Hydroponics, Aquaponics, and Indoor Growing | The Organic Garden Center

Archive for November, 2013

Ebb & Flow Systems

Ebb and Flow SystemsI just finished a water change(w/c) on our 3’x3′ ebb & flow table. An ebb & flow system, sometimes called a flood table, consists of a a wide, shallow, plastic, watertight table about 5 to 10 inches tall, sitting atop a reservoir which has enough capacity to hold all the water and nutrient to fill the table above. For example, our system, made by American Hydroponics, has a a square shaped table 3’x 3’x 5″ deep, and the reservoir, made by ActiveAqua, holds 25 gallons of nutrient/water solution.

ebb-flow-1Inside the reservoir sits a submersible pump which pumps water up to the table. Drilled into the flood table is a standpipe, when the water fills to the height of the standpipe, the water/nutrient flows back into the reservoir making a continuous loop. The pump is controlled by a simple timer, our system runs for 15 minutes, every 2 hours. This is a type of recirculating system. The plants grow in net pots, as the name implies, the bottom half of the pot is made of mesh, which lets water pass through to nourish the plant’s roots, yet with enough strength to hold the plant and media. There are several types of media to choose from, were using an expanded clay pellet called Hydrocorn, made by Gold Label, but we have been quite pleased with Growstone, made out of 100% recycled glass. We have also used Rocks, a super heated shale that won’t float in water, and can be purchased in smaller bags for smaller grow set ups, made by Sunleaves.

ebb-flow-2What’s nice about growing in our store is we get to use a variety of different products from manufacturers who are smart enough to send us samples to try. We get hands on experience which enables us to recommend, to you, the things we like . This time I am using nutrients from Cutting Edge Solutions. They offer a 3 part nutrient mix and, following their instructions, it’s pretty easy to use. They also have 3 other supplements which add calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Because we’re attached to a large aquarium shop, we are using de-ionized (DI) water, most of the industry uses reverse osmosis (R/O) water, but I’ll leave that discussion for another day.

Our ebb & flow plants are happy; if they could talk they would thank me for changing their water and nutrient today.


Aeroponic Fog Grow Systems

Aeroponic Fog System 1Today I’m going to do a long overdue water change on the store’s TurboGrow, aeroponic fog grow system, made by the same folks who make the TurboKlone machine (turboklone.com). This is an amazing grow system that uses compressed air to form a fog made up of purified water and the hydroponic nutrients of your choice. This machine just babies your plant’s roots in a fog of what they want; for them it’s like sitting at home, watching a football game, and someone sent you a free pizza delivered to your door during halftime. The instructions tell you to use about half of the normal nutrient dosing with this system.

Aeroponic Fog System 2I am growing a Pequin pepper plant, a few marigolds, and some mangroves in this system. This system is illuminated by a single Kessil  H350 Magenta LED lamp. (kessil.com) This water change is overdue because for best results you should probably be doing a w/c once a week or at least every two weeks; it’s been almost a month.

I’m going to pump the old water into my rolling barrel even though there is a drain on the system.  My reasoning stems from way I’ve set it up.  It is easier for me to pump out the old water – it’s only ten gallons. Next, I’ll ad ten gallons of De-Ionized water, 30 ml of  ‘Oneness’, 20 ml  Ginormous, and 6 ml of Sea-Cal, all made by Humboldt Nutrients (humboldtnutrients.com). Testing my reservoir came up with 435 ppm and a pH of 6.5, so I added 3 ml of Gen Hydro pH down to bring the water pH to 6.2; which seems just about right for this system.

I don’t know why I wait so long between w/c my systems… it took me a lot longer to write this than complete the water change! 🙂

Bye for now,


Vertical Gardens

ogc-vertical-gardenI want to talk a little about a hydroponic system in our store. I’ve just done a water change (w/c) on our Vertical Garden (vertigro.com); it would be a great system for anyone tight on horizontal space, a complete system that would be pretty good for beginners. It’s almost a hybrid of three types of hydroponics, a built in reservoir, soiless mix/coco coir, and top watering. How it works is a series of planters filled with soiless mix, perched atop each other, and top fed from planter to planter below, supplied with a water nutrient solution, pumped up by a submersible pump, from the reservoir on the bottom, and controlled by just one timer.

Verti-GroAll you need to do is add light, everything else, submersible pump, soiless mix and even powdered nutrient is included. You could set it up outside, but here in Chicago, you would have to bring it in seasonally and always make sure you secure it from strong winds.  We are using this system to grow strawberries, the type that send out runners. It’s a natural, you plant the mother plant on top and she sends out runners to the pots below. Strawberries thrive in nutrient solution more to the acidic side, we’re set our pH at 5.2. I think we’ll have to be patient, I am not expecting any fruit for quite a few months.