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Question and Answer Page 7


make my own Nutrient solution florescent lights for growing
difference between CF and EC used rockwool
Solo plastic cups lettuce is tall and spindly
soil to start my plants submersible pump and air pump
fruiting cycle seeds washing down the system
growing flowers from seeds. polystyrene beads
Perlite in the grow cups 1" sdr26 pipe.
commercial greenhouse plans build a small unit

11:09:12 AM


I am the Ag Teacher at Cody-Kilgore HS in Cody NE. I am in charge of the sensing devices part of
our district Ag Mechanics contest. The theme for our contest this year is fruit, nut and vegetable
production. What I am looking for is a simple diagram or flyer containing some sensing devices that
the students can use for a problem solving activity. If anyone has any suggestions or can help please
do so. My e-mail address is Thank you!!

I would like that information too. I have been through dozens of pH and ppm meter pens in the last
few years and at about $100. per it gets expensive.

8:58:40 PM


How can I make my own Nutrient solution

After you see what it takes to make your own you might want to think about that. Element Chart

9:10:49 AM


Ron, Is there a difference between CF and EC ? (I am in Australia.Is this a "cross-pacific thing?)
Can this be measured with a multimeter? (If not, then what :) Can this be a problem (or am I getting
slower growth) by not testing for this?(i do test pH) I seem to get fairly good results for my "special"
crop but want to maximise output for what I can legally grow (~South Australia WOO-HOO ;). I
like growing in expanded clay balls but am curious it better to leave water constantly circulating
through my system(when lights on)or should it be on/off ? My area is fairly hot and the plants use a
lot of water. (the roots that are coming ut my drainage holes are extremely healthy! Would pieces of
rockwool within the mix allow less watering? How many times can you re-use clay aggregate?

Lots of quetions I know but good information on hydro is hard to find (and your FULL OF IT!! ;)
(and I mean that in the nicest possible way!!) Thanx heaps for any info. EK Holden

I can't find any thing in my books about CF. A multimeter doesn't have an internal electrical source
to send across its electrodes to get a ppm reading. A multimeter uses an external electrical source to
If you leave the water flowing you should put an air pump and air stone in your nutrient tank to
supply your plant roots with oxygen. Some times just the movement of your water is enough to add
air but those air pumps are so cheap it wouldn't hurt to add one.
The ebb and flow action of the bottle gardens suck in oxygen to the roots when the water lowers and
pushes the bad air out when the water rises.
Expanded clay aggregate lasts forever but I clean and wash it with a 10 % bleach solution between
each use.

4:58:47 PM


Where can I find cheap nutrients for a beginner just starting on hydroponic growing?
If you can help send me an e-mail at

Try here 

8:01:51 PM


I have a few questions regarding the use of the Solo plastic cups. How many holes should one
make? How big? (obviously smaller than the growing media) Do I make the holes along the bottom
and the sides? I realize this sounds simple but I do not want my plants under nourished (too many
holes that drains to fast) or drowning. Thanks David

I burn a lot of holes all around the sides about half way up the cup but none in the bottom to keep
the roots from growing straight down the pipes. Here is a picture of the cup and soldering iron.

3:43:38 PM


Hi Ron. Yet another question... I'm starting some peas in the smaller 2 inch rock wool and am
wondering if i'm doing the right thing here. Should I maybe use soil to start my plants or use another
type medium? Thanks Ron Reece

You can go from rockwool to grow rocks. Just make sure your water level rises high enough to wet
the cubes until they grow new roots.
I primarily use vermiculite soaked with Olivia's Cloning Solution with almost a 100 percent success
rate for cuttings. I also use vermiculite for starting seeds. I sprinkle the seeds in a tray of Oliveras
soaked vermiculite with another thin layer to cover the seeds and when the plants are big enough to
transplant into your system I loosen the vermiculite around the roots with a spoon and rinse to
remove loose vermiculite before carefully putting grow rocks around the plant roots in the solo cups.

10:38:09 AM


Hi Ron: This is Rey, Thank you for answering my question and for your help. Now help me again, if
you can, and don't mind, Do you know a good source for Do it your self greenhouse for a good
price. if you do, how about an address. thank you.

I will have greenhouse kits for sale this year some time if you can wait that long.

1:34:28 PM


Could someone please offer some advice. This is the second time I've tried to grow peppers (bell &
anaheim) and am having the same problem each time.
The growth is great until I get to the fruiting cycle. The blossoms appear (lots of them) but the stems
fall and no fruit is produced.
The tomatoes growing at the other end of the system are producing fruit just fine. Here are all the
details I can think of:
-- Using a 3-part nutrient designed for hydroponics, and mixed according to manufacturer's
directions. -- Keeping PPM in a range from 1400-900.
-- Keeping PH at around 7.0 - 7.2
-- Keeping temperature to 70 in day, 60 - 62 at night.
-- Growing in grow rocks, with continual feed drip ring. (First time around tried intermittent drip)
-- Growing indoors under metal halide with light mover (400 watt with five plants), with some light
from north and west facing windows. 18 hrs artificial light per day. Air circulation is intermittent fan.
Thanks very much for any suggestions. (This is driving me *crazy*!).

At the better nurseries they sell a product called Tomato Set where you spray this stuff on the fruit to
make it set. If you can find something like that for peppers that's all I can think of because your
growing conditions couldn't be better.
I have had problems taking bell peppers to full term but I have had great results with banana and all
kinds of hot peppers.

4:23:34 PM


This is a very nice site. I have spend several hours here so far and already send an order for media
and nutrients.I am interested in growing flowers from seeds. Is it possible? Most of the discussion is
about growing tomatoes and other vegetables. Can I grow impatients from seeds using your
hydroponic methods. Do I need special seeds? What other types of annuals can be grown easily
with hydroponic methods?

Yes all kinds of annuals and ornamental plants grow very well in hydroponics and when they get root
bound in the solo cups you can transplant them to dirt pots or your yard.
I will be planting some annuals soon around the hydro system I have around my pool and will post
Start the seeds in vermiculite then transplant to your system because seeds will get flushed before
they have time to sprout.

5:00:24 PM


Hi Ron, I was just wondering if there are any hydroponic enthusiasts in New Mexico that I could
correspond with? If so please contact me at Thanks very much. Clifford Lasiter

1:15:04 PM


Hi Ron Can one use Pearlite in the grow cups if the holes were smaller or if you used a screening
material such as the end of a pantyhose?

Yes but the problem with Perlite is it floats out of the cups when the water rises. So if you could tie
the pantyhose around the plant stem to contain the Perlite. Or how about a plastic coke lid with a
hole and a slit to go around the plant stem.
I will do some experimenting and post the results. Here's how Glen does it.

12:16:48 AM


Ron I am looking for commerical greenhouse plans. Can you help? Allen

The best book I have found with plans and other information is
Secrets to a Successful Greenhouse Business by T.M. Taylor
GreenEarth Publishing Company,Inc
P.O. Box 243
Melbourne FL 32902

9:31:09 AM


Hi all, Went to a yard sale the other day. This guy had three floresent housings which were three feet
long ,he then told me that they came from an old show case. well he sold them to me for five dollors
a peice. I thought what a good deal, so i got them. My problem is who makes a three foot long grow

You can use regular soft white instead of the more expensive grow light florescent tubes if you can
find them in 36 inches.
Because you already have the fluorescent fixtures you may want to use them but fluorescent tubes
emit a gentle, low temperature light in a very low wattage. Excellent for the first two weeks of plant
life but simply do not provide the intensity of light required by most plants but High-Intensity
Discharge (HID) lights do. They are the same lights you see in parking lots, warehouses, baseball
diamonds and other places where reliability and economy are a prime concern.The two common
HID lights used for growing plants are Metal Halide lights that produce an intense light of a
blue-white spectrum excellent for vegetative plant growth. And High-Pressure Sodium lights that puts
out an orange shaded light which simulates the rich red hue of the autumn sun. Best used for fruiting
or flowering. For best results use both kinds to give your plants the full light spectrum needed for
healthy plant growth.
If electricity is also a concern consider that a 40 Watt fluorescent tube puts out 22 lumens per watt
and a Metal Halide puts out 125 lumens per watt and an even higher 140 lumens per watt for
High-Pressure Sodium.

8:51:26 AM


hello. my name is becky and my 9th grade class is doing a project about hydroponics. we'd love to
hear any information that any of you has that might be beneficial to us. e-mail us at george your help would be highly appreciated. thank you!!

8:54:12 PM


The last time I used rockwool was about 8 months ago and when I stopped, there were a few black
patches that looked like fungus or mold on the top. When I was done with my first batch of
habaneras and green peppers, I let the rockwool air dry and am now concerned that mold or fungus
may grow and destroy any chances of my second crop.

Can you re-use rockwool after its been dormant and if so do I need to be concerned about potential
mold problems?

That mold is common with rockwool and is caused from photosynthesis from your light source on
the wet rockwool. You can cut down on it by using a cover over the rockwool cubes.
I also tried to reuse rockwool years ago and it didn't work well. My guess is the fertilizer salts
residue build up that is left from prier use. It would need to be flushed and sterilized before you use it
again which isn't practical.
That's why I use grow rocks.

2:58:01 AM


Can you grow large tomatoe plants in the 2 liter bottles? What would you use in the bottle for
growing media. Thanks Larry B.

I use the patio bush type tomato plants in the 16 oz cups that sit in the 2 liter bottles so they won't get
to big but you can decide for yourself how tall your plants grow.
I use expanded clay aggregate what we call grow rocks

8:06:03 AM


Why is my spinach plants turning yellow ...{Top leaves) and their rate of growing has stopped?

Spinach is a high fertilizer user so you might try increasing your ppm.

11:18:05 AM


Need Help Bad. I have started some cucumber, lettuce and tomato plants, the problem is that the
cucumbers plants got very tall with two leaves and toppled over, also the lettuce is tall and spindly,
did I do something wrong? Can this be corrected?

Plants get tall and spindly from not enough light.

6:45:58 PM


Hey there, I have a problem and I was hoping you guys and gals can help me. You see...I just
brought an submersible pump and an air head pump from a garage sale. Both of them are made from
Wave Castle and I can't figure out how to use them ( & what's their purpose).Both of them works
but it's doesn't seem to pump any water or do anything thanks in advance Calvin

Make sure the pump is fully submersed in water and check that the propeller inside the pump isn't
stuck. The air pump can be used to add air bubbles in your nutrient tank. Buy an air stone and hose
at a fish store that hooks to the air pump and lay the air stone in the tank so it will come on when your submersible pump comes on.

10:58:21 PM


Great site Ron!
Based on your comments about re-using rockwool for my habaneros and green peppers, I've
decided to go ahead and purchase grorocks (from you if you've got a good price! :).

I'm wondering whether I'll need to alter my current set-up which are rockwool slabs sitting in 4
20"x15" tuppermaid containers (contains 16 plants @ 4 plants/tub). I'm using a top-feed/drip system
with 3gph drip emitters. It doesn't sound like I'll need all of the space these containers provide so
thought I would place the grow rocks in smaller plastic pots and place these in the tubs (tubs are
drained into a reservoir and the nutrient is recirculated). Is this something I need to do or should I
just fill the tubs each with grorocks. My thoughts are I'll wind up having to purchase more grorock
medium than what my plants really need. Is this thought process on the right track??

I think the pots of growrocks is better but I would cover the Tupper maid containers with lids with holes
cut for the pots to sit in to keep so much wet area from your light source to control the green slime.

9:22:17 AM


Hello, my name is Emily and I'm doing a science project on hydroponics. I don't know a lot of
information, and if you know a lot about hydroponics and are an expert, I would really appreciate it
if you emailed me at <a
so that I could discuss hydroponics with you, and maybe even interview you over email. Thanks a

4:53:55 PM


why do the people who work in the grocery spray the vegetables?

so they won't dry out and shrivel up.

9:01:45 AM



No All we have is Major information!

2:24:50 PM


Hey Ron! Great site! We have a question about your setups, how do you prevent the little seeds
from falling down through the soda bottle and bottle cap right into the water?! What the heck?
Please send email to your two newest members

I start the seeds in vermiculite or dirt and then transplant them to my systems when they are big
enough to grab hold of.
Loosen the vermiculite or dirt around the roots with a spoon and then rinse off the excess with water
before carefully putting the grow rocks around the plant in the 16 oz solo cups.

1:43:49 PM


Are there any very informative Hydroponic websites, where they don't want me to buy equiptment

Most Hydroponics Websites give a little information away for free in the hope that you will buy
something. You might want to try University Internet data banks for hydro info. Another good source is the Hydroponics Society of America.

3:41:34 PM


I am a 6th grade student working on a science research project. I want to grow tomato plants in
hydroponic solution. I need information on how to do this and where I can purchase the solution.
Can you help me. Thanks. Please e-mail me with any help at

10:22:29 PM


Hello Ron. I live in the tropics and plan to use the 2-litre bottle system for tomatoes using ebb'n'flow.
We get about 12hrs sunlight throughout the year. I've read somewhere that a possible medium to use
is 1/4" polystyrene beads (those found in 'bean bags'). Since they float, I've got to weigh them down
somehow. I can find rockwool here, but they are for heat insulation. My question is: are any of them
suitable? The other thing which is holding me back is nutrient. As tomato hydroponics is not yet
popular here, I cant seem to find suitable nutrient. Nutrients for green and leafy vegs can be easily
found.(168-40-200, I think) Other than that, I'm all go. The 4 x 3 rig and pump are all set! Best
Regards, Azhar Ahmad

Be careful using polystyrene beads and insulation because they sometimes contain fire retarding that
will kill plants.
The hydro nutrient is everyone's problem too. It's hard to find.
Some members are successfully using soil fertilizer so you might try that.
I hope to be set up to sell small amounts of inexpensive hydro solution this summer.

9:07:06 AM


I think your site is great! KeeeeeeP up the great work. I have a question on the 1" sdr26 pipe. Do
you have to buy special fittings (elbows, t's...) or will the standard fittings work as well? Thanks Ron

No just use 1 inch fittings. The 1 inch pipe comes in heavy grade and light grade.
the bottle caps will only fit in the light grade or what I call thinwall PVC. 

12:18:20 AM


I teach 8th grade science. I am going to build a small unit to study hydroponics but I know nothing
about this subject. I have a model of a river in my lab at school made of gutters, a reservoir tank, and
a pump. I want to convert it into a hydroponic system by growing plants in the gutter part of the
"river" and replacing the "river water" with the nutrients the plants need to grow. Can anyone help
with these questions:
1. What kind of medium will the plants grow in? I know they don't just float in the water. Do I need
pots? Will the gutter be deep enough?

 Cover the gutter with a water proof material with holes for a little plastic basket to sit in and you
won't need any medium. The roots will hang through the basket in the flowing water.

2. What do I need to add to the water for it to be nutrient rich enough for the plants? I would like to
grow tomatoes.

 You do need to use an approved hydroponic fertilizer.

3. What can I grow in a system like this?

 In this kind of system it is better to grow smaller plants like bib lettuce.

4. How likely is the success of this project?

 A 50 50 chance.

5. What else do I need to know for this project?

 Add an air stone to your tank to enrich the water with oxygen.

Thanks Mike Johnson


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