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New to Hydroponics - Want to Build a System With a Budget of $650


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  #1  
Old 05-01-2013, 12:18 AM
FalseFlash FalseFlash is offline
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Default New to Hydroponics - Want to Build a System With a Budget of $650

I joined this forum to ask for some help on building a system. I have a budget of $650, I can go somewhat over but prefer not to. I been searching all over Google for days but have not really found anything useful for me. I don't want one of them 5-gallon bucket systems.

I'm hoping to use PVC on this system, just because I think it looks better.

This system will always be outside until winter.

I plan on growing tomatoes and peppers as a first start. Also, I live out in the open so this will have nothing from blocking the sun.

I already have some stuff towards building one;
  • Hydrofarm 1000-GPH Active Aqua Submersible pump
  • General Hydroponics Flora Series QT - FloraGro, FloraBloom, and FloraMicro
  • General Hydroponics Ph Control Kit
  • Hydroton Leca Clay (6 pounds)
  • 60 3" Net Pots

So if maybe anyone could link me to a step-by-step guide that would be great.

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  #2  
Old 05-01-2013, 10:35 PM
Stan Stan is offline
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Welcome to the site! I'm sure someone here will be able to help you. First of all you need to figure out what type of system you want. Check out the pictures of the set ups people posted here.

Your Hydroponics Setup - Hydroponics Forums Discussions

When you have decided what type of system you want you will need to figure out how many plants of each you want to grow and what varieties you would like.

From the list of things you already have I would include an air pump and air stones to aerate the reservoir you will need.
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  #3  
Old 05-02-2013, 12:12 AM
fintuckyfarms fintuckyfarms is offline
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$650 is a lot to work with, I could build at least 4 systems with that much money. Tomatoes are tricky... I grew some in a 4" pvc pipe and I never will attempt that again; lots of roots, plugging and backflowing. Maybe a 8" pipe would work but I will only grow them in buckets or 55 gal barrels cut in half.
With pvc you have two methods of growing, NFT and flood and drain. NFT will utilize your net pots and you can grow much closer together then traditional gardening. The pro's are you can keep the nutes flowing past the roots, grow dense and utilize verticle growing. The con's are you are dependant on power and temps can be a big factor.
Flood and drain; by cutting out the top section of the pipe and filling with pea gravel or pearlite making net cups not necessary, but you can still use them. Flood and drain allows more options of what you can plant like some root vegies like carrots and onions. Con's are you are still dependant on power but have a longer grace period. Temps are also still an issue but depending on your medium you can midigate it somewhat. Pro's are the system is heavyer so it will not blow over as easily, you can still grow verticle and still grow denser then tradition gardening.

I will be experimenting with the "Alaska bucket system", not true hydroponics but real close. Maybe an option for those maters

In the pict of the double pvc system, the top is NFT and the bottom pipes are flood and drain.
Just some more examples...

Tracy
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  #4  
Old 05-02-2013, 12:06 PM
FalseFlash FalseFlash is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fintuckyfarms View Post
$650 is a lot to work with, I could build at least 4 systems with that much money. Tomatoes are tricky... I grew some in a 4" pvc pipe and I never will attempt that again; lots of roots, plugging and backflowing. Maybe a 8" pipe would work but I will only grow them in buckets or 55 gal barrels cut in half.
With pvc you have two methods of growing, NFT and flood and drain. NFT will utilize your net pots and you can grow much closer together then traditional gardening. The pro's are you can keep the nutes flowing past the roots, grow dense and utilize verticle growing. The con's are you are dependant on power and temps can be a big factor.
Flood and drain; by cutting out the top section of the pipe and filling with pea gravel or pearlite making net cups not necessary, but you can still use them. Flood and drain allows more options of what you can plant like some root vegies like carrots and onions. Con's are you are still dependant on power but have a longer grace period. Temps are also still an issue but depending on your medium you can midigate it somewhat. Pro's are the system is heavyer so it will not blow over as easily, you can still grow verticle and still grow denser then tradition gardening.

I will be experimenting with the "Alaska bucket system", not true hydroponics but real close. Maybe an option for those maters

In the pict of the double pvc system, the top is NFT and the bottom pipes are flood and drain.
Just some more examples...

Tracy
Do you have the build plans for the 4th of July one?

Last edited by FalseFlash; 05-02-2013 at 12:17 PM.
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  #5  
Old 05-02-2013, 02:36 PM
fintuckyfarms fintuckyfarms is offline
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Nope, just winged it but I can tell you how I made it and what I would do different...

I purchased 5 lengths of not pvc but the thin walled drain field pipe. It is black on the inside and white on the outside. There are two kinds, one with holes and one without, you do not want the one with the holes. (at Home Depo they are outside in the garden area) I purchased 90* elbows (2 each) for each end to connect them and used one of the pipes to cut small lengths to connect the elbows. The length of this fitting will determin how close your pipes are together. So with something like lettuce they can be fairly close like 6" pieces but for anything that spreads like maters or beans you are gonna want 1' pieces. You also need two end caps. I purchsed two bulkheads (I think that is what they are called) at a hydro store for the tubing to both fill and drain.
For the stand, I just purchased two sawhorse kits at harbor freight and used some 2 x 4's I already had.
The thing I would do different is to place the pipe on top of a 2x4 to give the pipe more stability and to make it easier to adjust the level of each pipe. the 1st pipe where the nutes enter will need to be about an inch higher then the pipe with the drain and each pipe will have to have a slight slope from one end to the other so the nutes flow thru. I used just off bubble for the slope.
I used a large rubbermaid tote for the nutes but gave up on it pretty fast because it will not hold it's shape and lets the light in. I used a 55 gal barrel to hold the nutes and it works great. You can partically bury it or make a cover out of the styrofoam sheets to keep it dark and cool during the summer.
Your pump does not need to be very powerfull and you may need to make some sort of adjuster on the pump or tubing to limit the flow. When looking for a pump don't look at the gpm, look at the max pump hight and pick one that is rated for about a foot higher then your project. So if you pipes sit at 4' pick one with a 5' max head height.
I will post some picts of the "bulkheads" that I used.

So the first pict shows how I did the ends and how I used 2x4 under the pipes to help adjust the levels. The second photo shows the fill and drain ends, notice the clear tubing that I had to cover with pipe insulation to keep it alge free and cool. I was experimenting with some black pipe that was already insulated from Home Depot with the drain side. The next two picts are of the bulkhead from a different project. On the system you are interested in, drill the holes on an edge and not in the center so you can turn the end cap to adjust the water level in the pipes. The fill hole should be on the top so the splash creates air bubbles. The drain cap can be adjusted for both overfill problems, temp control (more water in the system keeps it cooler) and diffrent levels for plant roots (needs to be higher when they are first placed in the system and can be lowered as the roots grow). As you can guess, this is not a traditional NTF system because the water level is much higher to both reach the net pots, keep the system cooler and incase of a power loss, the roots never go dry. I also had an air pump in the nutes, just a cheap one from Wal-Mart works great.
Did I miss anything?
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Last edited by fintuckyfarms; 05-02-2013 at 02:49 PM.
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  #6  
Old 05-04-2013, 10:00 AM
FalseFlash FalseFlash is offline
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I think I have an idea now, thanks for your reply!
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Old 05-04-2013, 03:59 PM
fintuckyfarms fintuckyfarms is offline
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Good luck. Post some pictures!
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  #8  
Old 05-04-2013, 04:39 PM
FalseFlash FalseFlash is offline
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Just went to the store, it seems they want $20 per pipe?? It's schedule 40, is that the one I should go with?
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Old 05-04-2013, 05:50 PM
fintuckyfarms fintuckyfarms is offline
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I just used the drain pipe cuz it's a lot cheaper but it's not as sturdy. You will know it because its rippled, thinner, black on the inside (to block out the light for the roots) and white on the outside. It is not usually kept with the PVC.
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Old 05-04-2013, 07:36 PM
FalseFlash FalseFlash is offline
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They don't seem to have anything like that at Home Depot or lowes in my area, figures lol

I will just have to go with the schedule 40 tomorrow.

If I'm right I would do 3 cups of nutrients for for 55 gallons right?

Sorry for all the questions, I'm very new :P
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Old 05-04-2013, 09:59 PM
fintuckyfarms fintuckyfarms is offline
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At my Home Depot, it's kept outside in the garden area next to the building.

3 cups of what kind of nutrients? Are you puting seedlings in the system or mature plants?

You will just have to read the instructions as it varies so widely from brand to brand. If you are putting seedlings or very young plants in, you will want to delute it even further like only use 1/4 strength and slowly increase the ratio. Otherwise you will just be burning the plants and wasting nutes. IMHO, they plants only need full strength when they are flowering or fruiting. Lettuce and like plants never get over 50% solution of nutes cuz they don't need it.
You want to make sure you are putting like nutrient requirement plant together. You would not put tomatoes and lettuce together except maybe to start out. Maters need way more nutes and they also need extra micro's and cal/mag.

Also if you are using a 2 or 3 part nutrient always add the micro first!
I turn off my pumps when I do anything to the nutes, mix well then turn the pumps back on.

Let me know if ya have anymore questions. I'm on facebook too which I check more frequently, Tri City Hydroponic Gardeners!
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Old 05-04-2013, 10:52 PM
FalseFlash FalseFlash is offline
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I plan on adding the plants when they are at least 6 inches at height.

I have the seeds in GH rapid rooter tray right now with a heat mat and a dome lid. Seems to be very slow to germinate compared to soil. I guess it's worth it from what I hear.
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Old 05-05-2013, 03:01 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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This is the tubing that Tracy (fintuckyfarms) is talking about ADS Tubing

It's called ADS tubing, and both Home Depot and Lowe's carry it. It comes in two styles, one has a bunch of holes like this one ASD with holes. But you want the one without the hoes like the first one I posted. They should both be about the same price. Though price may vary from area to another area, it should be about 7-8 bucks for a 10 foot long 4 inch wide tube. Make sure you get the 4 inch tube, they make it in a 3 inch wide as well. The end coupler is very easy to cut off with a hack saw. The end caps should run about 2 bucks each.

In store location may vary from store to store as well, but here in Lake Havasu you can find it in the same isle with the PVC, just on the other side of the isle. But you should be able to find it either near the PVC, or with gardening and irrigation supply's. It's used in landscaping to divert ground water so your yard doesn't flood. Print out the picture and description so if you don't see it you can ask them where it is. If your Home Depot and/or Lowe's really doesn't stock it on the shelf, they can order it for you. They will have it shipped to the store for free, and you just pick it up at the store when it gets there. Usually from 2 to 7 days.

I just noticed on Home Depot's website they make it in a 6 inch as well. Our store doesn't have 6 inch, so I never knew they made it that wide, but it's good to know they do.
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:33 PM
FalseFlash FalseFlash is offline
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Got the piping with the black, let's see how this goes.
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Old 05-05-2013, 06:26 PM
FalseFlash FalseFlash is offline
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Okay, so. I need to get more pipe tomorrow.

I spent $180 so far on pipe and some hose, I don't know if that's normal or what. I think I may need another pipe for plants, you space the holes 10 inches apart for tomatoes and peppers right? If so then I will need another pipe since I have 50 plants.

I also feel dumb asking this, but how big do I drill the hole for 3 inch pots? I assume a 3 inch hole will make it drop right in. I was thinking a 2.75 inch hole would be good.

I'm really glad you are all helping me on this, I know it may seem simple to all of you but I'm just a newbie :P

I don't want to mess up on these pipes.
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Old 05-05-2013, 06:56 PM
fintuckyfarms fintuckyfarms is offline
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You are doing great! It's important so you want to do it right, that's why I first came to this site and why I stay to encourage and learn more myself.

That is also the spacing I would use if you are using indeterminate tomatoes. Determinate and bush type tomatoes are smaller and you know before hand how tall/wide they will be growing. I would still prune the heck out of them for better management, less chance of disease and bugs and so you can actually find the maters There are lots of videos on youtube if this is new to you. If you have indeterminate maters, you might think about using a cable above them and using the yo-yo type tomato hangers to give them stability in the system. These are similuar to the commercial ones and have really good reviews. Somewhere on this site is some pictures of this type of system.

Unless you purchased the "heavy duty" type net pots with the extra large lip you will want to make the hole slightly smaller then the top of the net pot. Remember since the hole will be on a "curve" due to the round pipe they tend to sway with the wind but it dosen't hurt the plants and I have only had one fall out from very high wind. Tip: I saved the cut outs to help level the pipes since turned upside down they fit the pipe perfectly and a few of them on one end give the pipe that "just off bubble" angle.

Lets see it already....
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Old 05-05-2013, 10:12 PM
FalseFlash FalseFlash is offline
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I'm going to have to build some kind of support for the tomatoes to grow onto then.

I plan on digging in a 55 gallon barrel like you said, I bleached it and washed it out real good.

Something just came to mind though. How will I drain this if it's dug in? lol

I will post some pictures when it's closer to being ready.

I should buy a greenhouse for this, but I'm afraid that a hurricane would destroy it. Last year we got hit with Sandy pretty hard and their predicting another this year. (I'm in NJ)

Last edited by FalseFlash; 05-06-2013 at 12:09 AM.
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Old 05-06-2013, 01:19 AM
fintuckyfarms fintuckyfarms is offline
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To drain my barrels I just unplug the feed line at the pipe and turn on the pump. I will sometimes just put the smaller tubing inside of a hose and water the yard with the old nutes (gravity fed). Works great, just listen for when it starts sucking air and turn it off right away or catch it just before then the barrel will only have an inch or so of nutes in it and you can easily pick it up and clean it out. I usually cut about a 18"x18" square'ish hole in the side of the barrel so I can reach inside to make adjustment, clean or add frozen OJ or water jugs to help keep the nutes cool in hot weather.

I found some picts of the tomato yo yo thing. Lots of places carry them!
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Last edited by fintuckyfarms; 05-06-2013 at 01:23 AM.
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Old 05-06-2013, 01:42 PM
FalseFlash FalseFlash is offline
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Darn it, it's going to storm for the rest week starting tomorrow. I hope I can have at least most of it done today.

Also, is it actually called a 'tomato yo-yo'? lol
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Old 05-06-2013, 03:53 PM
fintuckyfarms fintuckyfarms is offline
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Just google it but there are a few different ones out there that will do the same thing.

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