How to convert a spare bedroom into a hydroponic grow room.
Have you ever heard of some one having a "grow room"? You probably have wondered what can you possibly grow indoors any way right? Well it's pretty complex if you don't know where to start, but with a little bit of info you can be fast on your way to growing almost anything you want. If fact indoor hydroponics is becoming a huge market. As time passes, more and more of the vegetables you buy in the grocery store where actually grown in an indoor hydroponic garden.
There are some distinct advantages to growing lets say a tomato indoors in a hydroponic grow room over an outside plant in the ground.
1- climate control, you decide the climate thus always ensuring that conditions are ideal for each specific crop.
2- year around growing- even in the most ideal climates, when growing outdoors there still exist the seasons, a period where the days are short and temperatures are low. Not an ideal condition for plant growth.
3- disease a common problem with gardens is disease, from either a bacterial or fungal infection to the root system or the foliage its self.
4- pest control, if you maintain a secure and well enclosed room you can virtually eliminate the need for pesticides and pest prevention.
So now on to what exactly your going to need. There are endless variations on how you can grow indoors. The big differences are going to be in growing medium and method of nutrient delivery. So here I am going to cover Ebb & Flow, the most popular and basic method of indoor hydroponic farming.
Ebb & Flow Flood table and resivoir
With any Ebb & Flow system there is always going to exist a flood table/tray and a reservoir. The basic workings of the system is that you have plants growing on the surface of the table, with its root system growing into some sort hydroponics friendly medium such as Rockwool, Hydroton, or Coco Fiber products. The idea is to have your water and nutrient source stored in the reservoir(bottom piece shown in picture) and at periods throughout the day the nutrient solution will be pumped up into the flood tray by a submerged pumped. The pumps used are two way pumps, so while the pump is turned on, the solution is flooding the table and allowing the medium to absorb the solution. As soon as the pump shuts off, the solution drains back down into the reservoir to be used again. That's the very basic idea behind an Ebb & Flow table.
1000 watt High Pressure Sodium LightClick thumbnail to view full-size
The next big issue to tackle is lighting. The things you have to consider is how much area do you want to cover and the amount of wattage you're going to need. The other big issue that is better addressed before a problem arises, is the issue of heat. Grow lights will produce a lot of heat, and if you don't have sufficient ventilation you could run the risk of over heating a room and destroying a crop. You also need to look ahead and think about what kind f crops you are going to be growing. Some lights do better for leafy fast growing vegetative growth, while high yielding fruiting plants require different kinds of light.
Ebb and Flow overview
Now lets put it all together.
So lets say that you just want to devote a corner of the room to growing some veggies This set up will take up about a 5'x5' space. This is a short list of what you'll need
1- 1000w HPS grow light with venting
1- 4" 200 cfm in-line fan
1- 20' flexible ducting
2- 4'x4' Flood table
1- fill fitting/overflow fitting/ tubing
1- 300 gallon/hour pump
1- 16 4"x4" rockwool cubes
2- 30 lbs bag of Hydroton
1- ph test kit
1- nutrient kit
1- ph down
What to do with it all
If you cherish your home as I do, then you may just want to think ahead and take some necessary precautions not to ruin your host and incur some costly bills. Buying a $20 tarp from Home Depot to lay down over the floor will make a whole lot of sense. As much as you try to be careful and avoid mess's and spills it's going to happen, a lot! Just about everything you're dealing with is wet, and chances are you're going to be moving things around. Another smart lil purchase is buying one of those little 1 hp. shop vacs, it will run you about $20 as well, plus you can actually suck up all the crap that accumulate in between the cushions with it. I know a huge plus.
So now that you have laid down the tarp, and have your shop vac ready for the first disaster, lets get started.
1- take your 4x4 and assemble all of the fittings and hoses for the tray. Once the fittings and hoses are on, place it into a corner, hopefully close to a window(get to why later). Place it right up against the wall, so you can use the white paint from the wall(if they are white already) to help reflect and use more light.
2- Take your 40 gallon reservoir and place it under the flood tray so that it is resting on it evenly, the reservoir is going to act as the main support for the flood tray. Make sure that the tray sits nice and flat on the reservoir cause it will get heavy when it floods and once the crop comes it gain weight as well.
3- Connect your pump to the "fill hose" on the flood tray and set the pump down into the reservoir
4- Now you want to hang your lights, and this is best done with a pair of adjustable light hangers, they will allow you to move your lights with ease and help you avoid using chains and rope. You want to hang the light so that the light is cast right to the edge of the tray. When the plants are young and short you will want to have the light as close as possible while not burning any of the plant. Having your light too far off the plants will cause for slow growth and stretching, leading to flimsy plants. Try to keep the ballast as far away from any water as possible, so that you obviously don't get electrocuted and to prevent moisture from getting inside and ruining the coil.
5- Once the light is hung well, you will want to hook up the ducting so that you can cool the lamp. This is going to include ventilation for the room as well. You want to start with connecting the flexible ducting to the reflector of the light, them run the ducting to the fan so that the fan is sucking air from the room into and out of the reflector. From the fan on, where it is now blowing, you want to run more ducting from the fan to the window and out of the room. It's important to evacuate as much warm air as possible, and keep fresh air flowing.
Make sure that everything is nice and neat, and well organized. Take the time to do it right and avoid rushing things. Keep track of of all your chemicals and properly store them. Once that every thing is set up you're ready to set up the tray and reservoir so that you can start to grow.
This write up serves more as a primer, and a rough over look. I am going to take the time to do a formal in depth write up on each aspect of setting up your room.
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