florida outdoor hydroponics

tampahydroAugust 7, 2008

Just wondering if anyone has any experience with outdoor hydroponics, particularly Florida. I have a flood table set out in full sun, with a 20G reservoir(shaded) that has failed to do much since setting up the 4th of July. Some even developed black leaves, shriveled, etc.

Tried to grow basil, tomatoes, hot peppers, chives, garlic, etc.

-All in a clear flood basin

-All in perlite

-All in clear plastic containers and cups

-All in direct sun, with no shade cloth

* I have a flood table for basil cuttings on the southern exposure patio which gets direct light in the morning. These guys arent growing much, but they are developing enormous roots, and look very healthy in the same solution I use in the other table.

Now questions, since I am new to this:

-Was this just instant death during summer?

-Should I cover the table, just allowing just the roots to be exposed?

-I am going to purchase shade cloth. What is a good % recommendation?

Any help, links, etc would be helpful. Seems like most hydroponics resources deal strictly with indoor growing conditions.

Yeah, I think it might be plant suicide growing in these temps, but the same established potted plants are doing a lot better despite the heat.

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norm34(z9 Fl)

I live a few miles south of you and have been growing with hydroponics outside for 30 years.
Send me a private e-mail and I will try to answer all your questions.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 8:58AM
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The big questions I have are:

1. What are you using for nutrients?
2. What are the conditions of your nutrient solution? (temperature, concentration, pH)
3. How do the roots look? (white and healthy, gray, black?)

Nutrient solution should ALWAYS be kept out of direct or indirect light. You want as much darkness as you can attain. The same is true for roots. Some plants are more photophobic in their roots than others. Light can actually kill certain types of plants if their roots are constantly exposed to it, and most every plant will be stressed by it.

I'm betting that this is the problem you're having.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 11:27PM
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I am new to hydroponics and am very interested in hydro since the price of veggies has gone up. I live in Tarpon Springs and have a nice size yard and will be starting to get things ready today.

Has anyone used multiple 5 gal buckets linked together to make one system?

Does anyone use a vertical system?

Is anyone using large plastic trash cans to grow fruit trees?

Has anyone tries growing kiwi or grapes hydroponicly?

I will be setting up my home page with photos of my property and would love to get as much input as I can from all of you hydro experts. Bring it on.

Thanks a bunch.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 11:47AM
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freemangreens(Zone 10 CA)

Looks to me like your best bet would be to contact norm34, since he's an expert in your neck of the woods.

Off the top I'd say you have light and nutrient problems. You need to check out the EC and pH requirements for the several things you are growing. That can be easily accomplished by checking on my Web site (URL in profile); search for "charts".

You'll find that each plant is different and though some things can share the same nutrient strengths, other's cant and will not survive.

Using clear plastic growing containers invites an enormous algae bloom. You don't want that, believe me.

Talk to norm first, then check out what I've told you and you'll be headed in the right direction.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 12:41PM
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I am also in the Tampa area. I wanted to start looking into hydroponics. I visited a local hydroponics store and they said you can't do hydroponics outside in Florida because it gets too hot. They has a single plant in a hydro setup, but they said they kept the water running through a chiller and when it gets hotter, they will shut it off.

I don't have a greenhouse, but I do have a screened in pool area that I was thinking of using for experimenting with hydroponics (or out in the yard). What are my limitations for hydroponics outside in central Florida? Do I need to keep the water below a certain temperature? Anyone else growing year-round with hydroponics outdoors in a climate like mine?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 11:46AM
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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

As was suggested, each individual crop and system has its quirks. The easiest thing to do is go find someone nearby that is doing something similar enough and get to see their system.

Florida does get difficult from May to September. The day is very hot, lots of rain to deal with, etc. But the OP mentions shade cloth which simply tunes down the Sun. Your patio might work fine for that, or there may even be a Sunny place that is protected from rains that works out.

Generally, nutrient solutions over 82 F or so can get iffy. They hold less oxygen and can promote colonization by bad microbes, and roots usually don't like high temperatures anyway, nor quick swings in it. Different plants respond differently. Lettuce will prematurely bolt if stress with higher temperatures. But this is not really a hydroponics issue; it is more a general issue. I haven't successfully grown much but summer squash and tomato in the dirt in the heat of summer. The garden club nearby has a much wider range of luck, but they are serious about soil and don't use our sandy natural soil for that.

It would be nice to keep your roots dark of course, but usually in a range of 65-75 F. For example, I don’t mind that my strawberries go down to 45 F on cold nights, but I wish I could keep them at 65F - 68 F. I have had production with them since very late fall, and my mean temperature is about 5 degrees less than Plant City/Tampa. By June, growing strawberries except in a very well controlled environment will be only in my dreams. Some people have fancy coolers for their nutrient solution. I've seen one that was a second-hand modified water cooler (inverted big bottle on top kind) while others are creative (we've discussed wrapping and burying channels and reservoirs), check the archives - they are a great resource. Florida tends to keep the temperature turned up throughout nights. This makes it a little different, but there are forum members in the tropical Pacific, SE Asia and Australia finishing up their Summer right now, and they are posting pictures ;-) Look at Robert's posted withing the last day. He lives in a climate similar to the Florida keys. Look, he just posted (#23 in the thread March 6, 2014) is tomatoes, so this is likely something you can do successfully too

(hope it is OK Robert to show your handywork here, and I want to thank you for posting this. Think I'll actually try it this summer.)

There are a few months I personally wouldn't bother growing, because it stops being fun and productive in hot weather, and I haven’t bothered working with shade cloth. If Ricone is still here I believe he has experience with them in Florida. Again though, just like some plants have different needs for Sun, different % will apply to different crops.

The casual enthusiast's easiest solution includes to cool their reservoir by freezing a bottle of water and then putting it in the reservoir to bob around and keep it cool, like putting ice packs in a cooler. Roots are much more critical to keep cool than the leaves above, these are a few things, but there is no substitute for getting to see a working system, even if it is not exactly what you are doing, lots of ideas are transferable.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 5:16PM
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Thank you Pupilla Charites, you are welcome, as mentioned previously we have had temperatures as high as 41C which is very hot by any means. I grow outside under roof eaves so I do get rainfall some what subdued by being partially under cover, but still exposed to the elements eg wind and rain.
which is good as it gives the nutrients a bit of a flush.with the plants showing no problems with the occasional broken leaf do to rain impacting in certain areas. I have tried shade cloth over the years when the sun blazes down and peel it pack later in the day.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 7:52PM
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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

Thanks so much Robert. I get the idea that your system works by intermittently moistening all that mass of clay ball/lava rock and then providing swamp-cooler like evaporative cooling, which in a dry climate works well (you're humidity seems moderate in summer 55%-60%) and that flood/drain might be ok similarly. I'm a little worried here where the humidity is often around 80% saturated, so the cooling effect is much less. When I used to go out in the desert, we would wrap warm unopened beer cans in drenched toilet paper and put them on the vehicle roof.

The wind and dry air would quickly cool the beer in the can to a reasonable temp. But in Florida you get stuck with a warm wrapped beer can all night. I guess it will depend how we are set up here, and I've only done NFTs and DWCs so I just don't know if the cooling effect in your design is mostly needed when the Sun is maxed, the humidity gets burnt off then, causing faster evaporation, so maybe it would work when it is critically needed. But I think the liberal use of the media creates a nice island cool temperature which I haven't gotten with white or foiled reflective surfaces

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 9:00PM
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Thanks for the replies. I agree with you, PupillaCharites, it would be best to get with someone in my area... that is what I was hoping to do with this thread, as the OP and first reply are from my area... but they may no longer visit this forum.

I did find a woman at work that is selling the Tower Garden by Juice Plus. I don't see myself spending $600 on their system, but I at least see someone in my area that is successfully doing hydroponics in my area with a tower setting. She has had one tower for a year and a half and she got a second one last October. She has one outside in the yard full sun and another in her screened patio (plants only on one side, close to the screen under the roof). And it seems to be working quite well!

I have seen several designs of something similar on you tube, so I will pick one of those and experiment. Most systems seem very simple/basic (some sort of large tube, holes for netpots, water reservoir, small pump and timer, ph balance, A + B fertilizer/nutrients). This should be fun.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 6:58AM
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I am also in Tampa, and have just started with the dutch buckets. For now as you can see it is inside, but I fear I will soon be moving it outdoors, as I didn't plan right(this is my first time..) and I'm sure I'm going out grow my space and light.I learned a lot from watching Mhp's and Brock's video's, on youtube. They both have great ideas. In my research on what would happen when the rain water mixes with my nutrients,it seems it would be no different then adding a fresh water reserve, just with out being able to control the amount. I asked the only one I found who was doing the dutch buckets out doors, and he said the rain water didn't hurt, said his plants seemed to like it but I am not sure where he is or how much rain he gets.

also the hydroponics shops around here seem..a little, off to me. I haven't found one I like yet. I got everything at homedepot or amazon, much lower price on the nutrients..

That pic was taken today, and the seeds were put into seed pods on 2/27. I am digging what's going on so far.

This whole thing was set up as an experiment, so I guess if I have to move them outside(witch I am trying to avoid) that will just be another part of the experiment,lol...

good growing,

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:28AM
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