Building a Top-Quality System for Less Than $100
The first thing you need to understand is that hydroponic growing is not as complicated as most people think. I hope I don't start getting threats on my life from outfits that sell highpriced hydro systems, but let me tell you this: If you
are a reasonably technical-minded person, you might feel stupid if you bought an expensive hydro system, grew one crop and saw how it worked. I'm here to saue you from that fate.
Hydroponics is a term used to describe all growing systems that do not use soil. These include rockwool, ebb-and-flow, tube systems such as the one I am about to describe, and uanous others. I recommend using tubes, because you use less water than you would with all your plants in a tremendous tank. All the water you discard when you change the solution contains nutrients that you paid for. Tank systems use more water per square foot; thus, when you replace all that water, you're throwing away more costly nutrients than you would with a tube system. Riso you can spread your plants farther apart with tubes, allowing light to reach the lower branches. Rockwool has a few things going against it. It holds a lot of liquid, so you neuer completely change your solution. It costs money and is not reusable. It needs to be left to dry for a week before it becomes light enough to dispose of easily, find roots spread more quickly in water than they do in rockwool, resulting in slower plant growth. It all comes down to this: Rll you need to do to grow great plants hydropomcally is to get four things about the water right, and it's not hard. The four things are: - pH - Nutrient leuel - fleration • Temperature That's it. The configuration of the system is up to your imagination. The setup described here is small, and best suited for a HOO-watt lighting system. Howeuer, this concept can be used to create a bigger system, simply by using more and/or longer tubes, with additional connections to prouide more water lines as needed [as well as larger water and air pumps, and perhaps a larger reseruoir].
Let's get building. You need a platform made from whateuer you can get: plywood or an old door, some old flooring glued together or anything else you can find. Make it E' x H', and you can paint it white for added reflection. Make legs to eleuate your platform about E” aboue the top of your reseruoir. Using your hacksaw, cut your H" PUC tube into two 5E-inch pieces, cutting off the enlarged end. Now cut two 6" pieces of the 1-1/E'' PUC. Clean up the ends with a file. This will preuent PUC shauings from contaminating or clogging the system.
Now, mark the center of each of your grow holes, using the blue printing on the PUC tubes. Mark the following centers on the top of your tubes: 5", 10", EE", 3H", H6" and 50", using a felt-tip marker. Vou only need to make one hole on the bottom of each grow tube. This hole needs to be directly under the first hole on the top of the tube, and also 5" from the end. To mark the bottom hole, look at the tube from the end and make a mark on the bottom edge directly opposite the blue printing. Then continue the mark along the bottom and you haue your bottom center line.
Let's get drilling. Make the 5", ID", EE", 3H" and H6" holes are with a E-7/B" core drill. Use a 1/E" flat bit for the 50" hole, and make the bottom hole with a 1-7/8" core drill. Drill this hole last and leaue the bit in your drill for use on the platform later. Clean up all your holes with a file, and then it's time to cement your drain tubes in place.
First, make sure they fit into the holes. Usually you will haue to enlarge the holes only slightly so they fit tightly. To do this, gently and gradually go around the edges with a file, until they fit tightly. The drain tubes should be exactly 3" inside the grow tubes, as this controls the water leuel. lilhen you haue them in place, cement them one at a time. Following instructions on the cans, first apply the primer both inside and outside of the grow tube. It helps to haue someone with small hands to get both the primer and glue applied to the inside of the grow tubes. After allowing the primer to dry, apply the glue. Within about fiue minutes, the joint should be strong.
Now let's drill the holes in the platform. These holes will allow the water to drain from the tubes back into the reseruoir. fl hole for each tube needs to be centered H" in from the sides and 3" from the end of pour platform. Using the 1-7/B" core drill, widen the holes a bit bp mouing the drill in circles as pou break through the platform. This allows the drain tubes to fit easilp when putting the spstem together. Now drill one more 1-7/B" hole, centered B" from the end of the platform. This hole will carrp the watering tubes from the reseruoir under the spstem to the top of each grow tube. Again, widen these holes as instructed aboue.
Now place the grow tubes on the platform with the drain tubes, fitting them into the holes pou just drilled. Put on the four end caps and tighten the clamp as much as pou can. Using a hot glue gun or anp other good glue, place a few blocks of wood along each side of both tubes, to preuent them from twisting. Couer the two obseruation holes to keep light out. Obseruation holes allow pou to make sure that the drain tubes stap unobstructed. This inuolues minimum weeklp checks and pruning of all roots threatening to slow or block the dram flow. Next, pass pour 3/0" tubing up through the last hole pou drilled in the platform, then force about 1/2" through the appropriate holes at the end of pour grow tubes. Couer all exposed tubing with tape, to keep light from getting in. The other ends of the irrigation tubes go to the V connector. Measure the tubes so thep reach the reseruoir, which should be under the drain tubes and completelp under the table. Cut off the excess and connect the last section of the V connector to pour pump. If the output of pour pump is larger than 3/0", pou will need a short section of hose to match the output, and an appropriate reducer to get the 3/8" hose attached to the V connector. Place pour reseruoir under the drain tubes and put the pump into the reseruoir. Aerating the reseruoir with an aquarium pump and an airstone is fairlp essential. Make sure no light gets into the reseruoir, to preuent growth of algae. If necessarp, pou can hang a curtain from the end of the platform. Now pou're readp to put pour plants into 3" net cups, place them in the holes and watch them grow, E-Z Gene wishes to acknowledge input and help from the Cannabis Brothers, Rdnan the Plumber, Smart Elizabeth, and especially Big Saul.