Hi Jason, Lee here from Durban South Africa. Firstly, your site has been invaluable. Thank you. There are a few questions that I need to ask before I get the thing up and running... Will be starting on a very small system till I find my feet. Have opted for the NFT system.
Equipment: 68 litre (16 gallon) reservoir feeding 5 meters (16 feet) of 110 millimetre (4 inch) CYLINDRICAL piping.
Q1: All your diagrams show a square setup. However, I was unable to find square piping big enough, and so opted for cylindrical pipes. Is this still ok? I have bought capillary mats, which I will wrap inside the piping to try disperse the water more evenly around the inside of the pipe.
Q2: I purchased a pump which would (by the time it reaches the start of the system) deliver 12 liters (3 gallons) of water per hour. Is this too much? I read that it should be apx 1 liter per hour...
Q3: Will be using Vermiculite in the pots, will I still need to water this medium once the plants are established, or will they get ALL the water they need from the system?
Q4: I have a very small air pump inside the reservoir. How much air do you think would be suitable. Would it be better if I discarded the air pump and install an inline venturi system instead to deliver the air and keep the reservoir water mixed?
Thanks again for your help with this site, here's looking forward to a successful first attempt :-p
Answer: Lee- round pipe should work just as well as square pipe for this type of hydroponic system. Many drip systems use 1-2 gallons per hour per plant, so a 3 gallon per hour pump for the whole system would seem a bit too small in my opinion. However, test it out with a few plants first before you decide to change anything....it may turn out to work very well.
The individual plants, if potted in vermiculite, should draw up plenty of water from the capillary mat. Just to be sure, make sure to keep an eye on them the first time you try the system out. Seeing that you are NOT growing your plants in standing water, the plants should do well whether or not you have an air pump in the nutrient reservoir. The venturi system would probably do a better job at keeping the contents of the reservoir evenly mixed.
One final piece of advice....if using this system outdoors in a hot environment, you may want to consider wrapping the pipes in aluminum foil or tin foil. This reflects most of the sun, and keeps the insides of the pipes from warming up as fast. I hope this helps you out Lee, and Happy Growing!
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Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 24 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 24 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.
Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 24 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! If you can master the technique, 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
And when I say decrease operating costs, I mean decrease them to almost ZERO, especially if you are producing your own nutrients...
The ultimate 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! Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the system--->
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 24 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.
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!
The Same System/ 10 Weeks Later!