Hydroponics Cost

scythedanteAugust 28, 2010

I'm about to go to the library to read up on hydroponics, but as usual, I thought I'd stop by here first :)

How much would this cost on average (I don't know anything about hydroponics so no explanation is necessary):

I want to grow 3 basil plants, 2 habenero plants, and 2 cayenne pepper plants, hydroponically.

What is the least I can expect to spend for indoor growth of these assuming I don't have anything but the plants? Also, I will need a lighting solution for the winter as I am not endowed with many windows.

Thanks!

Jake

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grizzman

Lights: $175-$250.
a homemeade system:$50 and up
nutrients: $50 and up.
you'll also want a way to measure and adjust pH: $10 and up
EC measuring is nice, but not required for a beginner.
I know its a vague answer, but your question leaves a lot of variability in the answer.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 12:03PM
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joe.jr317

Your blood, sweat, and tears. Maybe a little of your soul. I've grown cayennes with T5 lighting, but I think you will enjoy greater overall success with HID lighting like metal halide and high pressure sodium. I highly recommend "Gardening Indoors with Soil and Hydroponics" by George Van Patten for any beginner. It is thorough and will save you a lot of headaches, I think. I know that doesn't answer your question, but that book will help you save money by not spending it on marketing hype. Do you have a budget you need to stay within?

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardening Indoors with Soil and Hydroponics

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 12:56AM
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wordwiz

Another good read is How-To Hydroponics by Keith Roberto. It's a pdf "book" and covers just about everything, from seeds to marketing, including lighting and pest management.

Another nice thing about it, it lists about different types of systems, among them DWC, NFT, Ebb & Flow, Dutch Bucket, Fogging/Misting and more, with clear instructions and pictures explaining how to build them and a list of supplies (that include links to the products - not that you need to use a specific model or buy from that company, but it gives you a good idea of the costs.

Mike

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 12:13PM
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hardclay7a

Jake,
The only thing you are specific about is the type and number of plants you want to grow and that you already have them. Is this a one winter plan or a longer term hobby?
Ken

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 11:03PM
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Karen Pease

I'd have to second grizzman's numbers. Do be aware of the "and up", of course ;)

I'd be concerned with trying this without an EC meter, personally.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 3:38PM
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homehydro

Personally I don't even have any PPM/TDS or EC meters. I only use pH drops to test pH, and In the 1 1/2 years I have grown hydro, I still don't see any real need for the meters. Not even a pH meter, the drops work just fine and there is no calibrating the drops, and/or possible inaccurate readings.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 6:56PM
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Karen Pease

How do you deal with water loss without EC, OOC?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 7:43PM
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homehydro

I make marks on the inside of the reservoir, to mark the water level 5, 10, 15 gallons etc.. That way I can replace just the water that was used without diluting it. It also lets me keep track of how much water is being consumed (of coarse some is just straight evaporation depending on weather). But because the plants absorb some of the nutrients with the water, I will occasionally add diluted nutrient solution back instead of straight water, depending on how big the plants are at the time, heat, size of the reservoir compared to size of plants etc..

But no matter how you look at it, the meters can only tell you a total for all the elements in the solution. They cant tell you what's in excess, or what it's lacking, but only the total (relative strength of the solution), and simply just not if it's balanced. Bottom line you can have perfect readings on the meters, but unless you are measuring a fresh batch of nutrient solution, you still wont know if it's balanced. You can guess that without them (even for a fresh batch of nutrient solution), that's why I don't find them necessary.

I know when I mix my nutrient solution they are balanced at the start (fresh nutrient solution). I usually mix them a little under (about 70%-90% of) the manufactures recommendations. As the plants use the nutrients up, as I mentioned I may add a little diluted nutrient solution instead of straight water, maybe once a week (or two) depending on how big the plants are, and/or compared to size of reservoir. I do a complete nutrient solution change anywhere from every week to once a month, depending on temp, as well size of plants and/or compared to size of reservoir and water consumed. Basically just when I think it needs it.

Simply observing the plants growth will tell me what I want to know. If the plants growth slows down and I don't think it's due to environmental conditions (weather, light, pests etc..), I'll change the nutrient solution and see if they start growing faster again. Also if there's any singes of discoloration in the foliage, and I haven't recently changed the nutrients, I'll just do a change (bringing it back to a balanced solution), and note any improvements. It doesn't take long before you can predict weather you should add any nutrients (when and how much), and/or when and if to do a change.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 3:23AM
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grizzman

I agree with everything you say homehydro, but (isn't there always a but(t))with an EC meter you can know exactly how much you are adding or have used at any time. With anything beyond small hobby systems, you'd want to know where your nutrients are or have gone.
This season I've been experimenting with not doing nutrient changes. I top my water off with water, using line markers similar to what you said, them measure the EC. With a known volume and a known EC, I can calculate exactly how much nutrient concentrate to add back to the system to bring the EC where I want it.
And yes, I know I can't tell exactly how much of any one nutrient is in the solution at any one time, but a can say what the minimum is at that point. And I can add different amounts of the various components depending an where I think the plant is in the growth cycle. Is is 100% efficient? no, but I'm working on it and at least I don't have to worry about how my nutrients are affecting the environment. On a small scale its not really an issue, but on a large scale its something to consider. (I believe we've discussed this matter(environmental effect) extensively previously)
So just to be clear, I agree a lot in hydro can be done by feel / experience. I'm just saying an EC meter is another tool in the arsenal.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 1:49PM
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Karen Pease

I make marks on the inside of the reservoir, to mark the water level 5, 10, 15 gallons etc.. That way I can replace just the water that was used without diluting it. It also lets me keep track of how much water is being consumed (of coarse some is just straight evaporation depending on weather). But because the plants absorb some of the nutrients with the water, I will occasionally add diluted nutrient solution back instead of straight water, depending on how big the plants are at the time, heat, size of the reservoir compared to size of plants etc..

So basically you just guess how much nutrients the plants are consuming?

But no matter how you look at it, the meters can only tell you a total for all the elements in the solution. They cant tell you what's in excess, or what it's lacking, but only the total (relative strength of the solution), and simply just not if it's balanced

True, but it's certainly better than just guessing ;) I have an EC meter, a pH meter, a phosphate test kit, and a nitrate test kit. Between the four, I expect to be able to keep a batch going for a good while without it getting too out of whack.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 1:29PM
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wordwiz

Last winter, when I was doing the GH grow, I had eight plants in hydro. Back in the corner of the room, I had a 35 gallon plastic garbage can that I mixed my nuits in. I monitored its pH and PPM (aka, EC) and when the buckets would get low in nuits, I simply added enough from the garbage can to the buckets to bring it up the correct level. I would periodically also check the individual buckets for pH and PPM but they were always very close to the garbage can's.

Mike

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 2:10PM
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homehydro

Ya grizzman the meters are defiantly another tool. I don't disagree at all, especially for large reservoirs. Although the largest one I have at the moment is 20 gallons (filled to about 18, and have not gotten into a commercial setup as of yet. Of course the larger the reservoir, the more buffer water there is, thus slowing down how fast the nutrients go out of balance.

Yes, large commercial operations don't do complete nutrient change nearly as often as I do, nor does every home guarder (we all have our preferences). The meters are quite usefully, and maybe even necessary for large reservoirs that are not changed. Even though the meters cant tell you exactly what nutrient ratios you have, with large long term reservoirs there will always be some out of balance in the nutrients.

But this is minimized in commercial operations because there nutrients are usually formulated to the exact plants, water quality and usually even environmental conditions. With the research and testing they have a real good idea (if not exactly) what nutrients (elements) the plants absorb faster than others, and have manufactured the nutrient formula accordingly.

They certainly can provide useful info for large operations. As for me, I'm not there yet. For me, I would much rather spend that $100 on more nutrients, pumps or building another system etc. than any meters at this point. I will and plan to in the future when I have the extra cash. I just mean to say I don't feel they are necessary when just starting out, especially if money is an issue.

P.S. Long story, but because of a mix-up with the phone company, simply because we switched to vontage for phone service, they canceled our DSL and would not reinstate it for a week. So we said that is fine we will find another provider. We are now getting cable internet, but it probably wont be installed until Sep 20. So I'm using the computers at the collage for now, and not sure how often I'll be able to get here to use them.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 10:22PM
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