Tuesday, November 4, 2014

New Vertical System

Old system is gone to clear space for junk in the garage. Built a vertical design with the idea that it takes less floor space. In fact, a vertical tower provides a rate of 6 cups/ square feet, while the old system only 1.3cups/square feet. That is 5 times better space usage.
I built two towers with 28 cups each, out of square profile PVC posts and 45 degrees 1-1/4" PVC elbows.
Each tower rotates on its axis by an AC synchronous motor, about 6 rpm at motor shaft to optimize light distribution.
Pivot design differ in each tower. First tower I used a central pivot with a simple axle and nylon bushing. Second tower built uses a ball bearing at bottom, known as "Lazy Susan". Second design requires better vertical alignment for proper operation, so I would stick with the bushing design for its simplicity.
Pump flow is limited due to height it needs to deliver, but not much is needed for providing enough nutrients. I'm using one pump with a splitter but because the towers are not level (for some reason I set the frst tower lower) and have issues to equalize flow to each tower. I would use one pump per tower to avoid this issue, even with leveled towers.
Nutrient reservoir is the same I saved from previous system, about 25gals. I'm still using flora grow, micro and bloom mix. I also add some CalMag to supplement extra Calcium and Magnesium.
Here are some photos.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Farm update

Things are looking pretty good, getting very close to start harvesting Lettuce and Arugura. I think I will shart harvesting the older bigger leaves and leave the plant to produce more before I replace i with a brand new seedling.
Here's a 14day time-lapse video and few pics.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Update, time-lapse video

Just a quick update, things got a little out of control when I decided to replace the 2 part nutrient I was using with what I thought to be a 1 part nutrient, FloraGro. Big mistake, several plants started to turn yellow and further investigation was pointing to lack of nitrogen.
Then found the FloraGro is a 3 part nutrient which required two other parts, FloraMicro and FloraBloom to provide correct nutrients N-P-K as well as micro nutrients like Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and several others.
I think the issue was reverted in time and plants seems to be moving on from this scary event, here's a 10 day time lapse, one photo/day.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Follow up on new system

Here's a follow up on my system. Most plants are doing pretty well, specially arugula. Roots on these reach over 8in and are growing fast. Lettuce now started to take of as well. I think things will move exponentially from now on. I have several seedlings waiting in line, arugula, lettuce and spinach. I also purchased new seeds for these from a different source to see if will make any improvement to next cycle.
I now lowered the lights to 21in over the plants, 100% power.

Here are few pics:

Added a small fan to circulate air in the system

Added this modified water cooler with a temperature controller to cool the nutrient solution. I was getting over 75F and now it stays under 72F.

Here's the reservoir showing the large black pipe for the system and the smaller vinyl tubing which circulates through the cooler





Wednesday, September 25, 2013

First seedlings into the NFT system

I'm waiting the plants to develop roots before transfer to the NFT system but decided to do a test with one lettuce and one basil seedling as to see if it would grow faster than what was left in the nursery box. Activated only one channel of the NFT system and have these with around 500ppm, water temp is about 70F, HPS light at 50% about 3ft high. I also added two sets of green onions from the grocery store. These are hydroponic grown and had a nice amount of roots still attached.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

First post, starting hydroponic for vegetables

Just getting starting on my new challenge, growing vegetable indoors with hydroponic technique.
From the different methods of hydroponics I have seen online, the NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) seems the most interesting to me, not sure why, but decided to start with this one and see what happens.
Got the following equipment so far:
-4x4ft NFT hydroponic tray system, built from vinyl water downspout. This system comprises of 6 4ft long trays with 7 holes each, totaling 42 growing spots.
-Water pump, aquarium air pump and stone, 32 gal reservoir and distribution hoses.
-600W MH/HPS light system with ballast, socket, reflector,  and timer from Apollo. Got this from Amazon, link here for lest than $140
-Kit for starting seeds with media, trays and canopy
-Liquinox Start, Vitamin B1 Transplant solution for improving root development
-BluMoon two parts hydroponic nutrient solution (1-0-0 + 0-1-3).

-Reflecting film to confine light within a 4x4x4ft space

I have started the seeds of Lettuce, Spinach, Basil, Arugula and Watercress and I'm amazed how fast some of these take off.
Lettuce and Arugula takes usually a day or two to sprout. Spinach is the slowest with few plant after 2 weeks and Watercress and Basil in between.
I'm right now waiting the plants to develop enough roots to move it to the NFT system, here's how my setup is looking so far.