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Some newbie questions


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  #1  
Old 05-20-2010, 11:26 AM
bgaviator bgaviator is offline
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Default Some newbie questions

Hello everyone!
i just started getting interested in hydro/aeroponics but I am confused in a few areas and I was wondering if you all could help me out?

First off, I think I'm going to build my first hydroponic system using a fairly easy method I've seen a lot on the net....using a plastic tote, cutting holes in the top, and then just suspending the baskets directly into the water solution that's aerated with an aqaurium stone. My question regarding this system is, is this more suited for plants like herbs/lettuces, or could I get tomatoes to grow with this system?

My other questions are in regards to more complicated setups I've seen. For instance, this web site shows an 11 plant system using 2 litter pop bottles....however, it didn't explain whether this system is constantly running, or if it's on a timer. If it is in fact on a timer, how many times per day, and for how long does the water solution need to be given to the plants?

I have also seen two other neat systems I am considering.....one is of a plastic tote, in which you take a submersible pond pump, and run a pvc pipe along the length of the tote....and then fit it with micro sprayers. My question once again with this system is, are these constantly running, or are these on a timer as well? And if on a timer, what kind of intervals are we looking at.

The last system I've seen that intriques me is the use of foggers. Could a fogger be set up in a tote like system as well?

I also see many people using large PVC pipe or vinyl posts to cut holes into and use these long systems.....even saw a guy on the net who had one hooked up with both micro sprayers and a fogger! Are there advantages to using long systems like this, as opposed to totes, or is it just all a matter of preference in how the system looks? Thanks for answering some, or all of my questions to anyone who responds!

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  #2  
Old 05-20-2010, 09:36 PM
joe.jr317 joe.jr317 is offline
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I don't recommend the tote method, personally. I mean, for tomatoes or peppers or other bigger plants. However, a lettuce raft in a tote works great. The lids are just too flimsy for bigger plants. If you used something sturdier for reinforcement, it would be better. My first system was one of the totes systems, too. I made an aeroponic one with mysters out of the book How To Hydroponics. The peppers ended up too heavy and fell through. There is more to it, but it's long. I must admit, the pepper plants got bigger with aeroponics than any pepper plants I've grown before or since.

You could also be sure to support the plants from above to alleviate stress on the lids.

What you described is deep water culture. I find 5 gallon buckets to be perfect for this. I'd also have a separate reservoir. That tote would be perfect. Whether you do DWC or use a pump to drip (my preference after trying both) you could just run a 1/2 inch line from the bottom of the bucket to the tote. This will allow you to keep more solution in. The advantages include ease of nutrient change, ease of checks (pH, temp, EC, etc.), more solution which means longer between topping off, more solution to provide buffer against pH swings, and probably more if I were thinking more clearly. The advantage to using a pump to drip is that you don't need to run an air pump all the time as the water gains oxygen from dripping and falling through the medium. You also don't have to run the drip system all the time. I run mine 15 minutes for every hour.
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Old 05-20-2010, 09:40 PM
joe.jr317 joe.jr317 is offline
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Man, I just now realized you actually described the same aeroponics setup I made where the peppers fell through the lid. Somehow I skipped that paragraph.
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Old 05-22-2010, 04:38 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I would also agree that using totes for peppers, tomato's or any large plant where the reservoir is in the bottom of the tote wont work well. Besides the weight issue there is nutrient changes, pH checks, pump filter cleanings to consider that will become very difficult as the plants get bigger. I try to make maintenance issues as easy as I can for myself.

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My other questions are in regards to more complicated setups I've seen. For instance, this web site shows an 11 plant system using 2 litter pop bottles....however, it didn't explain whether this system is constantly running, or if it's on a timer. If it is in fact on a timer, how many times per day, and for how long does the water solution need to be given to the plants?
The 11 plant system is a flood and drain type of system. You use a timer to turn on and off the pump. How often and for how long greatly depends on the type of plants, time of year (hot or cold weather), type of growing medium you are using and even the available settings on your timer. Basically you just want to keep the root system moist, if it is watered too much the roots can suffocate from lack of air/oxygen.

Quote:
I have also seen two other neat systems I am considering.....one is of a plastic tote, in which you take a submersible pond pump, and run a pvc pipe along the length of the tote....and then fit it with micro sprayers. My question once again with this system is, are these constantly running, or are these on a timer as well? And if on a timer, what kind of intervals are we looking at.
This is either an aeroponic system, or combination aeroponic/water couture system (also called DWC) depending on how you design it. Either way you would also use a timer, but when the root system is hanging in mid air they will dry out much faster, so the watering frequency would need to be increased. They would likely need to be watered about 5 minutes every 20 minutes or so, you can water them longer but shouldn't go more than 30 without water. Again the timer settings are a factor, though you may be able to do with a 30 min on, 30 min off cycles. In the case where the reservoir is in the same container with the misters and roots, once the roots reach the water level they will be able to wick up the solution directly from the reservoir, and probably wont need to be sprayed as often. I would probably still go with a 30 min on, 30 min off cycles, and see how things go, then when the roots reach the water level I might go with a 30 on 60 off cycle and see how it goes.

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The last system I've seen that intriques me is the use of foggers. Could a fogger be set up in a tote like system as well?
Yes, you could use a tote, bucket, tube, anything that will contain the fog and allow good distribution to all the roots. Though I nave never used floggers yet, I have seen mixed results in durability regarding them from other people. I would use it in combination with a flood and drain, NFT, aeroponic or any system where the roots are exposed to the air until I was sure the fogger I was using was durable enough. That way I don't loos my plants before I could fix the problem.

Quote:
I also see many people using large PVC pipe or vinyl posts to cut holes into and use these long systems.....even saw a guy on the net who had one hooked up with both micro sprayers and a fogger! Are there advantages to using long systems like this, as opposed to totes, or is it just all a matter of preference in how the system looks?
The advantages and disadvantages are really all about the type of plants you are growing, your available space, cost of materials, ease of one reservoir for mutipal tubes, what type of system you plan to run it as (NFT, flood & drain etc.), using one pump for mutipal tubes, easy to expand on. Even probably easier maintenance depending on how you set it up and what you grow.

When deciding on a system to build, I usually start by designing it around the type of plant. How big the plant gets when full grown, and if it's a bush, or vine type plant. Then I take into consideration the size of the root system, what type of growing medium that I will be using. Then with that in mind I decide what type of system to run it as (NFT, flood & drain, drip etc.). That gives me basically what I need to know to decide how to build the system and what materials to use, as well as the size of reservoir I should use. If you only have one space to put it you will be limited to that space, I have a big backyard so I usually decide where to put it last.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 05-22-2010 at 04:44 AM.
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  #5  
Old 05-23-2010, 10:21 AM
joe.jr317 joe.jr317 is offline
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One other problem I had with the aeroponic system was when a storm came through and knocked out the power for several hours in the heat of summer. If I hadn't been there to keep the roots that were hanging in the air moistened by hand, I would have lost the plants over one small outage. Best to have a generator or something. You can use a jumper/charger if it has the outlet on it.
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  #6  
Old 05-23-2010, 02:31 PM
GGM GGM is offline
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tomatoes grow great in totes



Not that light in there, this is about a 3 second exposure.




Last edited by GGM; 05-23-2010 at 02:36 PM.
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  #7  
Old 05-24-2010, 01:06 PM
joe.jr317 joe.jr317 is offline
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There's no doubting that they can grow great. The problem comes with the maintenance and preparation. My reason isn't that totes don't work. It's that they don't work ideally and there are more user friendly options.

GGM, how often do you have to fill that small reservoir for that many plants? One mature healthy tomato plant can drink as much as 3 gallons of water a day depending on weather and variety. What variety are you growing there? Your plants look great, by the way.
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  #8  
Old 05-24-2010, 01:55 PM
GGM GGM is offline
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2 sungolds and a cherry tom called red berry, yeah I have to fill it every that 20 gallon tote every 3 days when its hot but its not much of a problem as I have a larger tank at about 100 gallons that I make up the solution in and just switch on a pump to pump it into the tote when needed. I was going to try and build something automatic, maybe next year.
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  #9  
Old 05-24-2010, 11:46 PM
joe.jr317 joe.jr317 is offline
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Holy crap! I thought that was a smaller tote. Which put the root system in a smaller perspective. That root system must be much bigger than I thought.
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  #10  
Old 05-25-2010, 01:52 AM
GGM GGM is offline
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haha yeah that wide angle lens does make it appear smaller

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