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Hort in the Home Landscape

A blog devoted to sharing timely horticulture topics and answering the questions of gardeners and homeowners.
2014-06-19 11 56 53

Home Hydroponic Systems


This summer I've been trying out some various hydroponic setups that one could utilize in their own home or in the classroom. I initially started the project to show teachers in the hopes that they could implement a system in their classrooms. I showed these setups at the local Summer Ag Institute for teachers and a few are going to try out hydroponics this school year!

In my setup, I am trying out two different passive hydroponic systems. A passive hydroponic system relies on capillary or wick systems to deliver nutrients to the plant's roots. What this means is that nutrients, which are in a fluid solution, are drawn up and absorbed by the growing medium, a wick, or some other device, and passed on through contact to the roots.An active hydroponic system would rely on pumps and other mechanical devices to actively move the solution to the roots which requires more equipment and set up.

Today I'll feature the first setup and will post the other type of setup later this week, so stay tuned! I'll also discuss some lessons I learned throughout the process.

Passive System #1

Materials

  • Plastic container with lid (from any home store)
  • Plastic net pots (online from various sources or hydroponic stores)
  • Rockwool growing medium (online from various sources or hydroponic stores)
  • Seeds (I tested lettuce, tomato, and basil)
  • Hydroponic nutrient solution (I used CNS17 commercial nutrient solution from Botanicare)
  • Aquarium air pump (from any pet department)
  • Aquarium tubing (from any pet department)
  • Air stone (from any pet department)
  • Supplemental lighting
  • Ph test strips and EC meter

In this system the first step is to take a plastic container and cut holes in the top to hold the plastic net pots.

Seeds were started in the rockwool cubes and then the rockwool cubes are placed in the net pots. The rockwool serves as the growing medium and wicks up the nutrient solution.

The container is then filled with hydroponic nutrient solution, high enough that the rockwool cubes are suspended in the solution. A hole is also made at the top of the container in order for the plastic tubing to reach the water. On this end of the tubing the air stone is connected. The air pump is attached to the other end of the plastic tubing and serves as a way to oxygenate the water. Without this, the roots of the plant would not get enough oxygen while buried in water.

Supplemental lighting should be placed within 1-2 inches of the plants and left on for 14-16 hours a day. The nutrient solution is changed every 2 weeks and the container is cleaned out with each changing. Ideally, weekly pH and EC readings would be taken to make sure the pH and nutrient levels are within the correct range for the plants you're growing.

 

Read Part II of this blog post here:http://web.extension.illinois.edu/jsw/eb284/entry_8828/



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