No problem with leaks/Your next hydroponic system

by Jerry Morse
(Vicksburg, MS - USA)

In the article I was reading, you said to check out your next hydroponic system in which leaks were not a concern. Do you have this system on your web? I tried doing strawberries in a home made hydroponic gardening system last winter and killed all of them, plus It is a real hassle if I have an overflow or a leak in my work shop. Thanks, Jerry Morse.

Answer: Jerry- the page you are referring to, "My Next Hydroponic System", I haven't finished writing yet.... however, I can give you a sneak peak of what the page is about. My next system is a modification on My Most Successful Homemade Hydroponic System. Over time, I have been able to work out most of the problems with my homemade systems. This last attempt was the most successful and problem free garden I have ever had. In fact, the only problem I had with the system was a few small leaks. By the time my plants were half way through the flowering/fruiting period, their root systems had gotten so thick that the water was having a hard time flowing through the system as fast as it was being pumped into the system. At some point the problem became critical and was causing a small amount of water to back up and spill out of a few of the plant holes.

As I described on that page, my solution was to install a "T" at the water pump, with one side recirculating inside the nutrient reservoir and the other side pumping into the hydro system. This effectively cut the rate of water flow in half, but the change had no negative effects on the plants. For my next homemade hydroponic system, I decided to give the plants a little more room for their roots to grow out. I am going to accomplish this by using 6 inch PVC pipe instead of 4 inch PVC pipe. This would stop the leaking problem described above.

I am also considering another change to the design....getting rid of the nutrient reservoir altogether. I believe by using 6 inch PVC pipe that the hydroponic system itself will hold enough nutrient solution to keep all of the plants happy (I usually aim to provide 3/4 to 1 gallon of nutrient solution per plant). The only problem with this idea is the convenience of nutrient solution changes.

Having an external nutrient reservoir separate from the hydroponic system is convenient when it comes to nutrient changes for two reasons..... One- it is easy to just pick up and dump (or swap out with another reservoir filled with plain water). Two- it is nice to be able to test the new nutrient solution with a TDS meter and a pH meter before actually sending it through the system to all of the plants....I can foresee potential problems with trying to mix up fresh nutrient solution right in the 6 inch PVC pipes where the roots are growing- lots of potential for damaging the roots.

One final idea comes from yet another page I will be writing in the near future....a revolution in aeroponics as far as I am concerned. If you read my pages on aeroponics, you will recall how aeroponic systems require a high pressure pump and therefore extra attention. A system I saw recently, though, has solved that problem by using EZ Clone sprayers. The system used a 396 GPH low pressure pump to feed a 1/2 inch PVC line. Using an 11/64 inch drill bit, Holes were made in the 1/2 inch line wherever a spray head was required. The spray heads simply screwed into the 1/2 inch PVC line with the help of some pliers. The 1/2 inch PVC line ran inside the larger PVC pipe that held the plants, and a spray head was placed in between each plant site in the system. With a setup like this, you will never have an "overflow", because the pipes in the system do not actually hold any standing water... they merely drain the water coming from the spray heads.

Ever since seeing this new design, I have been tempted to build a system using the EZ Clone spray heads inside 6 inch PVC pipe, draining into a separate external nutrient reservoir. The system would have all of the benefits that I like, plus would solve the little problems I still had with my old design. If you decide to go this route, be sure to read my advice on using a manifold, as it would apply in this case. I sure hope this helps, and Happy Growing!

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Hydroponic Systems Q&A.

All of the items that I personally use and recommend!

AffordableGarden Design&Setup

(10 week update below)

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 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...

Epic Nutrient Change

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)...

Homemade Cloner

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 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 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

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--->


Click Here to learn more!

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.

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!

The Same System/ 10 Weeks Later!

If you've found this site helpful at all, I would really appreciate it