Interested in opinions on hydroponics

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by fiona, Mar 5, 2011.

  1. fiona

    fiona Junior Member

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    Hi all

    I haven't posted here for quite a long time, but redoing my garden at the moment and trying out some new ideas.

    I am trying to get more out of the space I have, and also to compete with all the bush turkeys. I also have a lot less time then I use to have to try and have a productive garden. I've only ever grown veggies in the ground and organically before, although since being in this house, they haven't been very productive. Could have been my lack of attention to it, although a neighbour keeps telling me the ground is dreadful here. I did just dig up the front yard that I've been adding compost and mulch to for the past three yrs, and the soil looks pretty good to me!

    Anyway, I'm getting off track. At the moment we get through about a lettuce a day along with other greens, so I'm wanting to increase my growing space for greens and make it fairly easy. I'm happy to just pick outside leaves for "cut and come again" although good to be able to pull a whole lettuce sometimes.

    So I've been wondering about doing some of it hydroponically - in pipes with holes attached to all our railings. I'm not asking about the method - unless anyone has great permaculture/organic suggestions. Just that I've always avoided hydroponics because of the need to purchase the nutrient, and the fact that it isn't a "natural" product. But now I'm thinking that it might be the easiest way to grow the greens. It would also make good use of our space (just on a house block) so I can use the veg garden areas for other veg (and some greens).

    Aquaponics isn't an option as we're 99% vegan (with the 1% being cheese for the kids rather then meat/fish).

    So is there an alternative to the nutrients? Or do I just accept the use of them, knowing that I wont be adding chemical sprays for insect control and that it is a great use of space (and time!)? I'm interested in any opinions on hydroponics.

    Fiona
     
  2. Yukkuri_Kame

    Yukkuri_Kame Junior Member

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    There are animals in your system - you! There are some people experimenting with peeponics. Yes, peeponics.
     
  3. Terra

    Terra Moderator

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    Dont dismiss aquaponics entirely you dont have to eat the fish , a pond with pet goldfish could be used.
    Have you considered wicking beds to grow your greens in .
    To combat the crawling insects i grow a lot in pots on benches with the legs standing in water containers with a dash of detergent .
     
  4. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    I don't really know anything about it but some years ago my father and his then girlfriend had a big kit and grew tons upon tons of tomatos. It was hilarious to hear about it. My neighbour grows lettuces and such commercially. Even he doesn't use sprays. But because of our climate he gets a lot of bugs.

    I don't really know what it is you want to know. Are you just asking if there are alternatives to the nutrients. I wonder if you could experiment with making weed teas? You need to make a lot of them. And use the weed teas as your nutrient but it would have to be a good tea.

    The thing with hydroponics though is that you need to have a pump going the whole time don't you. to keep the liquids circulating.
     
  5. fiona

    fiona Junior Member

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    Yes, I think the main thing that I'm wondering is if there is an alternative to the purchased, packaged nutrients. I'm wondering if anyone has experimented with seaweed, or worm wee or compost tea or something like that. And is there a way to test any potential alternative nutrient (without fancy equipment) for levels of various nutrients.

    The set up I'm using is very simple - no electricity, no lights or things like that, just changing the water weekly (and pouring it onto plants that are in the garden so it isn't wasted). It is outdoors in the sunshine.

    So really, my main issue is the nutrients. Would be great to them to start somewhere IN the "system" rather then being bought and brought in.

    Thanks for the comments so far.

    Fiona
     
  6. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    What about growing UP? No I don't mean you... I mean your plants! If you need more space think about vertical growing systems. Stacking pots, hanging pots from trellises, using climbers and so on. You might be able to get a lot more in that way.
     
  7. fiona

    fiona Junior Member

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    Yes, growing up is a great suggestion and something that I'm already planning. I am hoping to hang some plants over the area that I have the hydro lettuce to make use of that air space too, and I can even hang some growing bags between rows of the lettuce.

    Thanks.

    My thoughts re hydroponics is mostly just to find a super easy way to grow the amount of lettuce/greens that we use - and to do it super-easily.

    I've got the first couple of rows in, so I'll see how they grow - if its much quicker/easier (and surer results) then in the ground. I will be using ground for lots of stuff too.

    If they go well, I'll set up some more and then I'll trial some with seaweed/worm wee to compare. If that were possible, it would be perfect, as I'm not using any electricity or other resources apart from water, and I can reuse the water with the nutrients on plants in the garden.

    Fiona
     
  8. fiona

    fiona Junior Member

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    Actually, just remembered seeing some hydroponic plants along a front railing of a house in a permaculture book - and tracked it down to Jenny Allen's "Smart Permaculture Design". It's part of her zone 1 plantings - with things that are picked regularly. There is only about one paragraph on it that I can find though - just saying that it is their "natural hydroponic system". Can't find what she means by that though!
     
  9. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Fiona, when you get this worked out, can you come back and tell us what you've done please.
     
  10. SueUSA

    SueUSA Junior Member

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    Terra is right, you don't have to eat the fish, just use them as the source of nutrients.

    Why don't you go over to the Backyard Aquaponics site and post the question of how you would run the operation if you didn't harvest the fish?
    https://backyardaquaponics.com/forum/index.php

    Sue
     
  11. Dreamie

    Dreamie Junior Member

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    You have a lot of options.

    Hydroponics as you are looking into. Wicking beds as has been proposed or a couple of additional options.

    Aquaponics (as suggested) with gold fish, snails, Vermiponics with worms or add both together and make a Microponics system. You could produce a large amount of your own fish food via duckweed and worms to cut down on the cost of running the system.

    As you don’t eat meat all your waste would be ideal to feed to the worms you could really start to produce a large amount of nutrients and in turn food. You would only need a single pump for each system that could easily be run on solar with a mains backup.

    The Aqua system will need a bit more energy than the vermi system but adding both together should require no more energy than only the aqua system alone and give you a much greater output.

    Setting up vertical grow beds is fairly easy with some PVC pipe etc. Just make a lattice structure and drill holes for each of the plants. You could also add a few wicking beds etc for perennial plants fed from the microponics system.
     
  12. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    I knew a guy who grew strawberries quite successfully on comfrey tea in a hydroponic set up. They do have a broad range of nutrients but I wonder at other important relationships such as fungi and biota - the same question as for chemical Hydroponics but more enviro friendly.
     
  13. fiona

    fiona Junior Member

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    All of my googling seems to come up with worm wee or worm castings tea as a starting point. There are various things added - bat guarno, manures, seaweed extract, etc, and even sugar to feed the bacteria when it is left to brew for a few days. On of the issues seems to be glogging of pipes or the stuff going "off" - bad bacteria making it all yuck. I don't think these would be an issue for me, as I will be draining the system each week (to put onto garden plants), flushing out and replacing with fresh water and nutrient - so no pipes/pumps to block up and no water with nutrient hanging around for too long.

    Having said that, I was hoping to keep things really simple. I love the idea of aquaponics or microponics so that the system feeds itself, but really don't think I'd get to it. I'll keep that on my "list" until all my kids are at school I think! For my first go, I'll use the commercial nutrients so I know what I'm comparing to. Next time I'll set up one with nutrients and the other with, perhaps, worm wee or castings tea with a tiny bit of seaweed extract/guano, and I'll see how that goes. This would mean buying the seaweed extract/guano, so it is more as a test rather then what I finally want to get to.

    I'll report back when I try it all out, but this will be a few months away! In the meantime, happy to have any other suggestions. Thanks so much for all the ideas so far.
     
  14. Dreamie

    Dreamie Junior Member

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    This is what grow beds are for in an aquaponics system they are a biological filter however you can add a mechanical filter to ensure the process runs a little smoother.

    Why not just build a small clarifier to collect the solids and then clean this out each week (This could be a worm farm) this would reduce the change of solids entering the system and clogging up. A small tank with a set of baffles (Like a maze) as the solids enter the maze they fall to the bottom and the water keeps flowing. Place a couple of filters (Stockings, foam pads) in the maze / at water flow points to collect more solids.

    It won't be too hard to design a final system and then scale it back to what you want today. Then when you get the chance add on the extra components such as a worm farm, a fish tank, some wicking beds etc.
     
  15. PlantingPete

    PlantingPete Junior Member

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    Aquaponics

    There is heaps of interest in this growing system, last year I saw a retail display in Melbourne show casing the benefits of aquaponics. There is something cool about your veggies living off your fish and you eating the lot (if you choose), I have seen lots on Youtube. Lots of videos on people making their own low cost home made aquaponic system.

    I haven't tried it yet (one day) is anyone else growing this way?
     
  16. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Hydroponics bad;

    Aquaponics good;

    There is a huge difference. :think:
     
  17. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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  18. PlantingPete

    PlantingPete Junior Member

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    Do you have any facts to back up that opinion...or did you just make that up?
     
  19. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    Think its to do with aquaponics being natural and balanced and relying on a complete enclosed symbiotic relationships where traditionally hydroponics is about being sterile and introducing chemicals and maximising production .
    Not unlike a modern farmer who just adds water and chemicals to his dirt, that he treats like a hydroponic medium not a living soil, to maximise a crop and sprays and kills everything else from bugs to fungus.
    https://theaquaponicsource.com/2011/04/25/12-ways-aquaponics-differs-from-hydroponics/
     
  20. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    :think: Really???!? :think:

    Hydroponics uses a chemical based system where purchased inputs are constant, constant waste water, constant money spent, constant use of fossil fuels, I could very easily go on & on & on till the break of another dawn.

    Aquaponics does not need ANY chemicals since inputs are from animals, thus, no one needs to use the planets fossil fuels to transport constant sources of chemicals from outside the apartment, home, farm, homestead, or farmstead.

    In addition, see Grasshoppers comment & this.

    https://portablefarm.com/farm/2011/aquaponics-vs-aquaculture/
     

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