Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hydroponic system upgrade (Kratky to DWC)

After seeing the success of the system I built back at home, I decided that aeration was necessary for the system on my balcony. Previously, the plants sat in a static nutrient solution (known as the Kratky method). I added in a pump with 2 air stones to each of my growing bins.
Aeration equipment for hydroponics
Parts (check valve not pictured)

Materials Used 
Aquarium Pump - $15
Airstones - $1 each
3 way Gang Valve - $2
Airline Tubing - $6
Total cost of upgrade materials ~ $25.00

Kratky method upgraded to DWC
Installation (don't mind the bucket on the pump)
Tubing is run from the gang valve to each bin. In each bin, a T-valve splits to two different air stones. Air flow to each bin is controlled by manipulating the valves. The goal is to make sure each bin is bubbling.
Bubbles
Aeration in Deep Water Culture
Looks like all the airstones work properly
With this upgrade, I can keep the water level in the reservoirs full. Because of this, I can also swap out plants during any stage of growth to move them around. I no longer have to wait for a whole growth cycle to finish in each bin before adding new plants.

Additionally, the aeration should prevent the roots from "drowning" when I top off the reservoirs (like what happened when I tried it with my cucumbers). The downsides would be using electricity (although very little) and relying on the pump to not break. I'm hoping this accelerates plant growth enough to make the investment worthwhile. Either way, I'm going to have delicious food to eat all year round.

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