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My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

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My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  sanderson on 1/28/2015, 4:14 am

Today I had a dentist appointment, so I was dressed for the public.  No jammies.  So, afterwards, I decided to check out a couple of hydroponic stores, partly because PVPind posted a possible local source for coarse vermiculite, partly because I wanted to see what unique sources of compost they may carry for beginners.  Beginners usually don't have homemade 5-source compost when they first start SFG.

It was quite a journey, another planet actually.  Shocked   I told the friendly owners upfront that I was not a buyer, but just scoping out sources of composts and coarse vermiculite for soil-less growing media.  They were really nice and showed me around.  My first impression is that there is a whole industry for hydroponic gardening and marijuana growers.  There are more brands of liquids for growth, bloom or buds, more brands of fertilizer than any big box store, and more "vitamins and minerals" than a health food store.  Second, lots of money $$$$ involved in hydroponics and MJ.  One man had jugs of liquid lined up on the counter for his crop.  Again, $$$.  Fancy $$ grow lights, heating mats*, drying racks, ventilation systems, air filters, pots, pans, trays, hoods, tubing, fancy connectors, pH meters (no compost thermometers, though).  Peat pots and cubes*, coco coir*, perlite*, rocks, grow bags.*  (*some SFGs  also use these, I know).  I was just comparing how cheap and simple it is to grow using SFG.  Wood boxes, free 3- and 5-gallon buckets from bakeries, re-purposed items, green waste and produce culls, free manure, free leaves for composting.

As far as my original objective, to scope out composts and vermiculite, I did find some products.  One place seasonally carries 4 cu ft bags of coarse vermiculite for $61.  Black strap molasses, international sources of bat guano, kelp meal, and large bags of worm castings.  Several brands of bagged growing media / soil, no worse than Kelloggs.  No mushroom compost or peat moss,though.

I am so happy I found SFG, so simple, so worry free, so weedless, so pH appropriate.

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  has55 on 1/28/2015, 4:37 am

you're right. I found the same thing when I went in. Name brands I never seen before and expensive. but they had the best price for triple wash coco coir-13.00/bale. but back to the feed store for my other items, 10.00 for 40.00 of broken bags of different composting material. got bags of leaves locally and free starbuck coffee. boy are those bags heavy.  oh yea, I was able to climb out of the sfg bed to fresh air. wait till I catch Alfred.

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  sanderson on 1/28/2015, 4:43 am

Maybe one of those fancy ventilation systems would make you more comfortable in there, plus a couple of heating mats. Very Happy

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  has55 on 1/28/2015, 10:38 pm

@sanderson wrote:Maybe one of those fancy ventilation systems would make you more comfortable in there, plus a couple of heating mats. Very Happy
rofl

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  Turan on 1/29/2015, 12:49 pm

I too felt like I fell down the rabbit hole when I wandered through a hydroponics store.

I think there is some one who posted here once about growing lettuce hydroponically for the winter months.  I am a little curious what the pros and cons were for doing that hydroponically versus in a container with MM.  I have a planter on my window sill that has been giving us lettuce since Thanksgiving, it is the container I had some peppers in this summer.  Aside from MJ I can not quite figure why one would grow hydroponically, except on an inter galactic journey Cool

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  has55 on 1/29/2015, 1:08 pm

except on an inter galactic journey 
funny post lol!

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  llama momma on 1/29/2015, 1:08 pm

@sanderson wrote:
It was quite a journey, another planet actually.  Shocked  
I am so happy I found SFG...
Me too!
And I agree, it IS another planet. There are two of those stores within 10 miles of here. 
When I asked for a catalog, it was over an inch thick!

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  sanderson on 1/29/2015, 1:53 pm

@Turan wrote:  Aside from MJ I can not quite figure why one would grow hydroponically, except on an inter galactic journey Cool
I also don't understand.  It requires electricity for the pumps, good grow lights, liquid nutrients, piping, etc., which adds up to a lot of money for a little lettuce or tomatoes.  MM in a pot near at a south window is a heck of a lot cheaper.  The hydroponic towers at Denver (??) airport costs 'gillions' of dollars for a little lettuce, herbs, peppers.

For the other 'cash' crop, the harvest value is worth the high expenses.  Little dwarf trees with small root volume containers under powerful lights.  I also picked up thick catalog! Very Happy One thing I did like was that they carried pure Neem oil and not the other pesticides found at big box stores.

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  plantoid on 1/29/2015, 3:59 pm

Over here most of our shop purchased :-  Strawberries , celery  , Iceberg lettuce, Chinese lettuce and radish are grown hydroponically under acres and acres of poly tunnel or glasshouses .
 
Tomatoes were but I don't think UK commercial growing these is now economically viable .
 You'd be amazed at what rubbish their supported /anchoring soil less growth medium is , most of it is recycled waste stuff .

 The supermarkets says , " Research says that the house wife does not want soil on her products " 

However I suspect it is to get a tasteless uniform quick growing crop /product that can be picked unripe and last four days from pick to composting by the least number of very low paid employees , thus giving a greater profit to theh supermarket chains , shareholders and growers .

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  Kelejan on 1/29/2015, 8:49 pm

plantoid, I think you are sounding a bit cynical? Very Happy

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Growing in hydroponics

Post  GloriaG on 1/29/2015, 10:06 pm

Yes - growing things hydroponically is a whole lot different that SFG!!!

I grow lettuce hydroponically year-round.  Why - it's easy, inexpensive and extremely productive.   However I realize, it's not for everyone. 

Hydroponics has a whole different set of "rules" than SFG and it takes a bit more maintenance. The real trick is to read a lot, then find a reliable contact at your local hydroponic store to guide you through the setup. (BTW - a reputable store won't be advertising marijuana equipment.)

I'm not sure why, but hydroponic people seem to LOVE snazzy setups, gadgets and testing one nutrient against another. My system is small.  So I can only grow eight heads of lettuce at a time.  It uses:

  • a Rubbermaid covered "Busboy tub" as the growing tank approx $20
  • two pvc pipes approx $4, and some fittings - maybe $15
  • a Tupperware cereal container as a pump tank about $20
  • eight growing pots that are $0.32 each  
  • one bag of growing medium called "hydroton" at $16.50 a bag on Amazon
  • a submersible fish-tank pump at $10
  • a grow light suspended on a pvc stand - just like many of us have over your seedlings  
  • one pH/tds (nutrient) tester $16

Hydroponics rely heavily on a consistent distribution of nutrients to the plant roots.  I chose to use non-organic nutrients (organic are also available) because they were easy to understand and measure.  The ones I'm using are by General Hydroponics.  In my case, two separate nutrients are used together.  The amount of each is based on the type of plants I grow.  For my setup I paid about $45 for a small bottle of both nutrients - which I estimate will last about eight years since I only need 1/2 teaspoon of each per week.

At replant time, I rinse out the tank, pots, planting medium, add fresh water, the nutrients and seeds. 

My total first year investment was about $220 for the setup, misc. pvc pipes and fittings, the light, a book, etc.  After that, annual cost has been about $5 (for seeds) plus the electric usage.

If I cut my lettuce faithfully every 60-days, I could yield as many as 40 heads of lettuce from this setup annually.

As with all gardening methods, there are pros and cons to hydroponics:  The pros include I can directly control the amount of light and nutrients, etc.  I don't have ANY insects or dirt on the leaves.  I can replant at any season - even in the 100 degree summer.  The lettuce grows very quickly and is super tender and sweet.

The cons - if the electric goes out for more than a few hours I may as well pick all my lettuce because it needs the constant water circulation around it's roots. 


Hope this helps.
Gloria


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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  sanderson on 1/30/2015, 3:18 am

Gloria, Thank you for sharing your lettuce set-up. One of the stores had a beautiful window display showing a set up for about 24 bell pepper plants. They were deep green and the peppers were flawless! Our electricity is so expensive that we added solar!

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  has55 on 1/30/2015, 10:04 am

Gloria G , thanks for sharing. wow, I must had missed the setup when I visited. I'm sure you showed  it to me, but my thoughts must had been on the ongoing project. you know me. I'm going to asked lots of questions as long as you willing to answer and time allows for it. That pictures is beautiful. Again pictures like that make me want to cry with joy in my heart.bounce

Sanderson, when you have time I would like to hear about your solar power. I don't know if it ok for this thread, but still would like to hear about it. working your way off the grid,eh?

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  plantoid on 1/30/2015, 6:04 pm

@Kelejan wrote:plantoid, I think you are sounding a bit cynical? Very Happy
Me cynical ........wash your mouth out with carbolic....  ME cynical .........never ! Laughing Laughing Laughing Wink

 I have seen some ideas for growing lettuce hydroponically  where the sprouted seeds are dropped into small cone shaped hole in a small block of Oasis ( green flower arranging block foam ) These were sprayed regularly and germinated in  humid almost lab conditions .

Once the root for developed to about 1/2 " long they were transferred into even bigger blocks set on a powered stainless steel guide system that formed a bed of  100 mtrs long by 20 mtrs wide  .
Underneath a mist sprayer ran up and down on rails a foot or so  below the guides  and sprayed a mist of nutrients on the hanging roots .
The production time for an iceberg lettuce in this set up was as little as 21 days running at 24/7 /365 .The amount of nutrients needs was vastly reduced  so were the production costs.
It followed the basic principle that all a plant needs is nutrients , water and dark moist conditions for the roots as well as light for the tops .

 Another much smaller set up I saw was similar to Gloria's methods but the nutrient was pumped over a small 12 volt high speed fan which almost atomised it ... it certainly gave a decent mist along the 22 inch long slot that the plants roots passed over .  . The plants being grown were on a Lazy Susan type table top set in plant pot holes cut in the top . This top was driven by an old record player motor & drive wheel so was not moving much more than one RPM .

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  Kelejan on 1/30/2015, 9:49 pm

@plantoid wrote:
@Kelejan wrote:plantoid, I think you are sounding a bit cynical? Very Happy
Me cynical ........wash your mouth out with carbolic....  ME cynical .........never ! Laughing Laughing Laughing Wink
 
OFF TOPIC: That took me back a bit, plantoid.  I once had my mouth washed out by carbolic when another girl told the teacher that I had been swearing and the teacher took her word for it. So, I had my mouth washed out with this horrid yellow soap and was not allowed to rinse my mouth with water.  Most unjust, as I had never sworn in my life; I hated that girl for the rest of our time together.  That was in the days when I lived in an institution and even the girls had corporal punishment; the cane, the strap, spanked bottoms etc. in front of the class.

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  sanderson on 1/30/2015, 10:12 pm

Yuck. Not a nice period of your life. You deserve that cute yellow and blue house with your gardens.

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  Kelejan on 1/30/2015, 11:50 pm

@sanderson wrote:Yuck.  Not a nice period of your life.  You deserve that cute yellow and blue house with your gardens.  
There are plenty of good memories as well to offset that time.  Looking back I only think of those times until something really reminds me.

Good times now, with all the good friends I have and now the connections I am making with my birth family due to Facebok,. email and the Internet.

That was off-topic, now let's get back on. Very Happy

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  has55 on 1/31/2015, 11:38 am

@sanderson wrote:Yuck.  Not a nice period of your life.  You deserve that cute yellow and blue house with your gardens.  
+1

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Growing in hydroponics

Post  GloriaG on 1/31/2015, 11:52 pm

Hi plantoid, 

The growing system that you described with the equipment spraying a fine mist of nutrient-rich water over the plants roots is called "aeroponics".

For what it's worth - we're such lettuce lovers, I grow lettuce four ways: hydroponically, aeropnically, in self-watering containers and in the SFG.   Each growing system has different advantages and I really try to take advantage of those differences.

SFG grows nice lettuce - but only in spring and fall.  In summer it's way too hot in Texas and in winter the growth rate is very slow.

My hydroponics system is indoors and runs year-round, but it's very small.  The photo at left shows it just starting to produce.  We usually grow Lau's Pointed Leaf or Grandpa Admire's in the hydroponics.

  
 

My aeroponic tower sprays a nutrient solution on the plant roots at regular intervals.  This tower has wheels so we can bring it onto our enclosed porch in the fall.  It has lots of space and produces all winter.  The beauty of this system is we can replant one pot at a time without disturbing the remaining plants.  However, it also struggles in summer because it's outside in the high temperatures.  In this photo is has some dill and basil along with the lettuce.

I use my self-watering containers for "salanova" heading loose leaf lettuce from Johnny's Select Seeds, because it keeps them more consistently hydrated.  That produces a cooler micro-climate around the plants and gives them a little extra time to mature.

By taking advantage of the strengths of each system I'm can produce fresh lettuce in abundance all year round.

Happy gardening,
Gloria

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  has55 on 2/1/2015, 3:41 am

ok GloriaG, I missed this one too or just forgot during my visit. great insight into these watering system. My friends has asked me about this system. thank you.

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  plantoid on 2/1/2015, 5:46 pm

Thanks for that  Gloria , can you point me to sites about the " Aeroponics " please ?  I'd like to do a lot of reading about them & see some decent ideas that I may try etc.

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Growing in hydroponics

Post  GloriaG on 2/2/2015, 7:51 pm

Hi Plantoid,

After seeing a "Tower Garden" at a local garden show I hunted around the internet to find information about this type of gardening.  I believe the "Tower Garden" is the most common commercially available unit. http://www.towergarden.com/content/towergarden/en-us.html

To make mine, I looked at numerous online videos, articles and the original, then designed mine to operate in a similar way.  These are some of the videos and articles I found about aeroponic gardening, but there are lots more out there.

http://www.insideurbangreen.org/aeroponics/  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jeve2dwOX3w
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTc6Sv2Gi3o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzbPBx9KiuM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Nfcat6jXBo

Hope this helps,
Gloria

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  PVPind on 2/3/2015, 9:00 am

Speaking of towers. Anyone ever look into Hydro-Stacker? I have heard many very good reviews.

Hydro-Stacker

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

Post  plantoid on 2/3/2015, 3:18 pm

Thanks folks ,  I've got some reading to do by the looks of it.

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Re: My 'trip' through hydroponic stores

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