Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hydroponics Upgrade

We've rebuilt the hydroponics system using a 75 litre nutrient tank and a 100W pump on a timer. The runs are a mix of sizes, held in place by a framework constructed from recycled palettes. Tip: When designing a hydroponic system, start with the tank, then design the drains as that'll tell you where everything has to go.

This is what it looks like after a month or so of serious growing:
As you can see, or not, the tank is hidden under the foliage on a palette. A block of three new runs stands behind the enveloped one, and the bare framework for our 3rd block - which will have 3 metre rather than 2.5 metre runs - stands on the concrete in the distance.

The runs are made from a mix of 50mmx100mm and 75mmx150mm rectangular section drainpipe. Some of our runs are over a decade old and have been restructured many times. We drill holes every 200mm-ish, depending on the intended crop and the size of the little pots. Pots are filled with either clay beads or vermiculite.

We used to get the endpieces from Switched On Gardener and the plumbing from Mitre 10, but we now print our own pots, drains and endpieces using a DiamondMind V2 3D Printer from Diamond Age PLA filament.

 The endpiece has slots in in which you fill with bathroom silicone sealant and smack on to the end of the tube.

You can just see the purple 13mm barb fitting on the bottom of the drain sticking out the bottom with the yellow nut holding it in place. This gets a bead of silicone round it as a gasket before assembly.

The hydroponic pots are then filled and loaded into the holes in the run. The yellow thing on top is a hydroponic plug that is used to cover the inspection hole above the drain so that algae do not grow inside the trough.

Once the silicone has set up, that run will go in the new framework and we can plant another 14 little weed-free wonders to feed us in the Autumn and Winter.