Plants in the Hydroponic System Water Q&A

Rix Dobbs shows the roots of a lettuce plant g...

Image via Wikipedia

Q: I have a NFT hydroponic system. I can’t seem to find away to stop the plug (in which I started the seed off in) from sitting in the flow of water. Please can you help?

A: Some moisture in the transplant plug is usually desirable to prevent the roots in the plug from dying. However, some plants do not like to be fully submerged in standing water. Depending on how deep the nutrient solution is in the channels of your hydroponic system, you have a few different possible solutions.

One idea is to use very small netted pots. The strategy here is to place a seed (or clone) into the transplant plug, then to place the plug directly into a netted pot just big enough to hold the transplant plug. You want to do all of this before your seed (or clone) grows any roots. Once you see the first sign of roots, you want to place the netted pots into your hydroponic system. Ideally, the very bottom of the plug come into contact with the nutrient solution just a little bit. This allows the plug to “wick up” the moisture it needs until it can grow roots down into the bottom of your channels.

Another strategy is similar to above, except the plugs are suspended an inch or more above the nutrient solution (usually because of the design of the system). In this case, you may want to consider adding a drip system. This will provide enough moisture to each transplant plug until your plants have the opportunity to grow roots down into your system.

If the nutrient solution is shallow (about 1/2- 1 inch deep) you may want to consider anchoring your transplant plugs into 3″ netted pots with a few clay pellets, then sitting the netted pots down into the channels of your hydroponic system. In this strategy, the netted pots sit right down on the bottom, but the re-circulating water is very shallow and therefore stays well oxygenated. The pots also can wick up the moisture they need until they can grow roots down into the system. With a little modification to your system, the netted pots can even be lifted out of the standing water and suspended above the nutrient solution once there is significant root growth.

Lastly, many plants will tolerate being grown straight in standing water. Even plants that prefer fast draining soil will grow well in these conditions, as long as an effort is made to keep the nutrient solution well oxygenated and to keep the temperature of the nutrient solution between 68 and 72 degrees. This is true with my most successful hydroponic system. The whole strategy can be found at the link above, and the system works very well with tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, herbs, spinach, and many other plants. I hope this helps you out, and Happy Growing!

Hydroponics Growing Systems One by One

Each of the hydroponics growing systems has its own way of supporting the plants. Plants require food, water, and oxygen for the roots to keep them from drowning.

Hand Watering

People often do not realize that hand watering can be one of the simplest hydroponics growing systems, but hydroponics boils down to this…the food is in the water.

If you mix perlite, vermiculite, and coconut coir (all nutrient free) and use this to grow your plants in a container garden, you will HAVE TO include some plant food in the water when you hand water. By definition, this is an example of hydroponics gardening. A 50/50 mix of perlite/vermiculite would work just as well.

Coconut coir and vermiculite retain quite a bit of water. By using more of them in the soiless mix, the containers will stay moist between hand-waterings (every day or two). Sphagnam peat is the base of many commercial potting soils and can be used as a substitute for this purpose also.

Because of its simplicity, this is obviously an easy home method. This is one of the hydroponics growing systems that will easily support organics. No matter what type of system you choose, you will need to learn some hydroponics feeding tips.

Deep Water Culture (DWC)

The deep water culture method, also known as the reservoir method, is one of the easiest of all the true hydroponics growing systems. A container holds about two inches of nutrient solution. Several plant containers sit down in the nutrient solution. An aquarium air pump constantly bubbles in the nutrient solution, keeping the plants roots from drowning.

Often, small holes are made around the bottom 2 inches of the plant pots, allowing the roots to grow out into the nutrient solution. As in the example above, an effort is usually made to keep light from getting to the nutrient solution.

Wherever there is light and nutrients, algae will grow. Algae eat the nutrients you are trying to feed to your plants, and when pieces of algae die they attract fungus gnats. Fungus gnats lead to many other problems.

Because of its simple design and simple function, the reservoir method is a good choice for homemade hydroponics. Since there are no drip or spray emitters to clog, it is also a good choice for organic hydroponics growing systems.

This system is well suited for volcanic lava chips media, or else a mixture of one part vermiculite to 5 parts expanded clay pellets. As with any hydroponics growing system, you will want to brush up on your hydroponics feeding tips before beginning.

The Flood and Drain Method
aka Ebb and Flow

In the flood and drain method, the plants sit in their own container separate from the nutrient reservoir. From time to time, a pump will kick on. The nutrient solution from the reservoir floods the upper container for a while, soaking the plant roots and the grow medium. The pumps than turn off, and the solution drains back into the reservoir.

Your choice of grow media determines how often and how long you flood the container for. Fast draining, clay pellets may be flooded for a half hour 4 times a day, while the slower draining rockwool can be watered less. This system is also well suited for growing in straight perlite or lava chips.

The parts and function of this hydroponics growing system are pretty basic, making it another good option for a homemade hydroponics system. With a good water pump, you can also use this method for organic hydroponics. It is always a good idea to have a filter before the pump in any system.

Of course, you will make any hydroponics growing system work its best with the right hydroponics feeding tips.

The Drip System

With the drip hydroponics growing system, the plants are again in their own tray, separate from the nutrient reservoir. A pump pushes nutrient solution through many small tubes, which feed each plant from the top. Different emitters can be placed on the end of each tube to make the drip slower or faster.

Once again, a faster draining medium (like clay pellets) will need faster dripping emitters (or more of them per plant). Slower draining media (like rockwool) would use slower dripping emitters.

The standard media for drip systems is rockwool, although clay pellets and lava chips are also sometimes used. Straight perlite should work well in this system also, although I’ve never tried it myself.

The flow rate is difficult to control on a drip system, and the emitters are famous for clogging. These problems are even worse when you try to make your own drip system. You will probably spend a lot of money and have a poorly working system if you try to build a homemade drip system (I know this from personal experience).

Furthermore, organic nutrients are full of small particles that ALWAYS seem to mess up the drip emitter. If you are trying to do organic hydroponics, this is not the system for you.

Looking for LED grow lights for hydroponics systems, check out www.ledgrowlight-hydro.com’s 600w LED grow light or 300w LED grow light, 3 years warranty plus US and Canada free shipping and free timer switch.

 

The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

In this hydroponics growing system, plants are placed in a tray or gutter separate from the nutrient reservoir. One end of the tray is lower than the other, to encourage the flow of water.

A pump delivers a steady flow of water at one end, creating a constant stream of nutrient solution in the bottom of the tray. In order to make sure the water flowing through the bottom of the tray is nice and even, a layer of absorbant material (called capillary mat) is placed in the bottom.

NFT is another method that is both easy for the homemade hydroponics do-it-yourselfer and also a good choice for organic hydroponics growing systems. Once again the parts, the design, and the function are all simple. once again, there are no drip or spray emitters to clog.

There is one thing to consider, however. You must start with plants that have a root system large enough to hang down into the flowing nutrient solution. Your other option would be to top feed the plants with a drip system until their roots are large enough (which is a pain).

It doesn’t matter what type of media you start your plants in. Once they are in place in the system, the roots will be growing right in the water! This system, when the proper hydroponics feeding tips are followed, works very nicely.

The Wick System

In wick hydroponic growing systems, the plants are again in their own container, separate from the nutrient reservoir. Pieces of absorbant material (usually nylon rope) are buried partially in each plant container. The other end of the rope is allowed to dangle in the nutrient solution. The absorbant material pulls the nutrient solution from the reservoir up into the growing medium.

The system is easy to make as a homemade hydroponics system, and will support organic hydroponics without any problems, but there are a couple of things to consider.

Sometimes it is difficult to get the right moisture level in a wick system. You will have to experiment a little with more absorbant growing mediums (vermiculite/coconut coir). Also, I have seen the wicks suck up less and less water over time (especially when using organics).

If you want to give this method a try, I suggest a 50/50 mix of perlite/vermiculite. Perlite and coconut coir would work as well. Altogether, I think other systems are just as easy to use, and produce better results.

The Aeroponics Method

In these hydroponics growing systems, a large container like this contains several gallons of nutrient solution in the bottom. A pump pushes nutrient solution through spray heads that constantly soak every inch inside the container with a fine mist of nutrient solution.

As you can see, there really is no growing medium in this method. The plants roots hang down into the container and grow mostly in air, except for the few that grow long enough to make it into the nutrient solution in the bottom.

The pump used is a high-pressure pump, and the spray emitters are made specially to deliver a very fine, highly oxygenated spray.

It is often very hard to assemble individual parts into a well-working system, and the individual parts can be expensive as well. Also, the fine-spray emitters will instantly clog if you try to use anything except high quality hydroponic fertilizers (no organics).

Of all the hydroponics growing systems, this is the most difficult to master and the most temperamental. Ph changes and nutrient imbalances occur more quickly because of the increased absorption rates and high levels of oxygenation. Furthermore, with no grow media to protect the roots, the plants react negatively to these changes much more quickly.

More recently, some innovative gardeners have begun to push this new area. Systems are beginning to pop up that are much simpler and that do not rely on pumps.

Get expert tips on growing premium indoor medical marijuana

Growing weed indoors has many advantages, it is a fact that growing medical marijuana outdoors makes it very easy to lose your crop from theft or possibly the law if it is illegal to grow where you live. By growing medical marijuana indoors you can control the ambient conditions just exactly as you want them and grow a nice healthy cannabis plant.

Feminized medical marijuana seeds are an excellent choice when considering growing pot indoors.

Plants grown indoors will not appear the same as their outdoor cousins. They will be scrawnier, appearing with weak stems and may even require you to tie them to a growing post to remain upright, but they will supply more resin if looked after correctly.

Get expert tips on growing premium indoor medical marijuana.

About Hydroponics
Hydroponics is the name given for a variety of techniques for growing weed without soil. It was realised by researchers studying plant metabolism that plants took in their nutrients as simple inorganic ions, and that soil, while a source for such nutrients, was not essential. While a plant’s nutrients come from the soil, the only nutrients a plant can successfully absorb are those that dissolve into the plant’s water supply. When the required nutrients are introduced into a plant’s water supply artificially, soil is no longer required for the plant to thrive.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
In this method, the plants grow through light-proof plastic films placed over shallow, gently sloping channels. A steady flow of nutrients is maintained along the channel, and the roots grow into dense mats, with a thin film of nutrient passing over them (hence the name of the technique). A downside of the technique is that it has very little buffering against interruptions in the flow eg power outages, but overall, it is probably one of the more productive techniques.

Basic Kit to Grow Indoors


Simple Pot and NFT Set Ups

You don`t need a lot of kit to start growing great flowering plants in a cupboard, wardrobe, attic or grow space. Apart from the plants the lamp is the most important thing.

Plant growers are interested in LEDs because they are more energy efficient, emit less heat (can damage plants close to hot lamps), and can provide the optimum light frequency for plant growth and bloom periods compared to currently used grow lights: HPS (high pressure sodium), MH (metal halide) or CFL/low-energy. However, LEDs have not replaced these grow lights due to higher price. As mass production and LED kits develop, the LED products will become cheaper.

As we know, the HPS, Incandescent Lamp and Fluorescent Lamp emit all the spectrum of visible light & some sightless light, but LED Grow Lights only deliver the colours of light used by plants for efficient and healthy growth!

LED Grow Lights are the newest and most efficient way to grow plants indoors! This revolutionary form of light is different from other traditional lights, such as High Pressure Sodium (HPS) or Metal Halide (MH). LED Grow Lights bulbs are comprised of multiple low-watt light sources, working together on a single board. HID lighting is extremely inefficient; it generates a lot of heat while only producing 30% photosynthetic light. Unlike HIDs, 1W LED emit very little heat because all the power is efficiently converted into targeted light wavelengths for plants. For this reason, additional fans, ducting and AC are rarely if ever necessary. Additionally, LEDs will last 50,000 before they’ve lost even 30% of their initial output, not to mention they’re still 100% functional! So there is no need for yearly or bi-yearly bulb changes, as 50,000 hours is 6 solid years, and after that you can still continue using the light! Lastly, LED grow lighting use 65-70% less energy than traditional HID lighting, while producing the same or better results. With no additional cooling costs, bulb costs, and decreased electrical costs every month, imagine what you can do with the extra money!

 

Basic Kit to Grow in Pots

1. High Pressure Sodium Lamp (600 watt is the most efficient but a 400 watt may suit a smaller space).
2. Fan running 24 hours a day if possible and oscillating.
3. Pots, trays and chosen growing medium. 50% potting compost 50% Perlite is a basic mix. Raise the pots in the trays with bricks or bits of wood so they don`t sit in a puddle when watered.
4. 24 hour timer to control light periods. This should be used with a high power switch known as a contactor or relay switch as grow lamps can easily burn out regular timers used on their own.
5. A pH tester to test water and nutrient feed solutions.
6. pH adjuster such as phosphoric acid to adjust water and feed solution to around pH 6.0 – 7.0.
7. Nutrients, ones aimed at growing the plant you want to cultivate are best.
8. Matt white paint or white plastic to cover the walls of the grow space.

Also useful are a measuring bucket, measuring jug, large syringe and pea netting or string to support top heavy plants. If you can afford it a great help is a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) meter. These allow you to check the nutrient levels of feeding solutions to make sure they are optimised for your plants.

Growing hydroponically in a Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) Tank is really simple and not something to be afraid of. In fact some beginners to growing may find it easier than using soil mixtures in pots. You do not have to judge if the plants need watering or feeding so much using NFT, as long as you follow the simple instructions supplied with the tanks the plants should look after themselves.

Basic Kit to Grow in NFT Tanks

1. High Pressure Sodium Lamp (600 watt is the most efficient but a 400 watt may suit a smaller space).
2. Fan running 24 hours a day if possible and oscillating.
3. NFT tank with pump and spreader mat (these come with the tank), Rockwool cubes.
4. 24 hour timer to control light periods. This should be used with a high power switch known as a contactor or relay switch as grow lamps can easily burn out regular timers used on their own.
5. A pH tester to test water and nutrient feed solutions.
6. pH adjuster such as phosphoric acid to adjust water and feed solution to around pH 5.2 – 6.0.
7. Nutrients, ones aimed at growing the plant you want to cultivate are best.
8. Matt white paint or white plastic to cover the walls of the grow space.

Also useful is a measuring bucket, measuring jug, large syringe and pea netting or string to support top heavy plants. If you can afford it a great help is a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) meter. These allow you to check the nutrient levels of feeding solutions to make sure they are optimised for your plants.

Also…

Wherever you decide to set up your grow space remember that the plants night time or dark period is very important. Check that when the light goes off the grow space is in total darkness. Proper ventilation for the grow space should also be considered as the area can become very humid. Opening up the space daily may be enough but larger areas may need extactor fans to avoid problems.

Copyright © All Rights Reserved · Green Hope Theme by Sivan & schiy · Proudly powered by WordPress