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Brainstorming: Corn formula and best growing setup


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  #1  
Old 10-17-2009, 11:44 PM
Luches Luches is offline
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Default Brainstorming: Corn formula and best growing setup

Hi folks,

If I am not mistaken, a few members (including myself) are interested in growing corn hydroponically. So, why not put together as much info as we can get from many sources, personal experiences (if available) and eventually try to get a little "file" about the topic?

Formulas and nutrients: as some people may have noticed, commercial products from shelf are not my cup of tea for 2 reasons: A. I can't buy any of the commonly known products at my place. B. I am specializing in developing and mixing nutrients from components and raw materials. Actually just pointing out kind of a "personal conflict" here. If some people are suggesting products or mixes that are based on commercial products, I have no problem with that, but I can't participate to such debate or quest. The only thing I may do is analyzing the formula and reproducing a similar nutrient.

Setups: Let's find out what kind of setup or system (as well as media) is most appropriate and adapted to grow corn.

I have done some net searching yesterday and was pretty amazed with this simple ebb/flow Perlite based setup, even though I am no fan of Perlite: Hydropond Corn

To be continued with more adds and material ...


Last edited by Luches; 10-17-2009 at 11:52 PM.
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Old 10-18-2009, 01:45 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I don't really have much to offer this thread about growing corn at this point, except I am very interested in this also. I can get the commercial hydroponic nutrients here even though I need to have them shipped. I would love to make my own (and hope to in the future) like Luches does, but I need to do things as funds are available. I also understand it is a precise process. Though I have no doubt I can handle that, for now I will need to stick to the commercial stuff until I can afford the equipment and find the suppliers of the raw materials.

To me, my concerns mostly revolve around it being cost effective to do so, the beat growing medium to use and how deep it should be, flood and drain versus drip systems and how much product you should expect from it. During the summer it is common to find 4-6 ears on sale here for $1, though it is much higher during the off season. Of coarse quality will be much higher growing your own (no question).

I wont be growing it real soon but want to learn as much as I can to make the best decision on the best way to go about it. For me I have not used Perlite or Vermiculite as a growing medium in hydroponics yet but have experience with them in regular soil. They may actually be a preferred growing medium to me because I would not need to have it shipped to me. The nearest hydroponic supply store is about a 3 1/2 hour drive (one way). But I can get these at just about any nursery in town. I have not considered them before because until now, all my systems were Ebb & Flow (flood & drain) and it simply wont work for that type of system (at least my design).
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Old 10-22-2009, 04:23 AM
Luches Luches is offline
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I've done a little research and maths about a adequate formula for corn. This is based on NPK-content on plant residue analyses. I've then transfered these data into a "modern concept" of nutrient composition:


Formula without guarantee or if you prefer: WITHOUT COVENANT AGAINST GRANTOR'S STATEMENT



Explanations: Grains contain much more nitrogen than forage and other parts, that is why I suggest higher N-content in the fruiting formula. 2. Forage and cobs have very high K-content, that's why K-content should be high in the formula. General growth-rate of corn is rather high, - and that's why a rather high feeding (yet not a aggressive) strategy should be appropriate. But again: this formula still reflects my general tendency for economic formulas, that do not stress plants into excessive growth, but rather simulate a natural environment. Both formulas have relatively high Phosphorus and Calcium content (50 ppm of P and 140 ppm of Ca would be sufficient), this to assure enough P- and Ca content in case the formula is used in notably lower concentrations.
PS: I've also added a comparative formula for tomatoes, that illustrates and helps understanding the process of getting to a nutrient formula - based on a plant analyses.

Last edited by Luches; 10-22-2009 at 04:31 AM.
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Old 10-23-2009, 05:51 AM
Luches Luches is offline
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Here's the setup I plan to use.


Yeah, I've also designed and build a setup for corn in no time, based on ebb and flow system (as seen @ youtube but with double bed and extra stand). It is actually build from parts I've used earlier with other setups - even the reservoir (180 Liter) is a used-one.





The upper "beds" will be filled with 3 different media, first (bottom to top) basalt gravel (very cheap here), pea sized river gravel followed by a bit finer gravel. This concept assures best drain downwards but enough moisture for seedlings small roots at the top. A very small and economic pump will do the job of fow/ebb cycles. 400L/h and only 5.5 Watt is already tested to be sufficiently powerful.



I didn't specify any dimensions here, as the design is- and should be -put together with existing parts. The frame (stand for the bed reservoirs) should be adapted to reservoir and other sizes.

For any questions or more techs and specs, do not hesitate to ask!
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Old 10-24-2009, 03:33 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I am wondering a few things. The corn stalks I am familiar with can reach 6 feet tall. with that in mind I was wondering if you were planing a support system so they don't topple over. it looks as if the growing containers that will support the plants are about 6-8 inches deep. I was also wondering how many plants you were planing to grow in each container. I see in the video they seem to be just a few inches apart but I have no experience with corn yet.

I understand your purpose of growing corn is different from mine. I don't know how many plants would be able to grow that close together and if it would be economical for me. I did see something in the background of the YouTube video (about 1/4 way through it) that gave me a similar Idea. The mini pool with plants growing in it. I don't think I would use that as a flood and drain system because of how many gallons it would take, but as a drip system I think it would do nicely. Provided the growing medium did not cost an arm & leg.

I have not done the research on it (even though it wouldn't be hard) but as I remember you get somewhere between 3 and 5 ears per stalk. Considering how inexpensive it is here during the season, the cost of operation is of big concern to me. If it costs much or more to produce than to buy it wont be productive for me to do so (even though freshness would be a plus). Also, I would guess that corn is a heavy feeding plant.
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Old 10-24-2009, 04:43 AM
Luches Luches is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
I am wondering a few things. The corn stalks I am familiar with can reach 6 feet tall. with that in mind I was wondering if you were planing a support system so they don't topple over.
Right, except if you are planting a "dwarf" variety, which is surely an option I'll consider. Otherwise, I had a support system in mind and @ this picture you can see it. The lateral "Ts" will be used to fix a support ring.



Just imagine a reduction fitting 1.5" to 1" and a 1" ring all around the stalks. A bit higher as shown of course.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
it looks as if the growing containers that will support the plants are about 6-8 inches deep. I was also wondering how many plants you were planing to grow in each container. I see in the video they seem to be just a few inches apart but I have no experience with corn yet.
Well it's known that in hydroponics you can plant any crop (rice, weat, barley or corn) very narrow. Unlike in soil, where there is need for much more "root space" and where nutrients are (or if you like, uptake is) limited. From this perspective the ratio of space vs. yield is much higher as in soil.

The "personal economics" (as yours) may be seen from a different perspective and having a different outcome, though... but do we really do this maths, every time we build or plan a setup or before planting a vegetable or crop? On the other hand, I wouldn't anyway plant any "consumer corn" in this way, as this kind of corn is even cheaper here in Thailand as in the US, where it is supported (like mad) to protect the national market.

As I'll grow heirloom and rare varieties from Mexico and Peru, etc. (hope the seeds reach here soon and safely) I will probably use my first unit for testing purposes (both, my newly designed formula and the setup) an I'll also compare growing in soil (probaly next to the setup). So for me it is a win-win thing anyway.

Last edited by Luches; 10-24-2009 at 04:59 AM.
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Old 10-24-2009, 05:55 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I see what you mean, I was wondering what those "T" were for exactly.

Quote:
you can plant any crop (rice, weat, barley or corn) very narrow. Unlike in soil, where there is need for much more "root space"
Yes, I was not really concerned with root space but rather the roots ability to support a plant that tall in such a short depth.

Quote:
Unlike in soil, where there is need for much more "root space" and where nutrients are (or if you like, uptake is) limited.
As far as I know, as long as the roots that are exposed to the nutrients and have access to what they need, they have no need to expand because they can uptake all they need without doing so. This means that the root space needed is much smaller.

Quote:
The "personal economics" (as yours) may be seen from a different perspective and having a different outcome, though... but do we really do this maths, every time we build or plan a setup or before planting a vegetable or crop?
In my opinion NO that is not an absolute consideration. If there is a crop that I am paying more for at the market like tomatoes at $3 a pound I would rather focus my efforts on them than one I can get at 5 for a dollar (that does not mean that I can get them that price all year). I also try to plan building a system to be reusable, making it more economical in future projects. I don't have a problem with designing a system to grow a crop that is more expensive to grow hydroponically, but strive to make it more economical in the future. Basically if I cant make it close in price to grow hydroponically, I wouldn't be doing anyone any favors (much less myself). It really all depends on your resources.

I personally don't grow hydroponically because it is cheaper (not that it cant be) but I do need to think about the economics of what I do because my funds are not unlimited. The more I know, the more economic I can make it.
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Old 10-24-2009, 06:53 AM
Luches Luches is offline
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Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Yes, I was not really concerned with root space but rather the roots ability to support a plant that tall in such a short depth.
From my experience, roots can grow and support plants, even small trees in very little depth. They kinda intersect with each other and little by little use all the space their is. And furthermore, this compactness gives en enormous stability to the whole bunch. I've grown 2m plus healthy Amaranthus in less than 3 inch 7-8 cm deep coarse sand and even a 4m tall (10 foot plus) Moringa oleifera tree in a tiny pot! Also, I've seen chili peppers in Finland doing amazingly well (and having high yield) in only 15 cm deep expanded clay! Since I do not worry about depth that much..., though I have to add that some other deep rooting plants may actually not doing that well in such short depth...

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Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
I personally don't grow hydroponically because it is cheaper (not that it cant be) but I do need to think about the economics of what I do because my funds are not unlimited. The more I know, the more economic I can make it.
I guess that your and my point of view are anyway quite similar, despite different goals to follow at this time. Actually they'll probably get even closer at some moment in time when my "research job" will be more or less done - and eventually be replaced by projects that directly focus on affordable self-sufficient growing.

Not sure if it's fair to tell this bluntly, but I have some other concepts in petto that are even more economic and based on other materials and supports, using much less PVC and pipes. Nobody can actually accuse me of being stingy with information or not sharing my knowledge. But then again, I have to keep some of my professional secrets safe... Two users are participating in this thread - but it was opened some 250 times until now. I don't know who the people who get a free view of this event are and I do not care. But I am a bit concerned about what they may grab for free here - perhaps selling it while I am having a sound nap and dreaming innocently about the next breaking through design!
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Old 10-25-2009, 02:50 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Fr\om my experience, roots can grow and support plants, even small trees in very little depth. They kinda intersect with each other and little by little use all the space their is. And furthermore, this compactness gives en enormous stability to the whole bunch. I've grown 2m plus healthy Amaranthus in less than 3 inch 7-8 cm deep coarse sand and even a 4m tall (10 foot plus) Moringa oleifera tree in a tiny pot! Also, I've seen chili peppers in Finland doing amazingly well (and having high yield) in only 15 cm deep expanded clay! Since I do not worry about depth that much..., though I have to add that some other deep rooting plants may actually not doing that well in such short depth...
That's good to know, I don't have that much experience with hydroponics yet, but given a few years I may get there.

Quote:
I guess that your and my point of view are anyway quite similar, despite different goals to follow at this time. Actually they'll probably get even closer at some moment in time when my "research job" will be more or less done - and eventually be replaced by projects that directly focus on affordable self-sufficient growing.
Yes, in the long run that is what I am trying to accomplish. I just don't have funds to do everything that I wish, but given time I plan to get there. Once I learn (what and how) I can improve on them. I know I try to think everything through before I build, but no mater how much I do that I always learn much more by just doing it. Then making the improvements.

Quote:
Not sure if it's fair to tell this bluntly, but I have some other concepts in petto that are even more economic and based on other materials and supports, using much less PVC and pipes. Nobody can actually accuse me of being stingy with information or not sharing my knowledge. But then again, I have to keep some of my professional secrets safe... Two users are participating in this thread - but it was opened some 250 times until now. I don't know who the people who get a free view of this event are and I do not care. But I am a bit concerned about what they may grab for free here - perhaps selling it while I am having a sound nap and dreaming innocently about the next breaking through design!
As far as I am concerned anything you want to keep to yourself for whatever reason is completely understandable. You seem to have a lot of experience, that comes from lots of trial and error. That doesn't come cheep. As you must know I have a hydroponic website for the purpose of giving away information. It's not complete by any stretch of the imagination, and needs to be redone because it seems to only work well with Firefox. My computer crashed and I need to replace it before I can do much more with the website (I'm borrowing this computer). Any information that you share with me I will keep to myself if you wish (just need to let me know), but as time goes by I may forget where I got the information from then post it on the site by mistake. Also true that anyone can read this forum and neither you or I have any control of that.
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Old 11-01-2009, 06:45 PM
lfc-montana lfc-montana is offline
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If I may jump into this thread, I also am thinking of a corn setup this coming spring and summer. The ideas presented here so far are great, and I'm specially thankful for the nutrient analysis. My motivation is that here in Montana it is very hard to find good tender sweet corn, and then it is expensive. Also, I live in an area where deer are most difficult to keep out of a desirable garden!

My initial plans are for using 10-15 5-gallon buckets converted to Dutch bucket systems, using a drip network for the nutrients. I plan to use as media coarse gravel at the bottom with 50-50 perlite and coco as the main growing 'soil'. I thought this setup could support 3 or 4 stalks per bucket, the weight of the bucket would support the stalks, and the buckets would be spaced in a grid to facilitate pollination.

Sound reasonable? Thanks....
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Old 11-02-2009, 02:31 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Originally Posted by lfc-montana View Post
If I may jump into this thread, I also am thinking of a corn setup this coming spring and summer. The ideas presented here so far are great, and I'm specially thankful for the nutrient analysis. My motivation is that here in Montana it is very hard to find good tender sweet corn, and then it is expensive. Also, I live in an area where deer are most difficult to keep out of a desirable garden!

My initial plans are for using 10-15 5-gallon buckets converted to Dutch bucket systems, using a drip network for the nutrients. I plan to use as media coarse gravel at the bottom with 50-50 perlite and coco as the main growing 'soil'. I thought this setup could support 3 or 4 stalks per bucket, the weight of the bucket would support the stalks, and the buckets would be spaced in a grid to facilitate pollination.

Sound reasonable? Thanks....
What part of Montana? I have been through most city's along I 90 and I 15. I used to drive big trucks (18 wheels) as far east as Billings on I 90.

I am not familiar with growing corn yet, but I to would think a drip system would be the most economical system due to the root space required and changing of nutrients, compared to flooding the whole system. I have never lived in Montana so I don't really know the price of fresh corn on the cob there, so I cant comment on how economical it is to produce in comparison. I do know that they can grow quite close together and don't mind being crowded. Though the cost of the growing medium is probably the biggest cost (at least in a drip system). I think your plan of growing medium is a good one (provided the cost).

There is no doubt that fresh corn is much sweeter and tender. I prefer only sweet white corn myself (not yellow corn). Though the sooner you eat it compared to when it was picked, the better it tastes.

P.S. I didn't start this thread but as I understand it anyone is welcomed to stick in there two cents and even encouraged to do so. Also the whole purpose of the thread was a place for information and ideas about growing corn hydroponically (all ideas welcome).
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Old 11-02-2009, 11:31 AM
lfc-montana lfc-montana is offline
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Part of Montana? Bigfork, at the north end of Flathead Lake, about 35 miles south of Glacier National Park. Driving truck to Billings on the interstate took you over some healthy passes.....fun in the winter time for sure??

I agree....just the sweet corn, I guess another type called super-sweet....special hybrids. Not sure yet what I'm going to grow, but it will definitely be one of those. I remember growing up in NY state and the corn available there at the time....you could make a meal of just corn, eating half a dozen ears it was so good. That quality is definitely not around here....if it is I haven't found it yet......it's usually deep yellow, very dense, and tough, even tho' it sometimes tastes 'pretty good'. I plan on my setup on the end of a long deck, about 12 feet off the ground....the reservoir will be down below so I'm gonna need a pretty hunky pump to push the nutrients up and thru the system. I'm wondering also about including a bucket or two of summer squash and cukes...do you think the nutrient requirements would be compatible?
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Old 11-02-2009, 07:36 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Bigfork, at the north end of Flathead Lake, about 35 miles south of Glacier National Park.
I see it on the map. That's beautiful country there. I once had a delivery off of I 15 about 40 miles from Canada. looks like you are half way between where I was and Idaho, then just a bit south. Some of the most beautiful country that I have seen is between Spokane WA and Bozeman MT. I didn't get up their too often but loved it when I had the chance. Most of my runs were to Denver CO, though I covered the 11 western states. Occasionally I had runs east, one as far as Edison NJ from Oxnard CA.

Quote:
you could make a meal of just corn, eating half a dozen ears
I cant agree more, I often do just that when it's in season. I used to eat the yellow corn until once I had some real fresh white sweet corn. From then on I only get the sweet corn. It's the sweetest when it's freshly picked and the shipping time to the store can take a toll on the freshness. But from time to time I get some real sweet stuff. This town (Lake Havasu AZ) is to small to have a farmers market I guess. I haven't seen one.

Quote:
I plan on my setup on the end of a long deck, about 12 feet off the ground....the reservoir will be down below so I'm gonna need a pretty hunky pump to push the nutrients up and thru the system.
That distance up can be a problem. If you were able to raise the reservoir up like building a stand or placing it on a table to cut the distance it needs to go up, that could be a big help. I attached a picture of a pump that I got at Lowe's a few weeks ago for $45, 300-500 gallons per hr and up to 8.7 feet high. The system that I am going to use it for will only be 2-4 ft high.

Quote:
I'm wondering also about including a bucket or two of summer squash and cukes...do you think the nutrient requirements would be compatible?
I think as long as you change the nutrients every week you should be OK there provided the pH requirements are the same depending on how large of a nutrient reservoir you would be using. I could be wrong but I think they will all be heavy feeders, so I would change the nutrients every week instead of every two weeks. Also I would want the reservoir to be large enough to be able to feed all the plants without the nutrients being depleted too fast.

pH requirements
Sweet Corn 6.0
Squash (Summer) 5.0-6.5
Cucumber 5.8-6.0

I think if you keeped the pH at 6.0 they would probably play fine together. I don't have any experience with these crops yet although I am going to have summer squash planted in about a week (the seeds have already sprouted). The summer squash will be in 5 gal buckets like my broccoli plants and will be a drip system. But will be using the same reservoir as my peas, snow peas and green beans that is a flood and drain system. I need to put a one way flow valve inline with the drip system (summer squash) or the flood and drain system (peas, snow peas and green beans) wont syphon back properly because they will all be using the same pump (the one in the pic).
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Old 11-03-2009, 04:30 AM
Luches Luches is offline
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First of all, an update of the setup with finished support extension. Well, the whole setup will probably not win any beauty contest so far, but with a little paint spraying (to uniform and neutralize the look), - it's kinda acceptable, I guess

Not a single screw, not a drip of silicone or sealer, no special parts. If I'd acquire all parts new, it would only cost me around (reservoir, pump and media included) some 28, or let's say 30 USD.



BTW: the depth is almost exactly 5 inches.

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I am not familiar with growing corn yet, but I to would think a drip system would be the most economical system due to the root space required and changing of nutrients, compared to flooding the whole system.
I am not understanding what could possibly be the issue with "flooding the whole system"? With E/F, flooding does the trick.
Actually I am mainly using drip systems with different sizes of pots and buckets and hence agree with the fact of it being a good working and so to speak economical system for many plants and uses. I'll probably give it a shot in one or two buckets as well. But then again, personally I wouldn't build- or mainly use a bucket based drip and recycle system for corn. Also, what I have shown here is rather meant to be a "testing station". If growing corn hydroponically in a bigger scale, I'd even go for a very different setup (based on E/F or drip and waste). If there is interest in these, just ask....

Still, every system has it's pros and cons. A E/F system uses only 1 rather big and flat growing container. Fed by simple E/F only, it is still the most simple, reliability- and tech-wise the most economical there is. No "expensive" dripers, no complex inline or outline tubes, no long distances from reservoir to buckets to cover, no clogging either. And most importantly, only a single (or double as in my design) growing container that can actually hold more plants per square foot as a few buckets occupying the same space. I am not talking of rather fancy looking varieties of this application, but about the classical setup as described. All varieties mostly use a lot of tubing, multiple growing containers and other special features which aren't bringing any real advantage - at least as far as I can see or tell....

Of course, any non-ergonomically designed E/F system could end up in a "waste" of space, media, energy and resources as well.

In any discussion, exchange of mindsets, opinions, - there always is a huge part of subjectivity hat comes from personal likes vs. dislikes and choices which are often based on personal observations and conclusions. We are individuals, and there are particular conditions involved as well. We shouldn't forget about that at no time and have a neutral and proper view on these aspects of communication and exchange of informations. While individuals tend to defend "their very personal preferences", - the silent and unforgivable logic of functionality and non-negotiable economics do always lurk and smile knowingly...in the background

About the other questions: Corn is a field crop and (even if fast growing) not very demanding in nutrient requirements. The formula I gave earlier has nothing very fancy and could be used with many other plants that are not considered as leafy vegetables. I don't actually fall for numerous PH-charts found at many places of the web, either for plants in general, or typically for hydroponics. Because in soil-less culture, the ideal uptake ratio vs. PH is very limited. The best range for uptake of all elements is between 5.9 and 6.5 Outside that range uptake of certain elements isn't optimal. And any plant that doesn't fall into that range (for real), can be considered "difficult to grow in hydroponics" anyway.

Keep your PH between 6 and 6.5 (in most cases closer to 6) and all plants are growing very fine. There is nothing more to do, to know or to narrate about... OR, do your own experiments, research and tests and watch and learn from the results. And at the end, consider it as what applies to the nutrients, the media and the respective setup that is used. And consider your local climate and all around conditions as well. Last but not least, any outcome or result that isn't backed up by a control group or other elementary scientific basics, has to be considered as, what skeptics like me call - a selective observation only

Last edited by Luches; 11-03-2009 at 04:58 AM.
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Old 11-03-2009, 06:00 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I am not understanding what could possibly be the issue with "flooding the whole system"?
Simple, the amount of nutrient solution required to do it. Most people don't have the experience to make there own nutrient concentrates thus they are not as cheep to us. For instance the broccoli plants I have growing in 4 5 gallon buckets only use a total of 6 gallons of solution. That is plenty to water the plants thoroughly and still have plenty in the reservoir to keep the pump from running dry. If the system was a flood and drain E/B it would take 20 to 25 gallons to grow the same plants. When you consider changing the nutrients every 1-2 weeks, over time that adds up to quite an expence for those of us that cant make there own nutrients.

Quote:
A E/F system uses only 1 rather big and flat growing container
An E/F system can be designed many different ways with as many growing containers as you wish and in many different shapes. I had strawberry's growing in 4 short flat containers and peppers growing in 10 small tall 2 litter bottles, both were E/F. I also have one built that uses one 10ft long 4in wide tubing. I can personally come up with many different configurations to do an E/F system, it would just depend on what it was I wanted to grow.

Quote:
No "expensive" dripers, no complex inline or outline tubes
Well that all depends on how you design your system and how large it is. I don't use any dripers, I make my own. Like with my broccoli plants a simple circle of tubing with holes poked in it works just fine, nothing expensive there. As far as the return line I guess it can get complicated with a large number of plants but not for me. Also any time spent figuring it out would save plenty of money in nutrients compared to flooding the same system.
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Old 11-03-2009, 08:49 AM
Luches Luches is offline
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Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Simple, the amount of nutrient solution required to do it. Most people don't have the experience to make there own nutrient concentrates thus they are not as cheep to us. For instance the broccoli plants I have growing in 4 5 gallon buckets only use a total of 6 gallons of solution. That is plenty to water the plants thoroughly and still have plenty in the reservoir to keep the pump from running dry. If the system was a flood and drain E/B it would take 20 to 25 gallons to grow the same plants. When you consider changing the nutrients every 1-2 weeks, over time that adds up to quite an expence for those of us that cant make there own nutrients.
Sorry, I don't agree here, because:

A. The setup I have designed and build is indeed run by a 180 L (aprox. 40 gal.) reservoir, but the actual growing beds (all 2) could be flooded with a total of 4-5 gallons of nutrients as well. Simply because the basalt and river gravel are actually using some 85% of the available volume (which is an estimate - the finer the gravel the more of the actual volume to fill, it will occupy already). In fact, the roots will fill up even more space (gaps) over time...

B. I did opt for a huge reservoir here to have more buffering for "long life" nutrient and stable PH. In fact one can run different strategies, either a smaller reservoir with frequent changes of nutrient, - or a larger reservoir with much longer autonomy and intervals of up to one month or 6 weeks. Depending on how much is toped up on a daily or 48h basis. Do you think that greenhouse setups with 1000, 2000 Liter or even bigger reservoirs, completely change it every 1-2 weeks ...? I seriously doubt it...

C. The fact that I am able to produce my own nutrients for a fraction of what you guys probably pay, doesn't push me to spill or spoil it, or even opt for systems that use more nutrients! Wrong anticipation, said the monkey and jumped off of the bear - I rather tend to save as much resources as I can, and thus am only running a different strategy. Besides, I can even tell how much it costs me: it's around 3.5-4.5 USD for 1200 Liter of ready solution, the price depends on P and K-content, as these components are notably more expensive compared to Nitrogen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
An E/F system can be designed many different ways with as many growing containers as you wish and in many different shapes. I had strawberry's growing in 4 short flat containers and peppers growing in 10 small tall 2 litter bottles, both were E/F. I also have one built that uses one 10ft long 4in wide tubing. I can personally come up with many different configurations to do an E/F system, it would just depend on what it was I wanted to grow.
Did I say otherwise? Here I am just quoting what I wrote earlier...
I am not talking of rather fancy looking varieties of this application, but about the classical setup as described. All varieties mostly use a lot of tubing, multiple growing containers and other special features which aren't bringing any real advantage - at least as far as I can see or tell....

Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Well that all depends on how you design your system and how large it is. I don't use any dripers, I make my own. Like with my broccoli plants a simple circle of tubing with holes poked in it works just fine, nothing expensive there. As far as the return line I guess it can get complicated with a large number of plants but not for me. Also any time spent figuring it out would save plenty of money in nutrients compared to flooding the same system.
What you said earlier to me about much cheaper nutrient costs, I could tell you here about dripers and other materials. Most people don't manufacture their dripers and haven't got the skills or even the tools to do whatever comes to their mind. Compared to (hopefully making my point perfectly clear this time) a single grow bed E/F system, - the return with drip and recycle, and with most other systems is ALWAYS a technical issue - that can't be denied.

And again, a well designed E/F system doesn't necessarily need a bigger amount of nutrient (or a bigger reservoir for instance). In case it's somewhat more, it can still be used for longer, before it needs to be replaced.

My personal (most certainly generally aplicable) conclusion: In this comparison I don't see any saving of nutrients - and the arguments I came up first seem still as valuable as before

I mean, I have nothing against controversial discussion of this kind - it's even interesting to some point. But then again, I sometimes have the impression that you don't really read what I am writing, but prefer anticipating things by yourself that I haven't said nor meant. In the other thread (heating nutrients) there was a missing part of the picture and that went on me. It's perfectly OK to have very own thoughts and understanding of things - but one has to at least fully read what was said earlier otherwise there is no understanding to expect. I am actually getting a bit impatient with the kind of "situation"... But never mind, just expressing my feelings early to prevent a greater misunderstanding.

PS: If you are interested in saving nutrients (for either reason cited in this context), you should truly learn more about nutritional needs of plants and how to feed the most adequate formula. Well, simply because the more appropriate a nutrient composition is, the longer it keeps usable and "fresh". The better the requirements of a specific plant are translated into a formula, the most you can obviously get of a "refill". A more or less inadequate (or standard) nutrient formula will obviously not be consumed to equal elemental parts and will obviously turn quicker into a even more inadequate mix.

The recommendation to change nutrients as frequently as one week to ten days is playing safe indeed, but it is not an economical strategy at all at the end (you bet!). People who change their nutrients that frequently should indeed keep their reservoirs as small as possible.

Last edited by Luches; 11-03-2009 at 08:58 AM.
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  #17  
Old 11-03-2009, 09:39 AM
lfc-montana lfc-montana is offline
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I think I will avoid any more of this 'holier than thou' crap and go on my merry way..........
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  #18  
Old 11-03-2009, 11:26 AM
Luches Luches is offline
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Originally Posted by lfc-montana View Post
I think I will avoid any more of this 'holier than thou' crap and go on my merry way..........
You can always do that, (fortunately there are no strings at all attached as they say). Frankly, I'm thinking of the same thing but for a very different reason. Actually it's not about being 'holier' (who the f. cares?), but about getting real tired of the same scenario that reproduces over and over again. With people who are either not happy with the ways the truth and the enlightenment is brought to them sometimes, - or always, but really ALWAYS want to argue for the sake of arguing, - instead of cooperating and collaborating.
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Old 11-03-2009, 06:38 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Quote:
A. The setup I have designed and build is indeed run by a 180 L (aprox. 40 gal.) reservoir, but the actual growing beds (all 2) could be flooded with a total of 4-5 gallons of nutrients as well. Simply because the basalt and river gravel are actually using some 85% of the available volume (which is an estimate - the finer the gravel the more of the actual volume to fill, it will occupy already). In fact, the roots will fill up even more space (gaps) over time...
I am not sure if you are talking about the one in the picture in this thread or another one you designed earlier. If that reservoir is 40 gallons the rest of the setup is larger than I think. But witch ever, I do know that the growing medium and roots take up space but as of yet have not done the testing to tell exactly how much for each type of growing medium, and I am not talking about just the ones you use. Their are a lot of different choices, each with their own pros and cons. I can only go by my own experience and what I know.

Quote:
B. I did opt for a huge reservoir here to have more buffering for "long life" nutrient and stable PH. In fact one can run different strategies, either a smaller reservoir with frequent changes of nutrient, - or a larger reservoir with much longer autonomy and intervals of up to one month or 6 weeks. Depending on how much is toped up on a daily or 48h basis. Do you think that greenhouse setups with 1000, 2000 Liter or even bigger reservoirs, completely change it every 1-2 weeks ...? I seriously doubt it...
I know that a larger reservoir would have a longer life to it, my strawberry's had a 32 gallon reservoir and I let those run 3 weeks. But not by choice, just economics. There are to many things that can go wrong with a solution that I would rather change a smaller one more frequently than need to change a large one just because something went wrong. Also I know that larger greenhouses don't change the nutrients that often. First anyone with that kind of experience is not likely to be using this forum and if so very few and far between. Second they have the equipment to monitor there nutrients that most of us don't have the money for (big differences there).

Quote:
Most people don't manufacture their dripers and haven't got the skills or even the tools to do whatever comes to their mind.
I have always been a handyman type person. I took auto shop in high school and have been working on my own/friends/moms cars ever sence, as well as worked at sears auto for 4 1/2 years doing breaks and front end work. I have also done most work around the house (though not professionally) like replacing all electrical outlets, fixing drywall, painting, replacing the kitchen sink and fixtures, setting poles for mailboxes, replacing light fixtures in the kitchen and dining room, tile work for the kitchen floor as well as the bathrooms that includes taking out the toilet and replacing it so the tile would go underneath instead of just cutting to go around it. I also have built cabinets for the bathroom and attached the old stone sink to the new cabinets.

What I am trying to say is that when faced with a problem I just fix it. Over the coarse of many years I cant imagen not knowing how because it just comes natural to me. If it's something I am not familiar with I will learn how, it's just in my nature to do so. I know not everyone is like that but I just cant understand that.

Quote:
Compared to (hopefully making my point perfectly clear this time) a single grow bed E/F system, - the return with drip and recycle, and with most other systems is ALWAYS a technical issue - that can't be denied.
Naturally the design and more containers of any system can get more and more elaborate, there is no denying that. As far as that being a technical issue, I just cant see it that way. Sure it might take some trial and error to figure out but that's half the fun, if not where's the challenge.

Quote:
And again, a well designed E/F system doesn't necessarily need a bigger amount of nutrient (or a bigger reservoir for instance). In case it's somewhat more, it can still be used for longer, before it needs to be replaced.
Yes if you have the equipment to monitor it and do so.

Quote:
I sometimes have the impression that you don't really read what I am writing, but prefer anticipating things by yourself that I haven't said nor meant.
Sorry you feel that way. I personally feel you intentionally try to speak over my head. I am not a scientist or professor, In fact I haven't even completed high school. Missed it by 20 or 30 credits and just never completed adult school, I don't like mentioning that but it's true. I have always tried my best to understand. For me if someone does not understand what I am trying to say I will try another way until they do. You seem to be offended if they don't understand right away and that's OK, to each is there own.

Quote:
If you are interested in saving nutrients (for either reason cited in this context), you should truly learn more about nutritional needs of plants and how to feed the most adequate formula. Well, simply because the more appropriate a nutrient composition is, the longer it keeps usable and "fresh".
This is something that I fully intend to do, I have no funds for any type of testing equipment though, nor do I have any funds for what is needed to make my own nutrients at this point. I intend to in the future, but that is not going to stop me from growing hydroponically and doing what I can at this point.

Quote:
Frankly, I'm thinking of the same thing but for a very different reason. Actually it's not about being 'holier' (who the f. cares?), but about getting real tired of the same scenario that reproduces over and over again. With people who are either not happy with the ways the truth and the enlightenment is brought to them sometimes, - or always, but really ALWAYS want to argue for the sake of arguing, - instead of cooperating and collaborating.
Don't worry, because I apparently bring nothing to the table, this will be my last post in this thread. Happy Gardening!!!
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  #20  
Old 11-05-2009, 12:30 AM
Luches Luches is offline
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The setup is now installed at it's "final destination".



As I became obviously interested in the fact how much nutrient would be needed to flood each growing bed, I took the opportunity to simply test it out. It is even much less as I guessed. Only (almost exactly) 1 gallon is needed to fill each bed until the level reaches the upper edge of the return outlet.

PS: I have certainly not been trying to talk over your head intentionally GPSFrontier! I don't know either how you may have come to such suspicion. Sometimes I am just thinking out loud in some kind of philosophical way, actually I am trying to be funny with that. If that isn't fitting in, or not hitting the actual target, just ignore these boob parts.

I am not offended by the fact that people do not understand what I am saying either. But it's true that it happens that I am getting frustrated and even upset by the fact that I am talking and explaining things - with the sole result of encountering some sort of non funded resistance. Resistance that often pops up reflexively without proper back up, nor based on facts and experience. People tend to get upset for a reason - and it's not about blaming someone for it (which is what most people do) but about finding out what (in terms of equal parts) has caused it and how to avoid it in the future. As long as one is just blaming the other (which happens most of the time) one puts him self on the save side, but doesn't learn anything from it. And as a consequence, it has to repeat itself over and over again.

Let me just tell How I (as in myself) use to handle it: In case I know what I am talking about and I am pretty sure, I am, either affirmative or I object (in case I don't agree or know better). If I don't know, I wether shut up or I ask the one who's supposed to - or is positive about knowing.

Last but not least for your reassurance: I am not academic nor a professor, nor anything of the sort either. I haven't even seen any high school nor college from the inside. I haven't had any home education either as my parents were extremely hard working business people. I am not sure if it's apparent to you, - but I am NOT a native writer in english language. It's not my secondary, but actually my fourth language - in order of appearance, skill-wise and in actual use as well. That is also a reason why I hardly imagine talking intentionally over somebody's head when dealing with native speakers.

This isn't about putting something (better) on the table, not about hurt feelings or being smarter or "holier", nor meaner, more educated or whatever - I guess it's only about different individual mindsets in use!

I am not asking for agreement about my opinions, I am just pointing out how and through what optics I see those things. Actually hoping for a better understanding. If it ends up not working out, I simply let go the whole hydroponic forum enchilada and just do my own crap. I wouldn't be as arrogant to say that I have bigger fish to fry, - but what I can say is that I have other fish to fry as well!

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