Starbor Kale

We have plants! Starbor Kale does well in a cooler climate and part sun which is exactly what I have in my office. This particular kale was harvested from the hydroponic greenhouse so I think it will adjust very well. I also brought home young chive and parsley that I will be planting tomorrow. Excited!

Reservoir Oxygenation

I am currently using a dual outlet 100 gph air pump to oxygenate my two reservoirs. The aeroponic system has a 10 gallons of nutrient solution while the DWC has 2 gallons of nutrient solution. I am using two 3″ air stone bars in my aeroponic system and one 3″ bar in the DWC. I have split the line for the aeroponic system into two lines to oxygenate the entire reservoir evenly. Also, I placed the air pump on a vented stand to decrease sound and increase air flow to the pump. Tip: Don’t forget your check valves!

Clay Pebble Preparation

Proper preparation of expanded clay pebbles is crucial to their success. The clay pebbles come completely dry and covered in dust. Rinse all the dust off using pH accurate water – I recommend rinsing multiple times. Using an air stone and size-appropraite container, soak the pebbles in pH accurate 1/4 strength nutrient solution for 24 hours to percolate the clay’s micro-pores. You want your pebbles to be very clean and well hydrated before you use them in your system.

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Build Details for Deep Water Culture System

A simple Deep Water Culture System that is very easy to make and maintain. I decided to keep this system small and only use one 3″ net pot but you can increase the size of your DWC system with a larger reservoir and more net pots. You will also need to increase the oxygenation of your reservoir.

Use a 3″ hole saw to cut an opening for the net pot. ¬†You want the plants to recieve adequate oxygen so make sure to evenly distribute the pots and don’t overcrowd the reservoir.

Use a 1″ spade bit to drill a hole for air tubing and insert the air stone (I used a 3″ bar for this small setup). Fill with nutrient solution so that the root tips will be submerged in the net cup.

Insert the 3″ net cup and fill with prepared expanded clay pebbles (see next post).

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Large Scale N.F.T. System

The San Antonio Food Bank has an amazing hydroponic greenhouse that they use to grow a variety of greens using the Nutrient Film Technique. I am lucky to learn from and work with Sebastian, the Greenhouse Director, in order to gain experience with N.F.T and large scale hydroponic systems in general. Checking/adjusting pH and ppm, maintaining clear lines for nutrient flow as well as overall plant inspection/care are a few of the daily tasks for basic N.F.T. upkeep. The system Sebastian has built is impressive – 150 rails with 18 plant openings in each = 2,700 individual plants! There are 4 reservoirs with 100 gallons of nutrient solution in each. It sounds overwhelming but the system design makes it very manageable and all the plants are very healthy, beautiful and flourishing. We are currently researching the pros/cons of using Volcanic Archaea as a source of beneficial microbes – updates on that as well as the system in general will on the ‘Projects’ page! I am so excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to be back in the greenhouse!

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Aeroponic system is complete!

My aeroponic system is assembled and ready for plants! I’m just waiting on my TDS meter to arrive so I can get a base ppm on our water before purchasing nutrients. If the base ppm is over 200 then I will be using nutrients specific for hard water. The base pH value is 9.02 – I already ordered pH up/pH down which should be here soon. I will take a temperature measurement in 24 hours.

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Build Details for Aeroponic System

A simple aeroponic system easily made at home using a 27 gallon container.

I constructed a basic spray frame using 1/2″ PVC pipe, tees and elbows. The measurements for this container are 30.5″x 20.5″x 14″.

The spray frame fits snug 5″ below the top of each side.

I used a 10-24NC drill and tap to thread holes for the micro-jet spray nozzles. Disassemble frame to remove all debris from the inside of the frame before inserting nozzles.

The red nozzles along the outer edge of the spray frame provide a 180 degree spray pattern while the green nozzles in the center provide a 360 degree spray pattern.

Tip: Turning the center green nozzles to a 45 degree angle allows for better coverage of center net pots.

Down-stem to pump consists of 3-1/2″ PVC tees – this allows you to flip the spray frame once the root system begins to mature. A 1/2″ thread to slip adapter attaches the down-stem to a 400 GPH adjustable and submersible water pump.

Drill an outlet for power cords with a 1″ spade bit and seal it with a 1″ grommet.

I used a 3″ hole saw to create 12 evenly spaced openings that suspend the net pots into the container.

Tip: Place the spray frame on top of the lid before drilling holes to ensure they will not hit the frame once the lid is on.

Clear all debris and residual plastic before inserting the 12 net pots.

3″ neoprene discs hold the plants in place and prevent sunlight from hitting the reservoir.

Spray frame is placed with nozzles up until the root system has extended past the frame. Once this occurs, the spray frame can be flipped so the nozzles spray downward and feed the entire root system.

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