(These designs can rise higher with proper support for unlimited production )
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As Simple As:
1- Cover a box with opaque plastic sheet
2- Cross Stack Boxes as on the left
3- Bend wire hooks to anchor seedling bags
4- Make small slits in the plastic cover
5- Hang seedlings to box sides
6- Fill containers with nutrients up to cover 2-3 cm of the seedling bag bottom
Most leafy greens and herbs need 4-5 Liters of water to reach harvesting. If you have eight plants and 40 liters in your container you may not need to replenish the nutrients before you harvest.
If you think the walls of your bottom box may bend under the weight, tie the two long sides at the middle with a thin wire or rope to prevent sides from buckling
You may increase the number of your growing containers by providing additional support. You can add 4 more containers by providing a shelf supported by cinder block or wooden legs as in the picture on the right
50 cmx 30cm x30cm= 45 Liter
Stacking On Spacers
1- Cover container with opaque plastic sheet
2- Place two 2x4 (8 cm) spacers between containers
3- Make small slits in the plastic cover
4- Insert seedlings through the slits and hang to container walls
5- Fill containesr with nutrient liquid enough to cover the bottom 2-3 cm of the seedling bag
Most leafy greens and herbs need 4-5 Liters of water to reach harvesting. The suggested number of plants for this container is 14. If your container carries 70 liters you may not need to add nutrients before you harvest your plants.
If you think your bottom container walls may bend under the weight, tie the two long sides at their middle with a thin wire or rope. To increase numberr of containers add support as suggested in cross stacking esample.
Table Top Stacking
This system can be decorative for use in a balcony or on a porch.
1- Cover containers with opaque plastic.
2- Make small slits in the cover, insert seedling bags and hang to the container walls
4- Fill container with water (nutrient) to cover the bottom 3 cm of the seedling bags.
5- Keep an eye on the water level. It must not go below 3 cm of container bottom
6- At that water level you can add no more than 2-3 cm if you desire the plants to continue growing. The rest of the roots must stay out of water to allow plant continue absorbing oxygen from the moist air around it
Lettuce plants, herb plants and most of green leaf plants use 4-5 liters in their life time. If your containers hold enough water for the number of plants you are growing you need not tend your little farm until harvest time
Pipe Farm On The Roof
800 Heads of Lettuce Farm
This 6'.67 high four inch diameter 10' long PVC pipe structure grows 800 heads of lettuce spaced at 6". Although the structure uses Kratky Method it is light enough to place on sound concrete roof tops. It can grow 1200 arugula, basil or other herb plants sapaced at 4". Of course it is possible to increase the number of pipes and the number of units to the extent the roof can support
Our experiment to grow in 4" pipes using Kratky Method
We transplanted 2 weeks old seedlings of pepper, basil and cucumber into 2" net cups, 5" apart on both sides of each pipe . We did not use a float valve system to maintain nutrient liquid at 1" but brought it up manually as needed.
Before placing planters on top of a building you should consult with local structural engineer who is familiar with local building codes and construction norms in your area
Tower Of Containers
Automatic watering system for the towers below
Unit to place on shelves as below
It is recommended here to use shallow containers to reduce height and increase number of plants. When nutrient in shallow containers goes down to 3 cm from containers' bottom, a float valve releases more liquid to raise the level up to 5-6 cm above bottom then automatically shuts off.
10 Shelf Stacking
This Shelf structure and the tray on the side can be used to grow radishes. Build the trays with 5 cm wood, metal or plastic walls and fasten mesh (window screen) to the bottom. Fill the tray with peat moss or other growing medium. Hang the tray with wire hooks to the sides of the container. The top of the tray should be even with the container top without allowing evaporation from the sides. Fill container with nutrient lioquid so that it covers the lowest 2 cm of the the tray's bottom. Seed Cherry Bell radish seeds 4 cm apart with 5 mm cover. Harvest radishes 22 days later. Gardening information and seed suppliers give Cherry Bell and few other radish varieties 22 days from seed to harvests.
Tray to grow radish
Build the trays with 5cm wood, metal or plastic walls and wire mesh (window screen bottom)
This planter is simple and most economical to make. It consists of two 2 meters long 2x4 inch boards. A 6 mil opaque plastic sheet ties the boards together by stapling to the outside of the boards. The sheet should be wide enough to make a trough 20 cm wide and 12 cm deep. 15 cm of boards’ ends are left uncovered (without plastic). Fasten two 20 cm short boards to the long boards 15 cm before ends. Bring the plastic sheet ends up on the short boards to form an enclosed trough. This 12 cm deep 20 cm wide and 170 cm long trough is your planter.
You then proceed as follows:
1- Place both ends of the trough side boards on legs or cinder blocks.
2- Stack up as many troughs as you desire leaving 10 to 15 cm vertical space in between every two troughs
3- Fill all the troughs with nutrient so that only the bottom two cm of the seedlings get submerged as in the picture
4- Cover each trough with an opaque sheet of plastic and staple to the outside of the carrying boards.
Instead of covering each trough You may cover all troughs together by draping one plastic sheet all the way from top to bottom on each of the four sides as in the picture
5- Make small slits in the plastic cover and insert the seedling bags into troughs (container)
6- Fasten the nutrient supply pipe attached to the float valve into one end of each trough as illustrated
This project can use Hydroponics or Aeroponics. It can use any type of containers with the proper form of watering.
Assuming your two-story wall is 20 meters long and you decide to grow potatoes. Let's grow the potatoes on one side of the stretcher design. By growing plants 20 cm apart and stacking the stretchers with 20 cm vertical separation you can grow 3,500 plants. If one plant produces 2 kg the total harvest would be 7000 Kg. Since potatoes can be harvested within 70 -80 days you'll mange to repeat the growing cycle 4 times in one year. This means your annual produce will be 28,000 Kg. Using the 50 cents per Kg average, your annual gross income will be $14,000. Let's spend $4,000 on seeds, labor, water and fertilizer. You are left with $10,000 to pay in mortgage. This is not taking into account your one time investment in growing equipment which can be $7,000-10,000.
Before you chose a design you need to make choices about container sizes and the way you desire to provide the plants with nutritional liquid. Your choices will have to take into consideration the kind of plants you will grow, the available space for growing, plants' maximum exposure to sun and what is convenient for you.
Using Kratky Hydroponics a head of lettuce requires 4-5 liters of water from seedling transplant to harvest. Herb plants and most leafy greens use similar amounts. A cucumber plant uses 200 liters or more while tomato plant uses 250 -300 Liters. Using large enough containers saves you the effort of adding water. With large containers you need not use water supply pipes or float valves. But large containers use larger space and too heavy to move around. You decide the container size based on what you grow and the way you desire to control it. For more than few containers float valve use may be necessary
You can modify any of the introduced designs or methods to suit the plants you like to grow, to fit in the space you have and to incorporate your own creativity. These methods are by no means the only methods. The designs you see here are meant to stimulate your thoughts and to help you apply your own genius.
For additional information please consult the ample literature and videos you can find on You tube and the Internet. Search for Vertical Aeroponics, Kratky Method or Non-Circulating Hydroponics