So here is a quick update on my hydroponics setup at Hive76. In my previous post I uploaded a video on a hydroponic garden I built in my basement two years ago. My goal was to build the setup with as little moving parts as possible to ensure the garden required little maintenance. With the hydroponic garden I am building at Hive76 I decided to keep to the spirit of simplicity but a completely different approach with it.
With my latest version I am using medical grade IV bags to store the water above the plants. Then by attaching a mechanism to the IV bags known as a ‘flow controller’, gravity pulls the water from the bags to the plants below at a consistent rate. The rate at which water flows through that controller be anywhere from 5 to 250 ml / hr.
The IV bags and flow controllers are great because they are very inexpensive (one IV bag and flow controller cost me a few dollars from medtecmedical.com). Plus they can potentially be reused since they are being used on plants and not humans if you are careful to prevent contamination. But possible the most useful thing about using IV bags is that they require no energy to operate, which further reduces costs.
To evenly distribute the water that is supplied by the IV bags to the plants, I put the plants within a medium of rockwool cubes that are about 1 cubic centimeter in size. The rockwool essentially acts as a sponge that takes the water that is supplied by the IV drip and evenly distributes it to all the plants within the container.
I’m testing my current hydroponic setup on spinach seeds at the moment. The plants are still in their infancy so I have not added nutrients to their water supply yet but I plan to do so in about a week(adding too high a concentration of nutrients to young plants can damage their roots). My short term goal is to monitor the spinach in my hydroponic setup through its entire life cycle, taking general notes along the way. After the plants have finished their life cycle I want to take some time to build a second prototype and post its plans on Hive’s webpage. Hopefully by that point, the system will be a useful platform for scientific experimentation. Then the real fun can begin!!!