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Vorguen
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Possible to Grow Hydroponic Naturally/Organic?

so... i saw an offer on craigs list for humongous fish tanks for free, very good quality (3 feet wide, 3 feet tall, 4 feet long i think i could be wrong) and ive always wanted to grow stuff hydroponically to add to my garden during the winter (and all year of course)

the problem is... i don't know the first thing about hydroponic gardening T_T

having lurked in this site for so long for information, im finally finding a use to post, has anyone around here made a thread for helping newbies be a hydroponic gardener?

i don't know a thing, or where to begin... also, im very serious about organic gardening, so i don't want to grow my plants with anything artificial or chemical on it.


if there are any threads around here to look or a very good guide online please refer me...

thank you :)

cynthia_h
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There are only two pages of thread titles for the Hydroponics Forum, so a scan of those titles may produce a lot of the info you're looking for. Just start at https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=42

and have fun! :D

Cynthia H.
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Vorguen
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ah well, was just wondering if there is a way to do it without giving your plants any chemicals or anything that isn't natural / organic

malkore
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Vorguen wrote:ah well, was just wondering if there is a way to do it without giving your plants any chemicals or anything that isn't natural / organic
well water lacks NPK for plants, so you have to fertilize the nutrient solution you are feeding them.

Its hard to draw a line as to what ferts are 'organic' though many are derived from natural sources and made in a 'green' manner. Botanicare comes to mind.

hydro isn't cheap and fish tanks don't work very well since you usually need to drill things and aquarium glass is EXPENSIVE to have drilled.

rubbermaid tubs and vinyl gutters work a lot better.

don't forget you need to throw a lot of light at it. I used a 400w metal halide and saw my electrical bill shoot up $15 a month.

I only did hydro because I didn't have a yard for a garden. a year later i got a new house, yard, and now my hydro gear sits in the shed, getting dusty.
Growing: brandwine heirloom toms & early girl toms, red bell peppers, cayenne, poblanos, 2 types of cukes, bush beans, peas, lettuce (seeded), and poultry herbs around the perimeter of the garden.

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Vorguen
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Yeah i heard hydroponics are very expensive.. I wonder how people actually get their money's worth through them?

I was thinking of using it as a medium to grow things during the winter, we'll see, the cost of a hydroponic system is one of my biggest reasons for not going through with this, but I already have the aquariums.

Speaking of aquariums, everywhere I heard was saying aquariums were the best for hydroponics, although it was before I found this forum. The aquariums already have one hole drilled on the bottom with a tube going through them, it might take care of my needs I'm not sure.

I'm going to have to really decide whether or not hydroponics are worth it

Scott S
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You should look into Aquaponics.

Fish waste feeds the bacteria living in the grow media which in turn supplys nutrients for the plants. The process filters the water and it is cycled back into the fish tank to start again. --A very natural process.

Some people are growing out tilapia, trout, cat fish, and craw fish. Whatever lives locally usually works best. If you aren't into eating the fish you can use goldfish or koi instead.

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Hydroponics
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Aquaponics is good, but its not great for high efficiency gardens.

If you really want to make the most out of your space, you will need a little grow box set up or a nice big window.

To answer your questions, there are "organic" nutrient producers for hydroponics. There is even a certification they have called OMRI. I've used the organic liquid nutrients many times and they seemed to work really well for my plants. If you use it in a weak solution you will never see burns or anything like that.

I'm glad to see you are making a conscious decision to stay away from chemicals!
My Hydroponics Blog: Hydroponic Economics

a0c8c
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I had a friend growing some hydroponic plants a while back who used compost tea to fertilize the plants. I'd do a google search and find some real instructions though.
Home Gardener from Austin, TX; by way of Iowa.

Scott S
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Hydroponics wrote:Aquaponics is good, but its not great for high efficiency gardens.
You make some good points but, considering the question was regarding Natural/Organic growing and no mention of efficiency I feel aquaponics was a good answer. :-)

--That being said, I have seen incredible results with aquaponics; so I guess the definition of high efficiency is debatable for some. It is true that it can take weeks if not a month or better for a new system to cycle to a point of being productive. But if you were to look at the big picture including the expense and effort of producing the organic liquid nutrients needed in place of the fish it is probably a wash.

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Vorguen
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Can someone explain all this a little better please?

so aquaponics is more expensive but works just as well? why is that?

and i did not quite understand the rest either lol

DoubleDogFarm
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--That being said, I have seen incredible results with aquaponics; so I guess the definition of high efficiency is debatable for some. It is true that it can take weeks if not a month or better for a new system to cycle to a point of being productive. But if you were to look at the big picture including the expense and effort of producing the organic liquid nutrients needed in place of the fish it is probably a wash.
I recommend looking at some of Will Allen's Growing Power videos on Youtube. Very high efficiency and many pounds of fish.

Eric

Scott S
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DoubleDogFarm wrote:
I recommend looking at some of Will Allen's Growing Power videos on Youtube. Very high efficiency and many pounds of fish.

Eric
Yes! Thank you for that suggestion. I have seen several videos on Growing Power. Good stuff!



Hi Vorguen,

I don't know if aquaponics is more or less expensive. It probably depends on what you are planing to grow, and how much of it. And whether or not you plan to eat the fish. It's kinda cool to raise the fish for consumption and all the while the fish byproduct is helping to grow the salad at the same time! 8) If you don't want to eat the fish, a koi pond would be cool too.

As far as efficiency is concerned, It probably takes a greater time commitment to get an aquaponics system up and running compared to a hydroponic system. And the added "nail biting" involved with the caring for fish simultaneously may add up. Plus you can probably squeeze more yield out of hydro because you can just add whatever nutrient is deficient or would add benefit. In aquaponics you don't usually add nutes. Though, a naturally balanced aquapon system can produce very well too. If a natural grow cycle is most important then aquaponics is worth a look.


Along with the Will Allen's Growing Power videos on youtube there are tons of aquaponic videos. Some are geared more towards the "nuts and bolts" of how it works that could probably show you what it's all about better then I could explain it here.

But I'm still interested in continuing the conversation. What kind of plants are you interested in growing?

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Halfway
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Vorguen wrote:Can someone explain all this a little better please?

so aquaponics is more expensive but works just as well? why is that?

and i did not quite understand the rest either lol
I explored and expanded my hydroponics because of the efficiency. It is NOT expensive until you get less produce than expense. I will not add expenses that take away that efficiency.

Your questions are great, but some more reading and "homework" may set you up for a great base of knowledge and allow you more in-depth questions.

Again, I would not use hydrponics unless it is cost beneficial...and it is,
Zone 4a.

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Vorguen
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Ah thank you, I'm hoping to figure out Hydroponics so I can create fruit produce during winter that I normally couldn't or something that wouldn't grow in my region.

:)

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Hydroponics
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If you are growing fruit, you will probably want an efficient system, other wise it isn't worth your time or your expenses. There are forms of nutrients that are natural/organic without being produced by fish. You can also buy fish based nutrients that are certified organic. But if that isn't natural or organic enough, you may want to make your own liquid using all organic materials. I assume that will be pretty hard to do though because of the questions you have.

I would start with organic liquid nutrients, get a grasp of how your system/fruit work and respond to each other, than start to create a more organic solution as you learn more about Hydroponics.

You should continue posting questions as you have them though, that's why we are here!
My Hydroponics Blog: Hydroponic Economics

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Vorguen
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Ah yeah, I'm definitely interested in being efficient, I am not probably going to make my own liquid organic solution lol.

Aquaponics is interesting but that would be a long term project when I have a lot more moeny..

For now, I am thinking what you all are talking about (ebb and flow probably) using as organic as possible nutrients.


Also why would growing fruit be a problem? I wish I could find a large hydroponics community and find out what they have grown hydroponically succesfully.. I would love to grow some killer blueberries, or maybe something else not found in this part of the world, etc

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Wort
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malkore wrote:
Vorguen wrote:ah well, was just wondering if there is a way to do it without giving your plants any chemicals or anything that isn't natural / organic
well water lacks NPK for plants, so you have to fertilize the nutrient solution you are feeding them.

Its hard to draw a line as to what ferts are 'organic' though many are derived from natural sources and made in a 'green' manner. Botanicare comes to mind.

hydro isn't cheap and fish tanks don't work very well since you usually need to drill things and aquarium glass is EXPENSIVE to have drilled.

rubbermaid tubs and vinyl gutters work a lot better.

don't forget you need to throw a lot of light at it. I used a 400w metal halide and saw my electrical bill shoot up $15 a month.

I only did hydro because I didn't have a yard for a garden. a year later i got a new house, yard, and now my hydro gear sits in the shed, getting dusty.

You can use glass and ceramic drill bits it cost about 8 buck for a quarter inch thick the price goes up with the size but they work wonders i work at a thrift store and always find nice saucers and pans made of glass and ceramic and glazed clay it goes right through I also used it on aquarium glass as well try it sometimes

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Vorguen
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guys so should i be growing the hydroponics indoors or outdoors? whats better and safer for your plants?

hydrolifeCA
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I just want to add in here.

My lettuce is now huge and already I was able to harvest one plant. Deliciously crisp and perfect.

All indoor grown in a room with adequete ventilation. I used only VINEGAR as pH down, never ended up using anything else.

So yes, all organic.

Substrate was corn husk and pumice rock mixture, cleaned to form an almost coir.

It worked out beautiful!

wordwiz
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There is a book called "How To Hydroponics" that explains, step by step, how to build several different systems, everything from a simple Deep Water Culture to PVC pipe systems. It also contains sections on lighting, nutrients and pH levels.

You can build a simple system that will provide you with about six sq. ft. of growing space for non-sun loving plants (such as lettuce) for $40-50, and that includes the lighting.

Rather than buying expensive nuits, I use Tomato-tone, mixed one tablespoon per gallon of water. After aerating it for a day or so, I add it to the solution as needed. A $6 bag will make barrels full of solution!

What I haven't read in any book is that hydro usually is not a simple as sticking a plant in water, waiting a while, and having food for a salad! I recommend starting with the basics - maybe nothing more than 3-4 5-gallon buckets with lids, and using a shop light for the lighting. Grow short season plants like lettuce or spinach so you can get your feet wet. Once you learn the basics, such as keeping the pH and ppm levels correct, you can expand as your budget allows.

Mike

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