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Organic Hydroponics

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  • Organic Hydroponics

    When I hear the term 'hydroponics' a variety of growing soilless growing strategies come to mind including:...using a range watering regimes and substrate types including:The other defining feature is that the plants grown in hydroponics are usually fed with a mix of inorganic chemical compounds that are formulated to meet the nutritional needs of specific plants.

    Recently, my interest has been piqued by something called organic hydroponics.

  • #2
    In hydroponics a nutrient solution is mixed and circulated in order to feed the plants. A hydroponically grown plant receives all of its nutrients through this solution and not the medium it’s grown in. This nutrient solution is comprised of a combination of inorganic compounds such as calcium nitrate, potassium nitrate, monopotassium phosphate, iron chelate and many others that, when dissolved into water, dissociate into ions ready for immediate uptake by plants.

    In organic hydroponics, the nutrient solution is comprised of all-natural and organic fertilizers and micronutrients. This can be achieved through a variety of ways, including the use of a compost tea, which provides many of the micronutrients a plant requires.

    Anyway, on the heels of a mediocre season with my soil-based plant growing systems, I decided to learn more about organic hydroponics. I could have used any one of several hydroponics methods but, rather than buying more stuff, I decided to cobble something together from my existing collection of growbeds, tanks, pumps and other aquaponics flotsam.

    To that end, I filled a couple of shallow grow beds with gravel (for which I usually have a healthy contempt) and rigged up a nutrient tank, some pipework and a small submersible pump.

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    I propose to grow some silver beet in here initially.

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    I have yet to put any nutrients into the system. The discolouration of the water is the result of clay and/or powdered sand that has washed off of the gravel.

    Assembling this simple system is the easy part. Producing an effective nutrient solution is the next...and rather more complex...part of the project.

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    • #3
      So,........ you're putting the iAVs build on the back burner?

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      • #4
        To be candid, I'm somewhat confused about what I'm doing. After nearly 14 years of integrated aquaculture in its various forms, I'm feeling burned out...and questioning the relevance of what I do - to the point where I don't feel like doing much of anything.

        I have too many interests...and I'm tired...so I need to work out what is really important to me and focus on that.

        This unit is something that came together...as a response to a perceived need to do something...anything...to snap myself out of the malaise. It was also a knee jerk reaction to a very ordinary soil-based gardening season.

        How this system ends up...and whether I build anything else...depends on the outcome of my deliberations in the coming weeks.

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        • #5
          Almost three weeks after my last post, the motivational lapse has subsided and the pathway is clear.

          Yesterday, I planted this system out with a mix of kangkong, French beans, bok choil and spinach.

          While this system is destined to be organic hydroponics, I still have to build a nutrient brewer/biofilter - and I'm curious about the difference between organic hydro and true hydroponics. So, I've decided to run it initially as a straight hyrdo system...using nutrients out of a bottle.

          Today, I drained the gravel system and refilled it with clean rainwater. I mixed up 150mls each of Canna Aqua Part A and B and stirred them into the nutrient reservoir...where they are to stand for a few hours.

          Later today, I'll start the pump and begin circulating the nutrients through the bed...and things should start growing shortly after that.

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          • #6
            I kept these seedlings for too long before I planted them out in the gravel bed...so they were a bit leggy and jaundiced.

            They've had a few days to get established so I'll take the shade cover off to enable them to get more light.

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            • #7
              The performance of the gravel hydro bed (currently running on bottled nutrients) has been unspectacular. While the kangkong and the pak choi went quite well, the beans and silver beet (Swiss chard) were ordinary to say the least. My most recent experience of kangkong reminded me of how fast it grows...and that chickens love it. It has a very neutral taste and I'm looking forward to trying it in a stir-fry dish.

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              I've built a small organic hydro biofilter/brewer. This will enable me to produce my own nutrient solution.
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