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Third system


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  #21  
Old 12-04-2009, 03:29 PM
txice txice is offline
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Nice looking system GpsFrontier.

You know...I see alot of designs using a setup similar to this (be it ebb and flood, nft or what have you), and I'm always curious about root management. Having experience with these types of systems, how to you manage that, if at all?

I mean, I'd think the roots could very quickly get out of hand in a small-ish tube like that, especially if the plant was something intended to be kept for a longer term. Do you perform any sort of root maintenance or simply just let them go? If it's the later, do you eventually end up encountering any issues at all with the tube clogging up or anything?

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  #22  
Old 12-04-2009, 07:20 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I see alot of designs using a setup similar to this (be it ebb and flood, nft or what have you), and I'm always curious about root management. Having experience with these types of systems, how to you manage that, if at all?
That's a good question, and for me it always comes down to the type of plant you are growing. Especially the size of the full grown plant that makes the most difference to me, because that will tell me how much support the plant will need as well as give me an Idea of the size of the root system. With hydroponics, the roots don't need to fan out to search for the nutrients they need because you are bringing the nutrients directly to the roots. Even so the roots seem to continue to do what they do best and keep growing. The type of system I eventually go with also is determined by how many plants I plan to grow, which also helps determine the type of growing medium I use, and of coarse the availability and price of materials I can get.

To be honest this is the first tube system that I have built, in retrospect I wish that I had made a few access openings (I still can, and plan to). I fully expected that the roots would intertwine with the other plants and keep me from pulling out the baskets. Though as I see the roots growing I have thought about the possibility of the system clogging with roots growing into the inlet and overflow ports, as well as the root mass interfering with the flow of nutrients from one side of the tube to the other. I plan to make access points on both ends to clear the inlet and overflow ports and possibly a few along the tube to clear any clogs there. Plants are generally pretty forgiving and don't mind root trimmings (like a haircut). I will just half to see how the rest goes.

Quote:
I'd think the roots could very quickly get out of hand in a small-ish tube like that, especially if the plant was something intended to be kept for a longer term.
The roots would most defiantly be a problem in this confined space for long term plants, though these plants are generally seasonal and I don't plan to have them in there much more than 6 months or so. Which is one of the reasons that I felt this design would work well for my purpose. For longer term plants I probably would have gone with a bucket drip system.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 12-04-2009 at 08:29 PM.
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  #23  
Old 12-04-2009, 07:37 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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As they get bigger, you might want to think about have a large amount of nutrient in your resevior because it'll start sucking up fluids like crazy and you don't want it to get to low before you can replenish the used amount of water. When I had my first NFT, I had some days it was using 8 or more gallons in 24 hours
Yes, I will need to do that as they get bigger. My broccoli plants are reaching full size and they are taking up 1-2 gallons almost daily now. It's not even warm weather wise, so it cant be evaporating. I originally thought that the drain holes were clogging, that did happen once to one of them. I just took the hose off and poked a small screwdriver around in it and it came pouring out. But as the water seemed to be disappearing I kept checking all the drain holes but with no problems I came to the conclusion that the plants were drinking it up. I have add 2 extra gallons of nutrient to it (8 gallons total now) and add at least one gallon of fresh water a day.
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  #24  
Old 12-05-2009, 12:37 AM
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What I would do is mark my full level, and replenish to that level each night and use gallon bottles to replenish so I could monitor the amount being used.
For smaller indoor setups, I would keep track, if I had a 20 gallon res. setup, I would fully replace the nutrients every 2 weeks OR if I added a total of 20 gallons to the res. to keep it level. Which ever came first.
Plus...get a TDS meter, it'll let you know how much of your nutrients are used. Mark your starting number, and check it each time you top off your res.
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  #25  
Old 12-05-2009, 02:20 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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What I would do is mark my full level, and replenish to that level
That's good advice. It's also exactly what I do. I have marked the inside of all my reservoirs with a permanent marker, including how many gallons the mark is, so I wont forget. That way I can replace the water without diluting the solution by adding too much, also so I know when to add more water so it doesn't become too concentrated because the water was used up or evaporated.
Quote:
Plus...get a TDS meter, it'll let you know how much of your nutrients are used. Mark your starting number, and check it each time you top off your res.
That would certainly let you know how fast they were being used up, but so far I haven't been able to afford a TDS or PPM meter. These plants are still young and aren't taking up much nutrients in relation to the amount of nutrient solution I have for the system. That's mainly why I let it go for 3 weeks before the first change. This set of nutrients I will let go only 2 weeks and the next one, but after that I will probably be changing it every week depending on how big they are. I mark the calender every time I change them to keep track. I can tell by the color of the plants pretty well if they are not getting enough nutrients, also I notice a slowdown in growth. I have also noticed that the nutrient solution gets lighter in color as the nutrients are being used up, I don't know if it's that way with all brands of nutrients but just something I have been observing. Especially with the broccoli plants now that they are almost full size, I think they are heavy feeders.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 12-05-2009 at 02:25 AM.
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  #26  
Old 01-11-2010, 03:26 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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It has been warming up the last few weeks and these plants have been making some progress, so I thought I would post updated pictures. Can you tell I like to take pictures?

As you can see the 4 green been plants in the center are not doing well. these are the second batch of green beans I started with the same results. I can only assume it's because of the cold weather. I simply ran out of money to complete everything I wanted to do with this system. I was going to build a P.V.C. trellis similar to the one I have for the tomato's, then drape the plastic drop cloth over it. And on both sides I was going to have a P.V.C. tube run across the bottom attached to the plastic drop cloth so I can roll it up during the day.

You can see the round vertical 6 inch wide P.V.C. tubes underneath the system, these to are just prototypes and not the finished design. These are the heat source for warming at night. They will be made of metal heating and AC ducting so they wont catch fire. Inside these tubes will be a small adjustable flame (not sure where I will get the burners yet). It will basicly be heavy enough that wind wont blow them over, and with enough metal around it so it will be wind proof while allowing the heat to rise. Although now that it's starting to warm up I will probably not complete these heating units until next winter. The wood trellis structure that was meant to be temporary is now permanent because the plants are attached to the line that is strung across, I will still need to make it taller and/or build the P.V.C. trellis around it.

I also had a water proof heating pad inside the nutrient solution to keep them from getting to cold at night, but there must have been a pin hole in the plastic cover and water got in it. It was still working, but I decided to take it apart and use the heating elements inside to create my own fish tank warmer. Good idea, but I made a mistake in replacing some of the wire. It was not regular wire, and shorted the elements out. Oh well it was only $1, but now I need another one and have not been able to make it back the thrift stores to find another one.

At this point I decided to replace the green beans with more peas and snow peas. The taller plants are the snow peas and the shorter ones are the regular peas. I will just put 2 more of each in the system to make it a total of 6 each.

As far as root maintenance, I found that I don't need to cut any access holes near the inlet and overflow ports. I simply can disconnect them from the outside when no water is flowing through it, and do any trimming from there. It only goes through about 2 inches, and I can just poke them back in with a stick or something (once a week, if that so far). I may need to create the access ports along the top near the center of the tube in the future, but so far root maintenance there is not a problem.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 01-11-2010 at 03:38 AM.
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  #27  
Old 02-16-2010, 02:12 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Well it has been about a month sense my last update on my pea plants, and they have grown quite a bit (looking at my last pictures). I now have lots of pea pods on both the regular and snow pea plants, with lots more of flowers. The pods can be hard to see because they are the same color as the leaves and stems, but the more I look the more I find.
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  #28  
Old 02-16-2010, 09:28 AM
eduardomachado eduardomachado is offline
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great looking plants!
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  #29  
Old 02-25-2010, 08:32 PM
ohman11 ohman11 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
I finally got the third system up and running, I was waiting for the seeds to sprout and get big enough. This is a simple flood and drain design using 4 inch ADS tubing, similar to P.V.C. but it's designed for irrigation. You should be able to find it in the same isle as the P.V.C. tubing at Home Depot and Lowe's hardware stores. The ADS tubing looks much the same but is made of 3 different layers. The inside layer is black (and lightproof), the second provides structural support, the last is the white outer layer. This stuff is real easy to cut and is inexpensive at about $8 for a 10 foot tube. The end caps were $1.97.

I cut holes in the end caps to insert the through holes, then flooded the system to mark where I was going to glue the end caps in place. I just used regular P.V.C. glue that I already had. I also already had the threaded elbow connectors for the P.V.C., and the pieces of 1/2 in P.V.C tubing used for the overflow tube. You will notice on the overflow tube there is a "T" connector with a piece of tubing extending up, then some holes drilled in the end cap of that tube. This is to insure there are no air bubbles that can get trapped in the overflow that might cause it to not function properly. Also the long black piece of P.V.C. that runs the span of the tube is just one I already had from long ago. It had been in the garage so long that it was bent so I just zip tied it to a long piece of wood to kind of striation it out.

The nutrient reservoir is one that I am reusing from my pepper plants last summer. I painted the top black (to lightproof it) then white (to reflect light). The bottom part is actually two containers, one inside the other with spray insulation foam between them. So the insulation provides the light proofing. The stands were just made from 2x4's then painted white. I used a 4 inch tube coupler that I cut in half, then screwed them to the stands for the tube to rest in. I used a buggy cord over the top of the tube (to hold it in place).

I have 3 diffrent plants in this system peas, sugar peas and green beans. I will be building a trellis (similar to the one I have for my tomato's in the background) for these to climb on. I will also be adding summer squash to this system. Though the squash will actually be a drip system running from the same pump. So I will have both drip, and a flood and drain systems running from the same pump. I have a one way flow valve that I got for $8 that will be inline with the drip system. This will allow the nutrient to flow to the drip system but when the pump shuts off it will close. This wont allow any back flow from the drip side of the system that would allow air bubbles, and then stop the siphoning back to the reservoir from the flood and drain side of the system.

ADS tube $8
end caps $1.97 x 2, $4
pump $44
through holes $1.97 x 2, $4
tube coupler $2
How much of a pump do you need for this system? I like what you have done, great work!
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  #30  
Old 02-25-2010, 09:09 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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How much of a pump do you need for this system? I like what you have done, great work!
Any of my pumps will work for this system. It's only actually pumping 1 to 2 feet up at most (pump ratings call that the "head height"). The tube holds about 5 gallons when filled. About 1 and 1/2 gallons stays in the tube when drained. The pump I am using is actually way to strong for the system. It will fill the system faster than the overflow can drain it, so it will overflow out of the top if I didn't adjust it. The pump inlet is set at a low setting but I still need to do more to reduce the flow. I took a "T" connector and put it inline with the feeding line, then connected a small piece of tubing to the middle horizontal connection. This splits the feeding line into two lines but only one end goes to the plants the other end stays in the reservoir.
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  #31  
Old 02-27-2010, 11:03 AM
ohman11 ohman11 is offline
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I have a qusetion, What size netpot did you use? Is it 3 3/4? What size hole did you drill?
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  #32  
Old 02-27-2010, 06:01 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I have a qusetion, What size netpot did you use? Is it 3 3/4?
I used 3" net pots (pictures attached). I bought a 100 pack a couple of years ago when I was in Las Vegas. If I remember correctly they were about $25 for the 100 pack. That would make them about $0.25 a piece.
Quote:
What size hole did you drill?
Well, I didn't use a hole saw. I drilled them freehand with a rotary tool I already had (pictures attached). It wasn't as hard as it sounds. I first needed a template for the hole size. I traced the top of the basket onto the thin plastic lid of a margarine tub, cut it out. Then trimmed it down until it just barely fit into the top of the basket, that way I knew it would be slightly smaller than the baskets so the baskets wouldn't fall through the holes. I drew a straight line, straight down the side of the tube. All the holes would be centered on this line. This is important to the water level in the tube because it will begin to overflow out the lowest point, if one hole was lower than the other it will overflow at that point. The line insures that all the holes would be level and in line with all the rest.

Then I measured the length of the tube, subtracted 4 inches for each side (2" for the end caps, and 2" for the end spacing), then divided that by 12 (amount of pots I wanted). This would give me the spacing between pots. Because the template was a thin plastic it easily bends around the tube, making it easy to trace on the tube. I put a mark on one end at 4 inches (2" for the end caps, and 2" for the end spacing), then centered the template on the long line with the edge of it at the 4" mark. Then traced the template on the tube, and put an "x" in the center of the outline, on the long line. That was my starting point, from there I made 11 more "x's" along the line at the pre-determined spacing that I figured out earlier. I eye-balled the centering of the template on the "x," but it would probably be better to place a hole in the center of the template, so it would be easier to line up with the "x" on the tube.

Once I had all my holes drawn on the tube I used the rotary tool to cut them out. It cuts through the ADS tubing very easily. Sounds like a long process but it was actually easy. Using another person to hold the tube and tape measure so I could get a straight line the whole process took about 30 min.

P.S. Measure twice, cut once.
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  #33  
Old 02-28-2010, 08:54 AM
ohman11 ohman11 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
I used 3" net pots (pictures attached). I bought a 100 pack a couple of years ago when I was in Las Vegas. If I remember correctly they were about $25 for the 100 pack. That would make them about $0.25 a piece.
Well, I didn't use a hole saw. I drilled them freehand with a rotary tool I already had (pictures attached). It wasn't as hard as it sounds. I first needed a template for the hole size. I traced the top of the basket onto the thin plastic lid of a margarine tub, cut it out. Then trimmed it down until it just barely fit into the top of the basket, that way I knew it would be slightly smaller than the baskets so the baskets wouldn't fall through the holes. I drew a straight line, straight down the side of the tube. All the holes would be centered on this line. This is important to the water level in the tube because it will begin to overflow out the lowest point, if one hole was lower than the other it will overflow at that point. The line insures that all the holes would be level and in line with all the rest.

Then I measured the length of the tube, subtracted 4 inches for each side (2" for the end caps, and 2" for the end spacing), then divided that by 12 (amount of pots I wanted). This would give me the spacing between pots. Because the template was a thin plastic it easily bends around the tube, making it easy to trace on the tube. I put a mark on one end at 4 inches (2" for the end caps, and 2" for the end spacing), then centered the template on the long line with the edge of it at the 4" mark. Then traced the template on the tube, and put an "x" in the center of the outline, on the long line. That was my starting point, from there I made 11 more "x's" along the line at the pre-determined spacing that I figured out earlier. I eye-balled the centering of the template on the "x," but it would probably be better to place a hole in the center of the template, so it would be easier to line up with the "x" on the tube.

Once I had all my holes drawn on the tube I used the rotary tool to cut them out. It cuts through the ADS tubing very easily. Sounds like a long process but it was actually easy. Using another person to hold the tube and tape measure so I could get a straight line the whole process took about 30 min.

P.S. Measure twice, cut once.
Thats a good idea and much cheaper than a hole saw. I just bought a 3 5\8 one and they are pretty pricey. I plan to make a few more so I guess I will get my moneys worth out of it.
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  #34  
Old 07-10-2010, 11:35 PM
Hawaiianhydro Hawaiianhydro is offline
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Very nice work. Whay type of nutrients are you using?

Thanks
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Old 07-11-2010, 02:53 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Very nice work. Whay type of nutrients are you using?

Thanks
Thanks,
I was was using General Hydroponics Flora series nutrients on those plants.
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  #36  
Old 07-11-2010, 08:36 AM
Amy Amy is offline
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Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Well it has been about a month sense my last update on my pea plants, and they have grown quite a bit (looking at my last pictures). I now have lots of pea pods on both the regular and snow pea plants, with lots more of flowers. The pods can be hard to see because they are the same color as the leaves and stems, but the more I look the more I find.
Wow, it must be so exciting to see the flowers and beans!

I also want to start similar work but not now, still too much to learn in hydroponics ...
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Old 08-19-2010, 01:11 PM
NorEastFla NorEastFla is offline
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Hi GpsFrontier, that's a very efficient system you've built.

I do have a question for you. How will you keep rain from getting into the top of the net baskets and diluting your nutrient solution?

I live in Florida, where it rains quite a bit. This would be a real concern for me. I have no idea how much rain you get where you live.
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Old 08-19-2010, 01:51 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello NorEastFla,
We don't get nearly the amount of rain that you do, I live in the AZ. desert. That system was up and running last winter/spring when we get most of our rain for the year. The rest we get in late summer during the monsoons. But I never had any issues of that system flooding or overflowing. I changed reservoirs (to a larger one) in spring when the plants started to grow rapidly because of the warmer weather. The first reservoir held up to 10 gallons, the later one held up to 18 gallons. I never measured how much water got in the system, some did. But between the little amount that did, and how much the plants drink daily, I didn't have a problem with that even if it rained for 3 days.

But in your case you will get much more rain than me. In witch case if it becomes a problem I have a simple answer for that. I would just use plastic lids, like from empty margarine, butter, sour cream etc. containers ,as long as it is larger than the baskets. Cut holes in the center of them large enough for the stem of the plant to grow and and not grow into the lid. Then cut a slit down one side so it's easy to slip on and off when needed. And in cases of high winds, a zip-lock bag with some sand in it tucked around the stem on top of the plastic lids should keep it snugly in place. Not that it would fly off, but the edge of the plastic lid can cut into the stem if it moves around a lot. As for the reservoir, I would just place it underneath a table or something to keep water off the lid and draining through the cut-outs.
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Old 08-19-2010, 04:35 PM
NorEastFla NorEastFla is offline
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Hey GpsFrontier, your idea is good, but I think I'll try something like in my attached sketch. The plant stem would be trained over and under 1/2" PVC into a drip loop with a "roof" over the pipe and basket.

This will be easy to build. After I have one up and running, using your idea with the ebb and flow pipe, I'll post it into a thread I'll start.

I really like your pipe idea.
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  #40  
Old 12-22-2010, 04:29 PM
sportycliff sportycliff is offline
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Well, I guess I'll jump right in here (in the middle of an old thread) and say thanks, this was a VERY informative thread and has given me a ton of ideas!

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