Everything you need to know about DIY Hydroponic PVC System
There are a number of people who love growing their own plants. But due to space limitations in the backyard or issues with soil texture, they might feel helpless. But with the invention of hydroponics and Hydroponics PVC systems, plants like cabbage, onion, chili, tomatoes, and lots more can be cultivated.
What is a Hydroponic PVC system?
With the basic necessity for household waste plumbing, Hydroponic PVC systems are such infrastructures made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe or metal that uses the applications of hydroponics.
Purpose of Hydroponic PVC System
So basically, the main gist is that you can grow your plants hydroponically with a Hydroponic PVC system. These systems administer nutrient solutions customized to the requirements of the particular plant grown. But how does this Hydroponic PVC system work?
Working of Hydroponic PVC system
They work on the principle of controlling environmental conditions like pH balance, temperature to ensure maximum exposure of crops to nutrition water.
Advantages of Hydroponic PVC System
Hydroponic PVC System offers some of the best advantages owing to the material PVC used. The PVC materials set itself apart from different material which crumbles down with time:
- Hydroponic PVC systems are mostly affordable, however, a metal-based system is a bit costly.
- Hydroponic PVC Systems can be easily made at home at an affordable price owing to the lost cost of PVC. On top of that, it remains unaffected by the weather conditions wherever installed.
- PVC is very efficient in use owing to its solubility and nontoxic nature. They are lighter as compared to metal ones.
- Whether it’s rain, or mist, or fog, or excessive sunlight, PVC retains its strength.
As cited as one of its advantages, the hydroponic systems can be built at homes within an affordable range. Here we will be discussing the products required, their features, and methods to integrate them. So let’s get started.
Which plants can be grown using a DIY hydroponic PVC system?
YOu can grow onions, spinach, chives, zucchini, arugula, yellow squash, lettuce, basil, and cucumbers, cabbage, mint, peppers, strawberries, chili, cherry tomatoes, parsley, and radishes, broccoli, cilantro, peas, oregano, cauliflower, and green peas
Hydroponic Methods to grow at home
When you have decided to get started with a hydroponic system, you will have a few options in your mind.
Ebb and flow hydroponic systems
The crops in an ebb and flow system are not constantly exposed to water. The abundance of oxygen and nutrition to the plants encourages vigorous growth. The water bed is flooded with water, which the roots absorb for the growth of the plant.
Ebb and flow hydroponic systems involve pipes for flowing water. A pump stays connected for 15mins an hour filling the pipe with nutrients. When the pump is switched off, the nutrient returns back to the reservoir. This is kind of similar to the rain and drought cycle.
When the nutrient- rich water ebbs and the grow bed dries up, the roots also dry out. The dry roots then oxygenate themselves in the interval before the next overflow of water. This system consists of an overflow tube to check that flooding doesn’t go beyond a certain limit and damage the stalks and stems of the tiny crops.
Pros of Ebb and flow hydroponic systems
- Larger plants can be grown.
- This DIY hydroponic system will give you hundreds of ways for construction.
- Cleanable, reusable, lightweight.
- Can be placed anywhere feasible.
- Has a much wider scope for plant life.
Cons of Ebb and flow hydroponic systems
- Pump failure can be obstructive.
- Constant monitoring is needed.’ If water flow is too fast then an adequate amount of water won’t be supplied to the plants.
- Not draining the bed properly can be a home to pests, root diseases. (dirty beds can attract insects).
- Flooding can cause pH changes that might affect a plant’s sanity.
Deep Water culture hydroponic systems
In this method, the roots stay completely submerged underwater (aerated water) whereas the PVC pipes are filled with the nutrient solution. The net pots with plants are kept on the holes in the upper surface of the pipe. Pebbles are added to hold oxygen aside from giving excellent drainage. Deep Water culture is considered to be the purest form of hydroponics.
Since the majority of the time the roots stay submerged under the water, nutrient through water is achieved, However proper water oxygenation through water is also necessary.
An air stone connected to the air pump at the bottom of the reservoir can be used to give the necessary supply of oxygen to the system. The air stone bubbles will help circulate the oxygen circulating in the solution.
The deepwater culture system happens to be the most home-friendly hydroponic system. You need not buy too many products to make one. SO ultimately the time to assemble all the parts is off by a huge extent. You can use a clean bucket to hold the solution and keep a floating surface like styrofoam on top to locate the net pots.
Pros of Deepwater system
- Larger plants can be grown.
- The nutrient solution needs replenishing every 2-3 weeks
Cons of Deepwater system
- Become slower for larger plants
- Not ideal for flowers
- water solution should be within 60°F to 68°F.
Here, the plant is grown in a growth media on a tray or box-like structure and kept in a reservoir. The reservoir contains a nutrient-rich solution.
Wicks transfer from the reservoir to the tray with water flowing up the wick and flooding the area around the plants. However, it is only possible if the growing medium can allow nutrient transfer.
Wicks can be strings or ropes and this system doesn’t need any additional motor to pump. So by following the principle of passive hydroponics they can work.
Pros of Wick system
- No monitoring needed
- Constant supply of water ensured
- Can be installed anywhere easily
- No pump needed
- Can run even without electricity
Cons of wick system
- The plants that demand high water quantities won’t thrive. For eg: tomatoes, rosemary, etc
- Not meant for root vegetables like turnips and carrots
- Always humid and damp which can risk the outbreak of fungus and related diseases.
In a drip system, the aerated and nutrient-rich reservoir pumps the nutrient-rich solution through tubes to individual plants. This solution is added slowly to the growth media which surrounds the root system. This helps the plants retain moisture and keeps them well-nourished.
A drip system can actually be used for mass growth or irrigation. The drip system can have 2 modes i.e., recovery and non-recovery. In recovery systems, excessive water is removed from the bed back to the reservoir and the cycle continues until the next drip. This is more popular, especially with home growers.
Non- drip solutions can deliver the precise amount of nutrients for keeping the area around the plant moist. This can control water wastage however human force needs to be employed for monitoring purposes.
Pros of drip systems
- Supports larger plants.
- Can be used by commercial and large-scale growers.
- Melons, pumpkins, onions, and zucchinis can be supported.
- work best with slow draining media, like rock wool, coco coir, and peat moss.
- Can hold huge quantities of growing media.
- The additional reservoirs can be added.
Cons of drip systems
- Constant monitoring of nutrient and pH levels.
- Recovery systems can be clogged
- Contamination by debris
- Regular washing of channels needed.
- Complex system
Nutrient Film Technique System
Nutrient film technique (NFT) systems keep the plants upon the sudden gush of nutrient solution that cleans apart the ends of the plant’s roots. This is possible with the help of a motor pump.
The channels that hold the roots of the plants together are tilted a bit so that water can run down the whole of the tray before draining finally onto the reservoir. Also, this allows the roots to be exposed to moisture.
Aeration takes place due to the presence of stones in the tray. The roots are not placed deep in the water. The bottoms of the channels are operated with grooves, so a shallow film can be allowed to pass over the root tips with ease. This prevents water from pooling up against the root systems.
Pros of Nutrient Film Technique System
- Recirculation of water doesn’t allow water wastage.
- Constant water flood doesn’t allow excessive salts or dirt to stay on the bed or plant’s roots.
- No need for growth media
- A single channel can help you transfer water to multiple other channels. At the same time every channel will be fed with a separate reservoir.
- Designed in a way to serve the requirements of large-scale and commercial projects.
- Due to the reservoir system, if a pump fails or disease spreads, it won’t spread to the other channels and the operation can still continue.
Cons of Nutrient Film Technique System
- If the pump fails, then the channel won’t be circulating and the plants will dry. So constant monitoring is needed as plants can dry up if not surrounded by water for a few hours.
- So pump performance has to be monitored
- Plants can be grown too close. This will lead to proliferating root growth with the channel being clogged.
- Plants at the bottom of the channel have less access to nutrient-rich solutions.
Which is the most convenient DIY hydroponic method for beginners
Often asked by people who are new to hydroponics and want to try their hands on it as soon as possible. For them, deep water culture happens to be the appropriate one. However, the limitation is that you can use small crops and not huge or tall crops that require a lot of water and nutrients.
While growing the crops also, they do not require constant maintenance. Even household items can be used instead of the proper tools needed to build this. Thus the below maintenance feature makes it the most used and preferred DIY hydroponic system at home.
Tools needed to build a DIY Hydroponic System
These are the tools you need in your bag before proceeding with building a DIY hydroponic system.
- Four 10 ft 4 inch PVC pipes
- Eight 4 inch PVC elbows
- 4 ft Hydroponic pump hose
- Duct tape
- PVC pipe glue
- Hydroponic Submersible Pump
- PVC primer cement
- 6-inch air stones for aeration and circulating nutrients.
- A 30-gallon plastic storage
- 40 pieces of 16 Oz plastic cups
- 20-liter bag of expanded clay pellets
- 2 Sawhorses
- LED Lights
Apart from the essential tools needed, don’t forget to keep a set of helping tools like Chalk Line, Maker, Hack saw, Tape measure, Soldering iron, pruning shears, Hole saw, and Power drill.
Steps to build your DIY Hydroponics PVC System
After getting all the tools, these steps will help you build your hydroponics system. However, it will require efforts from your side and a lot of time to rightly assemble the parts.
Step 1: Assembling the materials along with the helper tools
Steps 2: Cutting the PVC Pipes
Step 3: Gluing the system and arrange them in the grid of your choice like straight or zigzag
Step 4: Making holes in the pipes to hold the net pot
Step 5: Cleaning the system to check for breakage after drilling
Step 6: DIY hydroponics netted pots at home
Step 7: Installing a dam hydroponic system to control the water level in PVC pipes
Step 8: Making a nutrient-rich solution and adding growth medium
Step 9: Installing a water pump
Step 10: Install a Lighting system with a power rating of 1000 watt
Step 11: Choosing the plants you need to grow (with this setup most of the plants can grow)
Step 12: Monitoring your Plant when the reservoir’s water level falls below the needed
Tips to monitor DIY Hydroponics PVC System
One of the most important features of any hydroponics system is continuously monitoring it. However, some timely actions can help you with this. The NFT system makes use of a pump to provide nutrient-rich solutions to the plant.
It reaches the net pots with seed submerged in a growth medium. The growth medium absorbs the nutrients needed. It then recycles the excess water back into the reservoir.
- As a result, the entire plant isn’t soaked but at the same time, necessary nutrients are absorbed. This allows the upper part of the roots to have access to air.
- Also, the pump runs all the time. So it’s necessary to keep a power backup connected.
- Make sure the tank doesn’t dry out or the pump will burn up.
- Whenever you see the water level falling below the level mentioned above, fill the reservoir again with water and growth medium.
- Also, test the nutrient level in water so that you don’t add excessive or fewer nutrients. Check the pH and nutrient levels every few days.
- Apart from these, look for some pests and diseases like the presence of insect pests, chewed leaves, and foliar diseases.
- A disease on one leaf will spread to the entire plant in no time. Also, since the plants hardly get rainwater, they are less likely to be infected by leaf fungus, mildew, and mold.
Which location should you choose for setting up your Hydroponic PVC system?
Location plays a key role. Even though these setups can thrive almost everywhere, it’s essential to find such a place where the setup won’t be disturbed. Always look for an enclosed structure like a greenhouse on the balcony of your home or deck. The floor should be leveled to check even coverage of nutrients and water to the plants. Greenhouses are good options too.
If you are placing the hydroponic PVC system outdoors, check for factors like wind speed, keep an eye on the water level decreasing due to water loss from evaporation. So it is advisable to keep it indoors. You can add LED lights for the replacement of sunlight.
Challenges of Hydroponic System PVC
Every system has its own set of advantages, surely have some critics and challenges to work upon and come with new solutions. So these are some of the challenges of the Hydroponic PVC System:
- PVC can get prone to contamination. Plant roots and stems and creepers can easily get into them.
- If not drilled accurately, there might be leakages.
- During the growth process, when the root mass increases and they grow in size, this hampers the speed and flow of water through the pipe.
Is there any solution to this?
- That’s the best thing. This contamination can be controlled. Using water-resistant or water-permeable fabric coating within the PVC pipes is the best solution. This can even let the water and nutrients flow without letting the tiny creepers enter.
- Apart from that, the contamination can be cleared by cleaning the pipe using solutions. The solution is a 1 percent sodium hypochlorite solution that involves mixing one part of bleach with nine parts of water.
Frequently asked questions
Is PVC cement safe for hydroponics?
Ans: The PVC chemical cement is highly toxic and may be very difficult to use. That’s why it’s advisable to use glue.
What plastic is safe for hydroponics?
Ans: The two types marked safe for use in hydroponics are high-density polyethylene and polypropylene.
How long should I run my hydroponic system?
Ans: A duration of 30-minute minimum on/off time settings works, but 15-minute minimums will give you more flexibility to operate.
Is Schedule 40 PVC safe for hydroponics?
Ans: Yes, Schedule 40 PVC is a food-safe material for gardens and aquaponics.
What is the easiest hydroponic system to use?
Ans: Deep Water Culture (DWC) is the easiest type of hydroponic system which you can build and maintain at home. In Deep Water Culture (DWC), plants grow with their roots submerged entirely in nutrient-rich water.
How to build Deep Water Culture at home?
Ans: For home growers, Deep Water Culture can be achieved by growing in large opaque storage containers or buckets.