Any suggestions for building a low-budget hydroponics set for lettuce?
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  1. #1
    Master Dollar Stretcher madhen's Avatar
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    Default Any suggestions for building a low-budget hydroponics set for lettuce?

    I want to experiment with growing it inside year-round, in my garage, but I don't want a huge kit. I want to grow maybe a dozen at any given time. I suck at DIY, so looking for something easy to put together and less expensive than the $125 kits I am finding on-line.
    DH aka Mad Hen
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    Registered User Contrary Housewife's Avatar
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    I bet there are a lot of DIY sites about growing marijuana now that it has been legalized in several states. You could get tips there. Just thinking outside the box here...
    Stop trying to organize all of your family’s crap. If organization worked for you, you’d have rocked it by now. It’s time to ditch stuff and de-crapify your world.

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  3. #3
    Master Dollar Stretcher madhen's Avatar
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    I have checked them, but their assemblies are typically pricey, because their product is so profitable, they want the biggest and best plants. I have an old Tower Garden that I am thinking I can rehabilitate, but if not, I am hoping maybe to rig a deep water culture system. I would just need a new pump (which I need for the TG, anyway), an airstone, and some tubing, along with the nutrients and pH controls.
    DH aka Mad Hen
    (http://mad-hen-creations.blogspot.com/)

    Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want. Anna Lappe

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    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    I've seen various homebrew setups over the yrs. Try a search on Pintetest.

    For lights, I buy 100 watt full spectrum daylight bulbs for about 4/$10 IIRC. It could be less. The regular curly bulbs are way cheaper than buying full spectrum tubes, at least the 2 foot size. Four foot might be cheaper and can be used in a shop light, which aren't horribly expensive. You can use any lamp but need some way to direct the light downward, and a way to adjust the height of the lamp as the plants grow. Here's a pic of one of our AGs half converted from AG's overpriced proprietary bulbs to standard bulbs. I got a great deal on adapters a few yrs ago.
    Any suggestions for building a low-budget hydroponics set for lettuce?-20200727_221853_1595907243568.jpg
    I've almost used up all the AG bulbs and will never buy more.

    You can't use tap water (city water), softened water, or well water for hydroponics. Distilled water used to be our biggest expense for our AGs. Hydroponic plants suck up A LOT of water once they get big and start producing fruit. We used to buy gallons per week at $1/gallon. I finally wised up and realized we could use clean snow melt in the winter, which is why we now have a 30 gallon plastic trash can living in one of the bathrooms. We installed a rain barrel last year, so now have free water all summer, too. Suddenly our AGs hardly cost anything to run.

    I recommend AeroGarden's liquid nutrients. You must use liquid nutrients made for hydroponics, not nutes made for dirt gardening.

    Online, I've seen hydroponic systems made using plastic totes or PVC sewer lines. Not sure what was used for baskets and sponges to hold the seeds. It's been yrs since I've looked at making a homebrew system. Sounds like you already have the pump to make a bubbler system.You can add more than one stone to a single pump.

  6. #5
    Master Dollar Stretcher madhen's Avatar
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    I am eyeing some old Sterilite containers that might be usable. I can cut holes in the lids to hold the baskets, then run the bubbler in through a small hole in the top. I have adjustable shop lights in my garage, so that shouldn't be a problem. I have well water. I have not heard that you need distilled. On a small scale, I have a Zero Filter water dispenser, so I could probably keep it topped off. If I fixed my Tower Garden, then I would have to figure something else out, as it uses up a lot of water! My well water has very high TDS, so it clogs up most filters pretty quickly. Maybe set up an RO filter and run the hose through that....
    DH aka Mad Hen
    (http://mad-hen-creations.blogspot.com/)

    Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want. Anna Lappe

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    Registered User Contrary Housewife's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by madhen View Post
    I have checked them, but their assemblies are typically pricey, because their product is so profitable, they want the biggest and best plants.
    I was thinking more in terms of how to recycle materials for growing, what to use as a tent to keep moisture in, etc. Not a ready-made package of equipment. Pot farming has been a thing for decades and there are a lot of creative ways people have found to grow indoors in their basements.

    I have a friend who tried aquaculture on a very small scale with herbs like basil and parsley. He used an old fish tank. They should be cheap, we've had 3 we could not give away. I use DH's old fish tank lamps on my indoor house plants during the winter and have turned one into a terrarium.
    Stop trying to organize all of your family’s crap. If organization worked for you, you’d have rocked it by now. It’s time to ditch stuff and de-crapify your world.

    If you're not using the stuff in your home, get rid of it. You're not going to start using it more by shoving it into a closet.

    Use it up, Wear it out,
    Make it do, Or do without. ~unknown

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  8. #7
    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    I don't know if RO would do it. I know from experience well water won't work and AG also notes that in its instructions. You can download AeroGarden's instruction manuals and see their FAQs on their website. Even if you don't use their gardens, a lot of their info would be helpful. The water issue isn't because of clogging filters (my bubblers don't have filters, but my drip gardens do, in the water pumps). The issue is how plants take up nutrients from the water. The wrong water interferes with the uptake of nutrients, so the plants can't grow and produce normally. Of course, it's worth trying your own water. I would. You're only out a few seeds if it doesn't work. Just be aware you may have to buy water if you can't collect snow and rainwater.

    Maybe you could set up a small temporary hydro rig in a sunny window just to test out different water, before you get into bigger systems with lights and everything.

    From what I've read, hydroponics are an excellent way to grow pot. I saw a lot of creative ways people asked on message boards about growing pot in AGs without looking like that's what they were asking, before all the legalization started. It's been clear for yrs a lot of people were using AGs for that purpose. I can understand why. They're very nice self-contained rigs that are easy to use, though expensive. Marijuana is an herb, and many herbs do very well hydroponically. AGs are marketed as herb gardens, among other crops. I've loved having fresh herbs on the kitchen counter. Nothing beats the flavor of fresh. 🙂

  9. #8
    Master Dollar Stretcher madhen's Avatar
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    I have gone to hydroponics stores for nutrients/pH in the past, and it is funny the looks I got. I don't think I look like a pot grower. I maybe look like a cop. Suspicions lessened when I told them I had a Tower Garden, but I always got that first weird look. (Not to mention that most hydroponics stores, just a few years back, were well hidden in dark corners of strip malls, so they probably wondered how I found them.)
    DH aka Mad Hen
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    Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want. Anna Lappe

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    Registered User MaggieTru's Avatar
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    I like old lettuce tubs to grow things in. I've seen "hydroponics" set up with re-purposed soda bottles and a bit of medical tubing hung in a window. If you pick a lettuce that is shade tolerant and have a flourescent light in the vicinity you should be able to do this.
    this shows that system and a few others.

  11. #10
    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    Lettuce might not require full spectrum lights. I'm not sure. Plants that flower and fruit do though.

    Yeah, I do think hydroponics became a covert reference to pot growing. Not surprising, I guess. I'll stick with veggies and more traditional herbs. We used to joke, when we had all our AGs running, that we should expect a pre-dawn visit from DEA.

  12. #11
    Master Dollar Stretcher madhen's Avatar
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    I like the vertical containers, but I have always found, when I have one plant being watered under another, that the second plant does very poorly.
    DH aka Mad Hen
    (http://mad-hen-creations.blogspot.com/)

    Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want. Anna Lappe

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