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[TUTORIAL] Hydroponic Growing Methods


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Submitted By: JipoSubmitted On: Today, 10:33 AMSubmitted In: Grow Room Tricks and Tips:Click here to go to tutorial


Alright MMMA Today I bring you yet another tutorial. With this one I am going to give you the best of my knowledge on all of these methods, I have seen alot in action, I've dabbled into others. If you see anything that needs correcting please post up and tell what and why, this msg especially goes out to IGrowInBubbles on the DWC section ;)


Drip Systems


This method goes way back with alot of success as well. This is an excellent way to grow plants hydroponically. Plants are fed individually by a connection of feeding tubes, which is connected to a pump. The pump is controlled by a timer which is activated at a pre-set time.


E.g.: Run (twice) per hour for (twelve) hours delivering (one quart) of water per feeding.


Drip systems come in different styles. Some systems are modular in design allowing you to place the containers in different areas or spread them out for light to reach each plant completely. This is especially useful when growing large plants. Others are not as flexible and does not offer the freedom to space plants.


Drip systems can be fitted with a drip emitter for each plant allowing the gardener to adjust the amount of solution per plant. A drip tray may be placed under each row of plants, sending the solution back to the reservoir. In the early days of hydroponics, the extra solution was leached out into the ground.


This is a very easy DIY setup as well, You would need a pump and a 1-x way vavle, X being the amount of hoses you're running. A great product that came out in the recent past was Drip rings as well, instead of being a open ended hose its a ring that goes around your step applying even drips all the way around the plant. Basically, stick the pump in your res, run the output to a splitter vavle, then run each hose to the base of your plant in the medium, some people set up a grid and grow in trays others use rings and individual planters. All of them work just as good and have their ups and downs, when you grow on a tray its generally easier to recycle the drain water back to the res allowing you to refil the res much less often, it can still be down with individuals but it takes a but more engineering. Drip is also a great auto-watering method for any medium while its common with rockwool and hydroton, it can easily be done with a full organic soil setup as well.


Flood & Drain AKA Ebb & Flow


This is a pretty simple concept, but I would save it for a little more advance group, It involves flooding a tray or group of planters for a few moments then starving them. One main benefit is the roots get plenty of water to absorb and then it all gets taken away so they begin to "search" and you will have excessive root growth between floods.


The easiest way to DIY this is to take a 2 relatively deep trays, tupperware or something with a lid, and stack them, the bottom one is your res, the top is your growth spot, get some netted pots and drill holes in the lid for the pots, this works great with hydroton pebbles as well as rockwool or most other mediums and store a little water since it does get flooded then starved.


Now that you have your tray and res set up, drill matching holes from the top of the res and the bottom of the tray and run your pump outlet through so it goes from the res to the tray, mount this about 1/2 inch above the bottom of the tray and I'll explain this in a few. Next you want to put a drain hole from the bottom of the tray to the top of the res. In this one put a piece of hose or those extensions from fish filters work great, anything that can be placed 1" from your lid and not let water drain until it has gone above that 1" and you want something that will move alot of water quick if your pump out pumps your drain you end up leaking all over the place.


Now set your pump to flood for 10-15 minutes every hour, alot of this is going to depend on strain, if they look starved add time, if they're getting to much take away some time. When your pump begins flowing you will see everything fill up, when it hits that max height you set the drain at it will begin to flow out and the pump and the drain should be pretty even keeping the water at that heighth. When the pump stops flowing it will backdrain through the pump output and empty the tray except for that little 1/2 you left, this is good as to allow the plants to continue feeding a little bit, but they wont get to enjoy that extra drink til they get enough roots to the bottom ;)


The other setup would be the stacking 5g buckets method, this is a little more advanced again, it takes a little engineering or deep pockets to buy, but what you do is you take 1 5g bucket, drill a ton of holes in it, set it inside of another undrilled 5g bucket and run plumbing to however many you have, most commonly it is a grid, lets say you have a 3x3 bucket setup, the center bucket will have outputs going in every direction, it should have 8, in the shape of a + and a x the bucket in front of it will have 4, 1 from the control bucket, and then to each side, and the middle, the side buckets will have 3, one from the front center bucket, one to the mid center bucket w/ 8 and one to the bucket behind it and etc.. if you can't picture what I'm saying look up ebb & flow buckets.


The tricky part is building a control bucket, Your going to need timers, send and return pumps and float sensors to insure it doesn't overflow. If the control bucket overflows so do all the other buckets. The send pump will be in the res, and this type of grow requires a large res, in theory you want to put 4-4.5gallons of water in each bucket for 5-10 minutes, then drain it all out. The return pump goes into the control bucket, when the timer goes off on the res it begins to pump into the control bucket, then the float hits full it kill the send pump and maintains the level until the timer on the control bucket goes off which will turn on the return pump and pump everything back into the res bucket.


DWC/Bubbleponics setups


Ok DWC, what does it mean? Deep Water Culture. Its growing with your root system submerged and oxygenating the water as to keep the roots alive while submerged. I have never grown this way, I do clone this way though with great results and I have seen some of the most amazing plants grown in this fashion.


Basically you could do this a million ways so I'm going to cover 1, 5 gallon buckets, its simple, you can buy net pot lids for the buckets and that keeps thing simple as well to not get to deep in fashioning and creating.


So you have a 5 gallon bucket and a net lid but what now? Get some Hydroton and an air pump, one thats going to really stir up some water too, I'd recommend getting a 50 gallon air pump since they're cheap and then you can split it with a gang valve, I'd run 2x the air into the amount of water, I.E. 50 gallon air pump, 5-way gang valve into 5 DWC buckets w/ 4.5gallons of water/nutrient solution. Also get a large airstone thats going to spread out the bubbles greatly. This will give 2 effects, first the nutrients will never get to settle or go stale, secondly they bubbles will creat a mist above the water line giving it an almost aeroponic effect before the roots grow enough to submerge. As we all know (and some may not but you do now) Aeroponics have been very proven with root grown and health.


Alright so pretty simple eh? Fill a 5 gallon bucket with water, put an airstone in the bottom, pop your lid on and go. Well yah, but theres still a few more options, a thermometer isn't a bad Idea, water in the 70* range tends to show better results then hot or cold water, I'd say 65-75 is a good range. So how to maintain that? I personally would use a cheap fish tank heater, Get the same model for all your buckets and dial in the one before putting any plants in it and in theory you should beable to set them all the same and forget about them, maybe check temps when its time to refill the res.


You can also scale things up with big tupperwear containers, or add multiple plants to 1 larger container. Just remember anythings a possibility and this one is a very easy but sometimes frustrating setup as to hot or cold will cause issues, to little air and you get root rot, when you have a massive root system it my become a pain to change the res as well. Also I'm going to hope IGrowInBubbles chimes in w/ a little more info on this since I know he is a very experienced DWC grower.


NFT or Waterfall method


This is a common setup as well and a very productive one. Alot of people take a larger piece of PVC 10"-12" and drill holes in it for netpots, usually 4" or 6" sometimes 8" but thats getting quite large. Most setups tend to be straight line, but you could do a colosseum setup as well.


How this works is you have a res on one side that pumps into the open end of the PVC, the PVC is angled on a downward slope so the water flows from one side and out the other passing by all of the net pots and roots. Put a dam at the drain end of so the water level stays at a fixed height and only excess runs off, in a straight line setup you then run a pump from the drain bucket back to the res so you have a constant cycle of water going in, through and back. Again a pretty simple self sufficient setup and this is another setup where maintaining temps in the res is a very good idea, the pumps should create enough agitation to keep things from going stale but a airstone or two wouldn't be a bad idea either.


A colosseum setup would be using PVC elbows to create a full circle that the run off would just end up back in the original res, also using a vertical bulb is very beneficial in this setup as you will want the full 360* of light it can be done with a horizontile reflector but not as efficiently. Again you need things to be at a downward angle, and you will want a dam before every elbow as to make sure the water levels stay even and high enough to give the plants plenty of water as well. This type of setup is more commercial or for caregivers who need to grow alot of plants as it wouldn't be a logical setup for 6-12 plants like most us use.


That covers basic Hydroponics. Things can get alot more advanced, but whats better then keeping it simple. Tomorrow I'm going to do a write up on Organics and your options.

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not even a mention of a Hempy bucket.the basic of all hydro systems..i'm hurt..truly hurt..lol..zb,, aka the hempy bucket guy.in your own words"but whats better than keeping it simple"lol


I have a whole tutorial on hempy buckets, and just hempy buckets! Believe me that was first.

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