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My System Plans (multiple system ideas)


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Old 07-28-2011, 11:33 PM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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Default My System Plans (multiple system ideas)

I have a few plans for my hydroponic systems.

I am going to be doing systems for different types of plants. They have a few constraints that are important, due to living in an apartment.

I will be doing systems for:

Tomatoes
Lettuces
Herbs
Garlic/carrots (test systems to see if I can make it work, I have a few ideas on these)

My tomato setup ideas are as that I will have a system that is a DWC recirculating system.

It will have a "stand" for each plant. These stands will all be the growing base for the plant and will have either and X made from 5x5 vinyl post covers or will be more of an H from 4" PVC. There will be a "pole" coming up from the center to hold the plant and allow the roots to grow down about 2ft in length.

The 5x5 PVC will hold more liquid with less length of material. It holds about 1 gallon per 10 inches of 5x5. So if made from those it will allow for about 6-7 gallons of nutrients in the base and with it being recirculated with a larger res would probably be more than adequate to house the plant..

My questions on this is, I will be using indeterminate plants to allow me less "cycling" of plants and more sustained growth from a single plant. I will be keeping the plant well pruned, and will not allow suckers to grow out. As the plant grows I will be stripping the foliage from the lower parts of the vine and wrapping it around this base to let the plant grow up, without growing up. lol Will the bases I have described be able to hold the root mass for a tomato plant without clogging the pipe to the point that the nutrients would not circulate?


The lettuce will be a bit simpler... I will probably be growing Romain lettuce. It will be an NFT/aeroponic system... made from 4x4 vinyl post cover with a line tied to the inside corner with holes to spray the cup while the roots are waiting to hit the film. Simple. Not to original, but I think would be effective and take up little space.

The herb system will probably be similar to the lettuce setup, but most likely gravity fed, with a "fermenting pump" powered by a small air pump to push the water back up to the gravity feed. I will explain the "fermenting pump" in more detail later and will post pictures as I get it made. They are ingenious little designs, but not very well known.

The garlic system will probably be a perlite/vermiculite mix that wicks the nutrients up from the res below it with some PVC tubing filled with the same mix. It will just be a simple bed system to let the garlic decide what they want to do.. I will probably be playing with this one for a while to get it right.

The carrots are going to be similar, but different. They will be 4" PVC tubing filled with perlite/vermiculite let to dip a couple inches into the res, and wick up. the tubing is to keep the carrots from crowding and letting them have their own space. More of a thought on how it might work, than a sure thing.

I will be working on my first system this august, and getting more together as materials arrive. I still have to order the nutrients so I am still far from growing yet, :P

Let me know what you think. I know it is a long read, but I am eager to have some feedback on my ideas.

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Old 07-29-2011, 04:11 AM
fintuckyfarms fintuckyfarms is offline
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My only comment is on the 4" pvc, if you can go bigger do so. Mine keeps clogging up with roots and overflowing. Lettuce, bush bean and sugar peas do ok in 4", but the tomatos and vine plants were too much for it.
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Old 07-29-2011, 04:41 AM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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Yes that was my concern with the 4 inch on the tomatoes. I was worried that they would clog easy. but I am also trying to find a way to make the container a functional area to wrap the vines of the indeterminate plant. I could simply go with 5 gallon buckets for them, but I was trying to avoid that :P.. I will see what I can come up with in the 6" PVC area and see if I can make the cost feasible. I want to make something the plant can spend a long time in, and wont be too maintenance intensive to do so... I should probably stick with the 5 gallon buckets for them lol.. I just hate drilling holes in perfectly good buckets to make the recirculating system :P.. I will be doing about 5 varieties of tomatoes as time goes by. Different tomatoes for different purposes.

I will have them sparated by small walls to help prevent cross polination since a couple are heirlooms.

but with hope I can get them all to grow on the same nutrients to make my life a little easier :P.
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Old 07-29-2011, 04:58 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello jamromhem,
Sounds like you have been planning to build your hydroponic systems for a while now. I'm having a hard time picturing exactly what you have in mind, as far as the vertical setup (X verses H). But just thought I would mention if you are looking for a less expensive alternative to the square vinyl fence post tubing, but still would like larger than 4 inch PVC or irrigation tubing. Check with local pluming supply houses, and or water utility supplier. The pluming supply houses tend to stock larger PVC tubing, and some will even cut it for you, and they usually sell it by the foot. I got some 6 inch schedule 40 PVC through a local pluming supply shop for $1.78 a foot, and they cut me a 4 foot section. I recently found out (today) that water utility suppliers carry larger pipe because they carry the sewer supply's. I was looking for 18 to 24 inch wide PVC at the time, that I plan to use as part of a subterranean heating and cooling system I plan to install for a greenhouse. But I also have plans to build a vertical tube hydroponic system when I can afford it, that the larger tubing is needed for too.

As for containing the roots, they tend to grow larger than most people think, and they'll grow down any tubes that have water in them. Without really being able to picture how you plan your setup. I would say just expect the roots to get in the tubing, but construct the system so that cleaning the roots out of them will be easy as possible. I call it building the system with easy maintenance in mind. But I think if you plan to grow tomatoes in a DWC system, it was a very good idea to make it a recirculating system.

The lettuce and herb setups you plan to build sound fairly straight forward in design, and it would be best to grow them in separate systems as you have already planed to do. The garlic and carrots will be interesting, I haven't grown them myself, and I haven't really seen anyone else do it in hydro. So it will be interesting to see how that works out for you. Garlic is on my list of things to grow in hydro someday, however carrots are usually fairly cheep here. It will be cool to see the pictures of your systems, I always like to see more of other peoples hydroponic systems. Take lots if you can, even while you construct them while your building them.
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Old 07-29-2011, 05:15 AM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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I have a small favor as far as collecting some tubing here. The area has a good bit of construction going on right now. More specifically there is a large housing development going up and they are currently working on the plumbing before they put down the foundations. I have gone by a few times and begged for some scrap. I have a few small pieces of I think 24" PVC and a few 3-4 ft sections of 4" nothing that great to speak of, but still decent finds for free.

as far as picturing the X or H. Imagine the Letters made from PVC and laying on the ground. all the ends of the letters capped off, and in the very center of the letter there is a piece of PVC sticking out virtically. That was the idea I had for the planters. I hope that helps picture it a little better. if not I can put up some drawings to clarify. I fogured it would be difficult to understand by some lol.

I sometimes have ideas that some people understand right away while others just can't picture it till I draw it out lol.

I will deffinitly be taking a decent amount of pictures (best I can remember) I enjoy sharing information with others to help them out with their attempts at repeating what I have done, and coming up with new ways to do it.

I am currently trying to decide what nutrients I will be using for what. I wouuld like to keep it simple with the GH dry nutrients. I am currently trying to get the place I plant to make a large purchase from to order floramato for me. (they have free shipping on orders over $100. I can post the link if people want, I just dont want to look like a spam bot for them lol

The garlic and carrots systems are more of a test bed.. I spent a good while thinking of the problems that people were having attempting to grow the two items in hydroponics. I have a feeling that my current plan might not work on the carrots (not sure how compressed the perlite/vermiculite mix will get yet). But I was wanting to keep the carrots separated to allow them to grow straight. It is more of a know how to grow it, than a need to grow it.

I am going to see how much of my shopping in the produce section of the store can be cut. Not to mention I have even more reason to work out an indoor hydroponic grow settup this year. My mother and sister in La do a garden every year. This year they planted their normal. some 20 tomato plants, some pepper plants, and whatever other odd assortment of veggies they wanted.

Well with all they planted the managed to get 1 tomato (just one) out of all of it before the heat hit and the rain didnt come. It was a bad year for them... But they have an extra air conditioned building they havent been using and could rebuild slightly to accomodate a decent hydroponic system.

that is down the road though.
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Old 07-29-2011, 07:16 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Is what you plan something like the drawing I attached? If so it looks interesting but a bit complicated with the 5 way connection. In particular making it watertight, as well as durable enough to support all the weight of the plant above. In an apartment, I doubt you would want any leaks. Or worse, it to crack and the to flood the floor. Also if that is the design plan, I would be concerned with water circulation as you mentioned. The roots will fill all portions of the X tubing and block complete circulation. The water will end up flowing from the fill tube directly up to the overflow tube, and the other 3 sides of the X shape I doubt would get any water flow at all when the roots grow. Also, draining the system without spilling the water would be important. Especially when cleaning the roots out of the fill line, and during nutrient solution changes etc. etc. etc.. You wont be able to move it very well if at all with the plant, and water in it.

P.S.
I think some people were looking for the floramato dry. And if I'm correct I herd that was discontinued, though some places may still have a supply in stock. It's OK to post useful links, just not spam. And it's fairly easy to tell the difference when people post spam.
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Old 07-29-2011, 01:23 PM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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that is exactly what I was thinking for those. Your concerns for the design are very similar to mine. I have been trying to think of ways to make it less of a problem, but I think going with a recirculating bucket system might be better for me. Anyone have any other ideas on a good system for tomatoes? I am trying to avoid NFT or similar systems for it with how the roots will be less manageable on that sort of system.

I am also trying to design my systems to be expandable with minimal effort. I will probably have a few valves to let me shut off a bucket, to let me disconect it and move/replace it if needed.

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