DIY alternative to AeroGarden..?

tolledotFebruary 23, 2007

Good morning everyone

I have seen posts about the Aerogarden and most concur that although it does what it claims, it is very expensive.

As I live in Europe (where it is still not available anyway) and have limited space, I want to make myself a similar set-up.

Can someone point me to some simple plans or give me some details of how to put something like this together?

Thanks for any advice

Joseph

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db805

joseph,
i just put an aeroponics system together. its DIY. but doesn't really involve all that much work. it from Keith Roberto's how to hydroponics book. pretty straight forward directions and you should be able to find all of the parts locally. shoot me a PM if you're looking for more "specific" instructions.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 7:34PM
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tolledot

Thanks db805, is that all it really is? I thought perhaps it incorporated some other system or technology that could be added to the normal aeroponics setup which I am already familiar with.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 4:43AM
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db805

yeah i think it is just a well marketed commercialized setup for people to produce fresh herbs with as little effort as possible. but i have heard of some people growing tomatoes etc. not sure how big it could get though.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 12:58PM
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willardb3

Aeroponics in general is an extremely simple system and, If you read Keith Roberto's book and have any ability with tools you can build a great aero system.

The only caveat I have for aeropopnics is to make sure the pipe in which the plants are put be as large as you can buy if you grow tomatos; tomatos have huge root systems.

Aero scales up to any size you have in mind.

I grow mostly chiles but have grown tomatos, cilantro, epazote and etc.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2007 at 9:44AM
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vnswamy(z4 NY)

Hi to Willard3
any special way to grow cilantro ,(temp ,light,nutrient etc) and how easy at zone 4
thanks

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 9:18PM
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editor_TechnologyGarden_net

I started with an aerogarden and realized it's really just a toy, and it's very difficult to control PH in such a small reservoir.

I bought the HOWTOHYDROPONICS book as well by Keith Roberto and it was fantastic. Within a few days after reading the book I bought some parts and make 3 lettuce rafts and 4 aerospring units - which I connected together and now have (2) - 2 bay aerosprings which I use to grow heirloom tomatoes. I suggest using large netpots (6") if you want to grow tomatoes, this helps give them enough room, too many tomato plants in a aerospring system will be too crowded, and use up too much nutrients on a hot day leaving you with dry roots unless you have a large reservoir.

Check out my website at http://www.TechnologyGarden.net to see some of my Hydroponic and Aeroponic pictures and some howto's on starting seeds, transplanting into a lettuce raft, etc

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.TechnologyGarden.net

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 11:52AM
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grizzman

Hey TechnoGarden,
I have few questions about your aerospring;
What size / how strong is the pump you're using?
how many sprayers will it support?
what's the head height the sprayers are set at?
and finally, how did you connect the sprayers to the PVC?
thanks,

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 1:37PM
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technologygarden

Im using a 345GPH pump, I got it from WormsWay locally, I think its a sunleaves brand - (their own "house" brand)

I believe I have 10 sprayers with the 2 units combined and I have no pressure problems. All of the info is in the book by Keith Roberto - HOW TO HYDROPONICS - I HIGHLY Suggest this book for plans on building an aerospring, lettuce raft, etc

In the book you'll find all the height of sprayers, how to tap the PVC for the sprayers, etc. This is how I learned all my stuff...

You can check out my website for some pics and some details, I have a few new tutorials coming on water quality and testing and another one on cloning and how to build a clone box. Coming soon.....

-Eric
http://www.TechnologyGarden.net

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.TechnologyGarden.net

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 10:09AM
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garysgarden

BTW, the tomatoes grown in the AeroGarden are a special super-dwarf strain of cherry tomato that doesn't get very big.

You aren't going to grow any regular tomato plant in one of those very easily. You could, theoretically, if you modified the light arm and refilled it over and over.

Honestly, though, the AeroGarden is a cute toy. Real hydroponics systems are not only far larger, but far cheaper. That thing's mostly for people who just want a counter-top grower for herbs and to show people when they come over for a dinner party.

In my opinion, of course.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 11:53PM
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chuck(Z10,SW FL)

Hi techno, your website looks very nice. Is this your business website?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 9:28AM
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technologygarden

Hi Chuck, Thanks for the compliments on my site, it's been a wonderful hobby. Nope, its not my business website, Im just a home grower that has recently caught the "bug" of hydroponics and aeroponics and love to blog. Just want to share what I've learned and help people get more from hydroponics.

I also love building my own stuff - as I did my website - I work in the tech industry so have lots of toys to play with!
If you have other questions please contact me throught the ABOUT page on my site

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 12:29PM
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hydroponica(5-6)

I'm more than a bit jealous of Technologygarden's website. Mine looks like poo compared to his. I just don't really have the time to figure out how to make mine look nicer (I'm kind of hammering the square peg in the round hole just figuring out how to make stuff show up on mine.)

tolledot - what kind of hydroponics you'd want to build depends a bit on what you want to grow. If you want to grow some leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, etc) a great way to do that is with deep water culture (DWC). You can look at the blog on my website (linked below) and see how I built mine.

I've modified it a bit, as you can see over the course of my blog entries. Aside from DWC, there's ebb & flow, nutrient film technique (NFT), and aeroponics. Which is "best" depends on the plant, your budget, and a few things like that. If you tell us exactly what you want to grow, how much of it you want to grow, what kind of space you have to grow it in, and how much you want to spend to build it all we can probably point out exactly what will get you there the easiest.

My best advice on anyone's first-time build of a hydroponic system is this: solve your water transporting before you break ground. Even my little 18 gallon reservoir is not something you can move once it's full. Even with a buddy or two, the only thing you're going to accomplish if you try to move that more than a few feet pushing it along the floor is a big mess. It may only weigh about 140 lbs, but that's a 140 lbs of moving, sloshing water in a relatively flimsy tub. (Plenty strong just sitting there, but it's flexible if you start pulling on it.)

So install a drain valve and flexible tubing that reaches wherever you want the water to end up and work out how you're going to schlep the water to it to fill it. If that means carrying pitchers of water out to it and you're okay with that, that's fine. Just figure it out ahead of time and save yourself a lot of grief.

Here is a link that might be useful: My blog - the DIY DWC is down there a ways.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 8:45PM
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tolledot

Thanks to all of you - I now realise I cannot be too ambitious with the very limited space (and time) that I have so I've decided for a simple polystyrene board floating system with aerated nutrient solution to grow mostly lettuce and Asian greens.

I appreciate all your time and sharing of your knowledge.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 4:35AM
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technologygarden

Thanks for the nice comments Hyroponica, much appreciated. I am new to hydro and aeroponics and only started this hobby in January, so I'm either very lucky or just have a green thumb....but most of it has to do with luck and my water seems to be of good quality and slightly acidic (6.2PH from the well) - so things are just working out nicely

I got my first ripe tomato yesterday (cherokee purple) and am looking forward to munching on that this week and hopefully all tastes good! Can't wait for my green zebra's too, love them!

Tolledot, I would say that's a good choice to start with a "lettuce raft" system first, obviously not meant for tomatoes but for smaller herbs, lettuce it's fine and a great way to start the hobby.

Make sure your seedlings are well rooted and have their "real" leaves starting and make sure you use a very weak solution the first week or two so you don't "burn" the tender young seedlings. You can even start with no nutrients for the first week, just aerate the hell outta the mixture - the lettuce raft is how I started.

Make sure you change the nutrients every 2 weeks, even if the "raft" isnt down to it's lowest level. I take my old nutrient water out and use it on my plants indoors and also dump some in my outdoor blackberry patch. Changing the nutrients every 2 - 3 weeks will help you, and monitor the PH and TDS and once the plants are doing well, bump the nutrients and watch them grow. One last thing, make sure you know the PH and Nutrient level for the plants and try to keep plants in the same "class" (nutrient level and PH) in the same raft systems, having cilantro next to lettuce sometimes jst wont work due to their PH preference , etc

Best of luck and keep us informed on how you do!

-Eric
Editor, http://www.TechnologyGarden.net

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.TechnologyGarden.net

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 12:45PM
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garysgarden

That's the truth right there. Hydroponics is a lot of fun, and with just a moderate level of attention to detail and a lot of self-education you can very quickly produce exceptional results.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 11:23PM
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technologygarden

Agreed - Growing using Hydroponics and Aeroponics is actually very simple as long as you have decent water to start with , and monitor the nutrients and PH. I honestly spend more time picking my fruit and removing hornworms and slugs (when growing outside) than I do mixing and measuring PH and Nutrient level!

I've really enjoyed this hobby and after the amazing BLT I made last night, it's nice to have fresh lettuce and tomato ready for consumption - now I just need to buy myself a pig or two :)

-Eric
Technology Garden

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 1:34PM
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garysgarden

lol

I keep finding myself doing that too... make something with stuff from the garden and stuff from the store and think "now I just need to grow my own ____." Plants are nice and clean (well a clean kind of dirty at least). Chickens, pigs, and so forth are just filthy by comparison.

Tasty, but filthy. And a lot of work.

Besides, why would I waste valuable growing space on animals?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 11:19PM
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vgautam(z5NY)

Aother alernative: Non-circulating hydroponic system.

Dr. Bernard A. Kratky University of Hawaii (461W. Lanikaula, Hilo, HI 96720, USA): passive/non-circulating hydroponic systems under specific conditions for specifc crops, modified for each species e.g. one metho or potato, another for cucumber, third for lettuce, for watercress, for tomato, etc., each differening in container shape, size, liquid volume, placement strategy according to the requirement of the plant in question... but all depending on the basic principles of non-circulating hydroponics or aeration + nutrition.

Have corresponded with Dr. Kratky.. Extremely gracious gentleman.

This general idea has utility in some situations for SOME PEOPLE! NOT everyone!!

a video demonstrating three non-circulating hydroponic methods (US$29 in USA; $35 overseas postpaid) and a book (39 pages, 10 illustrations; $8.95 plus postage) both titled Non-Circulating Hydroponic Methods. Order the video from UHH College of Agriculture, 200 W. Kawili St., Hilo, HI 96720, USA. The book is sold by DPL Hawaii, 39 W. Lanikaula, Hilo, HI 96720; phone 808/935-8785.

Growing Lettuce by a Float-Support Non-Circulating Hydroponic Method in Hawaii and Pennsylvania
Co-authors: M.D. Orzolek and W. L. Lamont - Pennsylvania State University

http://www.plasticulture.org/08BestPaper.htm

You may see the pdf files illustrating the methods in color slides of growing potao in newspaper & pot-in-pot

kratky@hawaii.edu

My question to you all re: Aerogarden:

Given that the Aerogarden is very expensive, is it a good functional product to give as a present to a person who oves to grow basil, pasley & kitchen herbs?

I am a plant physiologist with more than 28 years of research backround in Controlled Environment Life Support Systems [CELSS] and fundamental membrane biochemistry that is basic to developing & advancing the very aeroponics [& combined hydro/aeroponics that now are called aeroponics inaccurately. I have been present all along some of the earliest evolution of what now are called aeroponics, that grew out of various twists & turns of the NASA-CELSS project.] At a professional level,I can construct all manner of devices that are hopelessly ugly, if very functional. (Thus, useless as a sentimental present.)

The Aerogarden seems to fill a niche: a very cute + nifty appliance that promises grow basil, parsley & dill well. My worry is: DOES it hold up to its promise or is it full of glitches, poor workmanship, poor light design, and produces poor quality plants with insipid, disease ridden leaves?

Is it troublesome to maintain & operate? Is it ultimately disappointing? If you got one, and used it to grow only herbs, how satisfied would you be/remain in a couple of years?

Thanks very much.

gautam.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 6:15PM
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hej2alex_hotmail_com

I have two aerogardens and I am very happy with them. They look great and works very well. It is a toy and not something for someone who wants to mass produce herbs but for an average person who wants some herbs this is a very good option. As a gift I would strongly support it.
For a semi-pro like some of you guys it will propably not be the best gift. I bought one and put it in my work and they love it.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 7:54AM
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Soyousee

Here's mine,
Each tube is lose at bottom for occasional root trimming. All 'nuts' run back to reservoir
in the 5 minute off time and delivered at 70 deg. each time. The 1/4' black feeder tubes get hot, but
'nuts' pass through so quickly they don't absorb heat. May have to add a
cooler this Hot Texas summer. Both sides feed at same time. All plants on
both sides have One square foot of room. The leaves are Allstar at 1 week.
Ozark Beauties on the X side are 1 day.
The X side is my first design and built straight side to have a comparison
of growth. We will tag & mix the plants up at a month to be accurate. Love the
single tube on the X side that cradles the 'nuts' feeder line. At under 8'
one person can move it around easily. 12 plant system.
Still waiting on brother-in-law the electrician to get wiring cleaned up.
Everything, pumps,PVC,reservoir,DRT-1 timer complete system just over
$300.00. The complete 32 unit system with 700 gph pump $400.00 Picked up
radio at pawn shop for $25.00, entertain the plants! All PVC we got at a
plumbing supply outlet for less than 1/2 the Homer (home depot)price.
I built the (million) piece :-) green house 2 weeks ago so we have much space we intend to use but is open at this time.
All theory and much to learn.
'Doing 10 with no chance of Parole'
Usefull comments please

Here is a link that might be useful: space

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 8:11AM
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