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Hydroponic Gardening Demonstration – Spark-Y

We have a three-tube flood-and-drain PVC hydroponic system here. We have a mixed media that we’re using to pump water through. And this media holds water inside. We have two types here: grow stone and expanded clay pebbles. The grow stone is recycled glass. This is pure silicate, and it helps stabilize the pH of the system. These expanded clay pebbles are a mined substance; they’re a little less sustainable than the grow stone. But they both serve the purpose of holding water in between flood and drain cycles in the PVCs. So, in this system we chose a PVC width that allowed us to grow many different types of plants. As you can see here, we’ve got some brassicas, some leafy greens and some bitters as well, as well as some tomatoes. We’ll see how these do throughout the rest of the season; we’re kind of late in the game for tomatoes. But they should work.

Hydroponic Gardening Demonstration – Spark-Y

So the system is designed to run for 30 minutes and then drain for 30 minutes. And we have a tube that’s connected to a pump in the corresponding reservoir here, and this has dissolved grow nutrients in it. And what that does is allow the plants to get their fertility from this reservoir here. So every 30 minutes the water is pumped up from the pumps into their respective tubes and drains all the way down to the end, where it meets a central plumbing system. This type of vertical hydroponic garden is great for somebody who has a limited amount of space or no space outside to grow gardens. So this can actually give you essentially as much or more as an expanded bed, and as long as you’re properly adding the nutrients, you can keep doing this all throughout the year. So you’re growing season is unlimited. You can do it for years and years on end, as long as you’re maintaining the system properly. The other cool part about the vertical concept is it allows you to stack, and this is something you can’t usually do with traditional soil. And because we have it contained in a system like this, we can them up, really maximizing our gardening space. This is what we call a hydroponic lettuce table, and this is designed to have net pots here just like the flood-and-drain system, but there’s actually an air gap suspending above the water, and that allows the roots to get some air. So the suspended plants hang over the water, the roots dangle in, and they pull up nutrients to the rest of the plant.

Hydroponic Gardening Demonstration – Spark-Y

This is a nice system, because you don’t have to refill the water as often as the moving reservoir, because you lose a lot of moving water in evaporation. And there’s a cover on top of it to prevent mosquitoes breeding and stuff like that. So this system is a pretty low-cost, low-maintenance system. You have to maintain it once a week or less, and you can go out of town and come back to a nice, fresh bed of lettuce. These hydroponic lettuce tables, we actually have blueprints available and building instructions for you to make them at home. Hydroponics is an effective way to grow vegetables, because you use quite a bit less water than you would in a traditional agricultural system. It also allows you to get the exact grown nutrients dissolved in the water so you can grow exotic types of plants. Depending on the type of system that you use, you can do it incredibly efficiently, and for a very low cost. thank you

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