From Vertical To Horizontal

chuck(Z10,SW FL)July 9, 2008

Going from vertical to horizontal is something that can happen when something dies. Well, my recent vertical grower turned out to be a nightmare. First, the expandable aluminum duct tube continued to expand. Everyday, the tube would grow downward into the nutrient tank from gravity. By the same tokin, the top would shrink trying to re-compress. The only thing intresting about that project was how well the foam rubber hair curler plugs kept the plants alive.

So, Today, I set up a horizontal slopeing trough and will be putting my spinach plants in it.

The trough was constructed using a PVC shade panel split down the center to form two 13 inch by 8 foot strips. These were overlapped as necessary to make an 11 foot strip. The strips were screwed to two 12 foot 2x4s. A 10 inch piece of 2x4 was screwed to each end to form an 8 inch wide by 6 inch deep trough 11 foot long. One end was set on a post 36 inches high while the other end was set to 30 inches high using simple cross arms that can be adjusted to chance the slope. 3 bags of pea gravel filled the trough pretty well. 1/4 inch screen was used at the low end to keep debrise from going into the nutrient tank which sits at the low end. A small 400 gph pond pump sends the nutrients back up the the high end to repeat the cycle. I'm hopeing for better results than I had with the aluminum tube. I have pictures of the construction which is about 95% complete. I am using a 22 gallon tote box for the nutrient tank. I washed the gravel this evening and tomorrow, I should be able to get the plants into the system. The aim of this system is to model a system for disabled folks who have a hard time stooping or bending over. It can be adjusted to where a person in a wheel chair could work on the garden with their legs under the trough. I am going to use a 1/2 inch pvc pipe connected to the pump output that is capped on the end. I am then going to drill holes along the length of the pipe that will lay on the surface in the trough. I am going to try to drill as few holes as possible in order to balance the output to the speed of the nutrient drain rate from the low end of the trough back into the tank. That way, the pump should be able to run continously avoiding the necessity of a timed sequence. chuck

Here is a link that might be useful: click on ELEVATED TROUGH system

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Chuck, your stuff is awesome. You need to write a book.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 1:49PM
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That's pretty considerate of you mane!! Nice idea keep up the goodwork

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 8:58AM
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Looks like a great system, keep us updated how it goes. Or rather how it GROWS. Hehe.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 7:48PM
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chuck(Z10,SW FL)

Well, the trough has been flowing right along. I think it is too hot here for spinach this time of year. However, I planted some beans and so far they are doing fine. I also have some basil and some squash in the trough. I am posting some new pictures tonight. chuck

Here is a link that might be useful: trough system pictures

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 9:05PM
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chuck(Z10,SW FL)

After looking at grizzmans nice pictures of the tomatoes, I had to try the html for adding a picture. All I have to offer is a small bean plant. I hope it works. chuck

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 9:46PM
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From the looks of it your float and slope system used something similar to this - a bunch of 2x4's with a tarp draped between them to make several channels.

I was figuring if I wanted to do something like this, the multiple-channel version would probably be a better use of space and materials, but I was considering possible ways to put the space underneath to work.

Any thoughts on what would grow nicely in the shade?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 9:25PM
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chuck(Z10,SW FL)

Garysgarden. The floatnslope was a fun project. Yes, the troughs were made by draping a blue tarp over slopeing 2X4s. It didn't occure to me at first that eventualy the weave of the blue tarp would expand. When it started leaking, I had to put a clear plastic diaper under the tarp to catch the nutrient leakage so it wouldn't be lost. If I ever build another like it, I will put a plastic liner inside the troughs before I add the baked clay material. About growing in the shade, here in Florida, growing areas in the shade do pretty well for some plants. I have several pepper plants that seem to prefere shade, but as you might expect, they produce slower than some that are in the sun more. I am thinking about trying some mushroom cultivation. While on the island of Guam, I took an extention course where old rolled up newspapers were used as a growing medium for mushrooms. Too bad all the newspaper compainies are shutting down. Old newspapers are going to be hard to find in large quantities soon. Maybe some kind of wood chip mulch underneath the troughs would make a nice environment for some kind of mushrooms. With the present trough project, I am limited by the height of the nutrient tank on the lower end. I can raise the upper trough up a bit perhaps and get a second trough below. I am still trying out a 24/7 flow of the nutrients through the gravel to date, cucumbers seem to be adapting to the constant flow pretty well, but the green beans didn't do so well. I have aa timer that I could use, but I want to take this opportunity to expiriment with the gravel using a constant flow for now. chuck

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 5:49PM
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My cousin's back yard slopes away from his house downward at probably the perfect angle for NFT. He's not interested in hydroponics, but it got me to thinking.

That'd be an easy way to set up a lot of NFT, wouldn't it?

I'm imagining that what would work best would be plastic sheeting over furrows dug into the ground, filled with gravel. Bury reservoirs at the downhill end that pump back to the top.

Anyone foresee any problems, improvements, etc?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 9:26PM
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chuck(Z10,SW FL)

Well, at this point in the expirement. I am going 24/7 with the pump, and the results were not too good for the beans, but the squash and the Thai basil and cucumber seem to like it pretty well so far and are healthy. If you were going to use earth troughs with the natural slope of the land, you might consider using bags made by lining the troughs with plastic wide enough to fold over the top of the troughs and taped closed. That is what I plan to do next on this project. If you used black plastic, it might reduce the growth of algea. I am starting to see some in my trough already. It might also reduce excessive evaporation. I just came across some very interesting vertical garden designs recently. I am still very excited about vertical growing. Troughs are nice, but take up a lot of space when compared to vertical systems. chuck

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 12:21AM
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Great ideas. I'm thinking of going with troughs mainly for the tall or vining crops. Tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, etc. For those a vertical grower doesn't help as much. For salad stuff, strawberries and just about any low level crop a vertical system would definitely make better use of space.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 1:48AM
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