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Old 12-14-2010, 08:53 PM
alarrivy alarrivy is offline
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i have a general question for growing fruit hydroponically. i have searched google for hours on end for the answer to my question which is; what hydroponic system would be best for growing fruit in general. i am very interested in starting my own hydroponic garden and i plan on mainly growing fruits so i am looking to buy a system which is best for fruit growth such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries etc. any info would be great thank you!!!

andy

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Old 12-14-2010, 09:58 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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There is not really one type of system that works well for all fruits (or even any plant). They all have their good points and bad points to take into consideration. For instance raspberries and blueberries grow much different than strawberry's. Raspberries and blueberries are large bushes where strawberry's are small bushes. And raspberries and blueberries take years to be fully productive, where if chilled first (winterized) strawberries will be productive shortly after planted for months.

Personally I would not even consider buying a hydroponic system, but rather build my own. I would grow strawberries in long tubes as a flood and drain system, I might even consider using the same design but using it as a NFT system (although I'm not really a fan of NFT systems). Or even in a water culture system (most people will call that a floating raft system). For large bushes like Raspberries and blueberries, I would use a drip system and a minimum 3 gallon bucket size, but I would go with 5 or even 7 gallon buckets. I'm not sure about blueberries but raspberries store their energy in the roots, so it's important not to damage their roots.

I'm not sure of your familiar with growing raspberries, so here is a link to some info about growing raspberries.
Growing Hydroponic Raspberries, part 1 | Hydroponics Blog - Hydroponics Articles - Hydroponics Online

Here is a thread (http://www.hydroponicsonline.com/for...o-systems.html) about some strawberries I grew two summers ago. I built it as a flood and drain system (ebb & flow), but it took almost 50 gallons of nutrient solution to fully flood and not run the pump dry. I eventually got it down to only needing 32 gallons by some modifications. I like the system although I would convert it to a aeroponics system in the future. That way I can have the same amount of plants but use less than 1/4 the nutrient solution.

Also I attached a few pictures of a design I plan to build for growing strawberries. I have not found a good source for the square tubing yet. Vinyl fence post tubing runs about $15 for one five foot piece. But you can easily use round ADS tubing (irrigation tubing) that runs $9 for a 10 foot long piece like I built this system with, it's usually found near the PVC tubing. You can even use rain gutter downspouts that run about $8 for a 10 foot long piece, they don't usual sell end caps for downspouts, but that would work well if you wanted to run it as a NFT system.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 12-14-2010 at 10:11 PM.
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Old 12-14-2010, 11:20 PM
alarrivy alarrivy is offline
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Talking awesome

Wow that is an awesome explanation to my question thank you very much
I did not expect so much help!!! It is very much appreciated as I am just getting a start into hydro-growing. Also would you happen to have any info on how to grow water-melons and mango trees?? Those will be my next endeavors once i master the basic art of hydro-growing. Again thank you for all of your advice and insight. I am the newbiest of all newbies here so if you have any more general info you would think would help with getting me started I would greatly appreciate that also.. looks like i came to the right place!!!

Much appreciated

Andy
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Old 12-15-2010, 05:58 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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No problem, alarrivy
I have been there myself, so I like trying to help others. I haven't grown mango trees in hydro, although about 10 years ago I had started some mango seeds in soil. Although they would be interesting to grow, they are long term trees that take decades to mature, and would require working out a lot of other details like maintenance issues, plant support etc.. But I'm sure I can find some good information on growing mango trees tomorrow, even if it's not in hydro it would give you an idea of the type of system needed and problems.

I have grown cantaloupe and are very similar to melons in the way they grow. I had them in a makeshift system that I meant to transfer them into another system I was going to build. But I didn't get the money together I needed to build it (about $150 total), then they grew together to much to separate. I posted picks of it in this thread:

http://www.hydroponicsonline.com/for...26-melons.html

I also posted some links to information on growing melons in that thread. Check them out, there is a lot of good info there. The system I had planed to grow them was fairly simple, using basically two trenches placed about 4-5 feet apart for the roots. Then building a "A" frame trellis between them for the vines to grow up on. And a drip system for the nutrient solution, with the reservoir in the ground to keep them cool. I can go into more detail of how I planed to construct it if you were interested in it.

Don't be afraid to ask any questions, start threads etc. even if you think it might be silly. What may seem like common sense to me and other growers, may be new to someone else. I don't consider myself an expert, but I have learned a lot in the last few years I've grow plants hydroponically. But even if I don't know something I try to at least point you in the right direction. I am not sure where to start with general information, but my first hard lesson was that the nutrient temperature is very important. 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit is in the perfect range. To hot and the plants will abort fruiting, wilt and just try to stay alive (among other problems). To cold and the plants wont be able to uptake the nutrients they need, and wind up with stunted growth.

P.S. I don't usually post this link because it's my website (it's in my signature) and I don't believe in spamming threads with links to my site. But it will cover a lot of general information (which is why I created it in the first place). I'm still working on the site so there is still a lot more I need to add, and it does not look right using internet explorer (but works fine in Firefox and Chrome).

Build Your Own Home Hydroponic Systems (homepage)
Types of Hydroponic Systems (the six types of hydroponic systems)
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Old 12-15-2010, 03:26 PM
alarrivy alarrivy is offline
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Thumbs up Awesome

Awesome! Once again all of this info is greatly appreciated and will help very much.. This may seem like a stupid question but you have said it is neccessary to keep the nutrients at a certain temp. How exactly do I achieve that temp, Do i heat up the nutrients in the microwave before putting them into the system or is there a way to heat it and keep it at a certain temp in the system?? As of yet I have not used a hydro-garden at all so that may seem like a very simple question and I may find out the answer myself here today (I am just about to get started on making the system you have advised for strawberries, they are going to be my first endevor). I will check out your website here and will prob be back on here soon with more questions ( I am going to make a list of supplies right now and then go and buy the things I need and get started ) One more thing i can think of off the top of my head is what type of lamp would be best for growing strawberries (which i will be growing first) is there a certain type of lamp best for fruit in general? I think either watermelons or honeydew melons will be my next endevor. Depending on the price of the first system im about to make i may make another today and have the melons and strawberries going at the same time.

Again much appreciated,

Andy
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Old 12-15-2010, 08:22 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Heating the solution is easy, cooling it is much more difficult to do cost effectively. Witch you need to do (and how much) really depends on where you grow and the time of year. I grow everything outside using natural sunlight (instead of artificial lights). So my nutrient solution is subject to the extreme summer temps here in the desert (120+F), and night time winter temps just above freezing. Heating the solution indoors or outdoors is probably easiest done using a Fish tank heater, they run about $10-$15 and up. Some have adjustable temperatures, and others are preset at 78 degrees. 78 degrees wont be bad, but they are usually for the smaller fish tanks, so if you are heating more water then the heater is recommended for (usually 10-15 gallons) it wont likely be that high, especially if it's outside in real cold temps. But I wouldn't want the water temp to get over 80, (68-72 perfect).

Insulating the reservoir may also be beneficial to keep the heat in from the fish tank heater, especially if dealing with very cold weather, or large water volumes. The only real thing to worry about with fish tank heaters is making sure the water level never goes down below the heater, if it becomes dry it can crack. Also they have burned holes through some thin plastic reservoirs if allowed to come in direct contact with it and nothing in-between, mostly when they become dry. I would create a holder for them myself, that way it will stay put and away from the side of the reservoir.

Another way to keep it warm is by using heating pads, not nearly as easy to control. But I got three of them last year at the salvation army thrift store for $1 each. I'm right now using one of them to germinate seeds with. Lastly a bit more expensive is something like plumbers heating tape, it's used to keep household water pipes from freezing in some areas. But you may be able to find it on sale somewhere, or even at a garage sale etc.. Also if growing outside keeping the reservoir in the ground uses geothermal energy to help insulate them from the cold, as well as helps cool it during summer. I have some plans I wrote in pdf. files for using geothermal energy, for heating and cooling the nutrient solution if your interested. I also have something new for cooling the nutrient solution this summer, but have not drawn up images of it yet. It's kind of like a reverse swamp cooler.

Unfortunately using artificial light is not something that I'm familiar with. Like I mentioned, I grow everything outside, I get all the light I need there free. But Metal Halide (MH) blue spectrum) is good for growing foliage, and High Pressure Sodium (HPS) red spectrum) is good for flowering and fruiting. Strawberry's and melons will be doing both at the same time. If I had the funds I would use both at the same time, if not I would probably just go with HPS. However their are some bulbs that have both MH and HPS elements inside the same bulb. Also some MH bulbs claim to be full spectrum bulbs. However I don't have any experience with any of them, so I cant say how well they work.

Any witch way, you would want the bulbs to be close to the plant canopy as possible, but without burning the plants to get the best use of them. 80 to 90 degrees at the plants foliage should be fine, using fans to blow heat away helps. How many watts and how many lights really depends on the configuration of the setup, and overall square footage for the plants to be grown. But in some cases using a smaller wattage, but using more of them (and placed closer to the plants) spread over the area is more useful than one large wattage (and farther away) trying to cover all of it.

P.S. If growing strawberry's and melons inside you will probably run into pollination problems. I need to check but I think they need to be pollinated by incests. I'm not sure if hand pollinating those will work for sure, and don't believe either can be pollinated by air currents or shaking.

Here is some info on growing strawberry's, It's been a while scene I read these, but I believe they cover pollination (especial in the first two)
Berry Bonanza: Growing Indoor Strawberries
HOW TO GROW STRAWBERRIES
The Development and Demonstration of an Outdoor Hydroponic Specialty crop
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