getting started

art3427March 24, 2011

After years of dreaming and reading, I'm ready to build my firts hydro system. I will presently use it in cojunction with my "dirt/container garden." I want to start with tomatoes, cucumbers and squash.

I looked at the plans for the 11 pot garden at It seems simple enough. The question in my mind has to do with size. Can I grow tomatoes that close together and get a healthy crop? How about managing cuke vines or the enormous spreads of yellow squash?

Also, can I get by starting out with my hydro garden being outdoors - maybe located near my container garden? I would like to experiment with a summer crop then build a greenhouse this winter for a permanent location.

answers would be very helpful to this hydro newbie.


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Hello Art,
I know the system you refer to. I built one similar to it as my first system. I now know how to make it more durable, (which was important to me). But it did grow my plants. I ran onto 2 problems. The roots will want to grow down into the tubing, clogging it. The 11 plant design you refer to has removable baskets for that reason, so you can take them out and trim the roots. I just didn't glue the bottle connector to the pvc tubing, so I could take it off to trim the roots.

I used 2 liter bottles, and cut the bottoms off, flipped them over and inserted them as a screen to hold the growing medium in the upside down bottles. Though now I would use 4 inch ASD irrigation tubing (cut to 10-12 inches), and an end cap with a pvc connector on the bottom as a replacement for the 2 liter bottles. The ASD tubing is light prof and very durable, it's also the same with as the 2 litter bottles I used.

However I wouldn't grow tomatoes in a system like that. You can easily space them the way you want by simply making the tubing longer between the "T" connectors (bottles). But the root systems will quickly outgrow the small bottles, and clog the tubing before they even ripen one tomato. Personal I wouldn't want less than 5 gallons of root space for tomatoes (unless maybe they are dwarf/small bush varieties).

For tall vine like plants, it's always simple to build a trellis for them to grow on, but you'll still want to consider how big the root system will get. As well as making maintenance of the system easy. I grow everything outside myself, and a lot of people do. You just need to deal with the weather, and probably more pests than growing inside. But growing outside is what I prefer to do.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 11:32PM
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This is awesome info for a gal who is trying to figure this out. I am really wanting to try this at some point but not 100% there yet. This was very helpful info though so thanks for sharing!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 10:14AM
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