up to a maximum of what they are physically capable of doing as long as it is readily available (which is the point of hydroponics). The plants are growing well on the 15/15 cycle and even the sad basil is starting to recover well and is pushing new leaves again.
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Old 09-05-2011, 11:42 PM
T'Mater T'Mater is offline
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Have you seen STG's video on using there stuff with an NFT system? I personally liked the STG, but then again i'm new to hydroponic's and loved the simplisity of the product. Thought about building an NFT system to play with during the winter months.

Sure To Grow root mass in an NFT system - YouTube
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Old 09-06-2011, 02:08 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I don't doubt the STG product works well, provided the user understands it's property's (as with any growing media). But I have never really considered using the STG product due to it's relativity high cost. It has similar proprieties to rockwool, but don't think it wicks up water as much (so it's supposed to help aerate the roots better). And it always seems to cost much more than rockwool. And I don't even like using rockwool for anything other than seedlings, mostly because it cost too much. So I just don't even buy rockwool, unless it's the 1 inch starter cubes.

P.S.
It's hard to tell from the video, but those NFT channels are quite shallow, and from the top I don't see any baskets or clips holding the growing media up. So to me it looks like the the STG cubes are sitting directly on the bottom of the NFT channels in the stream of water where they get moisture 24/7. That would indicate they surly don't wick up water the way rockwool does, or they would be waterlogged. That's just what I mean by understanding the properties of the growing media your using, and using a growing media that suites your needed. Or adjusting your system to accommodate the properties of the growing media.
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Old 09-06-2011, 04:35 PM
T'Mater T'Mater is offline
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When you say high cost, you talking about the 1.5" starter cubes? Cause where i get mine they are equal to or with in a dime of each other STG vs Rockwool.

Now i do have to say that there are a lot of hydroponic stores that are jacking up the prices on STG. To the point even STG was helping some friends start up an online store. I order'd my 6x6 from them and they sent me 4x4's, i went straight to STG after i couldn't get ahold of the internet ppl. They appoligezed and explained what was going on with that company and 1day shipped me replacement 6x6 cubes and told me to just keep the 4x4's.

I can tell you from my experience the starter cubes will suck up water very well. It's the bigger cubes that drain well. The 4x4 and the 6x6 drain well and allow good air flow.

Film showing there water density theory. Altho i haven't tried rockwool personally. After all the studying i did. A lot of ppl were complaining about them falling apart. I didn't know what they were talking about till i seen this clip. And i understand that each company is going to show you the pro's over the con's of the competitor it's the nature of the beast. And a link to there product claim.http://www.suretogrow.com/hydroponic-supply-stg


Sure To Grow block water density - YouTube

One of the biggest things i went for with STG is it being neutral. And as you can see from the post i've started. The less i have to worry about stuff the better off i am.

Nother film of them using the starter cubes and how to put them in an NFT system.

Using Sure To Grow cubes in an NFT hydroponics system - YouTube

On a side note, just for the heck of it. I'm going to see how hard it would be to actually reuse these cubes i have tomato plant's in. More cause i'm bored and have nothing else to do.

Last edited by T'Mater; 09-06-2011 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 09-07-2011, 02:07 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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T'Mater
Ya, that's exactly why I'm never impressed, or even believe a manufactures propaganda. They will always be one sided on how they present their information. You'll notice even in the sure-to-grow video they made a point of listing the pro's but failed to even mention any cons. They simply make it sound like their product is the best product ever and for every system there is, as well as in every situation. But that's nothing new, all company's do that, so you just need to use common scene, and take what they say with a grain of salt. That said, that dosen't mean that all info from manufactures is bogus, just that they want to put there best foot forward without saying anything that might be negative about their products. You need to figure out the negative yourself. That's legitimate company's, there are some that will even knowingly just lie about their claims (not saying Sure-to-grow is lying about anything).

But in the third video about the NFT system they don't really show much with relation to weather the media is sitting in the flow of water. But it still sure looks like it to me. I see the cubes are sized to fit commercial NFT gully lids, but they aren't supported by anything. And the cubes look to be long enough to reach the bottom of the gully's. But even if they are slightly shorter, moving the lid around and/or the weight of the plant will eventually push it all the way down through the hole (as looks like many are). So it sure looks like it's meant to be subjected to water 24/7. But even if it is slightly above the water level, the roots have a very short trip to the water, and the roots will wick up moisture to the growing media (once they have grown through).

I understand the STG product is more like a open cell synthetic (similar to a sponge) that you can manhandle and it will come back to the original shape (like a sponge). But I have never come across a situation where I would need to do so much manhandling as they did in the video. Even if you did need to, you would do extensive damage to the plants roots and wouldn't have any plants left anyway after that (regardless of growing media).

When I say the STG's is high cost, I'm mostly making comparison's to other alternatives. I'm at the point where I want to grow large plants, as well as a large number of them. That's a big difference than just a few cubes, and they don't really give discounts for volume. Same thing with nutrients. The GH Flora series nutrients are great, but it gets really expensive if you have more than a few plants.

I cant give you exact prices for the STG product I've seen because I rarely do price comparisons on it (if ever). But every time I have seen it, I wind up saying to myself, price wise that's no better than rockwool in price (and often more). But I'm more interested in the "fill" rather than the cubes because most of my containers are buckets and/or baskets. But the last time I looked it would cost more than $10 to fill a 5 gal bucket with the STG product. Same with rockwool. So they are both to expensive for me to consider. If you are only filling one 5 gallon bucket it might be OK for a test to see if the plant will grow. But when you are wanting to fill 30-40 buckets, that price just becomes out of the question, and simply time to look for alternatives.

Right now my growing media of choice is coco chips, I like it's moisture retention properties, as well as it's aeration capability's. I can completely fill three 5 gal buckets with $10 worth. Four when I add rock to the bottom of the buckets for weight and excellent drainage. $10 worth of coco chip will fill over 200 three inch baskets. So when I say too expensive, I'm comparing it to other alternatives, and quantities I want/need. But when you are wanting to fill 30-40 buckets with growing media, coco chips can becomes expensive too. So I'm looking into using pine shavings, and looking for regular suppliers.

P.S.
However if you are just needing a small 1 inch or so cube for each plant like for the NFT lettice, the cost for the sure-to-grow product is reasonable. But it's still in my nature to find alternatives if I can. I have even tried using cotton balls as seed starters. That works as long as you control moisture very well. The cotton wicks up moisture like nobody's business, but dries out fairly quickly. So water to air ratio with cotton is difficult to control. But it was priced right.
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Old 09-07-2011, 01:23 PM
T'Mater T'Mater is offline
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I'll have to take a pic of the 1.5 cubes, beside a ruler(if i can find one LOL) i know what your saying, going commercial is different then being a hobby.

As a past business owner, owned a pool hall for many year's. You can't price items like a hobby person does. You have to call the companies and say hey, i'm looking to go commercial what kind of deal will i get if i buy direct. Cause in that sense your going to be buying more then just a case or 2 of there item.

And i totally agree with you on getting more bang for the buck and finding the cheapest route to anything. It allow's you 1 of 2 things. To cut cost so you can compete,least till word of mouth on how great your product is compared to store XXX. And it helps your profit margin, and we all love a higher profit to cost.

On that note, like i've said you take someone like me who's as green as it can be to the hydroponic thing. I loved the STG, seem's to work well. Didn't add anything to my water, and lord know's i had a hell of a time with my water. In the long run, when i get waaay more then just a dozen tomato plant's going will i be doing STG, heck i dont even know if i'll keep them in Bato bucket's but we'll see

PS: we're about to buy a new camcorder so when i get that if there is anything you'd like me to show you or have ?'s about the STG i'll be able to show you more.
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Old 09-08-2011, 01:39 PM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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I think part of my problem with STG is that it looks unatural lol. I need something that looks right as well as helps the plants grow.

STG works well to grow the plants, but it bothers me for some reason. The bother isn't that it isn't doing what it is supposed to.

I am thinking I might have to do a hybrid type hydroponics system to try to trick my brain into thinking that the plants are growing in something a bit more natural looking lol. I am not into the organic/composting thing, but if it is too unatural it seems to bother me aparently. lol I look at the white STG cubes and cringe a little. lol I have some thinking to do about it all. I might try to make myself a system that doesn't make me cringe and work that route :P.
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Old 09-08-2011, 07:26 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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jamromhem
Sounds like the white material is really bothering you for some reason. I cant really relate because to see a plant growing in something unnatural, or in a strange location just fascinates me. But if you want something more natural looking, I would suggest using coco coir/chips. The coco coir has a small particle size and looks like the plants are growing in potting soil or peat moss. The coco chips is the same product with the same color, but has a larger particle size. That looks more like the plants are growing in a flower bed that you spread small pieces of pine bark around the planter to look nice.

Growing Mediums for Hydroponic Systems (scroll down to about the middle of the page for pictures of both)

Personally I like using coco chips as my growing media of choice. Not so much because of the way it looks, but because it holds moisture real well, and still allows the roots to be well aerated. It's also easy to work with, and fairly inexpensive, unless you need to have it shipped, then that just about doubles the cost. But I now have a hydroponics shop in town I can get it from, and I also have seen the 2 cubic foot blocks at ACE hardware. The attached picture is the first 2 cubic foot block I ever bought. And the same thing they have at ACE hardware. You can get it for about $10 for a 2 cubic foot block, and that breaks out to about 15 gallons of growing media.
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Old 09-09-2011, 12:07 AM
T'Mater T'Mater is offline
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You have any pic's of your plant's in that stuff? Do you have to worry to much about mildew or such from them staying moist so long?
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Old 09-09-2011, 01:30 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I wasn't trying to take pictures of the growing media when I took the pictures, so you cant see it real well in some of the pictures. But all the plants in these pictures are growing in coco chips.

Mildew is caused by fungus, not water. Moisture only allows the spores (fungal seeds) to germinate and grow (like any plant). Spores can be in the water supply, air, even anything you touch that isn't sterilized can transfer spores. So it dosen't really matter what growing media it is, it's still going to be susceptible to fungal spores (and thus mildew). If you let the growing media dry out (to kill the fungus) you'll kill the roots as well. Without moisture in the growing media (24/7), the plants will die regardless of the growing media used.

However if you allow light to get to anything that is wet (with the nutrient solution), algae will grow. But again that's true for any growing media, even clear tubes and other things than the growing media. If it has moisture, nutrients, and light, algae has all it needs to grow. So just keep it from getting any light, and it wont grow algae. Mildew and algae are two different things, mildew is a fungus and dosen't need light to grow, algae does. Right now I am not sure if algae is spread by spores or not, i would need to look up how it reproduces. But fungus (mildew) grows without light, and is spread through spores, but algae simply needs light to grow no mater what.

Usually in a flood and drain system the water level is about 2 inches below the top of the growing media. Because of that the very top of the growing media is dry, and the moisture is below it (where it dosen't get any light). So then algae dosen't grow. With the broccoli plants (the plants in the large 5 gallon buckets), I made it a drip system with the drip ring on the very top of the growing media. So the top of the growing media definitely grew algae. However that was easily remedied by itself when the plants foliage got large enough to block the light from the top of the growing media. Then the algae just died and diapered. I could have also added about 2 more inches of coco coir to bury the drip ring below the top surface. That would also block the light from getting to the moisture.

P.S.
I was able to fill the four 5 gallon buckets with one 2 cubic foot block of the coco chips. I filled the bottom of the buckets about 1/3 of the way with cleaned and sanitized rock. The rock provides weight so they wouldn't blow over in the wind, also the rock at the bottom prides excellent drainage in the containers, and takes up space so I could fill 4 buckets instead of only three. So essentially each 5 gallon bucket is using about $2.50 worth of growing media.

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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 09-09-2011 at 04:18 AM.
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