Flood and Drain Brainstorm -- Hoping for Feedback

Monique VerrierJune 14, 2012

Hi Everyone --

I have room to set up a hydroponic system outdoors and I want to grow tomatoes and cucumbers. I have a basic plan but I was hoping that those of you with more experience might read it over and let me know if you think of any possible problems.

I build basically a long box (like 8 or 10 feet long) and line it with plastic. This is the area that will be flooded. I put some drain holes in the plastic and the wood below. The box is level. Underneath the box, I trench out a the drainage platform then line it with plastic in the form of a V and put a perforated drain pipe in the lowest are of the V. The drainage platform is sloped towards the reservoir. The reservoir is on the side of the trough and the drainage pipe drains into the reservoir. There is a filter between the drain pipe and the reservoir. The reservoir has a pump in it. The water is pumped into the box and drains through it onto the drainage platform and back into the reservoir.

The plants are planted in pots filled with gravel. I thought if I filled the trough with gravel and there was a problem, it would be really hard to take out all the gravel. With pots, I can just take them out and troubleshoot.

So, please, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments and possible pitfalls before I embark on this plan. I'm mostly using scrap materials in order to economize as much as possible.

Thanks a zillion!

Monique.

hope

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grizzman

Is the flood box going to sit on the ground? if so, you'll have a lot of work to get underneath it in the event you need to. if you raise it off the ground, you can directly pipe the drain hole/ overflow back to the rez. (you'll want an overflow pipe) no need to make a trench. also, the higher your grow surface, the less bending to tend to things.
also remember the perforated pipe will hold some nutrient in the groove.
Think about mosquito control. you need to keep them from getting access to water. that's an issue I've had before as well.
Are you planning to bury your rez? rememeber the top of the nutrient level should be lower the where the drain pipe enters it.
Assuming you're growing the plants in 1 gallon pots, that's
approx 3.3 ft^3 (10'x.667'x0.5') at 7.5 gal per ft^3, that's almost 25 gal to just flood the thing. you're looking at a 35 gal trash can size rez. just food for thought. have you considered a drip system?
you may want to cover the top to deter algae growth. That black and white plastic comes to mind. (black to block light; white to reflect it) Algae can really be a problem in warm summer days and clog things up quickly.
the hole through the wood and plastic is where I had leakage problems when building a similar system a few years ago. pay special attention there. When I built mine (more along the 2' X 4' X 4" deep size) I lined it with plastic and I think that is why I had leakage probelms at the drain. When I do it again, I'm going to use vinyl flashing to water proof the thing (you get it in 18"X50' rolls in the roofing section at the big box hardware stores)as it will provide cleaner edges to seal. Also, I used 1/2" foam insulation as a lid and lava rock as a medium. i didn't grow in pots however, i just cut 1"sq holes in the foam.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 10:16AM
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Monique Verrier

I was going to put the box on the ground and dig a trench. I thought it would be too difficult to build a platform for it due to the weight. I was thinking of getting the square food grade plastic buckets because they could sit side by side and take up a lot of the space. Then I'd drill holes in them so they would flood easier. I totally forgot about algae and bugs. Your idea about vinyl flashing is a great one.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 10:51AM
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grizzman

That's a good idea about square pots.
As for supports; on mine I used 1x4's at the corners with diagonal braces to the ground. Where i didn't brace them, the got a big swoop in the leg, but they never fell down. I suspect no wider than you're contemplating, legs at the ends and at the middle would be ample. Maybe at third points if the sag worries you.
I actually got the vinyl idea from another thread here though they didn't call it that and I had a dickens of a time finding what I wanted.
Here is a picture of how I set my drain and over flow to operate in one pipe:

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 1:31PM
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Monique Verrier

Wow -- that's so way smarter than my original design. I'll keep working on this. Thanks so much for your help :)

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 12:29AM
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chuck(Z10,SW FL)

Hi, I am in the process of setting up a flood system, and I thought that I would share my project with you. I have set up a wood frame that supports child swimming pools in pairs at three levels. The pools are 5 foot wide. I found mine at Wal-Mart. The first pair of pools are set up at 30 inches above ground level. The pools will hold around 15 pots each, so I will have around 30 plants in each level. I am using two plastic 55 gal. barrels for my reservoir. The nutrients are gravity fed into the first pool set with enough liquid to a depth of around 4 to 5 inches. After soaking the pots, the drain valve opens and the liquid flows down to the second set of pools that are sitting at a height of 20 inches above ground. After soaking the 2nd level, a valve opens and allows the liquid to flow out to the 3rd set of pools that are set 10 inches above ground to soak. After soaking, a valve opens to allow the liquid to flow into a tank mounted at ground level where a float switch activates a sump pump that returns the liquid to the two 55 gal. barrels. I am going to use an inexpensive electronic 6 zone irrigation timer to control the valves. I live in Florida, so I had to set up a 12X24 foot shade using shade cloth found at Lowes. It comes in 6X40 foot rolls. Since we have a lot of rain here, I will also have an auxilliary drain system that will prevent flooding during heavy rains. The only problem I can not cover is hurricanes, and there are several building up now. I have completed about 75% of the construction of the system and if anyone is interested in photos, I will be pleased to send them upon request. I have been using rain gutter down spouts as a reservior and wicks. It has been working pretty well, but because of the wicks, it is cumbersome to move the pots. I used old white socks for the wicks.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 4:02AM
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cole_robbie(6)

Very nice!

I'd guess that dealing with the Florida thunderstorms would be the biggest challenge.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 11:20AM
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