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One of my prototypes (nursery and pumkins)

Posted by jean-luc (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 7, 09 at 2:11

When building your own hydroponic prototypes, one should keep in mind that what you actually need is rather simple and stupid. You need a reservoir, something to hold your plants and some media, as well as a pump, drippers or any kind of water (or air) distribution. It should be watertight and functional, easy to maintain and clean. After many sophisticated designs and prototypes, I came to the conclusion that for a long time I have overdone it with tubes and options that weren't actually necessary.

This prototype (initially planed as nursery station) is using a kinda drip and recycle X "NFT" concept. Media is coarse sand and rice hull mix, but other media (as clay pebbles) can be used. The building material is worth the equivalent of some 15 USD here in Thailand. If you have got a 5 watt pump and 140 L reservoir already, you can have it for that money in the US or EU as well. Both supports (left and right side) could also be from metal or wood, depending of availability of materials and skills.

Von 3D- 24/06/09

I know, the place is kinda dirty, but the picture was taken before I cleaned up those salts that actually provide from an earlier type that wasn't 100% watertight ;-)

After using it as nursery station for various peppers, I used it to grow pumpkins:

Von 3D- 24/06/09

Von 3D- 24/06/09

Von 3D- 24/06/09

The seeds of the pumpkins (chirimen type) were planted at the edge of the support. The roots were then slowly growing down "the ramp" and finally reached the reservori, where they now need to get trimmed from time to time. Nutrition uptake and growth rate with pumpkins is excellent with this setup.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: One of my prototypes (nursery and pumkins)

do you run the drippers continuously?
any problems with algae?
looks nice.

RE: One of my prototypes (nursery and pumkins)

Hi grizzman,

The dripping rate is similar to what I described earlier in the other thread: 15 min/h during night and early morning and about 15/30 - on/off during the daytime. The sand still keeps a little to moist as I ran into classical problems whith some Chilis I kept longer to see how they grew. It seems to moist for them. But for the pumpkins the rate and the humidity is just perfect. Same for tomato seedlings that grow very fine in this set-up and environment.

Some algae, right but only superficial as coarse sand is not really prone to algae, unlike Perlite. There is no algae getting to the reservoir though. One could also easily cover-up completely with foil and clip it to the borders, when planting pumpkins only. Due to the fact they grow out of the actual growing surface pretty soon.

When planting salad or other quickly growing leafy vegetables, the surface gets covered quickly (with my climate anyway) and algae are not an issue anymore.

I was also thinking of planting leafy nitrogen producing plants all over the surface, to establish some kind of botanical symbiosis. But that's a story for another rainy afternoon ;-)

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