Aquaponic Gardening

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Just getting started and I am confused. Some articles say grow beds need to be 12 inches and then I see pictures of plants in 4 inch pvc pipes. What do you recommend?

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a Mix.

The grow beds are your biological filter - catching solids to be break down by worms, bacteria.

The pipes you referring to is probably Nutrient Thin Film

http://hydroponics.about.com/od/hydrosystems/a/Hydroponic-Gardens-N...

The pipes allow you to increase your growth space vertical (pending type of crop you intend to grow).

the 12" is just a recommendation - as it allows for good root growth and aeration.

Thank you for your response.

Do you know of a chart that shows which plants grow best in a PVC pipe vs floating vs 12" growbed?

Unfortunately not Woody

- best is to do a few experiments with plants and see what grow.

Plants with a shallow root system... lettuce and strawberries are good for that type of grow.

thx

My first hydroponics experiment was with a 4" pvc pipe. I strapped it the railing of the porch, put a rubbermaid container under one end for a sump, and had a pump direct the nutrient to the other end of the pipe. I used 2" net cups and grew fantastic, huge, tender, delicious romaine lettuce and decent Brite-lights swiss chard. This was a continuous flow setup. The downside was that the roots followed the flow of water downstream and tangled together. However, it just meant I had to use up the harvest (but not all at once) before I could replant. 

What 4" pipes are really good for is growing out seedlings, or as a temp holding space for seedlings. Tomatoes love it (while they are young - they have to eventually be planted in media). I can put 4 grow pipes on a "grow table" (2x8') on my porch, plumb them together and use one sump and pump. I put all my 2" net pots (I space them close together) in these, about a 120 plants, to acclimate them and hold them until I am ready to put them into the main aquaponics system. I use hydroponics nutrients to start them, since in early spring the fish ponds aren't fully activated. 

4" pipes could probably be used in a vertical NFT system for small plants. Again, the difficulty is keeping the roots from tangling among the plants. I have had tomato roots grow over 3 feet - they will follow the flow of the water. 

Thin walled pipe can be used, but has to be supported along its length - 4 supports aren't enough; the pipe will bend. Also must be painted or draped to block light and insulated.

I just picked up a couple of 4" drain pipes for about $6 each for my first NFT setup.. The\y are white thin walled but have a black inner wall so painting won't be necessary. They are rigid enough I think I shouldn't need more than 3 supports. Got them at Menard's. Plan on using them for cabbage and strawberries and might move them to the basement for winter growing.

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