Introduction: Quick NFT Hydroponic System
While I was back in France, far from my hydroponic setups (I live in Hong Kong), I couldn't resist to build another setup for next year. I'll have to rely on my inlaws to start the seedlings, but the idea is to get tomatoes & herbs for next summer.I'll have to build the sensors for my next trip in February so I'll be able to remote monitor the installation.
This is a quick system, if you have an afternoon, you can finish it, it you have all the parts and simple tools (electric drill, saw, pipe cutter, cutter, sand paper, etc.)
Step 1: The Grow Pipe
First we'll start with a standard 100mm gutter water chute pipe. They are quite easy to find in 4m length or pre-cut. Get the Elbow that fits the 100mm. In France, they are not 90° but 87° so when you make a U with two, the long pipes are not parallel.
I took one Male-Female, and one Female-Female elbow.
- 2 x 100mm rain water pipe, 1m long,
- 2 x End caps (punch down connections,
- 1 x Male Female 87° Elbow,
- 1 x Female Female 87° Elbow,
- PVC Glue.
Take 2 mn to check the type of PVC glue you are buying. While in Hong Kong, they are all Hot Weather grade, in France, 80% of them are cool temperature grade... So when it's hot, they dry super fast.
Step 2: End Caps
The end caps I found are ready to connect 32 & 40mm pipe by just punching the pre-cut hole. It is quite convenient so you don't have to drill or loose length with adapters & reductions.
Step 3: Let's Glue
Just glue the end caps on the 1 meter pipes. I have one intake positioned on top of the pipe, while, the water exit is on the lower part of the pipe.
Step 4: More Piping
To keep the grow pipe in place on the water tank, I found these glue-on reductions (32mm). I will not glue them, but just clip the 100m in the brace.You can see the Female-Female Elbow, and the Male-Female one.
Step 5: Water Inlet
The trick here is to use off the shelf items from any constructions/DIY shop. You are looking for opaque flexible pipe, so I found one to connect tap to the washing machine. They are threaded and come with the seals, so it's quite convenient. I also grabbed a flex to water pipe adapter and a 32mm pipe to 1/2" PVC connector.
The male connector of the washing machine hose will go on the Water Tank side and connect the flex pipe.
The female side will connect to the 32mm pipe adapter. On this side, I had to use a short 32mm PVC pipe glued inside the 100m end cap.
- Washing Machine connection kit
- 32mm to threaded adapter (that fits your washing machine kit end)
- hose adapter (that also fit your washing machine kit end)
Step 6: The Water Tank
At the same DIY/Construction shop I found a super deal for 3 totes. They are 75l and what you need is a complete opaque one. Don't get any clear clothe storing ones...
Mine comes with wheels, but once loaded with the water, they'll probably crash...
- 1 Big opaque tote (50-75l) big enough to support your grow pipes
Step 7: The Pump
The only thing that I had to order online is a little pump. Some DIY shops have a fountain section, and you might find one that would do the job (and they are made for outdoor use).
This is the minimal power I found on Amazon, and it's tiny.
You can be picky and go for the lower power consumption. The needed lift is not big (40cm) so you'll have many choices.
- 50cm of clear aquarium hose (10-12mm)
- 1 mini aquarium pump (40cm lift)
Step 8: Connecting the Water Inlet
To connect the pump, drill the tote on the top of the tote. The hole has to be the same size as the male end of the washing machine connection kit. Grab a seal that fits, and screw the hose adapter.
You can then connect the clear tube (10-12mm) on the hose adapter, and plug the pump on the other end.
Place the power cord where the cover will still lock.
Step 9: Get the Cover Ready to Accept the Grow Pipe
As we want our tank to support the grow tube, place it on top of the cover and mark down where the braces would sit.
Then drill a 32-36mm hole for each of the 4 braces.
Here, I took the option of drilling 32mm, and use 32mm legs.If you drill 36mm, the pipe will go inside and then you can glue it, if you drill 32, then use a piece of 32mm pipe as leg to sit on the bottom of the tote.
- 4 x 100mm PVC brackets or gutter connections.
Here, I took the option of drilling 32mm, and use 32mm legs.Here, I took the option of drilling 32mm, and use 32mm legs.
Step 11: Water Return
As you remember, we have 3 holes in the end caps, two at the lower part, one at the top.For the water return, we'll use one of the bottom one. If it's a NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) system, you don't want a lot of water in the pipe... If you want to convert it to a DWC (Deep Water Culture), then use the top hole for the exit as well.
- 50cm of 32mm PVC tube
- 1 x Female Female 87° elbow
- 1 x Male Female 87° elbow
For this one you'll have to adjust the small part of 32mm pipe in between your elbows to match the distance between the grow pipe and the return hole in the tote.
First drill the 32mm hole in the tote, then glue one elbow, and position the exit elbow.
Step 12: Put Everything Together
The system is almost finished once you get the exhaust pipe in place.
You can also use that setup with the grow pipe fixed on a wall, then your In & Out would need to be repositioned.
Step 13: One More Step Before the Final One
Connect everything and fill some water in the tank (about 10cm) and give a try. Check your connections and seals and it should not leak... It is better to reglue pipes and check for leaks now than after drilling the grow site holes.
Step 14: Finally: the Grow Site Holes
Finally, you can drill he hole for your net pots. Now it is really up to you and what you want to grow.
Vines or bushes like tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis would need more space between roots. Herbs and Lettuce can accommodate a higher density.
Step 15: Net Pots
So just order the net pots first or grab some at the local gardening shop and draw a line a the top of your tube and calculate your spacing.
I like my net pots black (no light no algae) and now some of them have a carved surrounding to accommodate a circular grow tube.