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Starting from scratch


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Old 12-06-2012, 11:19 PM
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: SW Louisiana
Posts: 2
Default Starting from scratch

I'm new to the forum and hooked. We live in SW Louisiana and have acreage with plenty of room. I plan to design a greenhouse with Hydroponics on the south side of an existing horse barn(steel frame). The south wall of the barn with be the north wall of the green house and i will have to fill in 3 walls. The greehouse will be 60' long. I need a rec for the width. 10', 12' or 14'? I wish to have a center alleyway with hydro on both sides. Plans are to have 2-55gal tanks for nutrients, buried. one for fruiting and 1 for vegetative plants. the frame will be galv sq tubing and have a door on both ends. I plan to use polycarb panels on the roof and 3 walls. Would like to grow. lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, some melons, zuccini, squash, and others. Now for details?
1. venting. Where and how much. Probably east and west walls?
2. panels. clear, white or smoke. We are in zone 8or9. Very hot summers.Suggestions on thickness?
3.probably ebb/flow for the veg plants and drip for fruiting?
4.which pumps to get as in gpm, add aereator?
5.how tall to make racks for the tubing? 3" or 4" tubing preferred?
6.how wide should be the alleyway and racks for plants?
7.how many circuits should I need? I may add lights and receptacles for fans.
8.water is from a well, moderate hardness. Is that acceptable?
9. ceiling will be 8-9' at the north side and slope to the south
10.

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Old 12-07-2012, 03:10 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Lake Havasu AZ.
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Hello JuniorSamples, It sounds like your planning to go all out. Have you grown hydroponically before?

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1. venting. Where and how much. Probably east and west walls?
Where? Hot air rises, place your exhaust vents near the top of the greenhouse on both sides, and pull the cool/fresh air in from low in the greenhouse. How much? That depends a lot on your location, how you construct your greenhouse, how well you circulate the air in it, as well as the time of year your growing. But first calculate how many cubic feet of air space will be in your greenhouse. Then you can use that number to decide what fans you want to use. I would choose fans that will circulate the entire greenhouse's cubic feet of air volume no less than twice an hour. But depending on the variables you may want fans that will circulate enough cfm's to circulate your total volume of air as much as five times per hour.

Quote:
2. panels. clear, white or smoke. We are in zone 8or9. Very hot summers.Suggestions on thickness?
I don't think you'll have a choice on thickness, I think that's pretty standard with polly panels. What color, how much light do you want to let in? Use clear if you want to be able to see the plants from the outside. During winter you'll probably want as much light as possible. But during summer when you want to restrict solar gain in the greenhouse, you can use shade paint or shade cloth during summer.

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3.probably ebb/flow for the veg plants and drip for fruiting?
Use any of the six types of systems you want, they'll all work. Each one has their own pro's and con's. Make sure to calculate the water volume you'll need to flood the ebb/flow systems you plan. On a large scale depending on how you construct the systems, it can take quite a bit of water volume. I prefer drip systems for large plants like peppers and tomatoes, and water culture systems or flood and drain for things like lettuce or strawberry's.

Quote:
4.which pumps to get as in gpm, add aereator?
What pump to get will always be best determined by you, and how you designed your system. GPH isn't the only number, or even most important number on the pump. The head height is (how high it can pump the water up). GPH is rated by head height (1 foot high, 2 foot high, 3 foot high, etc. etc.), and the maximum gph of the pump is at zero head height. In other words, a pump that says 500 gph will actualy be much less if it needs to pump the water say 3 feet high. Some pumps have scales on the box showing the gph at various heights.

Then if you are running multiple systems/containers of the same pump, that will further reduce the actual gph you wind up getting. Basically it's back pressure. The higher the water is, the more force it has pushing back towards the pump. My suggestion is to always get larger pumps than you think you will need if you can afford them. You can always reduce the water flow, but you can't make it pump more than it's rated for. The only system that an air pump is necessary is a water culture system, but it will never hurt using one in any type of system. The more air/oxygen the roots get the better.

Quote:
5.how tall to make racks for the tubing? 3" or 4" tubing preferred?
I don't think I understand the question. You can make a hydroponic system as tall or short as you want. I am not sure why you would want to use 3 or 4 inch wide tubing to make support racks to hold your systems. Unless you expect your systems to very very heavy.

Quote:
6.how wide should be the alleyway and racks for plants?
How much room do you need to easily walk through the alleyway and get around your systems to do maintenance when their full grown. As far as how wide to make the racks for your systems, how far can you reach to harvest and do maintenance around your systems.

Quote:
7.how many circuits should I need? I may add lights and receptacles for fans.
First you will need to figure out how many amps in total you expect to use. Find out the total amperage of all the fans you plan to use, as well as for all the electrical devices like the lights, pumps etc. Do you plan to use AC during, or swamp coolers during the summer, or electric heaters during winter? AC and electric heaters should probably have their own circuit or you'll keep tripping the breaker if much more is running on the same circuit. Once you have a good idea of the amperage of all the devices, and if you plan to use any large devices like AC or heaters. Call some local electricians for a free estimate and advice. I had a buddy of mine that is a licensed electrician do my greenhouse.

They know your local codes, and can give you far better advice than anyone else. Including the placement of the GFI outlets that are mandatory near water and outside. Once you know roughly how many amps you will need, it's easy to tell how many 15/20 amp breakers you'll need, and want if you want to give yourself some leeway in case you add or change things in the future.

Quote:
8.water is from a well, moderate hardness. Is that acceptable?
I would filter it and use UV treatment if you want to be successful. You may be lucky and not have a problem, but checking PPM/TDS wont tell you what elements are actually in the water, and in what variations their concentrated in. Beyond using filters to filter out elements, the ground is full of soil born pathogens that you could introduce into your systems. You can use chemical treatment to kill the microorganisms, but UV treatment if done right will do the same thing without adding any chemicals like chlorine to your water.

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9. ceiling will be 8-9' at the north side and slope to the south
That's fine, not sure if there was a question?
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:50 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: SW Louisiana
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great advice, thanks.
this ? was probably not worded well. how tall to make racks for the tubing? 3" or 4" tubing preferred?
it's really 2 questions. Is 3" or 4" pvc tubing the best choice for the ebb and flow growing tubes?
the other part is how high to make the shelves to put these on, as to not bend over all the time to work the plants. I had envisioned a 36" support structure for the ebb/flow tubes running on one side and putting the drips on the other side closer to the ground for the bigger plants, since they will need the room to grow vertically. Would the twin 55gal be enough or should I go bigger on one or both. I have a backhoe and can sink whatever is necessary. POssibly even a concrete greasetrap 200gal if needed. I just need to do it right the first time.
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Old 01-12-2013, 04:46 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Southeast Washington State - Right on the line of growing zones 6b & 7a
Posts: 347
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I don't think that I've ever heard somebody say they wish they made their reservoir smaller. There are both pro's and con's in reference to resevoir size. Larger reseviors will be more stable in temperture, nutrients and Ph as it takes longer to heat/cool and there is more nutrients that can be depleated before causing a major problem. The PH also does not fluxuate as fast with the larger size, however is something goes wrong you have a lot of $$$$$ invested that you will have to get rid of. Also different plants need different nutrients and PH levels so it is not a one stop shop they can feed off of. Like plants will be able to utilize the same nutrients/PH but you will have to do your homework.
Do you have a picture of a system you are considering? That may be helpful to better answer some of your questions.
I also use well water and have not had any issues. I want to build a filter like GPS did but I have not yet. I guess I have been really lucky because I haven't had any problems due to well water issues, heat yes, Ph yes but nothing specific I can say "It was the unfiltered water" that caused any issues. I currently use 55 gallon blue barrels for my resevoirs but I plan to purchase the 175 gal totes with the cage next and partically bury them.

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