Welcome to another edition of "crap wot drfish did" - hopefully someone finds this interesting but once again I find myself sharing this largely for my own benefit and to help me collect my thoughts. Oh, no one tell Jeff about this thread, I probably should have spend this time working on a review.
The primary goal of this project is to learn about proper hydroponics and build my own small scale "farm" for growing Chrysanthemums. Yes, Chrysanthemums
. It also might
have something to do with living out my Stardew Valley
fantasies in RL - but probably not... Other potential crops include cat grass, lettuce, mint, kale, micro-greens, spinach and maybe even strawberries down the road if I don't get bored with it.
Anyway, it was obviously pretty quickly that what I needed to do was build an "ebb and flow
" system but I also had a specific form factor
in mind, something even smaller than small-scale recommendations of a 30 gallon reservoir (plants can't be trickier than fish, right?). I didn't imagine I would get it right the first time (spoiler, I didn't) but I had some ideas to test so I could make better decisions later and after a couple weeks of thinking/waiting and a couple nights of assembling/testing this is what I came up with for version 1.0.
The lights are these LED strips
and there are three on each layer (the greenhouse is also in front of a window for real sunlight in the afternoon). The trays are your run-of-the-mill ~$1 a piece seed trays, the tubing is pennies a foot LDPE water line and it's attached to 1/4" and 3/8" push lock bulkheads that I sealed up with silicone where they go through the tray. Beyond that I have a 5-gallon reservoir and a $15 aquarium pump (connected to the 1/4" line with this manifold
) - not a lot to it honestly.
As you might have guessed there are some problems, I'll just cover the big two though. First is that the trays on the top basically don't fill, the pump just can't get the job done with pesky rules of physics and gravity doing their jobs so well. Because I'm committed to this tiered approach I think I'm going to have to break with convention and pump all my water into the top two trays and let them overflow down to the ones underneath instead of feeding each tray with a dedicated line. The second big problem is that while my 3/8" overflow drains worked out pretty well, the 1/4" fill lines did not allow the trays to empty after the pump was turned off - so basically the whole ebb and flow is at best only working 50% of the way is should. I need to retool my whole plumbing process - but I think I can do it without needing to purchase much more
- or at least I'm going to try. Once I get that worked out better I'll move on
to the next steps