Hydroponic Garden - UPDATE 29JUL20

Bill Arnold

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I've been wanting to dabble in a hydroponic garden setup for a while and finally found an approach to get us started. The main thing we're interested in is tomatoes, bell peppers, and various herbs. I started with two sections of 5" by 5" by 96" PVC fence post. I used a 2.875" hole saw to drill holes for 3" net pots on 9" centers. The drain plumbing is installed to keep the water level at a point about 1/8" above the bottom of the pots. I'm using a 20 gallon tub as the water reservoir. A small water pump cycles the water through the system about once an hour. For nutrients, I'm using Miracle Gro Water Soluble plant food at a rate of about a half cup for the 20 gallons of water.

The plants you see have been added over the last few days, so it'll be a while before we have much to eat! lol

HydroGarden_01.jpg
 

Jim DeLaney

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Interesting setup. I wouldn't have thought about using the PVC fence posts. It ought to give you a pretty good yield.

Oh, by the way, it looks like you might have a small leak over at the left end. :rolleyes:
 

Bill Arnold

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Nice. I haven't looked much into hydroponics, but are you still using potting soil in the pots? or an alternative?
No soil - it would wash out and gum up the works. I'm using expanded clay balls like these:
ClayPebbles.jpg

The soil on the plants gets washed off, then you hold the plant with the roots at the bottom of the net pot and fill it with the balls. The clay balls wick water up around the plant roots.
NetPots3.jpg
 

Bill Arnold

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Interesting setup. I wouldn't have thought about using the PVC fence posts. It ought to give you a pretty good yield.

Oh, by the way, it looks like you might have a small leak over at the left end. :rolleyes:
Most of the systems I researched used PVC pipe. I thought fence posts would work better, then finally found a system built that way.

Yep, there's a small drip on the crossover pipe connecting the posts. I'll have to put a bit of caulk on the inside, but have to schedule the use of LOMLs small hands to reach through the pot holes. :)
 

Ted Calver

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Really nice looking system, Bill. Hadn't seen the fence posts before. They look much better than gutter and just as sturdy, or even sturdier. I start my seeds in rockwool cubes then transfer to net pots and add clay pebbles. Your method works great with sets from the store.
 

Bill Arnold

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Really neatll. Keep the photos coming on the growing. Looks like the tomatoes may over crowd.
David
We placed the tomato plants at each end so we could trellis them away from the other plants. If the peppers take off really well, we'll move a couple of them to the ground. If this setup works like it should, we are thinking about building a greenhouse (or buying a kit) to keep things going all year.
 

Bill Arnold

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Here we are 22 days since the first photo I posted. We reassigned two trellises from the side of our garage to support the tomato and bell pepper plants. I'm a bit amazed at how healthy the plants are, considering results we got when trying to grow some of the same in pots, etc. Most of the plants have grown several inches of roots!

HydroGarden_2a.jpg

We have one over-achiever! The smallest bell pepper plant decided to get a jump on its siblings and has produced one nice looking pepper. It still has to grow a lot more, but it's a start.

HydroGarden_2b.jpg

A couple of days ago, I added a sink drain fitting to each tube so I could purge and clean the system. I also cleaned the reservoir and started fresh nutrients. The Miracle Grow water soluble plant food seems to be working well.
 

Brent Dowell

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Jealous, I need to get my garden going. Didn't start from seed and it's too late for our short growing season. Hope I can find some plants to put in the garden at some point.
 

Vaughn McMillan

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Looking good, Bill. :thumb: I've been tempted to get some plants in the ground will all the recent downtime, but seeing as how we're forecast to get down to freezing here by next Sunday/Monday (with possible snow), it's probably a good thing I've waited. I hope the temps don't hamper the plum harvest this year. I want to make some more jelly and syrup.
 

Bill Arnold

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Bobbie insisted on taking a photo of me with our hydroponic garden a couple of days ago. So, here it is:
HydroGarden_3a.JPG

Approximately five weeks in and here's an example of the root structure we're getting. This is a peppermint plant.
HydroGarden_3b.jpg

The tomato plants have a longer root mass, so I rarely take them out anymore. The only failure so far is a curly parsley plant that looked good on top to start with, but its roots were in such a tangle it was hard to separate them without inflicting further damage.

Our next step is to see what varieties of lettuce are available to work with in this garden.
 

Bill Arnold

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That root system is tremendous. Plants are looking great. What variety tomatoes are you using? Determinate or indeterminate?
David
We have cherry and grape tomato plants. Both appear to be indeterminate. I wanted to start with small fruits, but might go with a larger variety at some point.
 
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