I have not published in a while as I have been designing new hyroponic systems.
This instructable is not how to build the systems but to show what can be done with a little bit of insight and a lot of help from above.
I am a huge fan of aquaponics, but due to massive fish losses through load shedding (South Africa), I deceided to try my hand at pure hydroponics.
In the steps that follow are some ideas that have proven workable and efficient and have shown exceptional plant production.
I hope that this will inspire others to think out of the box and enjoy the friuts, (in this case veggies and herbs), of your labour.
Step 1: Small NFT and Bell Siphon Systems
The nutrient flow technique I began with was a flat system rather than vertical, drip or a pipe system.
In the flat system measuring approx 1.4m long and 0.6m wide I could accomidate up to 100 plants.
After having done this I began a small bell siphon system next to the NFT system using the same nutrient sump container and pump.
The growth attained was incredible and from the third picture you can witness the result after 2 months of growth.
Step 2: Larger Flat NFT System
Having been successful with the smalll system, it was deceided to go a little bigger.
We built a step down frame from 25 x 25mm square tubing.
Each frame could accommidate 6 of the flat NFT trays, three trays in 2 rows.
Each row having it's own sump container and pump.
This again proved very successful.
25 Lettuce plants, 40 spinach plants, 25 celery plants and about 170 spring onions were grown in 6 trays.
Step 3: 3 Systems in 1, Almost Vertical Wall, Larger Bell Siphon and Floating Raft
After having huge success with the Flat NFT system I thought about trying a larger bell siphon sustem.
This was made in the form of a shallow pond. It was filled with stone and a 440 litre container as the sump.
As the setup was against a wall I made an almost vertical garden of 1.5 metres high by 2.5 metres wide.
The same pot holder trays were used to make up the vertical wall that were used in one of my other instructables GLAIRS
To create an area for the plant roots to attach too, I used coir fibre with hessian as a backing. I covered the back with 200 micron plastic to stop the nutrient solution from escaping and to protect the wall.
50mm Diameter PVC pipe was used to make the frame.
The nutrient solution is pumped to the top of the vertical wall and trickles down into the bell siphon system, thus a much larger area was created for growing plants.
As the sump container had a large surface area I floated a GLAIRS on it.
In picture I have beetroot growing only on the surface of the nutrient solution in the GLAIRS.
Step 4: Double Sided Vertical Hanging Garden
Having got all the previously mentioned systems working and producing, the time had come to experiment with insite.
It was time to make a true verticlal garden with a twist.
A double sided vertical hanging hydroponic garden.
Using the pot holder trays attached back to back with a layer of coir, a middle layer of hessian and another layer of coir in-between them the double sided vertical garden began to take shape.
Four sections of pot holder trays were attached giving a length of 2 metres and a vertical height of 0.5 metre's
Total surface area of 2 square metres per row back to back
I encased a corner of my patio with 2 rows one on each side.
I used a submersible pump to pump the nutrient through a spray bar at the top of the trays and an old gutter beneath the trays to catch the water below and deliver it back to the nutrient sump.
The hessian stays wet and the coir allows for the planting of plants in the holes of the pot holder tray, thus giving the plants access to the nutrient they need for growth.
I planted begonia's on the inside (shade loving) and thyme, oregano and cranberry's on the outside (sun loving).
The pictures show the result.
This system has only been running for 5 days and already the begonia's are flowering and the herbs growing.
The added benifit of this technique is that as the wind blows through the trays it cools down. My patio as a result is about 9 degrees centigrade cooler than ambient temp.
Step 5: Expriment
As long as plants have the necessary nutrients, a place to grow and the required lighting, they will grow
Have fun out there and remember the hydroponic systems can be as simple or as complicated as you like, as long as the plants grow you have succeeded.
EXPERIMENT and play
Regards and good growing to all