My Most Successful Hydroponic System, missing info?

by Alex

Hi, We love your website. We will be building this system. When looking at this diagram (My Most Successful...) off to the right , what are those 2 grey curvy lines going off to the right and the 2 little orange boxes? Is that inside the system or outside. Thank you so much for your reply. Thanks, Alex



Answer: Alex- on the diagram of My Most Successful Homemade Hydroponic System those two little orange boxes are aquarium air pumps, and the grey lines are standard 1/4 inch air tubing.

Every plant requires oxygen at the root level. In fact, the roots will only absorb nutrients in the presence of oxygen. This is not a concern when using a flood and drain system or a drip system, but in THIS system the plants are grown directly in the water. In order to provide enough oxygen to the roots, you need to add a couple of air pumps and air stones to the system.

When I first started using this design, I put two 6 inch air stones in the nutrient reservoir. This put enough dissolved oxygen into the nutrient solution, but the air stones and air lines were always in the way (especially when doing nutrient solution changes). That's when I decided to put the air stones in the elbows of the system instead of having them in the nutrient reservoir.

To do this, simply drill a 1/4 inch hole in the top of the elbow. Slide your air stone into position, feed the air tube through the hole, and connect the two inside the system. If your air stone is too long, you won't be able to slide it into place (it won't make it past the bend). If you're not sure, you might want to put the air stones into the elbows before you glue them together.

I have a couple other suggestions if you want to be successful using this system. In my original article, I include instructions on how to fill the "cups" with clay pellets and how to transplant your plants into the system. Making sure you fill the clay pellets even with the water level, and making sure you fill around you transplants with pre-soaked clay pellets are both important to the survival of your plants in the first week.

Cool water will hold more dissolved oxygen than warm water....also, warm water supports many different pathogens. For both of these reasons, you never want your nutrient solution to get above 72*F. Keeping the reservoir on a cool concrete floor (as you might have in a basement) is a good idea. You may also want to pick up a floating thermometer for the nutrient reservoir....you can get these at a pet shop in the aquarium department.

Chlorine from tap water can harm your plants, but worse....I've seen a whole garden wiped out overnight from temperature shock when cold water straight from the tap was used for a nutrient solution change. Room temperature water is always best. I highly recommend using TWO nutrient reservoirs- fill one with plain water and set it off to the side, waiting for the next nutrient solution change. This will eliminate BOTH of these problems.

Make sure you have adequate temp control in the garden area....see my pages on exhaust fans and oscillating fans (both important). Make sure you have adequate lighting....a 4' x 8' system does well using one 1000 watt light on a light mover or two stationary 600 watt lights (for most crops). Be sure to maintain your nutrient solution properly- see my how to grow hydro page. Finally, most crops require a dark period (12 hours) every day in order to trigger flowering- learn more about this on my flower forcing page.

Running this system, I tried to keep the water level as high as possible. This might not be necessary (it led to occasional small leaks for me). Once your plants have rooted well, you should be able to drop the water level just a tiny bit without harming the plant growth. This will also help you run the system without having any leaks.

I know this is more info than you asked for, but I would really like to see you succeed with your efforts. Feel free to write again if you have any other questions, and Happy Growing!

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Dec 21, 2009
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Great Article
by: Mike

Really really good article, I want to get involved and try and get something growing!! I was thinking about using this tent? Just wanted to know if that was the kind of tent to use for a beginner?

Thanks, Mike

Answer: Mike- the boxes used for comments are very small and I did not have space to write all that I wanted to say to you....so I opened a whole new question page up so I could answer your question. Please follow this link for your answer.

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Check out all of Jason's recommended items.
Find out the cheapest and easiest ways to garden productively in this article.

Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 22 years ago, my first garden used rockwool cubes and B.C. Nutrients....and I remember thinking to myself yeah, sure, there may be a lot of advantages to gardening with hydroponics, for example there are very few pest problems, therefore very little pest control, no weeding, no plowing or tilling the soil, no soil testing or having to add things into the garden soil, no watering the garden....but for someone who just wants to grow their own vegetables and have more control over their food supply and the quality of the food that they eat, the cost of constantly having to buy grow media and hydroponic nutrients makes this an expensive hobby for most people.

I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn't have a whole lot of money to work with and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as possible....and in the last 20 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!

As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol).

And, regarding the cost of the nutrients....I experimented for about 3 years with making different compost teas and nutrient teas, but there is still a lot of expense $$$ associated with making high quality nutrient teas....like kelp meal, liquid seaweed, rock dust, bat guano, un-sulfured molasses, worm castings. You can eliminate a lot of this expense by becoming an expert at making high-quality colloidal humus compost, and use your properly made compost as the basis of your hydroponic nutrient solution.



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What is colloidal humus?

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Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 20 years and I have only just recently mastered this difficult skill....and even then, only because I happened to find a very easy to follow, high quality technique and decided to follow the instructions to the letter. I produced more high quality compost in just one week than I was able to use in a whole year! I highly recommend it. It is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase the productivity of your food production efforts, while at the same time decreasing the amount of effort required to grow all of your own food, and decreasing the total cost of operating your food production system.

And when I say decrease operating costs, I mean decrease them to almost ZERO, especially if you are producing your own nutrients.


High Efficiency
Hydroponics

One final solution to eliminate the cost of your hydroponic nutrients: Imagine a hydroponic system that does not require you to buy any nutrients, does not require you to make your own compost, and does not require you to brew your own nutrient tea. Seriously! No cost and no effort as far as providing nutrients to your plants is concerned. Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle, you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the system!


Aquaponics

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This solution is aquaponics. If you are serious about producing all of your own food and being self-sufficient, this is the ultimate solution for reducing expenses (as much as possible), reducing the total amount of work required, and maximizing the productivity of your gardening efforts. I have been gardening for over 20 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.


Produce garnden vegetables AND fish together. Eliminate fertilizer costs!

Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!


High Efficiency
Soil Gardening

This is where my advice ends for people growing in water. But some of you out there are in love with soil gardening and organic gardening, and rightly so! It's a pro-human activity. It is pro-conservation. It is pro-life. It nurtures and promotes life at all levels, from the micro-organisms to beneficial insects, to healthy humans. It's natural. it's spiritual. Gardening is written deeply into our DNA, like how you feel watching a bonfire or sitting by the ocean or next to a river.

My friend John at Food4Wealth has more than 20 years experience organic gardening, so he reminds me a lot of myself. He knows organic gardening like I know hydroponic gardening, and over the years he has learned just about every trick there is to organic gardening. He knows what makes the plants grow, and he knows how to do it with as little effort as humanly possible. His garden never needs digging, naturally repels pests, has no weeds, always produces more than his family is able to eat, produces vegetables everyday all year round, and....only requires 8 HOURS of light, easy effort PER YEAR!


Low effort organic gardening!

Years and years of experience and results can't be argued with....the Food4Wealth gardening strategy is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work....specifically for organic gardeners who love soil gardening. THIS is the most efficient and productive way to do organic gardening, period! And combined with the ability to make a years' worth of colloidal humus compost in just one week (see World's Best Compost), this overall organic soil gardening strategy is just unstoppable- foolproof, low cost, and low effort!

Learn about high yield organic gardening






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