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-   -   Aeroponics trial #3 (http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=13005)

bigbubbacain December 31, 2009 01:37 PM

Aeroponics trial #3
 
This thread is a follow-up to my two previous threads about aeroponics. I've made some improvements and I've got some step-by step details with photos. Also, I've resolved to follow this thread with photos so I can show the plants from germination to installation in the garden.

Two things I need to explain:

1.) I'm not a scientist, botanist, nor have I studied in any technical background. (maybe a mad scientist:twisted:)

Mostly, I'm just a human being who always had rotten luck at starting seeds using the conventional methods. I've grown frustrated with grow lights that wouldn't keep my plants warm enough, or heat mats that were too warm, and all the variables in between. I first became interested in aeroponics because of the hype and high price tag of the AeroGarden and other devices out there. It looked interesting, but I just couldn't get beyond the proprietary supplies that were required for some of these machines. The only things that insulted me more were the really expensive kits being sold at the hydroponic retailers that were nothing more than plastic 5 gallon pails with an aquarium pump, airstone, and sprinkler components. I started pricing some of these components and realized it would be a small gamble for me to piece some of these items together and just try it.

2.) Technically, my device isn't "true aeroponics" because I allow the roots to grow long enough to reach the water/nutrient mixture. A device that is "true aeroponics" keeps the root mass separate from the water reservoir, as it allows the the roots to be misted and aerated and then the excess moisture runs off. I guess my contraption is somewhere between "aeroponics" and "deep water culture".

Anyway, here come the photos.

bigbubbacain January 1, 2010 07:12 PM

3 Attachment(s)
The basic supplies:

air stone, aquarium pump (not shown), ultrasonic mister([URL="http://www.mainlandmart.com%29"]www.mainlandmart.com)[/URL], 2" net pots (from hydroponic retailers), plastic "cheapo" wine glasses, hydroponic fertilizer, rolled gauze, and a rectangular storage tub. Just about any size tub will do, as long as it's deep. I wouldn't recommend a 5 gallon pail, however, because it's so small that the roots zone might be kept too warm.

Firstly, the container needs to be prepped for the net pots. I used a hole saw attachment for my drill to make it easy, though I did it free-handed so it's not perfect. I used a permanent marker to draw a grid over each column / row of holes for keeping record of what I'm planting: numbered on one size, lettered on the other. I also drilled 2 small holes for the air tubing and one for the power cord to the mister.

bigbubbacain January 1, 2010 07:43 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Next, I set up the air stone and ultrasonic mister inside the tub with the tubes running through the holes. I mix the fertilizer according to the label, and attach the lid to the tub. My fertilizer of choice is the Flora Nova line from General Hydroponics. It's pH buffered, which means less maintenance regarding water quality issues.

Plug in the aquarium pump and the mister and it's time for the for the net pots.

I just cut a small square of gauze to cover the bottom of each pot. Then, I add one seed per pot and cover each pot with the plastic wine glass. I keep the unit under my T-8 grow lights, on a timer.

I know it seems futile to just use one seed per pot, but my germination has been so good and so quick that even if I have a bad seed, I find that I still have time to remove it and start fresh with a new seed. I'll post again with more photos as soon as I get germination. It should be in 3 or 4 days

salix January 2, 2010 01:41 AM

Very interesting and love the can-do attitude and resourcefulness, and appreciate the time you are taking to post pictures of the journey. Just a quick question - does the seed sit directly on the gauze or is there a bit of soilless mix or gel or something?

bigbubbacain January 2, 2010 12:08 PM

Thanks for writing!

Each seed sits directly on the gauze. No soil-less mix necessary. In the past I've used cheesecloth, but somehow the liquid solution was causing it to disintegrate. I personally think it's this direct exposure to the mist with being over-saturated that causes my germination so quickly and successfully.

yotetrapper January 4, 2010 01:56 AM

Do you have any pics of growing plants? How long do they stay in there for? I've never even heard of this, but it sure seems pretty cool!

bigbubbacain January 4, 2010 04:46 PM

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[quote=yotetrapper;152142]Do you have any pics of growing plants? How long do they stay in there for? I've never even heard of this, but it sure seems pretty cool![/quote]

Yotetrapper,

I have a few pics in the in my previous thread but I got ahead of myself and didn't do a good job of tracking plant growth in photo. That's why I'm doing this again in a 3rd thread with more frequent photos. Here's what was waiting for me today, after starting my seeds on 1/1/10. One of my seedlings for Bella Rosa decided to wake up.

I keep the plants in here until they have at least 3 sets of true leaves. By this time they look like small bushes with a really large root mass.

bigbubbacain January 9, 2010 12:26 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Here's my progress thus far. Photo taken thursday, 1/7/10.

relichound January 9, 2010 06:56 PM

I really like your setup for starting your seeds. I have been growing lettuce for a couple of years in homemade passive systems. I have always started the seeds in a soil less mix, washed of the roots, and then placed them in my system. With your set up I can now skip a step and grow them from start to finish in one container.

Thanks for sharing the information,
Jerry

bigbubbacain January 9, 2010 07:56 PM

Thanks Jerry!

Word of caution: I've had mixed results with lettuce. Do you grow loose-leaf Mesclun types, or Cos / Romaine types? You might want to experiment with the quantity of seeds per net pot.

For Cos/Romaine types, I'd plan on one per cell. Try 2 or 3 seeds and then keep the healthiest looking one to grow out. I pluck them out early if I detect anything that doesn't want to thrive.

For Mesclun / loose leaf types, you can grow 3 or 4 in a net pot, but you'll have a little more maintenance involved. Because the piece of gauze will remain in the bottom of the pot, you might need to occasionally run a weak peroxide solution in case you develop a problem with algae.

I never have the algae problem with Romaine because the neoprene collar that fits around the base of the plant keeps the light out.

Another possibility for loose leaf type is to just grow them like the Romaine- one per pot.

I wish I had more info to offer regarding lettuce, but mostly I've done tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, squash. This is still experimental to me.

bigbubbacain January 12, 2010 03:53 PM

1 Attachment(s)
4 days later, I'm seeing what is beginning to look like true leaves. It's always surprising to me to see certain types showing more vigor than others.

bigbubbacain January 24, 2010 01:14 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Well, it never fails: I find myself working out of town when my seedlings are growing and need some form of attention from me. The seedlings stayed under their domes a little longer than I would have like and so some of the leaves are a little yellow and wilty. Not a problem. I'll prune them off later and it does nothing to the health of the plant, just not what I wanted to show everyone here.

PHOTO #1 shows what the seedlings look like when I remove them from their net pots and remove the piece of gauze from the roots. They've got true leaves and the root mass itself is starting to produce lateral roots.

PHOTO #2 shows more detail of the lateral roots. The root chamber almost encourages an air pruning effect on the root masses. This is what I look for when determining if the seedlings are ready to be removed from the net pots because these "air pruned" lateral roots are what help the seedlings survive after being pulled from the gauze. If the long roots become too cumbersome, I sometimes trim them because they're not as important in the long run.

PHOTO #3 shows the neoprene cuff on the seedling. I also keep a stash of net pots that have had the bottoms cut out of them with scissors because I use the top piece as a collar for the neoprene to fit into.

PHOTO #4 shows the seedlings back in position for a little more grow time. I really hate showing the seedlings with all of this stressed-out growth from being kept under the domes. Well, some people say that all babies go through an "ugly phase" so I guess this is where we're at for now.

bigbubbacain January 28, 2010 03:50 PM

5 Attachment(s)
One week later:
[U][B]
Photos 1 & 2[/B][/U] show the progress the seedlings are making in growth height.

[U][B]Photos 3 & 4[/B][/U] show a seedling of Sweet Quartz and a close up of the lateral roots that I love so much.

It's inevitable that not every seed germinates for me, such was the case with N.A.R.X. [U][B]Photo 5[/B][/U] shows a N.A.R.X. seedling that is about 10 days behind the rest I'll pot everything up in about 5 days or so.

salix January 28, 2010 06:22 PM

Thanks for the updates. Love to watch the progression of something new to me.

bigbubbacain February 3, 2010 07:04 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Not much left to report about these little guys. They're ready to go into 4 inch pots.

[U][B]Photo #1[/B][/U] shows the seedlings just before I transplanted them.

[U][B]Photo #2[/B][/U] shows my smallest of the plants, a N.A.R.X. This was one of the varieties that didn't germinate for me after the first 10 days, so technically, it's more or less 3 weeks old. There were 2 or 3 that just didn't want to come up. By day #10, I replaced the seeds and everything sprouted up perfectly. After all the years I tried growing my seeds in dirt, I've never gotten true leaves or such root growth like this in 30 days or less.

Mjdtexan February 4, 2010 07:38 PM

Loving this thread.

casserole February 4, 2010 09:08 PM

Please elaborate on beginning steps . Explain how to use airstone and mister.how much water /fert. mix ,where did the neoprene cuffs come from ?

bigbubbacain February 5, 2010 10:19 AM

[quote=casserole;156253]Please elaborate on beginning steps . Explain how to use airstone and mister.how much water /fert. mix ,where did the neoprene cuffs come from ?[/quote]


Casserole,

the airstone and mister are left in the solution and allowed to run continually, as this is what maintains the warmth in the root zone. As for mixing the fertilizer and water, I simply follow the directions on the label. Most hydroponic fertilizers have directions that are specific to each stage of plant growth, so I use the guidelines that apply to seedlings.

The neoprene cuffs come from a hydroponic supply store. They usually sell them to correspond to different sizes of net pots. Mine are the 2" size. I don't apply them to the plants until they at least 2 sets of true leaves.

Hope I've answered your questions.

conyaks June 27, 2010 09:37 PM

any updates on your grow?

conyaks June 27, 2010 09:44 PM

delete double post

afrance30 August 7, 2010 05:06 PM

Curious as to why you choose aeroponics as opposed to DWC (Deep Water Culture). I'm new to hydroponics and decided to use DWC because of ease of use and easy to make diy systems. I bought a little DWC cloner system on ebay for $30 to try it out and I'm amazed at the results. I've never cloned before but 8 of the 10 cuttings grew roots and both of the two seeds I put in the plugs sprouted. I started the clones three weeks ago and the root mass is really big already on all the clones and floating in the reservoir.

Instead of a larger DWC system should I try something else? Is there problems with DWC I should know about? Just wondering if you had any tips for a hydro newbie.

bigbubbacain October 4, 2010 11:04 AM

[quote=afrance30;179920]Curious as to why you choose aeroponics as opposed to DWC (Deep Water Culture).

Instead of a larger DWC system should I try something else? Is there problems with DWC I should know about? Just wondering if you had any tips for a hydro newbie.[/quote]


Sorry for the late reply. I went back to work full time and I'm still trying to for time for life, tomatoes, etc.

Technically, this isn't really aeroponics because as soon as the roots are long enough they'll eventually reach the water.

I've personally had some issues with DWC before. Mainly, it was either too much or too little moisture in the roots, and then the fungal and algae problems that would result.

I like the idea of the roots getting a constant "bath" in a nutrient mist. I think it gives the plants a better chance of taking just what they need without getting waterlogged.

Keen101 January 11, 2018 02:28 AM

Aeroponics / Fogponics / Hydro Experiments
 
Resurrecting this thread. There was another Fogponics thread, but i liked this one better. Also the "Aeroponics trial #2" was a good thread too.

I've begun experimenting with Aeroponics. Some people call it "Fogponoics". Whatever. Right now it might even be a hybrid Aero-Hydro system. Just tinkering right now. Using an ultrasonic piezo disc thingy. What i've read is that is is better for starting plants rather than growing them to full size. We will see. I have some ideas of using my Arduino to program some control stuff like a water temperature cuttoff since plants grow better with their roots cooler than their leaves. The temperature differential might even be necessary for optimum growth. I am currently under the suspicion that if plant roots and leaves are the same temperature that their growth will be none or very slow. Interesting that plants grow more at night.

Anyway, my idea, have a temp cuttoff for root/water temp. But also have the ultrasonic mister pulsed for only a little bit to help avoid water heating. Then even have a small 5vdc fan kick on for a little bit to help add Oxygen / CO2 to the roots. Apparently if the roots get too hot or the fog/mist gets too thick then the oxygen or CO2 levels get too low at the plant suffocates to death. Adding a simple airstone might help offset this.

Some interesting discussions about all this are going on at the MIT OpenAG forum. @oxbowfarm , you might be particularly interested in that because many of them are directly building off the DIY pot growers designs and information.

[url]http://forum.openag.media.mit.edu/t/building-aeroponic-system-and-full-automation/2348[/url]

[url]http://forum.openag.media.mit.edu/t/experimenting-with-fogponics-could-you-help/2226[/url]

[img]https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4737/27804981349_fb8180c9f0_z.jpg[/img]

[img]https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4734/39552367992_baf4af32e9_z.jpg[/img]

[img]https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4738/38685706945_66c6b97fc9_z.jpg[/img]

[img]https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4736/38685702205_4e9402087d_z.jpg[/img]


And yes, i know having the clear container will be a problem for algae. Not worrying about that right now. First experiment is first. Pepper seedlings are doing very well so far. Also the piezo does heat up the water over time from the vibrations. I would like to have a better timer cuttoff eventually. Just have it hooked up to the light timer right now. not ideal. Added the airstone yesterday as a backup to help mitigae the higher than ideal water temperature. Yes, this bucket may be too small, but i'm going to see what is possible with even this tiny thing before moving to something bigger and better.

Cole_Robbie January 11, 2018 03:21 AM

The plants I have seen grown out in fogponics were at a hydro store. The baskets contained hydroton clay pebbles, and the fog kept creeping up out of the baskets, making algae grow in the top of the clay pebbles.

A pump that makes 35 psi or greater is the easiest way to do aeroponics. They come in different sizes and models. Smaller pumps run continuously and charge a tank, which gets periodically released with each cycle. Large pumps like a well pump just flip on and off with each cycle.

Good luck with your experiments.

Keen101 January 11, 2018 03:37 PM

[QUOTE=Cole_Robbie;677590]The plants I have seen grown out in fogponics were at a hydro store. The baskets contained hydroton clay pebbles, and the fog kept creeping up out of the baskets, making algae grow in the top of the clay pebbles.

A pump that makes 35 psi or greater is the easiest way to do aeroponics. They come in different sizes and models. Smaller pumps run continuously and charge a tank, which gets periodically released with each cycle. Large pumps like a well pump just flip on and off with each cycle.

Good luck with your experiments.[/QUOTE]

Thanks! Actually i have both clay pebbles and Rockwool cubes underneath the black foam thingies. I think the black foam should block out enough light and escaping moisture to keep algae growth on top at bay.

Yeah i like those pump systems. I actually plan to build one at some point. I saw a good video on YouTube about one. Maybe I'll go find it and post it here. But just experimenting small for now. If it fails that's okay. I like learning by doing.

shatbox January 12, 2018 03:35 AM

Keen101, are you using this setup for just for starts?

Keen101 January 12, 2018 08:35 PM

[QUOTE=shatbox;677762]Keen101, are you using this setup for just for starts?[/QUOTE]

I might. But i want to also try using it for long-term cultivation of adult plants as well despite hearing that it might not work and/or is hard to do. If it fails and the plants die that's fine. But i'm relatively surprised at how well it is good at starting seeds, so already i am more than pleased with it thus far.

I've heard that once roots that are used to aero reach a deep water culture they slow down or get stunted before being able to adapt. But we will see what happens, any data is good data and there is always something to learn regardless of the outcome.

shatbox January 13, 2018 04:21 PM

I've tried deep water culture and Kratky and have seen explosive growth in secondary and tertiary roots. It's so fascinating to watch it happen. I gotta get lights like the setup you have, outdoor ambient temps are too high for my plants

Super cool to watch you work it out, keep it up

Keen101 January 13, 2018 06:30 PM

[QUOTE=shatbox;677987]I've tried deep water culture and Kratky and have seen explosive growth in secondary and tertiary roots. It's so fascinating to watch it happen. I gotta get lights like the setup you have, outdoor ambient temps are too high for my plants

Super cool to watch you work it out, keep it up[/QUOTE]

Cool! thanks. And that's awesome to hear.

These are the lights i'm using right now. They work pretty good and good for the money in my opinion. though in the future i will spring for full spectrum LED lighting as the red/blue/UV leakage is hard on the eyes. White is better for human eyes.

[url]https://www.banggood.com/100W-1131-Red-234-Blue-LED-Grow-Light-Plant-Lamp-Garden-Greenhouse-Plant-Seedling-Light-p-1020547.html[/url]

Cole_Robbie January 14, 2018 04:25 PM

Kessil makes some very nice lights: [url]http://www.kessil.com/[/url]


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