Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Bubbler

Today I moved all of the plants I started for the garden out of the greenhouse to harden off outdoors. I have been looking forward to doing this, as once they are in the ground, the greenhouse will be fully automated, and there will be far less daily maintenance.

With the garden plants removed I could rethink the greenhouse plan and free up an entire shelf that could accommodate two more automated systems. Hmmm, what should I place on that shelf? I decided that another ebb and flow system would fit, and I needed one other system with a small footprint.

I decided to use "The Bubbler". My wife purchased this overpriced system for me as a gift after I just taken an interest in hydroponics. The concept is that the nutrients are distributed to each cup by pumping them through the circular chamber which has a tube running to each pod.

Immediately after receiving the system I noticed that it lacked two important features. There was no drain tube, and there was no opening in the cover to add nutrients through. I added the drain tube on the right, which also serves as a level indicator, and also the small white plug on the cover.

For the life of me I can't see how you would ever use this system without a drain tube. When filled it is too heavy to lift, and removing the cover to empty it would disrupt the feed tubes and make a mess of the roots growing in the reservoir.

Being a nice guy, I decided to visit the site where my wife bought this system and perhaps drop a note on their product review section. I did, but they did not post my suggestion. Their FAQs have such things as: "Is it legal to own one of these systems.?" I guess we all know what market they are targeting. They are most likely too laid back to bother making any product improvements...

In any event, an earlier post details an inexpensive version of this system that I designed. My version uses a column that is just a section of 3/4" PVC pipe to distribute the nutrients to the cups. The tote can be purchased at any retail outlet and the pipe at a hardware store. As I recall I estimated the cost to build one of these systems at less than thirty dollars.

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