I have completed the basic setup for a hydroponic system. Most parts are assembled and while I’m still waiting for a few more from amazon, it is in good shape to get started with.    Following is the list of parts and their current status:

  1. Container and Lid

I used a plastic bin from Stefani’s food systems and biodesign class. It is a white translucent plastic container with 18x13x5 inch inside dimensions. Next it needs to be opaque, I’m planning to use tape/ paint. The lid is custom designed CNC-cut styrofoam sheet with 8 holes for net cups. Each is 3″ diameter. Edge of the sheet is chamfered so it snugly fits on top of the container.   2. Plant cups I ordered 3″ net cups from amazon, these are designed for medium sized hydroponics and aeroponics. With a lip on top, cup fits perfectly in 3″ hole in the styrofoam. Inside a cup there is the plant, supported by a rockwool cube, which is placed in leca granules.   3. Nutrient solution Nutrient solution has N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) nutrients dissolved in pure water, with an air pump constantly bubbling air through the solution. I have three different nutrients from General Hydroponics. Each is designed for different phase of plant growth and has unique N-P-K ratio. Following three are 2-1-6, 0-5-4, and 5-0-1 respectively: The numbers describe percentage of the component. For example 0-5-4 has 0% nitrogen(N), 5% phosphorus(P), and 4% potassium(K). Rest is a combination of secondary elements such as minerals and metals (calcium, copper, iron, cobalt, manganese, zinc etc.) dissolved in water base. I am using a couple of typical air pumps designed for fishbowls. Flow of air constantly stirs the solution preventing the nutrients from settling down in the bottom, and also provides oxygen to the roots. Black tubing provides maximum opacity. I drew some sketches to see how to place the airstones (end unit that produces bubbles) in a formation at the bottom of container. T-shaped connectors provide branching from main tubing line to the airstones. 4. Plants I’ve decided to wait for a few more days before transferring seedlings into the system. The seedlings are growing fast and I can see their progress every day, which is really assuring. For hydroponics the roots need to be further developed to be able to support seedlings without soil.  

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