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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 4:09 pm 
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Continued from thread in soil topic section..............


Hi Mike. I was just down in your neck of the woods a week or so ago. Love Table Rock in the fall!!

Great advice on the lettuce. This photo was taken on the 5th of November and the plants are only 10-13 days old and are on 1/2 nutrients.

I will be interested to see how your tomatoes under floros do. Tomatoes and peppers are the next expansion and that is where my research is geared. Research towards another lighting system and to exactly which type of hydro system I am going to build.

I'll keep you posted as well.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 8:13 pm 
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Location: Branson MO/Zone6
halfway,

I'll try to keep you posted. I think my concern over lighting is the cost. If I invested in a light system that might be recommended, I'd probably be looking at 10 dollar tomatoes. I want to see how they perform under fluorescents and see how far in the process I can get them under 160 watts. If they ripen, I'll be jumping for joy. If they get to be a foot tall and healthy, I can use this knowledge to get a real jump in the spring.

Previously, I started my tomato plants under fluorescents on a heat pad in soil. I can usually start them the end of January, transplant them into the greenhouse the first week in March and have tomatoes ready to eat sometime in May.

I'd like to see if I can shave some time off the process by using hydroponics. If I start them about the same time using hydroponics, I think I can get ripened tomatoes by at least May 1 and maybe earlier if they get enough light.

I think hydroponics also has an advantage with tomatoes because of soil borne diseases that I have always had to fight.

We'll see how it goes.

Mike


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 9:14 pm 
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Its seems like we are both walking much the same path.

I do all my starts under 6500k floros and this year was fantastic. I gave away plenty to very thankful neighbors. The were not leggy at all and very solid. This held true for varieties of tomatoes, peppers, wildflowers, clematis and a few others.

I am switiching to completley soil-less this year with starts. I have decided that root riot or a similar product for those going into hydro media and coco coir for those going into the soil of raised beds and containers. This is going to be a heavy year as I am adding about 76 more wildflower starts to the production.

I am in 100% agreement on cost conscience. I made the statement "I don't want a $50 head of lettuce". I like your 10 dollar tomato comment as well!!

The beauty with tomatoes is that they continuously flower and to my understanding do not need the RED spectrum at the levels a more normally flowering veggie like peppers would require. This has caused quite a bit more research and I have not fully made a decision on how to expand the lighting system.

As it stands now, my array of 6, 48 inch 6500k tubes will do just fine for the start and the current crop of lettuce and basil, but my move to tomatoes and peppers is going to require smart and economical expansion.

I am leaning heavily toward a 4 bulb, 24 inch T5 HO system, but it needs more comparison. LEDs are intriguing as well. I will not entertain HID because of both obvious external costs such as the increased electric bill, cooling system, fire suppression, multiple ballasts, etc. No thanks!

Here is today's photo....


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 11:39 am 
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Location: Branson MO/Zone6
Deep water culture tomato experiment

DWC tomato 10/28/10

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DWC tomato 11/9/10

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DWC tomato 11/13/2010. It's now as wide as the Sterilite bin.

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One month in, first bloom buds on the right-hand plant. Plants are about 13" tall. Still very healthy plants.

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Last edited by mikestuff on Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:54 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 12:07 pm 
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Very nice!! What type of system?

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 3:01 pm 
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Location: Branson MO/Zone6
I guess it's called a deep-water culture.

18 gallon tote
Nutrient is recirculated and sent to drip rings surrounding each of the plants.
Air pump with an 8" air stone
I'm using Advanced Nutrients 3 part (grow, bloom, micro)
I just top off the system with new nutrients when it gets about a gallon low.

4-40 watt "Sunshine" fluorescents 18 hours a day.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 3:56 pm 
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How does the air pump with stone work to push the nutrients to the drip rings? I am looking at deep water culture or bubble buckets for peppers/tomatoes.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 5:07 pm 
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Location: Branson MO/Zone6
Hi halfway,

The air pump is just there to provide a constant supply of oxygen to the roots.

The circulating pump (Via Aqua 180) is submerged in the tote and wrapped in a filter bag to keep out debris and is attached to a 1/2" up tube that goes to a T in the lid of the tote. Two 1/2" lines go from the T to the net baskets. I made two drip rings by taking a 1/8" T and a circle of 1/8" tubing slightly smaller than the net baskets with holes drilled in the circle.

The marriage of the 1/8" T to the 1/2" tubing wasn't pretty, but is effective. I attached a short piece of 1/8" tubing to the end of the T that goes into the 1/2" tube and filled around it with silicone and let it dry. It made a good water tight connection and when I fired up the circulating pump, the water came out of the holes in the drip ring as planned and I didn't have any leaks.

There's probably a more elegant way to do this, and I will probably tweak it a little on the next setup.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 7:27 pm 
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Ahh, that makes sense. Your first post only said aquarium pump and stone....so I thought it was like a "bublle bucket".

Cool system. Post a pic if you have one??

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 8:37 pm 
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Sounds like expensive tomatoes to me. My friend from school does a lot of hydro stuff and opened a Hydro store. I saw a lot of pics and was amazed. The speed and healthiness was incredible. Just like your tomato it looks like an advertisement just perfect. I like dirt but the more I look and read what you guys are talking about I like water just a bit more. I was looking at my last pics and post about lights and they just don't compare. The friend and I talked a lot about lights. Initially for a light that I would want and not wish I had bought a bigger one I was looking at about $300. The cost to run it was $30 a month in electricity. And I understand the initial investment. When you guys look at what your cost are do you think about electricity too? I couldn't figure how much $30 worth of tomatoes is. What about supplements for the water? What are you using? I still sounds great and I am sure it will taste great too. I might have to take the plunge.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 9:29 pm 
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Location: Branson MO/Zone6
Hi raidencmc,

I think the real stopper for serious hydroponics would be the cost of lighting and electricity. I'm sure there are some "crops" that the cost might be justified, but not tomatoes.

I am running 4- 40 watt fluorescents, so 160 watts total. I don't know if this is enough to produce ripe tomatoes, but I doubt it. My hope is that it will produce viable plants that can be moved from the basement to the greenhouse where the light will be free.

The other cost that might add up is the nutrients you use in the water culture. I'll have to see what the cost will be. I think I've got about 20 dollars in my nutrients and that should be plenty for these two plants to maturity.

What I ultimately want is very early, very healthy, very tasty tomatoes in the greenhouse. If I can start plants early in the basement in a hydroponic setup and then move them to the greenhouse on March 1 or so, I can get tomatoes a good month earlier than I can growing them in soil. The ones in the setup now will probably not work as they will probably be too big before they could possibly be moved to the greenhouse. I'll probably be on a second setup for spring.

Anyway, I enjoy seeing what works and what doesn't and gardening in the dead of winter appeals to me. I'll try to keep you posted as the experiment progresses.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 9:32 pm 
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I am trying very hard to insure this is economical. My blog is frugalhydroponics for a reason, LOL!

I do not want a $50 head of lettuce either. Every step of this process is cost-conscious not because of lack of cash, but a desire to make it efficient in both time and money. I'll save the money for the expensive hobbies like hunting and fishing.

Not sure if I have posted this, but I am making some home vids as a video journal complementing my written notes. I don't mind making mistakes, I just don't like repeating them.

Anyway, I am new at hydro and I don't believe it will replace my soil gardening, only enhance my veggie production. I am impressed so far!

There are 2 vids under my profile..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG8HkRmwyls

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Last edited by halfway on Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:19 pm 
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Location: Branson MO/Zone6
halfway,

I watched your videos and I think basil will do extremely well in your hydro setup. I've grown it outside in soil and in the greenhouse in soil with a drip system and got much more than I could use each time. I'll bet that what you have planted will yield you a good amount.

Your ebb and flow system looks great!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:43 am 
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Location: Australia
In hydroponics, plant growth rate is 30-50 percent faster than a soil plant, grown under the same conditions. The extra oxygen (dissolve oxygen) in the hydroponics growing mediums helps to stimulate root growth. Plants with ample oxygen in the root system also absorb nutrients faster. So plant growth rate is higher. Higher growth rate means more metabolic activity.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:05 am 
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MatthewWilliam wrote:
In hydroponics, plant growth rate is 30-50 percent faster than a soil plant, grown under the same conditions. The extra oxygen (dissolve oxygen) in the hydroponics growing mediums helps to stimulate root growth. Plants with ample oxygen in the root system also absorb nutrients faster. So plant growth rate is higher. Higher growth rate means more metabolic activity.


Thanks MW! That is how I understand the explosive growth rate. Since there is no compaction of soil, hydro (especially aeroponic) maintains a superior level of oxygen to the roots. The roots in my system are incredible at this point and I have seen photos of MASSIVE roots on tomato plants in hydro systems.

Back to the lighting question..... for now I will stick with the cheap T* system I have in place. Each fixture was on sale and with rebates ended up about $5-8 bucks. Couple more for the bulbs and there is a cheap system that is very good for vegetative growth (6500k).

I don't see HID systems economical for me at all when you consider increased electricity bill, cost for cooling, losing piece of mind over fire concerns, ducting for cooling and humidity.

T5 at High output or Very High output maybe....

So for now I believe I will stick with greens and herbs that work well with my lights and will continue to watch the LED market.....that's where I see the real economical breakthrough emerging.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:59 pm 
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Time for an update.

We have been steadily harvesting over the past few weeks and the lettuce and basil have been excellent.

I didn't see a noticeable change with lighting above 13 hours so that is where I have kept it. The lights remain about 2-3 inches above the plants and the fan pushes the little heat generated out of the way. Without the fan it hits around 82 degrees, with the fan it stays around 68. Perfect for crisp, tender greens.

I am building 2 DWC systems for lettuce rotations and still debating the future use of this ebb and flow. The determining factors include the size of plants as I need to keep the floros on them at a uniform spacing. Keeping the basil horizontal is a challenge!!


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:39 pm 
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Location: Branson MO/Zone6
Great looking lettuce, halfway. What variety are you growing?

I can imagine that the basil, if it does well, could get away from you.

Are you regularly changing the nutrients? With the tomatoes I'm growing, I just bring the level in the tank back up to full with a nutrient solution and they are doing well so far.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:04 am 
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Thanks Mike.

I increased from half nutrients to full nutrients on 21 November and I have not added nutrients since. I am showing no defficiencies and I'm harvesting every other day. This was unexpected as I was projecting a full nutrient change after 21 days. I am watching closely for signs. This lowers my cost projections as well. :)

The lettuce is Simpson Elite and it has been fantastic. I will get some additional varieties when I place my larger seed order in a few weeks. I'm looking at buttercruch, deer's tongue, meslin etc.

The harvest date for the simpson is around 45 days and that has came and went without any bolting. The lettuce is still still crisp and sweet, but at some point I believe it will start to die off???? Hopefully that will coincide with the need for a nutrient change. If so, I'll dump the plants and clean the system in prep for the next batch. The next grow for the ebb and flow will be ALL herbs (basil varieties, rosemarry, thyme, cilantro) with no lettuce.

I have the DWC systems built and they will serve as the primary lettuce growers (12 stations). I will post a new thread on that as I created a video of the design and build. It is posted to my blog journal as well. http://frugalhydroponics.blogspot.com/

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