Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lettuce Check

Quick update on my Hydroponic test... Lettuce is doing Really Well, It looks like I'm going to have to remove every other plant in order for them to have enough room for them to continue to grow.  Currently we are at week 6.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Going Hydro

Yes, it's true, my wife and kids accepted the fact a long time ago that "Dad" was always a little "out there" and it now comes as no surprise to them, when I say I'm starting a new project, my daughter likes to say "Dad, your so weird"....

I have no idea how I reached the point where I decided it would be fun to try hydroponics,  I think it has something to do with the challenge of creating and building something new.  I looked at a lot of different hydroponic options online and decided to design something myself based on the same basic principles.  I wanted to make it portable, easy to move, and easy to clean if needed.

This is what I came up with...

It's built out of  3 inch pvc pipe, each "grow tube" is it's own unit, and can be easily disconnected from the inlet and drain tubes..and the ends can be screwed off for easy cleaning

I liked the tiered look as it seemed to provided the most growing space and still allowed for an overall smaller footprint. (It takes up about 3' x 2.5' of floor space)

I decided to start with something simple to grow, to begin with and purchased 5 different varieties of heirloom lettuce.  (I just moved them from the sprouting tray to the Hydro system 2 days ago).

I used a hole saw to cut the five holes in each pipe, and then purchased some 2.75 inch net pots to go in the holes.  The lettuce was started in 2" Rockwool starter cubes (Rockwool is an inert fiber material similar in appearance to compressed insulation) When I transferred them to the Hydro unit I put some clay beads in the bottom of each netpot and on top...this helps with moisture retention.

for lighting, (which doesn't show in any of the pictures), I purchased two LED Grow lights, and have them on a timer, (18hrs on and 6hrs off.)

 The overall concept is pretty simple... there is a Reservoir under the unit (Tote from Wallmart) that holds 10 gallons of water, there is a submersible pump, that pumps the water up into the grow tubes every 8hrs... the grow tubes remain filled for about 15 minutes, and then drain back into the Reservoir. There is also an aerator in the reservoir that keeps the water oxygenated, and about once a week I check the water level and add any nutrients as needed.

So far it seems to be working Really well... I'm pretty happy with how it all turned out.