Rate my first hydroponics system

mattpayne11October 19, 2008

I decided to DIY my first system to grow tomatoes... I settled on a rockwool drip system after about 2 weeks of steady research. Here are some photos of my build and the system. Any tips or criticism is welcome.

The solution sits in that heavy duty tub which has a water pump feeding water up to the drip system which drips into my rockwool cubes and into my grow tray which drains back into the tub =)

There is an air pump feeding air to an airstone at the bottom of the tub which keeps the air oxygenated similar to an aquarium. I have both my light and my pump set on timers so that everything is automated.




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hinzy(z5 PA)

Looks like a good start. Only suggestion, your light may be too close to the plants. May cause them to burn.
Keep a close eye on them.

Good luck,

Here is a link that might be useful: Outdoor Hydro Cukes from this summer.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 10:48AM
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looks nice and clean good job


    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 6:34PM
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Thanks guys - before I came here to read the posts I did move the light up a good 6 inches - will continue to monitor.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 12:19AM
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That's a beautiful, clean-built system. You do all that yourself? Nice job. Makes me re-think using a drip system myself... you make it look really classy.

Make sure you don't over-water would be my main piece of advice. Also, when it comes to the light just use the back of your hand. Put your hand palm down over the tops of your plants between them and the light. If the heat from the bulb is uncomfortable on the back of your hand it's probably too hot for your plants.

Adjust up or down so that it's warm but not hot.

Get a cheap little digital thermometer/hygrometer you can leave next to the plants to monitor the heat and humidity, and if you don't already have them, get a pH and EC meter to monitor the solution.

After that it's tough to do much wrong. Looks like this should be a really problem-free system. Keep us updated, I'd like to see how it goes. I might just follow your example.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 11:20PM
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Thank you hooked - yep its all DIY, including the light, shelf, rockwool, nutrients (advanced nutrients), grow tray, air pump, water pump - cost about $450. My dad had some drip emitters and a drain plug laying around as well as some 1/4 inch hose.

I checked out sooo many books from the library - almost did an aeroponics system but decided against it.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 12:32AM
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keep a watchful eyes on the plants. I've seen too many threads here where peoples plants dye because the rockwool is too saturated.
Otherwise it looks like a nice enough system.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 4:09PM
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Well, things seem to be doing well so far.

Here is the plant, on Oct 19th:


And here is the same plant on Oct. 27th:


And a view of the healthier plants:


I've only been watering 15 minutes per day.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 12:14AM
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Aeroponics is nice, but it's the kind of thing you really have to keep an eye on. Little problems quickly become big ones.

That's a really sharp-looking system you built.

I'd also suggest watching the over-watering. Not saying you are, but that's the #1 killer of houseplants; people trying to over-love them. Also, it's been my experience with tomatoes in particular that if you're almost cruel when it comes to letting them get thirsty they actually do better.

Tomatoes thrive even more with massive roots, and plenty of water discourages extra root growth. If there isn't always as much water as the plant wants it sends out more roots looking for it.

On the other hand, your system looks like it shouldn't need really big root systems so you might want to skip that.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 10:11PM
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    Bookmark   November 4, 2008 at 1:51AM
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Definitely coming along well. What variety of tomatoes are those anyway?

What's your ppm up to now?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 10:57PM
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Just upped my PPM to 1200 tonight. Was at 900. Just added the rockwool slab, its soaking now =)

These are heirlooms.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 10:46PM
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Some tomatoes can take upwards of 3600 ppm when mature, FYI. I've never fed any that strong myself, but they're pretty hard to burn.

There's a LOT of different kinds of heirloom tomatoes, btw.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 4:47PM
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Yea I have no idea what kind they are - =)

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 8:55PM
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Some of my favorite tomatoes are kinds I don't know the name of.

Keep us updated, I'll be happy to lend any expertise and advice I can summon up.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 7:09PM
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    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 4:04AM
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Looking good.

Totally up to you, but if it's not too much trouble you might want to consider switching places with plants 3 and 4 (from left to right). That way the shorter plant has easier access to the light.

But with the support twine that might be more trouble than it's worth.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 11:17PM
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    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 2:17AM
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I noticed in your album that you had some blossom end rot. What's your feeding schedule like? That's usually a sign of calcium deficiency.

How are things going?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 9:31AM
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