Hydroponics Online Home Home Store Blog Forums FAQs Lesson Plans Pictures

Go Back   Hydroponics Forums Discussions > Hydroponics Discussion Forums > Hydroponics

Questions about NFT setup


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-03-2015, 10:57 AM
Tahoe227 Tahoe227 is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 4
Default Questions about NFT setup

I am working on constructing a small NFT hydroponics system from scratch using PVC piping in an indoor space with decent but not perfect sun. I have two questions about this. What nutrients should I use, and can I use paper towels on the bottom of the pipe in place of capillary matting?

Thanks in advance.

Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 01-03-2015, 06:10 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Lake Havasu AZ.
Posts: 1,855
Default

Quote:
What nutrients should I use
just about any commercially made nutrients designed for hydroponics should work fine. Just get nutrients designed for the type of plants you plan to grow. Vegetative nutrients for non flowering plants, Bloom nutrients for flowering/fruiting plants. And/or a combined (Vegetative/Bloom) nutrients for continuously fruiting plants like peppers, tomato's, strawberries, etc..

Quote:
can I use paper towels on the bottom of the pipe in place of capillary matting
Well first I have never seen anyone using any type of matting in a NFT system, any type of mat would block the water flow. Second, I wouldn't put any type of paper in it because it will just dissolve and eventually just clog the pump and water lines. Not to mention turn the water cloudy with all kinds of particles floating in it.
__________________
Website Owner
Home Hydroponic Systems
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 01-03-2015, 07:16 PM
Tahoe227 Tahoe227 is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 4
Default

Thank you so much. I am using 3 inch diameter PVC and was told that matting should be used, but asked here because I thought it might clog the root mat and nutrient "film". I also wondered if it would be possible to grow small varieties of tomatoes and peppers in a 3 inch tube if adequate nutrients were supplied. Generally larger root systems are a result of low nutrient or water absorption, so I was wondering if it were possible. I am primarily looking to grow leafy vegetables, but are root vegetables possible as well?


Thanks again for your help.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 01-03-2015, 08:06 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Lake Havasu AZ.
Posts: 1,855
Default

While it is true that a plants root system are often bigger in soil where they need to search out water and nutrients. You'll be surprised how big the plants root systems get in hydroponics when you actually see them. So don't under estimate how big the root mass will get. Personally I would never grow tomato's in tubing (unless it was at least 6 inch wide, and the plants spaced 5 feet or so apart), 5 gallon buckets each minimum. Small or determinate peppers, I would give them 3 gallons of root space each minimum. You can always grow how you want. No mater what you do, it will be a learning experience. I have a plan to grow small (3-4 foot tall) corn plants in NFT rows, but I need to do some testing to check spacing and root mass needs first.

I attached a picture of the root mass in a similar system I built years ago. That root mass was from 4 pea plants growing in flood and drain system with 4 inch wide ADS tubing.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	100_9641.jpg
Views:	684
Size:	98.4 KB
ID:	2758   Click image for larger version

Name:	100_9557.jpg
Views:	672
Size:	100.5 KB
ID:	2759  
__________________
Website Owner
Home Hydroponic Systems

Last edited by GpsFrontier; 01-03-2015 at 08:11 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 01-03-2015, 09:47 PM
Tahoe227 Tahoe227 is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 4
Default

Thanks again. That's certainly a very large root mass for so few plants so I will make sure to be very careful if I do decide to grow tomatoes, but I will probably just try a variety of small peppers or perhaps small root vegetables like onions, potatoes, radishes, and beets if they are possible. Would a net pot inhibit the growth of these and would I have to use any kind of medium? Best of luck with your NFT corn though, I could not imagine doing something of that scale. Would you say there is a steep learning curve with NFT or hydroponics in general? I love learning new things but I'm worried about my plants failing.

Thank you so much for sharing your expertise.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 01-03-2015, 11:10 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Lake Havasu AZ.
Posts: 1,855
Default

There is always a learning curve when you try something new. How steep is really different for everybody. But I always say start small first, get some experience under your belt before expanding. You'll save both time and money. I wouldn't try growing root crops in a tube like that. It's just not a good system design for root crops, especially potatoes. One potato can clog your whole tube. Even the onions unless your talking about green onions. there simply isn't enough root space for them. And they should never be sitting in water or they can easily rot.

Radishes grow quite fast, and can do so in a shallow space. However a tube like that wouldn't be very efficient. If you just replaced the round PVC tube with a open rain gutter, filled the trough (rain gutter) with growing media like coco fiber (line the bottom with plebes), you could have a solid row of produce in the same space instead of a few here and there. you could do the same with green onions. However potatoes, bulb onions, and beats would all need a deeper root area. I would say at least 15 inches deep. The down side is they are all inexpensive to buy at the store, so is it really worth it to fill a large trough with growing media? I have a design to grow root crops like potato's, that doesn't use much growing media at all, and you don't need to pull the plant to harvest the produce (another system I plan to build). It's a simple concept and bit more of a complicated build, but I can't really think of another economical way to grow those type of root crops. Here is a link to a small simple system I through together to grow green onions and radishes with.

If I were to grow radishes again, I would probably use row's of rain gutters like I suggested earlier. I would probably use the same sand and vermiculite/Perlite mix for a growing media. However I would need to mount the rain gutter troughs on 2x4's to support the weight. That sand is heavy, but works well and is real cheap if you get it at the right place.

I also have a more complicated system design for growing green onions, but in a small footprint would give me plenty of green onions each week (40+). However I need to work on the germination rate make it as productive as it can be. I think I have a simple Idea to germinate them without much labor transplanting them into the rotating system, but haven't tried it yet.

With the corn the variety I planed on grows about 3 feet tall and should produce about three ears per plant, and I think said goes from seed to harvest in 6-8 weeks. I planed to have rows. As an Example: If I had 8 rows, and the plants spaced 2 feet apart, that's 6 plants in each 10 foot long row. I should be able to harvest one row a week, and replant it. That should be about 18 ears of fresh corn a week. I can at least double that production (harvesting two rows a week) with a separate prorogation area for starting seedling transplants. Again I just need to work out the best spacing, system setup, and root mass accommodations. During summer corn is fairly cheep here, but I can grow it year round in a greenhouse. Just a little trial and error, and some math to see how profitable/economical it would be.
__________________
Website Owner
Home Hydroponic Systems

Last edited by GpsFrontier; 01-03-2015 at 11:29 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 01-04-2015, 12:18 AM
Tahoe227 Tahoe227 is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 4
Default

At this point I no longer plan on growing root vegetables with this NFT system and instead plan on focusing on leafy vegetables, possibly small flowering vegetables, and perhaps scallions, radishes, or shallots. Will deep water culture work better for things like potatoes and beets? I understand that standing water will cause root rot, especially with large root masses, so will having a short run system that uses several short tubes instead of a couple longer ones help prevent water buildup? I'd also be interesting in your idea on quickly germinating and moving green onions, if you are comfortable sharing it.

Your corn setup sounds very interesting as well, would you just be starting seedlings in rock wool?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 01-04-2015, 01:44 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Lake Havasu AZ.
Posts: 1,855
Default

Quote:
Will deep water culture work better for things like potatoes and beets?
Again, trial and error. I have never seen anyone growing those crops in a water culture system, so I can't tell you how they did. I don't know about beats but potatoes plants can get quite large. Two problems with that are, first when the plant gets big it gets harder and harder to lift it off the bucket without damaging it. Then the plant suffers because it's to much work/trouble to take care of it. Second large plants suck up a lot of water. Unless you use a large 20 gallon bucket or so, you may be needing to add water as much as twice a day if you use less than a ten gallon bucket.

I don't have drawings of it made yet, but my plan to grow those is fairly simple. It's actually an aeroponic type system. Essentially building a waterproof cabinet where the root mass hangs down in and grows, the foliage grows up a trellis above the cabinet. I'll have misters placed all around the top of the cabinet (to rain water all over the roots), and baskets in the top for the plants to sit in. One side of the cabinet opens up when I want to harvest. I simply cut off a potato (or whatever) from the roots of the live plant and close it up again.

Quote:
will having a short run system that uses several short tubes instead of a couple longer ones help prevent water buildup?
Water buildup is due to blockage, not the length. Blockage is mostly due to large root mass, and spacing the plants to close too accommodate the growing root mass (creating blockage). If the tube isn't to small for the roots, and the plants are spaced far enough apart in the first place, you don't need to worry about blockage. Another reason is too shallow of a drop from the feed side to the drain side, but that's easy to change by raising the feed side or dropping the drain side.

Quote:
I'd also be interesting in your idea on quickly germinating and moving green onions, if you are comfortable sharing it.
I don't mind sharing any ideas, I just want to help as many other hydroponic gardeners I can. And I hope they would do the same. The system I built to grow green onions and radishes (I posted the link to) worked nicely. However I noticed a problem when I wanted to harvest the green onions especially. They were so closed together that all the roots were intertwined. That caused a problem because I would need to damage roots of some onion plants to harvest others. I came up with a design that solves that problem, while still allowing the close compact spacing. I tried it out last spring/summer, and though it was still just a proof of concept model, it functioned well. My problem was the germination rate. Not all the seeds sprouted (only about 50%), and I'm still not quite sure if that was due to growing media mix, moisture levels, seed depth, or simply the natural germination rate of green onion seeds.

But if I start the seeds in small plug and cells in a propagation area first I can make sure every cell in the hydroponic system has a growing plant in it, so no space is wasted. I just haven't decided on the best growing media to use for the small starter plugs yet. Polly foam is a good option, but has some issues. Coco fibor is a good option as well, but may be a bit more labor intensive to transplant on a large scale. But if I make my own starter plug trays, I may be able to make using coco fiber easier. Either way I need to create a flood tray for it so the sprouts can be watered on regular cycles. There are a few other options I'm considering as well, however they need to be just as cost effective.

Quote:
Your corn setup sounds very interesting as well, would you just be starting seedlings in rock wool?
I don't really like rockwool. It tends to become waterlogged to easily, and that leads to things like stem rot, and root rot. That's why I like the coco fiber. Coco fiber still holds good moisture, but also lots more air and oxygen as well. For the corn, I wouldn't want to use small baskets on a large scale because they would be a pain in the butt to clean them all to reuse them. I would probably find a way to make my own plugs, or use cheap disposable plastic cups with coco fiber in it to start them in. The roots will tear apart the plastic cups as they get bigger, but who cares they will be thrown away anyway.

__________________
Website Owner
Home Hydroponic Systems

Last edited by GpsFrontier; 01-04-2015 at 05:49 AM.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:19 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.