Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Critique My Hypothetical Hydroponic Setup

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default Critique My Hypothetical Hydroponic Setup

    Hi, I'm new to hydroponics, and have only done a little gardening in the past, but I've gotten it into my head that I might want to try doing some year-round hydroponic vegetable growing up here in upstate New York. My notion is to grow in my (heated) basement at least 4-6 months out of the year, and if possible move things outdoors during the nicer months. I'm renting a townhouse-style apartment, so while I have space outside, building a greenhouse is out of the question; the hydroponic system would be simply sitting outside. I'd like to grow a variety of vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, greens, herbs, etc., etc. I'd also like to grow enough to meaningfully impact my produce-buying.

    So that's the background. I've done some research and come up with this starting point. I was hoping to get some commentary from people who know better than I. Things I've missed, not thought of, cheaper/better alternatives, etc. I'd post links, but since this is my first post, I believe I can't.


    Hydroponic System
    Autopot Easy2Grow 6 pot/3 tray kit

    This seems to be the simplest, easiest, lowest-maintenance, most versatile system that is both effective and scalable. It also appears to be one of the cheaper solutions, even with the comparatively high cost of getting it in the US rather than the UK. I've seen a number of people online using it with good results, both indoors and outdoors. I'm avoiding building my own homemade system, since the bulk of the cost is the SmartValve anyway, and the people I've seen online who built their own pots/trays seem to all have problems of one kind or another.


    Lighting
    HydroFarm 4', 4 lamp T5 grow light w/ included 4 ~6000K grow bulbs

    I'll need some pretty substantial light output for my basement, which gets essentially no natural light. I'd love to go LED, but they are, for this initial set-up, rather hideously expensive.


    Growing Substrate
    50% Hydroton/50% coco fiber

    One of the recommended substrate combinations for the Autopot. At first I was thinking just hydroton, but it apparently doesn't have enough capillary action to be ideal in the Autopots. The coco fiber solves that. Other than that, I like the notion of hydroton because it's reusable, and coco fiber is dirt cheap.


    Starting Medium
    Grodan Stonewool Miniblocks

    No readily available seedlings means starting my own. I admit I'm a little fuzzy on whether I'd need to move the seedlings (in the mini blocks) to some other intermediate container before putting them in the Autopots


    I'll also need a temperature/humidity monitor, and very possibly a space heater or similar; while my basement is heated, I keep my apartment as a whole at 70F or less, and the basement tends to be a few degrees cooler.

    I figure I'd use the nutrients that come with the Autopot kit until they're nearly out, then worry about buying more.

    Price on all this, with shipping, ends up being in the vicinity of $370. Using the per pound price of hydroponic/greenhouse tomatoes at the grocery store as a benchmark, I'd need to produce in the vicinity of 25 pounds of tomatoes per pot to break even. Not that I'd be growing just tomatoes, or that I'd really be doing this just to save money; that's just a convenient way to gauge the economics of the system.

    Thanks for reading all that. I'd really appreciate any input people can give. I'm not sure I'm actually going to do this, but I'm getting my plan in order.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Nothing? I'm pretty confident about most of what I have there. I don't really have a good notion of whether that lighting is enough. I figure at a minimum I'd have to swap one or more of the tubes for 3000K flowering tubes once the plants are established, but I don't know if it's a valid solution in general. The information I've been able to find has not been terribly clear.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    227

    Default

    Lighting should be 30-50 watts/square foot of plant canopy.
    HID lighting is the most efficient.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by willard3 View Post
    Lighting should be 30-50 watts/square foot of plant canopy.
    HID lighting is the most efficient.
    Thanks for the reply. Aren't lumens a better way to express the light output, since light output per Watt varies depending on the technology?

    Also, do metal halide bulbs produce enough light in the red spectrum to effectively flower and fruit plants, or would I also need a high-pressure sodium bulb? (I know they normally use different fixtures, but there are switchable fixtures as well as conversion bulbs.)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    227

    Default

    30-50 watts/square foot includes the differences in light source, ie, LED, MH, HPS, fluorescent.
    If you know your light source, 3000 lumens/square foot is good.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    1

    Default

    @Arcanum - I am new to this as well so was hoping to see an active exchange of ideas and suggestions to your query but saw limited feedback from the community. Hopefully you'll have some more feedback coming your way soon.

    How is your project coming along? I am in the same spot and still researching systems and options. It starts to become expensive pretty fast. Apart from having the satisfaction of growing some of your own produce, how long would you reckon is the break even for a project like this given the costs and expected savings?

    Good luck!

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nkjohri View Post
    @Arcanum - I am new to this as well so was hoping to see an active exchange of ideas and suggestions to your query but saw limited feedback from the community. Hopefully you'll have some more feedback coming your way soon.

    How is your project coming along? I am in the same spot and still researching systems and options. It starts to become expensive pretty fast. Apart from having the satisfaction of growing some of your own produce, how long would you reckon is the break even for a project like this given the costs and expected savings?

    Good luck!
    Plan on growing the most expensive tomatoes ever If you do it right though you can get a huge yield every few months, sell the extras at your local farmers market or something, or maybe donate it to your local foodbank/foodpantry and feed the community. If you aren't growing a cash crop like *********, than expensive hydroponic systems don't really break even unless you would normally buy a lot of tomatoes and stuff.

    Edit: Rally? This forum censors the word m-a-r-i-j-u-a-n-a? It's a hydroponic forum for god's sake...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    107

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcanum View Post
    Hi, I'm new to hydroponics, and have only done a little gardening in the past, but I've gotten it into my head that I might want to try doing some year-round hydroponic vegetable growing up here in upstate New York. My notion is to grow in my (heated) basement at least 4-6 months out of the year, and if possible move things outdoors during the nicer months. I'm renting a townhouse-style apartment, so while I have space outside, building a greenhouse is out of the question; the hydroponic system would be simply sitting outside. I'd like to grow a variety of vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, greens, herbs, etc., etc. I'd also like to grow enough to meaningfully impact my produce-buying.

    So that's the background. I've done some research and come up with this starting point. I was hoping to get some commentary from people who know better than I. Things I've missed, not thought of, cheaper/better alternatives, etc. I'd post links, but since this is my first post, I believe I can't.


    Hydroponic System
    Autopot Easy2Grow 6 pot/3 tray kit

    This seems to be the simplest, easiest, lowest-maintenance, most versatile system that is both effective and scalable. It also appears to be one of the cheaper solutions, even with the comparatively high cost of getting it in the US rather than the UK. I've seen a number of people online using it with good results, both indoors and outdoors. I'm avoiding building my own homemade system, since the bulk of the cost is the SmartValve anyway, and the people I've seen online who built their own pots/trays seem to all have problems of one kind or another.


    Lighting
    HydroFarm 4', 4 lamp T5 grow light w/ included 4 ~6000K grow bulbs

    I'll need some pretty substantial light output for my basement, which gets essentially no natural light. I'd love to go LED, but they are, for this initial set-up, rather hideously expensive.


    Growing Substrate
    50% Hydroton/50% coco fiber

    One of the recommended substrate combinations for the Autopot. At first I was thinking just hydroton, but it apparently doesn't have enough capillary action to be ideal in the Autopots. The coco fiber solves that. Other than that, I like the notion of hydroton because it's reusable, and coco fiber is dirt cheap.


    Starting Medium
    Grodan Stonewool Miniblocks

    No readily available seedlings means starting my own. I admit I'm a little fuzzy on whether I'd need to move the seedlings (in the mini blocks) to some other intermediate container before putting them in the Autopots


    I'll also need a temperature/humidity monitor, and very possibly a space heater or similar; while my basement is heated, I keep my apartment as a whole at 70F or less, and the basement tends to be a few degrees cooler.

    I figure I'd use the nutrients that come with the Autopot kit until they're nearly out, then worry about buying more.

    Price on all this, with shipping, ends up being in the vicinity of $370. Using the per pound price of hydroponic/greenhouse tomatoes at the grocery store as a benchmark, I'd need to produce in the vicinity of 25 pounds of tomatoes per pot to break even. Not that I'd be growing just tomatoes, or that I'd really be doing this just to save money; that's just a convenient way to gauge the economics of the system.

    Thanks for reading all that. I'd really appreciate any input people can give. I'm not sure I'm actually going to do this, but I'm getting my plan in order.
    Thanks “Arcanum” for starting thread regarding hydroponic setup, its informative and it will be useful in my future plant growth.

  9. #9

    Default

    SWeet! Keep up the good forum!

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •