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CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread

 
Programmer
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User ID: 1105850
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03/26/2011 01:36 PM
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CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread
Mission: To grow truly clean, holistic, non-gmo heirloom produce at a (fast) sustainable rate to feed 2 adults. Please post if you are familiar with growing food hydroponically and can contribute some lessons learned.

Our setup:

Type: 48 Hydrofarm Waterfarm units (6 kits) [link to www.hydrofarm.com]
Medium: Hydroton pellets [link to www.hydrofarm.com]
Water: Reverse Osmosis with UV lamp, 0-1 PPM TDS with PH-Up / PH-Down powder as needed.
Nutrients: FloraGrow, FloraMicro, FloraBloom [link to www.hydrofarm.com]

Synopsis: We've got the system assembled and in place, hydroton added, etc. The first vegetables we're going to try are heirloom Romaine lettuce, heirloom cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes. From my research it appears that we will need to learn the method for starting from seed (eventually to use a propagation station for cuttings eliminating the seed starting process). We had a dozen rockwool cubes to begin, so we used 4 cubes for each type of vegetable to get started. No nutrients yet have been added, and the cubes are in a tray getting adequate sunlight and being fed RO water only. Roots are appearing from the cubes as expected and the starts seem healthy. Are rockwool cubes the best way to introduce seedlings to our growing medium?

Questions:
1. What PH should we maintain? I know the PH has a lot to do with the plants ability to metabolize the nutrients, but don't know what good ranges are for things like lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers.

2. How much nutrients to start with (per gallon of water) and what type? I am confused as to whether we use a tsp of each (micro, grow, bloom) mixed together, or do we use one type of nutrient solution exclusively for each growth phase? The packaging is not very clear as to this, and only shows a table of all three types of nutrients and the amounts used for various stages of growth.

3. I've heard algae can be a problem. How do we address algae growth?

4. Watering times? I've read that some people setup a timer to activate the pump every 15 minutes, for a 5 minute duration. Others say they run theirs constantly.

Are you a Hydroponic gardener? Can you share some wisdom so we don't fail miserably?
eagleman

User ID: 1315221
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03/26/2011 01:43 PM
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Re: CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread
bump
Anonymous Coward
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03/26/2011 06:48 PM
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Re: CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread
With all the research I have put into this topic, I have determined that it is best to go with casting tea for your nutrients, get some worms and you have a closed loop system.
Anonymous Coward
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03/26/2011 06:49 PM
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Re: CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread
With all the research I have put into this topic, I have determined that it is best to go with casting tea for your nutrients, get some worms and you have a closed loop system.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 1299969


As an alternative: get some tilapia or silver perch and make an aquaculture program.
Anonymous Coward
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03/26/2011 06:58 PM
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Re: CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread
Aquaponics is the way to go.

[link to www.icmag.com]
Anonymous Coward
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03/26/2011 08:18 PM
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Re: CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread
I'm glad to see this topic.

It looks like greenhouses and hydroponics are going to be the way to go for gardening now.

I've got a lot to figure out.
Programmer  (OP)

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03/27/2011 12:14 PM
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Re: CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread
For those of you whom plan to use Hydroton pellets for a growing medium in your setup: pre-wash the pellets! We just learned the hard way... after filling the units with RO water we noticed the water level sight-tube appeared to be very "muddy".

It'd be a good idea to get a big plastic garbage can and drill some drain holes in the bottom, add your new pellets and using a garden hose, agitate as necessary until clean. Once you're done, save the garbage can so you can sanitize the pellets periodically, especially if a disease condition arises.
Programmer  (OP)

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03/28/2011 06:29 PM
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Re: CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread
I'm going to answer my own questions here to hopefully help others.

Q: How much nutrients to start with (per gallon of water) and what type? I am confused as to whether we use a tsp of each (micro, grow, bloom) mixed together, or do we use one type of nutrient solution exclusively for each growth phase?

A: When using GH Flora 3-part nutrients, one should use all three types, mixed into the water separately, based on the table provided on the bottle. For seedling tomato plants this means ~1/4 tsp. of each nutrient per gallon of water. After mixing, measure the PPM to be sure that you're within acceptable range. This means ~440 PPM TDS, but since we're using 0 PPM reverse osmosis water, the actual reading was 330 PPM.

Last Edited by Programmer on 03/28/2011 06:41 PM
Programmer  (OP)

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03/30/2011 02:07 PM
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Re: CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread
Q: What PH should we maintain? I know the PH has a lot to do with the plants ability to metabolize the nutrients.

A: The ideal pH range for most hydroponic crops is between 5.5 and 6.5. This is measured after the nutrients are added to your water. When pH falls below this range many of the macro elements (N, P, K, etc) have less availability, and absorption of the micro nutrients can reach toxic levels. Soil based gardens need a bit higher pH than hydroponic.
Anonymous Coward
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04/26/2011 09:14 AM
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Re: CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread
I'm going to answer my own questions here to hopefully help others.

Q: How much nutrients to start with (per gallon of water) and what type? I am confused as to whether we use a tsp of each (micro, grow, bloom) mixed together, or do we use one type of nutrient solution exclusively for each growth phase?

A: When using GH Flora 3-part nutrients, one should use all three types, mixed into the water separately, based on the table provided on the bottle. For seedling tomato plants this means ~1/4 tsp. of each nutrient per gallon of water. After mixing, measure the PPM to be sure that you're within acceptable range. This means ~440 PPM TDS, but since we're using 0 PPM reverse osmosis water, the actual reading was 330 PPM.
 Quoting: Programmer


and after the SHTF where are you going to get all the nutrients and assorted crap to make hydro work?
TKC

User ID: 1309109
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04/26/2011 09:21 AM

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Re: CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread
We are just starting this now. I have a green house and have used non GMO seeds to start plants, we are going to put a hydroponics system in our green house as we are using only RO water. Going to start with lettuce. If I have questions I will know where to come now and ask. Thanks for all the tips
TKC

User ID: 1309109
United States
04/26/2011 09:27 AM

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Re: CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread
One other thing. We raised chicks on RO water and organic food and have a place for them in the green house as well, will need to have some non radiated eggs..and if we have to which Im not planning to but chicken meat.
Anonymous Coward
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04/28/2011 07:08 PM
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Re: CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread
Q: What PH should we maintain? I know the PH has a lot to do with the plants ability to metabolize the nutrients.

A: The ideal pH range for most hydroponic crops is between 5.5 and 6.5. This is measured after the nutrients are added to your water. When pH falls below this range many of the macro elements (N, P, K, etc) have less availability, and absorption of the micro nutrients can reach toxic levels. Soil based gardens need a bit higher pH than hydroponic.
 Quoting: Programmer


For most veggie crops 6.0 to 6.8 is ideal with about 6.4 or 6.5 as the sweet spot.
Anything below 6.0 will equal root rot in most plants. Some more acidic plants like blueberries will do well at 5.5.
Anonymous Coward
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04/28/2011 07:10 PM
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Re: CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread
I'm going to answer my own questions here to hopefully help others.

Q: How much nutrients to start with (per gallon of water) and what type? I am confused as to whether we use a tsp of each (micro, grow, bloom) mixed together, or do we use one type of nutrient solution exclusively for each growth phase?

A: When using GH Flora 3-part nutrients, one should use all three types, mixed into the water separately, based on the table provided on the bottle. For seedling tomato plants this means ~1/4 tsp. of each nutrient per gallon of water. After mixing, measure the PPM to be sure that you're within acceptable range. This means ~440 PPM TDS, but since we're using 0 PPM reverse osmosis water, the actual reading was 330 PPM.
 Quoting: Programmer


the third part of your nutrient is for blooming and fruiting only. So... you only need to use main nutrients, and calcium for lettuce. For flowering plants, you switch from the main nutrients to the blooming and fruiting stage.

lettuce and other greens should read about 800ppm and fruting plants should read 1000 to 1200 ppm depending on the plant.
Anonymous Coward
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04/28/2011 07:12 PM
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Re: CLEAN FOOD: The Hydroponic Gardening Thread
For algae, just don't let lighting into your reservoir and don't let it his the top of your medium. No light= no algae growth period.





GLP