Bubler hydroponic system

sock2828May 12, 2007

I was thinking of making this systemhttp://www.instructables.com/id/EQBFMQANUAERV7BV0D/?ALLSTEPS but want more pots how could i do this?

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tclynx

What are your prioritys for this system? You want to grow more plants? What kind/size plants? Or would you like to do this cheaply?

I am using basically a bubbler system for my lettuce. The container is a styrofoam fish cooler I found in the trash. I have had as many as 27 little plants in it (on 3" centers) which is really too many too close together but it worked ok for baby salad greens. I have to line it with plastic to keep it from seaping but that only requires a trash bag to be replaced every other crop or so. I have used the suspended above method as well as the floating raft method for the lettuce and still can't decide which is better. I used to use yogurt cups with holes in the bottom filled with perlite for the plants but that requires transplanting the seedlings and careful observation untill the roots come out of the container. Now I just plant the seeds in a bit of cotton ball stuffed in a hole in a square of food packing foam that can cover the hole in the lid of the container. This lets me skip the step of transplanting into a net pot (yogurt cup) of media and saves me the cost of media. This works for lettuce but might not work so well for some other larger plants.

The number of pots is limited by the size of the pots/plants to be grown, and the size of the resivuar container. You want more pots, get a bigger storage bin. Do keep in mind that a larger bin when full of nutrient will be very heavy and you might want to make sure it is sturday enough not to split and leak everywhere. Be prepaired to siphon to empty it since moving a large bin of liquid may be impossible. Also, the bigger the bin, the more bubblers you may want to add, and hence more air pumps or bigger air pump(I have three rows of plants and two rows of bubblers running the length of my resivuar). I've found that certain types of airstones work better than others, the weighted one like on that link I've found I like but beware as you add nutrient that it doesn't get flipped over. I soak my used airstones in Hydrogen peroxide to kill contaminants. Most airstones only have a limited lifespan.

good luck

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 11:55AM
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sock2828

im going to make the system in the link and am thinking about growing lettuce strawberries peppers and some herbs

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 12:59PM
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tclynx

In that case, you might simply want to make say two separate of those systems. Since Lettuce and some herbs are light feeders and want a weak nutrient geared for vegitative growth and the strawberrys are medium feeders that might do better with a bloom and fruit nutrient mix. I don't know much about peppers other than they require pretty long growing seasons but they might do well in the same system with strawberrys.

Another concideration, is this going to be outdoors in the sun or indoors under lights? If indoors under lights, keep in mind that plants of vastly different heights may cause you problems getting adequate light to the lower plants or burn your taller plants getting too close to the light. This is more of a problem under florescent lighting as you need to have the light within a few inches of the plants to be very effective. Also, different lighting is more appropriate for different stages of growth. Lights on the blue side of the spectrum are great for vegitative growth and I do great with florescents above lettuce but a warmer brighter light is better for flowering/fruiting plants.

As for bubblers outdoors. I had some trouble keeping the nutrient cool enough here in FL when I had the bubblers outdoors in Feb. Also, you need to protect the air pump from the weather but it still needs air flow. Hydroponics outdoors always requires some checking on the nutrients after a rain.

Good luck with your project!!!!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 2:37PM
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sock2828

Its going to be inside so i am going to buy some grow lights. and the woman at my local hydroponics store said that if i planed on growing strawberries i could do it in the same system if I added a bit of bloom formula when the flower buds start to grow. also how much do fluresent grow lights and fixture cost.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 8:21PM
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sock2828

i want to keep cost down as much as possible

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 8:28PM
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tclynx

I got some T5 florescent fixtures from cheaphydroponics. I think they were around 170. They are 4' by about 2' wide. They each have 4 tubes. I think each fixture is about 254 watts and I think I figured out the electrical costs for the one bubbler and one light fixture to be under $20 a month. I got all cool bulbs since I was growing lettuce but if you want to grow strawberrys as well you might want to have some bloom bulbs as well. If you want to save more money, look into T8 light fixtures that you can probably get at a hardware store. Something that you can add a shiny reflector to would be good. With florescents You want to have the lights quite close to the plants (only a couple inches away) Otherwise the light doesn't do that much good. With the higher powered hydroponics lighting you have more leeway but they also use more electricity as well as produce more heat which needs to be dealt with.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 11:31PM
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johnny_appleseed

Greetings...I am new to the wide, interesting world of hydroponics and I have two simple questions that you'll probably laugh at. I recently finished constructing my own version of the "Bubbler" system and am excited to get started on my gardening experience.
My first question: Is germinating my seeds and then transplanting them the best/only method to begin with? Or do I drop the seeds into my pebbles and cross my fingers?
My second question: Is light required/necessary in hydrponics gardening? I had come to the assumption that the whole perk to hydro. was that a light source was not necessary. Or am I mistaken?
Any help and advice will be greatly appreciated. Can't wait to hear back from you guys. Thanks.

~ Johnny A.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 10:52PM
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willardb3

I think I may misunderstand your question......of course light is requiredgor plant growth, even in hydro. How would the plant photosynthesize otherwise?

Artificial light is not required.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 8:31AM
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tclynx

There are some common misconceptions about hydroponics.

1- Plants in hydroponics don't take as much space as plants in soil. Not really true. Plants still need space for their roots and tops even though the roots may not need to spread out as much to find what they need. Plants in hydro will produce better when not crowded just as plants in soil produce better when not crowded.

2- plants in hydro don't get pests or diseases. Only partly ture, They are more protected from the most common soil born diseases but there are still problems that can attack hydro plants. There are also some diseases that can attack hydroponic plants if the airation in the nutrient is insufficient.

3- You can use any firtilizer for hydroponics. False, you need a firtilizer made for hydro or you have to add a plant usable form of of some elements to the soil firtilizer to keep from starving your plants. The nitrogen in most soil firtilizers require soil microbes to change it to plant usable form. There are few or none of these microbes in most hydro systems so the hydro firtilizer needs to provide the nitrogen appropriately.

4- The amount of light required for plant growth is suprizingly high. Since much of hydroponics focuses on the nutrient, plumbing and media, people sometimes forget about the lighting aspect. Hydroponics can be done outdoors under the sun in which case you wouldn't need lighting. If being done inside without a large amount of sun, supplemental lighting will be necessary. Florescent lighting needs to be placed rather close to the plants. T5 or T8 florescent fixtures provide more light per watt compaired to T12 fixtures. There are other lighting fixtures regularly used for hydroponics that provide brighter light that does not need to be super close to the plants and can penetrait into larger plants.

Good luck

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 11:22AM
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johnny_appleseed

TCLYNX,
Thanks soo much for your advice. You are right about the misconceptions. I have been kinda teaching myself all of the aspects of the process so I was afraid of incorrect information. SO your assistnace is much appreciated. I'll post again if I have any more questions. Wish me luck!

Johnny A.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 1:44PM
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tclynx

johnny_appleseed,
To your question about how to start your seeds. To some extent it depends on the system and the type of seeds. You probably couldn't get a way with dropping a lettuce seed into a flood and drain system, it would wash away. You would probably have to had mist untill the plants started to grow enough to have their own roots keep them in place.

Seeds can be started in many ways but they usually take a little extra attention.
Methods I have used in the past; (mainly for lettuce)
1-start them in damp papertowel in a plastic bag, check them daily and when they start to sprout, transfer. (they will still be too small for the full system so I usually put them in egg cartons with holes punched in them and a little perlite. I then floated them in some weak nutrient under light.
2-cotton ball stuffed in hole in styrofoam. This is the newer method I'm trying, hoping it will keep me form spending so much time transplanting. I'm hoping that I can simply keep the lettuce suspended through the same bit of food packing styrofoam and use it in a floating bubble system. Seems to be working so far but not quite as successfully as the more labor intensive methods.

3-I have started cucumber seeds directly in a media filled NFT system. It required top watering gently by hand untill the seedlings were big enough to reach the nutrient flowing int he bottom of the trough.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 10:55AM
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