I am just curious to know if you are building a new NFT system? I am about to build one, but was kind of concerned about the dam for the water level.
Answer: Texan- I have had plans for a while to build another NFT hydroponic system, much like my most successful system, but using 6 inch PVC pipe instead of 4 inch PVC. Unfortunately, many things have kept me from doing so lately. I can run down a list of reasons why I want to use the bigger pipe, as well as some of the benefits.
With the 4 inch PVC pipe, it is tricky keeping the water level high without causing small leaks here and there out the planting holes. Also, the volume of plant roots running through the 4 inch PVC towards the end of the growing cycle started to cause the water flowing through the system to back up, forcing me to reduce my flow rate in order to prevent a much bigger leaking problem. I did not notice any negative affect on the plants because of the change, however, I would like to have the system designed and ready for success without having to adjust it as it goes. Maybe I ask too much, lol.
Both of these problems, I imagine, would be largely fixed by using 6 inch PVC for the system instead of the 4 inch PVC....which brings me to the dam. In a 4 inch PVC system, there is not enough hydroponic nutrient solution in the pipes themselves to support healthy plant growth without constantly testing and adjusting the nutrient solution. Therefore, a nutrient reservoir is needed in addition to the hydroponic system itself. Furthermore, the nutrient solution needs to be transferred back and forth, from the nutrient reservoir to the system, and from the system back to the nutrient reservoir.
Moving nutrient solution from the system, back to the nutrient reservoir, while maintaining the proper water level inside the hydroponic system- THAT is the tricky part in a 4 inch PVC system. That is why I came up with the dam method. By cutting out a small half circle of plastic and caulking it into place at the end of the system, more water is allowed to spill out of the system if the water level begins to rise (for whatever reason). It's both a simple and very effective solution to the problem.
However, a system made from 6 inch pipe has it beat. Since the pipes hold so much water, there is no need for a separate nutrient reservoir. In order to create a flow within the system, you simply pump nutrient solution from the "end" of the system and release it back into the starting point of the system....both ends of which can be capped off (eliminating the possibility of leaks from either end point). Also, the rate of fluid leaving the system is always the same as the rate of fluid entering the system, since it is all the action of the same pump!
The only negative I can think of (and I have considered the design for many, many hours) would be the nutrient solution changes. In the 4 inch PVC systems, they are very convenient....simply dump the reservoir and replace it with fresh nutrient solution. With the 6 inch PVC design, I think I would have to use the nutrient solution pump to "pump out" the system, then would have to use a reservoir of some sort to mix up a fresh batch of nutrient solution, then would use the pump to refill the system with the fresh solution. Maybe a touch more work, but worth it considering all of the other issues the design tends to fix. I hope this helps you out, and Happy Growing!
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
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!