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Offline RE

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Re: Hydroponics NOW!
« Reply #30 on: December 02, 2012, 01:03:00 PM »
Peter, the thread here is just AWESOME!

There is WAY more than enough for one article here already for the blog.  Even if you have a lot more (and I know you do), can you put the information so far up as Part 1?  I can then do some promotion on Greenie Blogs and bring in more people interested in building such systems themselves.

RE
Save As Many As You Can

Offline peter

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Re: Hydroponics NOW!
« Reply #31 on: December 02, 2012, 03:54:48 PM »
The contents of Page 1 of this thread are now posted as an article @ http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/blog/2012/12/02/hydroponics-now-part-1-of-a-thread-on-the-doomstead-forum/

Offline peter

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Re: Hydroponics NOW!
« Reply #32 on: December 02, 2012, 05:05:04 PM »
The contents of Page 2 of this thread are now posted as an article @ http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/blog/2012/12/02/hydroponics-now-part-2-of-a-thread-on-the-doomstead-diner-forum/

Offline pansceptic

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Re: Hydroponics NOW!
« Reply #33 on: December 02, 2012, 06:22:16 PM »
Hello Peter,
I have a question regarding the "power hog" HPS lights.  I have read that commercially available HPS lights are more efficient than LEDs will EVER be; in other words, current HPS lights exceed the maximum theoretical efficiency of LEDs.  Is the problem just that the HPS lamps are available in high wattages (75W min) and so are too point source?
Thanks, PS

Offline peter

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Re: Hydroponics NOW!
« Reply #34 on: December 02, 2012, 07:14:45 PM »
Hello Peter,
I have a question regarding the "power hog" HPS lights.  I have read that commercially available HPS lights are more efficient than LEDs will EVER be; in other words, current HPS lights exceed the maximum theoretical efficiency of LEDs.  Is the problem just that the HPS lamps are available in high wattages (75W min) and so are too point source?
Thanks, PS

Hi pansceptic...   :exp-smiley:


That HID lights output more lumens than LEDs is true but the situation is not so simple to assess. Above is a graph of how plants are sensitized to different spectrums of light. You can see they are much more sensitive to the outside limits of visible light. The human eye is much more sensitive to the middle of the spectrum (see below).


HID and conventional lights and light meters are geared to human eye sensitivity centered in the green/yellow part of the spectrum (which is also felt as heat).

Unfortunately even though HID lights put out more lumens than LEDs most of their light falls in the spectrum plants are least sensitive to (see below). Much of the power used is wasted on the plants and causes the problem of dealing with excess heat.


Below is a graph of the output of an LED grow light. They  can be tailored to only produce light in the areas plants can best utilize. They now make LEDs that allow you to easily adjust their color output to maximize it to the part of the spectrum that plants prefer for different sections of the growth cycle such as setting vegetation, blossoming and setting fruit.



The above light has 3 dimmers to adjust the intensity of the spectrum in 3 place. Like the bleeding edge in anything, the newest LEDs are very expensive. I can't afford to go there. I wait until they are trying to get rid of the old generation and almost giving them away. The cycle doesn't take long 6 months to year make a world of difference in prices.

It is something to keep in mind when building a system. They advertise the bleeding edge and you can quickly go broke following the trend closely. The differences might matter for a large volume pot grower but for growing vegetables waiting and paying 1/3 or less is far more worthwhile. I would rather buy a few more cheaper lights and get more light coverage than tweak every ounce of growth out of a plant with an expensive light.

There have been some incredibly detailed side by side grow tests done by fanatical pot growers starting plants side by side under HID and LED through their whole growth cycle. There is no doubt that at least for pot growers LEDs have the edge in growth without even considering the aspect of less power use.

There are lots of pot grower forums on the internet. They are an invaluable source of information.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2012, 07:33:41 PM by peter »

Offline peter

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Re: Hydroponics NOW!
« Reply #35 on: December 03, 2012, 04:21:37 PM »
Sorry no installment today, too busy running around doing other stuff.

I just want to mention that to me the most promising aspect of growing food hydroponically is how easy it is.

I may come off as an 'expert' grower here but I'm not. When I started this project I hadn't done any gardening in 50 years or so. I was never a knowledgeable horticulturalist. I learned as I went along. Right from the start  I was able to grow worthwhile quantities of food. I am learning more all the time and my production just keeps getting better.

Another thought.... All the empty McMansions out there might actually make sense to occupy if you use some of the space for growing things. Probably the easiest way to resolve my problem of continuous production is to set up two spaces about the size of what I have now. Once the first space gets difficult to manage because of excessive growth start up the second space. Once the second space has started producing then empty the first system to restart when the second system becomes unruly.

If you also use a bedroom for wheat and one for rice such places may begin to make sense.



Harsh pruning might resolve the problem but my intuition tells me the plants really enjoy living as an intertwined mass and I also enjoy the atmosphere. It doesn't feel as exploitative as holding a whip on the plants. 

Offline RE

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Re: Hydroponics NOW!
« Reply #36 on: December 03, 2012, 04:48:23 PM »
Sorry no installment today, too busy running around doing other stuff.

I just want to mention that to me the most promising aspect of growing food hydroponically is how easy it is.

Have you been able to collect and save seeds from one generation to plant succeeding generations? Do the seeds breed true?

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Offline peter

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Re: Hydroponics NOW!
« Reply #37 on: December 04, 2012, 01:52:38 PM »
Have you been able to collect and save seeds from one generation to plant succeeding generations? Do the seeds breed true?

RE

Yes I have been able to produce viable seeds from 2 species. I am not an expert and instead reference sources such as.

Quote
http://howtosaveseeds.com/

Vegetable Seed Saving Handbook


Why Save Seeds?

How to Grow Healthy Seeds

Saving Heirloom Seeds

How to Save Pure Seeds

Breed Your Own Varieties

Seed Isolation Distances

Seed-Specific Instructions

Harvesting Your Seeds

Storing Your Seeds

Heirloom Seed Sources

Bibliography


3 Easy Ways to Use This Handbook:

Go directly to the vegetable you're looking for:

Amaranth    Arugula    Basil    Beans    Bean Family    Beets    Beet Family    Broccoli    Broomcorn    Brussels Sprouts    Cabbage    Cabbage Family    Cantaloupe    Carrots    Carrot Family    Cauliflower    Celery    Chinese Cabbage    Chinese Mustard    Chives    Collards    Cilantro    Corn    Cotton    Cowpeas    Cucumber    Dill    Eggplant    Fava Beans    Fennel    Garlic    Garlic Chives    Gourds    Kale    Lamb's Quarters    Lettuce    Melon, Honeydew and Musk    Mustard    Okra    Onion    Parsley    Pea, Garden and Snow    Peppers    Pumpkin    Radish    Sorghum    Squash Family    Sunflower    Swiss Chard    Tomatillo    Tomatoes    Turnip    Watermelon


Read the Handbook and learn how to breed your own new vegetable varieties, reproduce existing heirloom seed varieties and save vigorous, free seeds from your garden.

You may also print any of the chapters you're interested in (the print version has most colors, navigation, etc. removed). Remember to use recyled paper!

Book "Saving Seeds", by Mike Rogers

Quote

Saving Seeds: The Gardener's Guide to Growing and Saving Vegetable and Flower Seeds
by Marc Rogers
3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  29 ratings  ·  5 reviews
Our grandparents did it. And their grandparents before them. In fact, saving seeds is as old as gardening itself. Why then is it such a neglected component of gardening today? Many say that because seeds from catologs are so cheap we don't need to save our own. Have you figured out lately what you spend on seeds each year to grow the same plant? (And doesn't it seem to be a little more each year?) Now multiply that figure by the number of years you expect to have a garden. Adds up, doesn't it? But even if it still doesn't seem like a lot, the bottom line is that it's money you just don't have to spend! Let Marc Rogers introduce you to the world of seed saving, where you will save money, strengthen your plant strains, and find a new appreciation and understanding of your garden.(less)


In order to produce viable seeds you need to have viable seeds to start with. Most seeds sold in seed catalogs are hybrids that produce well in the first generation but do not produce seeds or produce seeds that do not breed true. Finding viable seed sources is also a large topic that I am not an expert in. Search engines can help, that's where I turn.

Some Chinese flowering red cabbage I let go to seed and then harvested.


 


Most prepper sites sell a collection of most common vegetable heirloom quality seeds packaged for long term storage, usually tinned in Nitrogen, with individual seed packs also vacuum sealed. I have a couple of gallon cans of these seeds as backup and will buy new ones every 5 years or so as long as possible. These seeds should be viable for 10 years and more. I have found that even most regularly packaged seeds will last much longer than the stale dates on the packages.

Another situation you need to be aware of growing indoors is that plants that produce fruit such as beans, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, etc need to be pollinated. Outdoors insects, birds and the wind take care of this for you, indoors you need to take care of this yourself.

There are 3 different situations
1) Complete flowers that have both male and female parts which can pollinate themselves with a little bit of shaking.

2) Plants that have both female and male flowers on the same plant where you must move pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers.

3) Plants that only produce either male or female flowers which means you need to have both male and female plants in order to get fruit.

Again I'm not an expert but there are dozens of Greenhouse Management Books and Websites which can give you all the information you need.

I have one of the battery operated wands pictured below that have an off center weight in the handle that spins creating a lot of vibration at the tip.


A small water colour brush is used to transfer pollen from male to female flowers.

A very profound book which is one of my favorites.... The Secret Teachings of Plants

Quote
http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Teachings-Plants-Intelligence-Perception/dp/1591430356

Reveals the use of direct perception in understanding Nature, medicinal plants, and the healing of human disease

• Explores the techniques used by indigenous and Western peoples to learn directly from the plants themselves, including those of Henry David Thoreau, Goethe, and Masanobu Fukuoka, author of The One Straw Revolution

• Contains leading-edge information on the heart as an organ of perception

All ancient and indigenous peoples insisted their knowledge of plant medicines came from the plants themselves and not through trial-and-error experimentation. Less well known is that many Western peoples made this same assertion. There are, in fact, two modes of cognition available to all human beings--the brain-based linear and the heart-based holistic. The heart-centered mode of perception can be exceptionally accurate and detailed in its information gathering capacities if, as indigenous and ancient peoples asserted, the heart’s ability as an organ of perception is developed.

Author Stephen Harrod Buhner explores this second mode of perception in great detail through the work of numerous remarkable people, from Luther Burbank, who cultivated the majority of food plants we now take for granted, to the great German poet and scientist Goethe and his studies of the metamorphosis of plants. Buhner explores the commonalities among these individuals in their approach to learning from the plant world and outlines the specific steps involved. Readers will gain the tools necessary to gather information directly from the heart of Nature, to directly learn the medicinal uses of plants, to engage in diagnosis of disease, and to understand the soul-making process that such deep connection with the world engenders.


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/UxDjDNV3fh8?feature=player_detailpage" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/UxDjDNV3fh8?feature=player_detailpage</a>
« Last Edit: December 04, 2012, 02:17:41 PM by peter »

Offline peter

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Re: Hydroponics NOW!
« Reply #38 on: December 04, 2012, 04:16:43 PM »
I was asked for some more specific information about building an a-frame such as mine. The photo below notes much of the detail.

Click on it to see a large version on which you can read the notes.


The 3 inch sewer pipe comes in 10 ft lengths which need to be cut down meaning you end up with lots of short lengths.  Buying some couplers means you can glue the short lengths together and use them. The pipes have bells on 1 end. You want to save three pieces with bell ends to use at the drain position because the 3in to 1in adapters fit into a bell not into the pipe itself. 

The frame can be made out of pretty much anything. I used mostly old 1x6 cedar boards which needed to be used up. It will need to be rigid enough to hang your weight from if it is in tight quarters like mine. You will note the steps I built into it because you need to get up higher to reach the top section. Without steps this can be very difficult with other plants growing around it.


There are 3 identical a-frames left, center and right with cross pieces holding them together top and bottom and angle braces, with opposing angles front and back to add rigidity. The steps are mounted on 2x4s that extend across the ends.


The pipe hangers should be made out of 1/2in or thicker plywood as they take stress from the pipes and holding onto them when perched precariously on the a-frame while picking or maintaining plants. I had to change mine over after this photo was taken.

There are hangers on all 3 a-frames. Put the 2 end ones on first to get the drop right, place a pipe on these hangers, and then put the 3rd hanger under the middle of the pipe with just a little upwards pressure on the pipe.

Everything should be painted before it is assembled. I waited until it was together and painting was not fun at all. All the clear flexible tubing in the system should be painted black as nutrient sits in the pipes when it is not circulating and all the light makes a great playground for algae to grow and hangout stealing nutrient and creating blockages in the smaller top irrigation tubing used for the totes.

Notice the detail on the end caps.

The end cap is not glued to the 3in pipe. It is press fit together with a bit of teflon tape wrapped around the pipe for water seal. This allows a whole pipe to easily be taken out of the system in order to be cleaned out. I keep a spare pipe than can be put in it's place.

The 1/2 inch flexible pipe feedline goes onto a barbed 1/2 fitting that is glued into a 1/2in to 1in adaptor. The end cap is drilled to the outside diameter of the adapter which is then also glued in place.

There are 3 feeds as shown in the photo below. There are also three drains. There are 9 rows of pipe and each section of 3 has it's own feed and drain. In my system I use almost the identical setup for the 3 drains. The only difference between the feeds and drains is that the drain caps are not drilled in the center, they are drilled as close to the bottom as possible so that there is as little standing water as possible left in the pipes.

A major change I would make to the system is to use 1in pipe and fittings in the drain system instead of 1/2in, like the feeds, to lessen the chances of blockages and flooding.

The way it works; nutrient is fed into an input cap and because the pipes slope down slightly gravity causes it to flow 3 time around the whole frame until it reaches a drain cap and exits the a-frame to a sump tank to be returned to the main tank to be recycled.


In the photo above, the top row, 4th row down and 7th row down each have their own feed. (The 1in pipe that also goes to each feed location is used to introduce aeroponic mist to each set of pipes as well.)

After the 3 drains are combined into a single descending line they are fed to a single input of the 3 bottom inputs shown at the sump tote shown below.


The top line in the tote is the return line through which the pump sends the nutrient back to the main tank. You can just see an inline check valve that stops water in the vertical pipe from draining back into the sump.

The other 2 lower fitting are used to drain the 3 rows of totes which are combined into a single drain line as shown in the  photo above and a single line that comes from the table area of the system after those tubes are combined into a single drain.




I'll talk about the sump tote a bit here. You can buy these premade for about $400 but you can make your own for $75, including the pump. The most important part is the water level sensor that turns on the pump when the water level rises. You can buy sump pumps with a level sensor on them but they don't work in this instance as you need to keep the water level as low as possible to avoid flooding in the bottom tube of the a-frame. I will likely raise the a-frame about 4 inches eventually to allow for more leeway in the tote.

I built myself an inexpensive level sensor that is accurately adjustable and keeps the water level at about 3 inches. It needs to be installed at the opposite end of the tote from the inputs in the center behind the pump. Before moving the sensor sometimes water rushing into the tote created waves that caused the pump to cycle off and on rapidly. The waves don't reach behind the pump.

 

The magnetic float sensor is on the right. When the float is in the right position it magnetically attracts the contacts to close. This is a handy device I got out of china for about $4 apiece. You can turn them upside down to act as sensor that warns you when a water level gets too low. I still need to put one into the main tank to shut off the circulation pump if the level drops by 2 or 3 gallons stopping larger floods if there is a clog somewhere.

It is a low voltage device so needs a relay to turn a 110 pump off and on. first I tried mechanical relays but after a period I found they became unreliable because of arching on the 110v contacts. I then found the electronic relays shown above. They are about $10 / each.

The wiring is very simple. Probably everyone of us has a small power brick laying around from a dead phone or other small gadget. These usually range from 3to19v. The low voltage part of the relay accepts 3 to 32v so you just wire the brick into one side of the wire going to the float. the two wire from the float connect to the 2 low voltage terminals on the relay.

I used a double plastic outdoor electric wall 110v box and mounted the relay in one side with a blank cover over it and a double wall 110v jack on the other.


You need a standard 110 cable, I just cut one off a dead toaster. One side of this cable gets wired to 1 of the 110v terminals on the relay and the other gets wired to one side of the plug in the box. Just a straight wire goes between the second 110v terminal on the relay to the other side of the plug in the box. The power brick and the 110v cable get plugged into wall sockets and the sump pump is plugged into one of the sockets in the box that was built. When the relay is set the power to the pump is turned on.

Wiring it this way makes everything easy to take apart and move.


The photo above shows how the float sensor is mounted into the tote. The T at the top is fastened to the top of the tote. The T has the small ridge in the center that stops pipe from going all the way though it ground out so the vertical pipe can be accurately slid up and down to position the sensor mounted to the bottom using a 90 degree elbow and short piece of pipe. There is enough resistance in the top T to hold the pipe at whatever level you position it. The tote cover has a section cut out of it to allow the pipe to be raised above it if necessary.


A submersible pump similar to the one above would serve well. You want to add a short pipe to the intake pointing down and as close to the bottom of the tote as possible so it doesn't suck air when the level is low. It should be rated for at least as much flow as the pump in the main reservoir so it can keep up with it in the unlikely case the main pump is run at full tilt. Normally the flow rate is reduced because not much water needs to circulate. You need to check the pump specs and get one with at least 10ft of rise capability because it needs to pump up to the ceiling and top of the a-frame.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2012, 05:08:45 PM by peter »

Offline RE

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Re: Hydroponics NOW!
« Reply #39 on: December 04, 2012, 08:43:47 PM »
I was asked for some more specific information about building an a-frame such as mine. The photo below notes much of the detail.

Thanks for the detailed Pics and Explanations Peter, though not being the most mechanically adept fellow, some of it remains a bit confusing to me.  Still, this should work itself out over time in the building process.

I had another BRAINSTORM on this which I am going to pursue up here from my end, combining this with the GeoGreen project I have had shelved for a while.  Assuming we can get this Stage of the project effectively completed and producing, I think I have a way to vastly scale up the project for the typical 1/4 Acre McMansion plot of land with a decent size Backyard.  Roughly 5 times the available growing  Space/Volume.  This size based on your production would theoretically produce most of the food for the typical family of 4.  Combined with some egg laying chickens and goats for milk, butter & cheese, it would be pretty much a self sufficient Supermarket for those without access to the great Fishing & Crabbing in Ocean Falls.

More on the scale up project as we get Diner Hydroponics v2.0 closer to up and running.

RE
Save As Many As You Can

Offline peter

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Re: Hydroponics NOW!
« Reply #40 on: December 06, 2012, 12:43:12 PM »
Before returning to the hydroponics I just want to suggest one item related to eating that should be in every long term bugout kit. It might even be worth considering as an investment nearer to certainty of collapse.

I had to spend a little time this morning doing my own dental work which I have been doing for about 6 years. My teeth aren't particularly good and haven't had any professional maintenance for about 15 years. I've had crowns come off and teeth break.

For me to visit a dentist from Ocean Falls is about a minimum of $1k before any dental repair costs.

Toothaches especially long term ones aren't fun at all. The work I do myself is pretty crude compared to a dentist but it does take care of the pain, infection, and eating problems. I bought a waterpic which I fill with a diluted salt and hydrogen peroxide solution and use it to clean areas I am working on. I also have dental a number of metal dental picks for scraping and cleaning. I have been known to use small vice grips to break off sections of tooth that need to removed.

Instrumental in allowing me to fix these problems are products similar to household epoxy designed for dental work. These have a long shelf life and are not very expensive when compared to going to a dentist. There are dental suppliers who sell on the internet where these products can be purchased.


The kit shown here (handle sold separately $40) is about $75 and can do 20 repairs of several teeth at a time. They make smaller kits where the tube of epoxy has the plungers built in. They can do about 10 single repairs. These are what I bought first to see if it was feasible to do this.


I bought the separate plunger type this time as the  disposable 1 time use auto mix tubes (yellow with clear tube) have a yellow curved tip which can be added to the mixer making it much easier to inject epoxy  into broken teeth. It was kind of a screwup because there are many different sizes of epoxy tubes and plunger assemblies with no clear documentation describing which work with each different type. After spending a lot of time guessing the plunger I bought was too large for the epoxy I bought. I contacted the seller and found out they didn't sell the plunger for that size of tube. With the help of a dremel tool I was able to modify the plunger to work.



The other thing you need to watch is the type of epoxy you get. There is some that only cures when hit by UV light from a small expensive wand. You want to get self curing or dual cure type epoxy.

It is pretty awkward doing this for yourself  but it is doable. Having someone else do it for you would be much easier.

They make epoxy for many different purposes. IE cementing a crown, temporary fillings, permanent fillings. The temporary fillings usually only last for a month or two. The permanent seems to last me a couple of years on average and also works well as crown glue.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 12:45:59 PM by peter »

Offline peter

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Re: Hydroponics NOW!
« Reply #41 on: December 06, 2012, 04:35:09 PM »
The third section of my hydroponics system is the 3 rows of 3 totes used to grow things like tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, beans, peas, and vining zucchini.


Although this area is in a basement there are 2 windows that allow in a substantial amount of light. The glass is only single pane and doesn't offer much insulation when the winter winds howl in off the Ocean. You'll notice the curtains in the photo above which I close during the nights in the winter. They are really heavy curtains salvaged from the abandoned hotel. The fronts are yellow and don't reflect light well but the backs have a white heavily rubberized coating which works well for reflecting light so I hung them up inside out. I have precut sheets of 1in styrofoam salvaged out of the old school which I place between the glass and curtains when it is extremely cold.

The row next to the window is tomatoes and cucumbers.

The 2 totes in the middle row closest to the a-frame grow potatoes and the third tote in that row was an experiment to grow normal carrots that so far hasn't worked out. I did find a variety of carrots meant for container growing that grow above ground similar to the radishes in my system and size to somewhat smaller than a tennis ball. I haven't yet given up on regular carrots. You can grow multiple carrots in each 1 in pot (with most of bottom cut out) so the 1 tote should be able to grow 
10 to 15 lbs of carrots at a time if I ever work out all the details.

The inside row is peas, beans, zucchini.

All the rows sit on a slab of 1in styrofoam sandwiched between 1/4 in plywood.  This is to help insulate them from the concrete slab. All the totes have at least 2 inches of nutrient in them at all times. I'll show you details further down but all the totes are plumbed to change the nutrient level to accommodate different plants. The tomato and cucumber totes have about 8 inches of nutrient solution in them.

In the winter I want to keep the nutrient in the totes as near room temperature as possible because plants don't like cold feet. There is  one large ceiling fan at the other end of the room that pushes warm air down. I am going to raise the totes another 4 inches of the ground to let air circulate under the platforms and to improve the drainage slightly.

I am currently hanging new lights and have removed all the totes in this area to make it easier. The next set of photos will show the totes added in stages so you can see details of all that is involved.




There are 6 lights in this area 1-300w LED, 4-120w LED, 1 older dual purpose light run off an electronic ballast that accommodates either Metal Hallide or High Pressure Sodium lights.


All the LEDs are mounted on curtain rods on the ceiling allowing them easily to be moved to adjust the area they light. Light duty chains are hung from the curtain rod's rollers that allow the elevation and angel of the lights to also be changed in a broad range. I use light duty caribeener clips  which I buy by the 100 to clip all the components of the hanging system together.



The old light in the center is mounted on a light mover rail that slowly moves the light back and forth over a range of 4 feet. The roundtrip takes about 1/2 hour. This can reduce the power consumption somewhat as you can use less lights. It also changes the angle of light hitting plants as it moves to better penetrate among dense leaves. During the summer the light is replaced by the 300W LED.


During the winter I hang one of the older lights that produce a lot of heat onto the mover to help keep the room warm. Except for extremely cold and windy days that occur a few times a winter running 3 of these lights for 4 hours a day keeps the temperature acceptable. There is a large baseboard heater I can turn on if need be and also a fireplace with insert in case the power goes off. I have a generator that can provide power for circulating nutrient as needed and there is enough natural light to keep the plants alive. I could easily add a manual gasoline pump, which I will probably do to circulate the nutrient without power if needed. The circulation I use is usually about 5 to 10 minutes every 1/2 hour so doing it manually is not a fulltime job.

The timer than controls the circulation is shown below. It has 2 control knobs which allow you to adjust the on and off time independently over a broad range.

 

The photo above shows how the totes are connected to the feed and drain systems. The plumbing for the 3 totes in each row is ganged together and each row just has 1 feed and one drain line with unions on the end to easily remove a row from the system. The drains connect to the lines on the floor that have a short section of flexible tubing allowing the rows to be moved slightly as needed. The feeds hook to the maifold system at center bottom of the a-frame. Each have their own valve to control flow. There is an extra incase I decide to add a fourth row.


The totes are plumbed individually and connect together in a row using unions. This allows them to be taken out of the system individually or to be moved around as needed.

I have since realized a much simpler and less expensive way to plumb them while still retaining the ability to adjust the internal nutrient level with even more adjustability. Currently leaving the bottom valve opens means they drain at the 2 in level while closing it means they drain from the top line at 8 inches.

In the newer design, which I will show you in a photo below, which I use in the mister tote, you only need the bottom drain line. It should still have a tap on it allowing you to stop the drain  for removal of the tote. The clear tube is also important as it tells you at a glance what the nutrient level is in each tote. Several of the growing mediums I tried before settling on pea gravel floated and caused clogs.

Without the tubes you have no way of knowing if a tote is holding much more nutrient  than it should. Several times I scratched my head trying to figure where all the nutrient in the main tank was going without flooding. It is difficult to lift the tote lids when large plants are growing in them. The clear tubes let you see right away if you have a problem.

The clear tubes need to be cleaned occasionally as algae grows in them. The top of the tube just pulls out of the tote and a small test tube brush on a stiff piece of wire quickly does the job.

The photo below of the inside of the mister tote shows how installing a press fit moveable short stub of pipe with a 90 elbow and another piece of pipe allows you to adjust the water level with just one drain. rotating the pipe towards the vertical raises the input higher in the tote raising the nutrient level. The longer the last pipe is, the broader the range of adjustment. It can be adjusted to any level you desire rather than just 2 positions and it also makes the plumbing much simpler and cheaper.


Below you can see the bottom plate of the first row in position. The irrigation plumbing for the row is attached to it. The feed is different than the other two areas and uses the common top feed components used in greenhouses. The row feed hooks into the system on the right. Each row has it's own valve so I can adjust the flow rate for each row individually. The area with the valves hooks into the feed from the main tank through a single line to the valves and manifold on the wall behind the a-frame that also feeds the 2 other areas.The line is flexible with a little extra length allowing the a-frame which it is attached to to be moved around slightly.


Each tote in this row has its own shut off valve for adjusting flow and 3 feeds.
Even if a tote only has 1 plant in it I leave all 3 lines running as it helps to turn over and refresh the nutrient in the tote. The more flow the sooner the tote overflows to the drain and recycles the nutrient.

At first I used drip emitters so the small tubes dripped instead of flowed steadily while the pump is on. The emitters tended to clog regularly because of impurities in the recirculated nutrient. With the rock wool and coco fiber mediums I used originally that tended to over-saturate from too much nutrient flow; the drippers were needed. One of the great things about now using the pea gravel as the growing medium is that it won't saturate with nutrient no mater how much you feed it. Once the plant roots get long enough to reach the nutrient in the bottom tote you don't even need to worry about the gravel drying out.

The roots on the young plants coming out of the seeding area are generally 4 to 6 inches long so they cannot initially reach the nutrient in the bottom of the totes and were totally reliant on the irrigation system. This was a problem because even short periods without nutrient at a young stage will adversely affect the whole plants life. I tried a number of methods of resolving this including wicks. What I finally settled on which works well is shown below.


Even short roots can quickly reach the containers fastened to the bottom of the mesh pots. The 250ml containers quickly fill up with nutrient and spill over into the tote. The roots do the same as they develop. When the mass gets tool large for the container they spill over the side. They are still fed from the container while they drop to the nutrient below in the tote.

Below you see the first row and it's drain plumbing in place. It all screws together easily with unions.


I have some new neighbors for the night. A Navy ship that came in just at dusk. Can't tell if it's Canadian or American. Must be blowing outside. That's usually the case when ships come in to spend the night.


I'll take this as an opportunity to stop and have supper.



« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 05:07:19 PM by peter »

Offline RE

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Re: Hydroponics NOW!
« Reply #42 on: December 06, 2012, 04:42:57 PM »
Before returning to the hydroponics I just want to suggest one item related to eating that should be in every long term bugout kit. It might even be worth considering as an investment nearer to certainty of collapse.

I had to spend a little time this morning doing my own dental work which I have been doing for about 6 years. My teeth aren't particularly good and haven't had any professional maintenance for about 15 years. I've had crowns come off and teeth break.

For me to visit a dentist from Ocean Falls is about a minimum of $1k before any dental repair costs.

Maybe we need to start a DIY Dentistry thread?  :icon_mrgreen:

You know, if you get one of those Campbell-Hausfield compressors you could hook it to a Dental Drill you can pick up cheap from China.

http://www.alibaba.com/showroom/dental-drill.html

You'll have to research the medicinal herbs to grow that will produce a good numbing agent, and stock up on hypodermic needles also.

I think Agelbert mentioned getting a good set of Tooth Extraction tools will be an invaluable asset after TSHTF.



Of course, I don't have to worry about that since the Excellent Mexican Dental Adventure.  :icon_mrgreen:  Making DIY Dentures though I think will take some practice.

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Offline Petty Tyrant

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Re: Hydroponics NOW!
« Reply #43 on: December 06, 2012, 07:14:34 PM »
"You'll have to research the medicinal herbs to grow that will produce a good numbing agent, and stock up on hypodermic needles also."


That would be cloves, those little black ones about half inch long.

This is why the military give so much  importance to teeth in recruiting. Bad teeth could lead to toothache and migraine out in bush requiring an evac for the naughty boy who didnt brush his teeth.

Peter surely you can find some way of seeing a dentist, even if it means going to mexico, you should not have to fix your own teeth.
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Offline luciddreams

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Re: Hydroponics NOW!
« Reply #44 on: December 07, 2012, 09:20:27 AM »
I've got crappy teeth as well.  In fact, this is my largest concern for tshtf scenario.  I have a mouth full of fillings and crowns.  Despite my best efforts to keep up, my teeth are just genetically bad. 

Dude, the fact that you are doing your own dental work makes you one bad ass mofo imo.  I wonder what you think about aquaponics.  Seems adding fish and other aquatic creatures for cleaning the system and fertilization just adds to the self reliance.  Also, isn't it feasible to set up a system using natural sun light and gravity fed water circulation to remove the need for electricity?  Not to demean the work you have done, because it's nothing short of amazing, but I'm always looking to maximize efficiency. 

 

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