TECHNOLOGY

5- Nutrient (water and Fertilizer)

1- Hydroponics  (Click For More Details)

 

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Kratky Method:

 

No Electricity Use.  Fill container with nutrient solution, insert seedling with its bottom 2-3 cm in the nutrient then wait until it is time to harvest.  The videos below offer more illustrations and true applications

Please Watch These Two Videos

High Production Designs

                   See Projects for several high production designs 

       Advantages of Using Hydroponics

 

  •  Save 90% of the water   

  • Not competing with weeds and other plants for nutrients plants grow bigger and produce more 

  • Plants can grow closer to each other due to readily available nutrients

  • Plants are not exposed to soil diseases

  • Stacked plants in small spaces can be easily protected from frost and weather damage

  • Protected plants survive longer and have an extended production period

  • Continuos production (365 days a year) due to protection from sever weather 

 

Basic Unit For Growing in Vertical Towers (Stacks)

Install wire mesh in the container as above.  Next cover with opaque plastic and fasten plastic to box edges.  Make small cross slots in the cover and ease in the plants with 45 to 60 degrees tilt to each side so that leaves and stems are not covered by the container above

As an alternative to flat wire mesh in the whole box a wire hook can be made for each plant as illustrated

 A second alternative to using wire mesh is to use plastic window screen supported by upside down perforated cups

 For Home Garden of few containers and a small number of plants, nutrient levels can be easily controlled manually.  For commercial Float Valve Control May be necessary. 

 

2- Float Valve

 

Float valve is a good tool to maintain nutrient level in all containers on one tier.  One valve controls all interconnected containers that are at the same elevation.  

Valve At Nutrient Low Level

Valve At Nutrient Required Level

Using automatic water supply with float valve release and shutoff (as above) allows using 12 cm shallow containers.  Shallow Containers means more units and more plants in a shorter stack.  .  

 By stacking up container you can grow unlimited number of plants in the space normally used by one.  This means you can practically grow plants in the size of your bedroom as many as you would in an acre - provided you shore up your growing towers to carry the load and to resist wind pressure   

 

Containers can grow any kind of vegetables. The container stacks (towers) should be spaced to allow for air circulation and sun light to reach plants.  Plants that can grow well with 4-6 hours of direct sun are herbs, all leafy greens and root plants like potatoes beets, carrots, turnip etc. Fruit producing containers like tomatoes, Cucumbers, zucchini, squash and the like require 6-8 hours of direct sun

 

In order to maximize the number of plants commercial growers should use shallow containers.  Low nutrient levels should be replenished by automatic nutrient supply controlled by a float valve.  The nutrient in the containers should be allowed to go down to 3-4 cm above container bottoms.  The added nutrient should not rise more than 5-6 cm from container bottom allowing the rest of the uncovered roots to stay exposed. 

 

It is essential to keep much of the uncovered roots exposed to moist air. After much of the roots have been uncovered they got used to receiving high amount of oxygen. Depriving the plant from receiving near that amount suffocates it and causes it to die.     

 

Misting or Sprinkling Grow Boxes (buckets)

Sprayer Watering Method  

 Shower Watering Method  

4- Seed Starts

 

 

A common approach among Hydroponics / Aeroponics growers is to grow their own seedlings in small trays then transplant the 2-4 week old seedlings to growing containers.  This  frees containers to regrow new crops. In addition to saving the cost of seedlings it gives growers better control on the whole process.

Example of seed starts

Informative Video

Plastic cups with holes to replace net cups

 We experimented with growing seedlings using the common method and under artificial lights. We also experimented with other methods such as growing seeds on paper towel, on cardboard, in gravel, in clay balls, on burlap, and directly in water.  The photos below show the results.  We recommend that you too experiment to determine which method suits your purposes best

 

Growing Tray With Peat Moss sprayed daily.  The plants include cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants.  One week old  

Seeds of radishes, basil, dill, and origano sown in bags filled with Peat Moss and sitting in 1 cm of water that we replenished daily 

Pepper seedlings Grown In bags filled with Peat Moss  and sat in

Radish seeds started on burlap on top of mesh that touched water in the container below.   Roots grew in water but no radishes formed until we added cclay balls on top of the burlap

Grown in expanded Clay Balls To The Left. Grown In Gravel With Wick Right

Grown In Peat MossTray watered manually every day

Grown In Crussed Gravel.  The gravel cup has holes and slits in the bottom. It sat initially on top of  revesed cup so it barely touched water, Roots grew and followed water

Mustard seeds grown On Paper towel that sat in the bottom of the container and got sprayed daily.  This is one week old.

Grown On Paper Towel on the left and on Cardboard on the right on top of water pot

Grown In Peat Moss In Old Socks watered manually everyday

Transplanted In Grow Pipes.  Plants are placed in both sides of the 4 inch pipe and continued to grow until we let the pipe run out of water.  The pipes can work well if provided with a float valve nutrient control

Grown In Tray Filled With Peat Moss.  At seeding the lowest 1 cm window screen tray bottom was imersed in water that filled the container below.  These radishes are 25 days old.  

 

 

5- Nutrient:  Water + Fertilizer

 

 

A- Water Quality & PH

 


Nutrient is of course a very important part for plants' life. Water ought to be free from chlorine.  The PH level should range from 5.5 and 7.  PH refers to waters' acidity and alkalinity that ranges from zero to 14.  Above 7 is too acidic and should be avoided.  PH can be measured by a special PH meter or by disposable strips that you dip in the liquid and read indication by changed color as marked on the strip  

 

 

B- Fertilizer

 

Non-organic Fertilizers are used in both Hydroponics and Aeroponics.  Those are chemicals that you buy and follow manufacturers' instructions.  

 

 

Organic Fertilizers come from many natural sources like cow and chicken manures, warm droppings and compost from kitchen scraps.  

 

Compost tea (liquid fertilizer) is made by soaking the solid fertilizers in water then straining it for use.  Compost tea from kitchen scraps is made by simply soaking kitchen scraps in water and leaving the bucket in the sun.  After a weak strain the liquid and use one spoon of liquid with one liter of water.  

 

Some growers claim the best organic fertilizer is sea water or sea salt. Others swear by seaweeds as the best organic fertilizer.  Advocates of sea sault mix one tea spoon of sault with five gallons of water.   Advocates of seaweed put 6 ounces of clean weeds in a bag or cheese cloth and soak it in 5 gallons or water for 4-5 days in the sun.  Then they add 5 tea spoons of Epsom sault to add trace element and use one gallon of the liquid with 100 gallons of water.

 

Gardening and horticulture literature contains lots of formulas for growers to make their own nutrients.  You are encouraged to explore what is available in your market and to try different nutrients to decide which gives you the best result.  

 6- Stacking Buckets