WOW! Just Wanted to Say,
What a Hydroponic System!

by Matt
(Fort Worth TX)

I saw a picture of your PVC DWC hydroponic system and I was amazed that someone else had come up with this idea. I know nothing about hydroponics, but after a trip to Disney World I decided to build a home system.



In case you have never been Disney's Epcot Center, it has perhaps the most impressive hydro grow labs in the world. Several of their systems are build with PVC and have pumps, drips and different aeroponic techniques. It was really inspiring to see.

So I devised my own homemade hydroponic system and built it last night. It's 4 - 3 foot PVC tubes that zig-zag back and forth like switch backs coming down a mountain. I couldn't start it yet because I bought a Walmart fish tank pump that wasn't strong enough to elevate the water.

Then I searched "hydroponic systems" online and I saw your sawhorse setup, and it was strikingly similar to mine. I also learned a lot from your post, such as placing an insert to keep the water level higher. I just have a few questions about it.

Do you run a continuous flow of water, or turn it on and off during the day? Also, with the elevated water level do you worry about the roots being exposed to too much water and nutrients? Finally, how do you drain the system? Thanks, and nice work with the PVC...I can't wait to get some tomatoes and berries growing at home!

Answer: Matt, when using my PVC hydroponic system, I keep the water pump running all the time. The reservoir is kept quite full (maybe 15 gallons) and the pipes themselves have about another 15. That's 30 gallons for 34 plant sites...very nearly 1 gallon per plant (which is about how much nutrient solution you should have).

The problem came one night when the power went out (and this is why you need to keep the pump running all the time). Power goes out, water all drains from the pipes back into the reservoir...which is nearly full already...and so the water tops the reservoir and ends up all over the floor. So, I bought a flood and drain fitting (local garden shop), bought a second large storage tote, and installed the fitting into my normal reservoir with a short length of hose going to the other (empty) storage tote as an overflow. You simply need to cut a hole in the overflow storage tote for the hose, so the water level never tries to go over the top of your first reservoir when it begins to overflow.

As far as having too much water on the roots...that is why you need a couple of air pumps constantly Oxygenating the nutrient solution. Those roots all need a little Oxygen, even if it's dissolved Oxygen from the water!

For most crops you will not have a problem doing it this way...but there are exceptions. Strawberries, for example, do not like to be grown in standing water. If the crown (the very top of the roots) gets wet, strawberries tend to develop root rot. You are better off putting strawberries into a flood and drain system or a drip system. Just be sure to do a little research about the plants you are trying to grow and you should be just fine.

As far as draining the system, I take the water hose going into the hydroponic system and move it over to the empty overflow reservoir until it has several gallons in it. I than move the hose back into the system while I dump the nutrient solution. I repeat this process until the system is completely empty. If you want to streamline the process, you can get a long piece of hose that will reach from your water pump to a nearby sink, tub, toilet, out a nearby window, or to your soil garden outdoors. Easy! I hope this helps, and Happy Growing!

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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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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!

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