Monday, May 18, 2009

Aeroponics, Drip System, and Ebb and Flow


Deep Well...this is a rubbermaid tub with an aquarium airstone and an aquarium heater. All items are inexpensive. I drilled four holes in the lid top and put 3 inch diameter baskets in. There are three cucumbers and a tomato plant in the baskets. Remember, the roots don't stay just in the basket. They expand into the deep well. The idea is that the bubbles will pop and spray the water and nutrients onto the medium holding the roots. I started the seeds in rock wool and peat and placed them in lava rock.
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Here is what it looks like with the lid off and the water and nutrients cycling.
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These will need to be supported with a trellis system later on.

Ebb and flow:

Here are three, inexpensive tubs that I have sprayed the outside blue in order to protect the roots from direct light.
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This is a very simple process. Doesn't require a pump or airstone. I plan to be using this as my second stage in keeping the drip system full of plants. Step one is the rock wool in starter trays. Step two is the transfer to the ebb and flow system until true leaves appear. Then they will be transferred to the drip system. This next photo shows the "ebb" part of the system where you lower the bucket so that the nutrient water runs out of the tray. The following photo shows the "flow" part where the bucket is higher than the tray so that the nutrient water flows from the bucket to the tray.
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The next photo shows an example of how the trays will look with pots in them. There will of course be more pots in use.
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Here are some of the organic nutrients that I am using.
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Here is the drip system as it looks today with 60 plants in it.
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An up close photo of the drip in use.
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My RO water barrel developed a serious drip so I had to replace the black spigot, with this new one that works great.
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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Progress on Hydroponics etc.

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In the last post I showed how we hung the pipes. Notice in this picture that each pipe is suspended by plumbers strap. The reason we did this was to turn the straps completely over so that the adjustments for the raising and lowering of the pipe was not up at the ceiling, but down near the pipe itself. The end that has the adjustment mechanism is rather short and wouldn't go around the diameter of the pipe and still hang on the hook. The plumbers strap solved this problem.

Also note the 3 inch net pot with the drip system in place. We have 66 of these.

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This picture looks confusing, but we are looking at a simple drip system. Notice the RO (Reverse Osmosis) filter on the wall. A hose goes from the filter to the big blue barrel. In the big blue barrel is an aquarium heater, an airstone, and a water pump. Look at the manifold. That is the piece that feeds all the different lines to each pipe. We left enough length on each connection so that we can independently raise or lower each pipe. It looks tangled because there are also drain lines coming back from the pipes into the blue barrel. So, simply put, we have a little brown line running along each big green tube with a drip nozzle set up at each planting hole. The water drips in giving nutrition and water(air also) to the roots. Then it all flows back into the big blue barrel. This will be set on a timer to water as needed.

Reverse Osmosis filter.
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This big blue barrel, sitting on the table is really important. The RO system is really slow. We're lucky to get 20 gallons a day. Now, the blue barrel on the floor is where I put in my nutrients, and keep full of the filtered water. But you need lots of filtered water. I'll be using the filtered water for the deep wells, which I will explain later (aeroponics), and the simple ebb and flow system and also I use this water for watering houseplants and seedlings. When the barrel on the floor is full, I then start filling the additional barrel resevoir on the table. Notice it has an off and on spout. This allows gravity feed, when needed, to different systems.

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Here is a photo of my greenhouse at present. My next post will show the ebb and flow system and the aeroponics system, as they are being made. The gravel on the floor has really turned out to be perfect, because of all the water I've been spilling. I turned on the drip system and there are no leaks! So far, so good. All questions or suggestions are welcome. I just started 75 seeds to be put into the systems soon.