What are hydroponics?
Well quite simply, this is a method of growing plants with out soil, the plants roots are in direct contact with the nutrient solution. (nutrient minerals dissolved in water)
At their essential basic hydroponic systems are just another method by which to grow plants, but unlike the soil out doors, this method allows you to control and maximise the requirements of life in order to maximise end result.
How you maximise the conditions and requirements of the plants (food, pest and disease control) dictates whether you plants are truely organic or not. For the purpose of this instructable (and any thing I have my hands in !) it will be totally organic!
Step 1: Outline - My Passive Gravity fed system
All references to "fig...." refer to the individual photos on below each page(each is labelled in the yellow squares)
In order for a plant to grow ( just like us..) it has 5 basic needs;
a.) Water supply (we supply)
b.) Food supply ( dissolved nutrient solution)
c) Light for photosynthesis ( Mr sun)
d) Temperature management (seasons + extension being in glass house)
e) Gas exchange ( Mrs nature)
.All instructions are based on my materials locally available - you will need to adapt them to yours.
You will need;
- Rectangle section hydroponic tray tube with end caps ( you can get it pre drilled too)
-(or standard guttering with end caps)
-Rubber grommets to suit tubing used 13mm & 4mm
- a grommet, and tap to match the size of pipe you wish to use for the drain pipe( 30cm of pipe) (hardware - irrigation supplies)(the pipe i use being 13mm irrigation hose)
- '''Autopot Smart valve Mk 11''' ( thanks to: Clive who read this instructable and found this far more reasonable supplier of smart valves!)
- 4mm tubing (Bunnings hardware irrigation supplies)
- 4mm tap (Bunnings hardware irrigation supplies or aquarium shop)
- 20 Lt plastic Jerry can
- Materials and construction tools to make a light prove box over Jerry (timber, screws, saw, drill, screwdriver in my case)
- Nutrient concentrate + tap I buy mine in 5 litre containers.(fit with a tap and decant in to one litre bottles for ease of us.)
- Hydroponic tray tube (100 x 75) you can also get tube tray with holes ready cut or standard house gutter.
- Plastic gutter PVC solvent cement
-Hack saw / power saw
- Drill press ( ideal) or power drill
- Drill bits
- Drill saw (or method for drilling out circles of plastic)
- Inner tube band
- Gib board plastic corner lengths
- Self taping screws - four per tray
- Builders long level
- EC meter(Conductivity/TDS)
-Wooden wedges - 30 - 60 degree ( 4x per tray)
- Growing media - expanded clay balls
- Weight (quarter a brick )