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 Post subject: hydroponics
PostPosted: 09 Feb 2016, 14:38 
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Joined: 01 Aug 2013, 23:35
Posts: 777
Location: American Fork, UT
^^^^ nice.

I have seen some incredible success stories from dutch buckets. I have yet to setup one of these systems, but come spring it will surely be implemented.

pH is key. If you can keep it in the range that the crop likes explosive growth will occur.

There are alternatives to the pricey "hydroponics" fertilizers. I have no desire to pay extra for stuff that is mostly water.

Check out a 4-18-38 tomato blend (often referenced as MasterBlend - although there are other manufacturers). With this blend and some added calcium nitrate and magnesium sulfate a very good fertilizer can be had for cheap compared to the "hydro" stuff.


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 Post subject: hydroponics
PostPosted: 09 Feb 2016, 15:29 

Joined: 30 Jan 2016, 11:00
Posts: 71
Location: Central Florida
In the aquaponics system I ran, we had a bunch of fish, mainly tilapia, that provided the nutrient source. Given, you had to provide accommodations for nitrate fixing and such, but was relatively simple. As you mentioned, pH is key, but maintaining proper levels of bioavailable (often pH linked) nutrients is important as well. In addition, matching "compatible" plants together within systems is important. Tomatoes and peppers happen to enjoy similar nutrient and pH ranges and also happen to be the most consumed and expensive vegetable in our house. Kale does well along side of them as well. I tried growing some pickling cucumbers in the same solution and they tanked bad.

I usually utilize a General Hydroponics Flora series nutrient and formulate it myself, it is less than $20 per growing season and I had experience with their stuff previously. Will check out the product you mentioned.

Other key points are flushing your system with fresh clean unadulterated water. Nutrient salts build up and can actually become detrimental to nutrient uptake within the systems. I simply took the "spent" solution and dumped it on flower gardens or whatever then added new water, don't add any nutrients, let it run for a couple days then dump that water and prepare your new nutrient solution. Also, hydroton and perlite often have a TON of dust within the packages they come in and I've found that I am better off to give them some rinses first.

A really potent fertilizer that I became familiar with a few years ago is worm compost tea. Almost seems like you can see and hear your plants growing after a couple applications.


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 Post subject: Re: hydroponics
PostPosted: 10 Feb 2016, 01:23 
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Joined: 13 Oct 2011, 23:54
Posts: 209
Location: Tennessee
Nice pics and results! Seems complicated and time consuming. No disrespect whatsoever. I'm just a dumb ole' farmer/ gardener that is used to putting stuff in the ground. You guys have taken it to another level. Is this done inside or out?



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 Post subject: hydroponics
PostPosted: 10 Feb 2016, 07:56 

Joined: 30 Jan 2016, 11:00
Posts: 71
Location: Central Florida
You can do them indoors or out. It's actually not at all complicated or time consuming. Everything is run on a timer, I only monitor water levels and use a conductivity probe to determine nutrient levels. If you run a hose on a float valve to your reservoir, you don't even have to worry about that running dry. I do a full water change out every 10-14 days. If you can mix oil and fuel for 2 strokes, you can do the math for the nutrient additions.

I did a side by side study with plants in the ground with automatic watering and this system produced tomatoes 18 days earlier and probably doubled production per plant, in addition to having substantial less issues with bugs and almost no weeding required.

Probably has a lot to do with Florida's sandy, nutrient poor soil that also drains too efficiently and flushes your fertilizers out.


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 Post subject: hydroponics
PostPosted: 10 Feb 2016, 10:32 

Joined: 19 Jan 2012, 07:44
Posts: 2926
Location: Northeast Arkansas
sunshine wrote:
You can do them indoors or out. It's actually not at all complicated or time consuming. Everything is run on a timer, I only monitor water levels and use a conductivity probe to determine nutrient levels. If you run a hose on a float valve to your reservoir, you don't even have to worry about that running dry. I do a full water change out every 10-14 days. If you can mix oil and fuel for 2 strokes, you can do the math for the nutrient additions.

I did a side by side study with plants in the ground with automatic watering and this system produced tomatoes 18 days earlier and probably doubled production per plant, in addition to having substantial less issues with bugs and almost no weeding required.

Probably has a lot to do with Florida's sandy, nutrient poor soil that also drains too efficiently and flushes your fertilizers out.

Thanks for posting the pic. I don't have the room to do anything like this indoors and after seeing your setup, I think another obstacle for me would be how to keep the buckets upright. We generally have a few storms per growing season that will blow all my tomatoes over, cage and all. And I use some pretty substantial cages. So that would probably destroy a hydro system. How do you combat that problem?



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 Post subject: hydroponics
PostPosted: 10 Feb 2016, 10:40 

Joined: 30 Jan 2016, 11:00
Posts: 71
Location: Central Florida
I made a wooden structure and just framed them in with 2x4s so they can't really topple over. If you look closely at the pic with the PVC return lines, you'll see what I mean. I also quit using the cages and screwed 2 2x4s into the side of the wooden structure and did a "Florida weave" with butcher twine.

Not my drawing, but here's an illustration of the concept.

Image


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 Post subject: hydroponics
PostPosted: 15 Feb 2016, 09:11 
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Joined: 29 Aug 2011, 12:55
Posts: 2814
Location: South Florida
Well it has been @11 dyas and most of my plants are starting to root - I will get pics this weekend and post them. I do have a question for you hydro guys - what type of PH meters do you all use?



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 Post subject: hydroponics
PostPosted: 15 Feb 2016, 09:39 

Joined: 04 Apr 2015, 19:05
Posts: 18
Location: East Windsor, Ct
I use a Hanna 98129, it does PH and PPM. Really nice meter but pricey, about $150. But you can get one that will work on Ebay for about $11 and up and they do work.
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R4 ... r&_sacat=0

Hanna
http://hannainst.com/products/testers/h ... ester.html

PS I have done hydro but doing soil now but still test the Nute mix for PH and PPM.



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 Post subject: hydroponics
PostPosted: 15 Feb 2016, 15:16 
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Joined: 01 Aug 2013, 23:35
Posts: 777
Location: American Fork, UT
I am still using a $10 ebay, imported pH meter.
It has worked without issue for the last year, and with no calibration (I keep litmus paper around to periodically verify meter reading).


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 Post subject: hydroponics
PostPosted: 15 Feb 2016, 20:40 

Joined: 30 Jan 2016, 11:00
Posts: 71
Location: Central Florida
I work in a lab so I test my stuff there. I'm spoiled. :lol:

As mentioned, conductivity/pH meters aren't all that expensive. Dip strips work fine for pH too.


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 Post subject: hydroponics
PostPosted: 16 Feb 2016, 09:16 
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Thanks fellers - Am I correct that I want the PH around 6 - I do have the strips, a pool type tester, and a cheap ebay one too. I guess I am on the right path. Thanks again



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 Post subject: hydroponics
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2016, 09:00 

Joined: 19 Jan 2012, 07:44
Posts: 2926
Location: Northeast Arkansas
I understand PH and why it's important, but why is the PPM so critical or what does it do for you exactly. And before someone says it, I know what PPM stands for, just not why it's critical to the plants.



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 Post subject: hydroponics
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2016, 09:56 

Joined: 30 Jan 2016, 11:00
Posts: 71
Location: Central Florida
The ppm you're referring to is the unit for the total dissolved solids in your nutrient solution, ppm can also be expressed as mg/l . It it a rough gauge of the amount of nutrients available for your plants to uptake from the solution. Too high, the plant will lock up. Too low, you'll see deficiencies. It's not practical for folks to determine the actual levels of the individual compounds, nitrogens, etc so the conductivity/TDS is used for process control.

This is a good chart for pairing up different plants and getting a good starting point as far as pH and nutrient levels.

http://www.homehydrosystems.com/ph_tds_ppm/ph_vegetables_page.html


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 Post subject: hydroponics
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2016, 11:57 

Joined: 19 Jan 2012, 07:44
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Location: Northeast Arkansas
So you're saying that just like different plants may like different PH levels, they also may want different nutrient levels and that's what you are checking with the PPM meter, the amount of fertilizer/nutrients in the water? Or it's basically a way of checking the ratio of fertilizer/nutrients to water?

And if the above is correct, then all the PPM is telling you is the ratio of nutrients to water but that does not necessarily mean you have the correct parts (ie nitrogen, potassium) that that particular plant may want?



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 Post subject: hydroponics
PostPosted: 17 Feb 2016, 15:13 
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Joined: 01 Aug 2013, 23:35
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Location: American Fork, UT
JMichael wrote:
So you're saying that just like different plants may like different PH levels, they also may want different nutrient levels and that's what you are checking with the PPM meter, the amount of fertilizer/nutrients in the water? Or it's basically a way of checking the ratio of fertilizer/nutrients to water?

And if the above is correct, then all the PPM is telling you is the ratio of nutrients to water but that does not necessarily mean you have the correct parts (ie nitrogen, potassium) that that particular plant may want?


Yes.

It is a way of checking the amount of fertilizer/nutrients in the water. Total Dissolved Solids measured in parts per million for a given amount of water.

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) are the total amount of mobile charged ions, including minerals, salts or metals dissolved in a given volume of water, expressed in units of mg per unit volume of water (mg/L), also referred to as parts per million (ppm).

Correct parts or ratios of fertilizer are determined prior to addition to solution. For example you may start out with a 4-18-38 fert (known ratios of the big 3), and then add this "stuff" to your solution until you get to the EC or TDS that you want. Low TDS or high TDS you will still have the same ratio of fertilizer parts, just at different concentrations.


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