Thursday, March 26, 2015

Journal March 26, 2015 - Today's project, Aeroponics

I wanted to get back into aeroponics on a small scale, but I found that one of my units had developed a crack during winter storage.   No big deal, for two dollars and change I could simply rebuild it using a five gallon bucket I had on hand.  While doing, so I decided to do this post to illustrate the process.

First step was to modify the bucket to accommodate the wire for the pump.  A hole, large enough to snugly fit the cord, was drilled just below the top of the bucket.  Next, I used a Dremel with a grinding stone to remove some of the rim of the bucket to allow the lid to fit over the cord.  Using a sharp cutting tool I then made a slit from the top of the bucket to meet the hole.  A slight bend at this point will allow the cord to be pass through the bucket.

OK, this step is optional: the addition of a fill/drain tube.  As I had the fittings on hand, I drilled a 3/4" hole and inserted the rubber grommet, fitting and tube.  The fill/drain tube need not be this elaborate, a simple top hat grommet with a length of 1/4 tubing will do nicely.

I plan on using 2" net pots to grow lettuce and herbs, so I had several covers already prepared. It is important that the holes in the covers have a snug fit, as fluid is really bouncing around inside the container and can easily leak.

Of the several options of spray heads I had available, I selected the rotating head.  I gave up on the misting head with the tiny micron size opening, as it continuously clogged.  The object with aeroponics is to have the nutrients and air in motion, providing an oxygen rich humid environment for the root system.

Most likely I will run the system fifteen minutes on, fifteen minutes off 24/7.  I plan on using a 90 watt red/blue LED grow light with a photoperiod of 16 hours.  These can also be used in the greenhouse, where they work very well also.  

The first planting will be six plants of red salad bowl lettuce, however, the seedlings are nowhere near ready to be placed into the system.  That is just as well, as I want to run it 24/7 for a few days to ensure there are no leaks, or clogs, before I actually add nutrients.  And, as far as nutrients go, these systems require only about two gallons of nutrients.  I plan on using inexpensive Expert Gardener nutrients from Wal-Mart. 

The system has been running in test mode for several hours now without any leaks, so I am ready to call is a success.

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