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My First system


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Old 07-30-2011, 11:54 PM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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Default My First system

I decided to go with the Lettuce first. No particular reason other than it was actually more work to put together lol.

I went for a run around home depot today and baught more than I needed. I got about 35ft of 1-1/2" PVC for about 6 dollars because the person couldnt count when he was looking at the stack of misscuts. I am not going to complain though. I paid about 1/2 price.

I guess I will go ahead and start with the pictures.

I will do them in a few posts just to keep them separated out I guess.

These first few is how I attached the Drain. It was a 1-1/2 " PVC male adapter, and I just off the part that would usually slide over the pipe and then made a hole that would just fit it and hot glued it in. I havent leak tested it yet. I will get more into my reason for waiting later.

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Old 07-30-2011, 11:59 PM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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These next few show the drain and intake system. I have the intake running through the drain system through 1/2" flexible PVC and then it branches out just before it goes into the res through the side of a T. I put a 1-1/2" to 1/2" bushing and board it out just a hair at the lip it has to let the 1/2" pipe fit all the way through it. I figured less holes in the vinyl post the less I would have to worry about leaking.
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Old 07-31-2011, 12:12 AM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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Here is what I have done so far. I have to do a little more to it. and I have it set up to where i can expand it to 3 tubes later if I decide to. I will have to do some more work to the plumbing side to add more to it, but that isnt a big deal with all the extra PVC I have laying around right now.

Inside of the 4x4 post is a long piece of 1/2" pvc I havent finished with yet. It will be fixed at the top back corner of the 4x4 to let me put small holes in to spray on the net cups that I will be putting in there (have to wait for them to get here to make the holes). The purpose of letting it spray on them is to let me put plants that dont have roots that will hang down yet.

Hopefully the net cups will be here soon. I have them ordered and should hopefully be here next week if I am lucky. My lettuce seeds are already set up to germinate (I hope they all do). I set them up today in hopes that everything will be here on time to let me put them into the system.

I also have to put up the support for the lights I will be putting up. I am going to do 4 T8s. with 6500k bulbs. That should be plenty with the system sitting next to a south pacing 6ft window.
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Old 07-31-2011, 10:33 PM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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ok.. I have been doing some thinking on the system. I am considering the space below the shelving for both storage and an additional res. I am thinking about placing the pump under the shelf in the second res, and having the waste water dump into the one you can see in the picture. (nothing is glued yet so I still have plenty of think time)


I would be joining the two res with a pipe near the bottom. (just enough to clear the wood framing) I would think that would give me more time between res changes having way more res than needed for the single tube that is in place at the moment.

The other half of the space could be used as storage for the nutrient bins and such. I am also considering adding the plumbing for the other 2 tubes I am going to add in the future now rather than having to redo it all later.

I have the braces cut for the lighting that I am going to add, I just have to wait for my little cordless drill to charge before I can add it on and take more pics.

Any thoughts on my idea? I am wanting to make the system as useful as I can in the beginning since I am planning on expanding it later.
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Old 08-02-2011, 12:54 AM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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Well I have some more work done on the system. I got the light system set up on it. It is 2 dual T8 4ft flourescents. I have 2 5000k bulbs and 2 6500k bulbs.

For more than 10k lumens in a 4ft by 14" area. That should be plenty of light for some lettuce. If need be I can fix mount another fixture in the back, but I don't think I will need to.You can also see how I fixed it to the frame. It currently has 4 pullies and if you pull on the center loop it goes up evenly. I will be adding another line and making a 'reel' (like a fishing one) to let me control the light levels. It sits about 1" from the rails when completely lowered, and about 1' when wrapped as it is in the picture. (the retaining strings slid onto the hooks for the pullies)

I am still waiting for the ordered supplies to get in to let me test the pump to see what I have to do. I have multiple lines set up to let me do a drip feed, semi aeroponics, small sprayers..... tons of things to test to let the roots develope down into the NFT.

I hope it all gets here soon.. I started germinating the lettuce to try to be ready for when things get here... of the 10 seeds I set. 8 have already sprouted (2 days). 8/10 is pretty impressive in 2 days. I hope that those plants are still going when the supplies get here.
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Old 08-03-2011, 10:39 PM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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Default 8/3/11

well I did some more work on the system and got in my supplies.

It is up and running mostly.. I am working on getting the PH to be where I want it...

It is only holding 6 gallons but I might add another gallon or two to try to help out with the PH balance thing...

I am working on flushing all of the vinyl scraps out of the system to get it cleaned up..

Here is the pic of it.. I am going to add 2 more channels to it later.. I have my seedling tray sitting in the middle of the picture at the moment.. Waiting for them to start being big enough to put in the system..

Not to mention trying to work out the bugs before killing the plants lol.

On a side note.. I have decided there is no chance I am sticking with perlite lol... the peices are getting all through the system and are more of a pain than it is worth..

What other mediums might people think I should use to replace the mess? :P
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Old 08-04-2011, 12:34 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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If you sufficiently line the baskets with something like cheesecloth, the perlite shouldn't be able to get through. However it wouldn't be my first choice in a system like that either. Especially if you set it up as a flood and drain system, because perlite floats. My favorite growing medium is "coco chips," coco fiber will fall through the slats in the baskets, but the chips are much larger particles and very few will be able to make it through. For small baskets like that 1 small brick of coco chips will be more than enough. Just 1 half cubic foot (.5 cubic feet) is almost 4 gallons worth. But you can also use grow rocks (Hydrocorn, Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate). Or rockwool, however rockwool will probably water-log in a flood and drain system (suffocating roots, and causing stem rot). I haven't used it yet, but small lava rock I understand works well also (rinse it off well first). If you can find it, another one I haven't tried yet is something called "silica rock," here is a link to a post with a picture of it from a forum member that has used it; http://www.hydroponicsonline.com/for....html#post5569
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  #8  
Old 08-04-2011, 12:51 AM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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it is an NFT system (sort of) I need to take more pictures of it functioning.

In the main tube there is a 1/2" pvc line with small holes in it that are squirting the bototm of the bucket. and then at the far end (away from the drain) the tube is open, with a raised opening that lets whatever other water come out and flow down the bottom of the channel.

I will take some pics and add them of the water flow tomorrow. I was thinking about lining the netpots with some screen I have on hand. It is a fiberglass window screen.

My plants are started in some STG starter cubes (I don't like some of the complaints about rockwool, like the fiberglass feeling from using it) which are supposed to be PH neutral and only mildly moisture whicking.

(I went ahead and took some pictures of the water system.)

The open end solved the problem I was having with small bits of the shavings of pvc and vinyl blocking the holes where the water comes out. the presure from the water having to go up the extra couple inches is high enough to let the holes shoot out some water.
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Last edited by jamromhem; 08-04-2011 at 12:54 AM.
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Old 08-04-2011, 03:44 PM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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well.. just an update. I found out one of my problems with the system. My PH down is citric acid. So it is why I am fighting with my PH.

I am picking up some phosphoric acid later to try to get that fixed.

I do have a question.. In my res the bubbles are no longer popping. any ideas? lol it is strange.
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:08 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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How is your pH changing? By how much, and how fast? I would be interested in your conclusions about using phosphoric acid, verses the citrus acid. I have been using a citrus acid pH adjuster for years, and it works great for me (I have never used anything else). As for the bubbles not popping, do you have any pictures? It sounds like you are saying they are forming bubbles on top of the water like a bubble bath. If that's the case, you may have something growing in it like algae, bacteria, or fungi (or didn't rinse all the soap out after cleaning). Algae, bacteria, and/or fungi would also be a likely cause of pH issues.
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Old 08-04-2011, 10:43 PM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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I think there was something growing in it as well... It started going rancid on me.. I cleaned it out and I am restarting it all over. The PH would go from 6.0 to 7+ in a matter of hours.. I am still using citric acid at the moment while I try to find phosphoric acid in the area.. I might end up having to go with sulfuric.. I was hoping the citric would do me good being a little bit safer.

It wasnt quite like a bubble bath bubble... it was more like a foamy film. (my airstones make tiny bubbles) not to mention there was some odd currdled milk type film starting to join it... that is where the starting to go rancid smell started too...

I am hopfully at ground 0 again... I rinced it out. filled it back up.. ran some h2o2 through it. and I have water with nutrients and got it to 6.0 again. It was about an hour ago I got it to 6.0 I will be checking it again here in a minute.

Here is my res right now.. I have 2 fine bubble air stones in the res to keep it nice and airy. The fine bubbles were not popping before and there was a nasty film that was building up... I thought it very odd considering it was only a day old res and there were no plants in it yet lol..

I am hoping a couple doses of H2O2 of the next couple days will help keep it clear and let it stay stable for a bit...
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:45 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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If it smelled, it was probably a fungus, but could haven been a bacteria too. I don't think you have any plants in the system yet right? If not, I would take apart the system and wash it all with soapy water. Rinse it off, then put some bleach water in a spray bottle, and spray it down with the bleach water a few times. And after taking the pump apart and washing it too, soak the pump in H202. Then after cleaning and sanitizing everything, run some plain water in it with a good amount H2O2 for at least 24 hours (like whole 32 oz bottle with 5 gallons of water). Once you get a fungus in the system, it's very difficult to get rid of. You pretty much just have to take it completely apart, then clean and sanitize it all. Even then just one spore can start it all back up again. If it was bacteria and there was any areas that were missed and they survived, they'll multiply quickly too.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 08-04-2011 at 11:49 PM.
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:59 PM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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thank you for the advice.. I will go add some bleach to it lol.. I have it running with a good amount of h2o2 right now. I will add some bleach and let it run for a day on that.

Then start my rinse cycles. I have a feeling the system is getting moved soon though. I have a spare guest suite that has a full bath and enough clearance under the door to let me pass 1/2" piping and still be able to close the door. I am currently having to remove the water by hand to the point the res is managable and I disconnect the union and pull it all out..

I am going to be starting to set up the new plumbing in the bathroom tomarrow and see about moving it soon after lol. I have to make this manageable with my joint not always wanting to do what I want them to.

EDIT: added about 1/2 gallon of bleach to 7 gallons of water in my res. That can run for a while.. you can definitly tell it is a good bit of bleach from the smell alone lol..

out of curriosity.. how much H2O2 is too much for plants? I am concerned that the seedling I have going might be subject to the same problem. I think it stemmed from a container I was using that I thought was washed out but must have had some unseeable problems..

Last edited by jamromhem; 08-05-2011 at 12:05 AM.
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Old 08-05-2011, 12:49 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I generally add about 5mL (1 tsp) of H2O2 per gallon of water in my systems weekly. But I have been known to use twice that, or even 3 times that at the first sign there is something in the system. Though I don't usually use it with seedlings. I usually wait tell their a few inches tall before adding the H2O2 because seedlings roots are more delicate. But If I do use H2O2 with seedlings, I cut the dose to about 5mL (1 tsp) for "two" gallons. Though because it dissipates so quickly, I would re-add it every other day. Or at least every 3 days. And if I am trying to get rid of a problem with established plants, I'll re-add the H2O2 every couple of days instead of weekly.
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Old 08-05-2011, 12:56 AM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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thanks for the input. I added some h2o2 to the seedlings to try to give them some relief from the problem. I opened the dome I have them in and I could smell the same thing I had before... If I lose the seedlings it will be ok. They are just a few lettuce seedlings about an inch tall. More of a test set than anything. I hope they make it, but if they don't I will live.
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Old 08-05-2011, 02:14 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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What is your water source, what water are you using?
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Old 08-05-2011, 02:23 AM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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I am using tap water at the moment. I am going to try it as opposed to getting some distilled. With hope it will be decent enough (not knowing what is in it). I bubble it for a while to dechlorinate.
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Old 08-05-2011, 03:09 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Whatever is getting in your system/s may be in your water source to begin with. Weather directly out of the tap, or any storage containers used to put it in. You mentioned that your getting the same smell from your seedlings, so I would wonder why. And the water would be a common thread between them. Pathogens and fungi spores can still make it through a water treatment plant. Even airborne spores could be getting into your water after you get it from the tap.

I don't think you have any plants in the main system yet, so I don't think you were using nutrients in it yet either (until now), but rather just plain water for testing it. I assume since your seedlings are still real small, your probably not using nutrients their either. Or at least a very diluted amount. So there must be a common thread between your main system and seedling propagation tray if they both are having the same issue.
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Old 08-05-2011, 03:19 AM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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I think the common link if not the water is that I used the same applejuice bottle to put liquids in both. I did wash it out, but did not sterilize it or anything to that nature. I was rather lazy ith it and learned a lesson for it lol.

I think that is the source of the issue. If the seedlings are able to fight off the attack with some H2O2 I will let them continue on as normal. Should they seem to be taken over I will have to toss them and start from scratch on them as well.

I did have nutrients in my res in an attempt to learn how it all balances out with the PH and all. I am trying to get it figured out a bit, before it is time to put plants in, and pottentially too late to want to make stupid mistakes.

I am now using vinegar bottles (1 gallon) to move the water around. I am rinsing them with a light bleach solution before using them now and rinsing well. I figured the vinegar bottles would be less prone to residual sugars and therefor less prone to collecting organisms than an apple juice bottle.
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Old 08-05-2011, 10:36 PM
jamromhem jamromhem is offline
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Your suggestions worked great GPS. The system is up and running again and the PH is stable now.

I have it going and it is working fine. The water is doing what it should be doing lol..

There is a good bit of h2o2 in the system. I didnt measure just started squirting it in there till I decided I was bored with it lol.

The plants seem happy to be in the system now. I can tell a good difference in the plants in the few hours they have spent in it. There is probably about a 1/10th strength solution in there right now.

I will take some pics of the plants when I get more than just 2 leaves lol. I also have some tomato seeds germinating in the system as a test of laziness. One has started showing rooting atleast, so I think it is working fairly well.

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