Week three into Hydroponics 101, and we’re ready to introduce drip systems. They’re a hydroponic system with great versatility. Drip systems are commonly utilized in small and large scale agriculture, landscaping, and cannabis cultivation. This systems can also support both small and larger crops. Let’s take a closer look!
Plastic tubing (2 sizes), drip hole punch, drippers, growing medium/pot, grow tray w/ water return (optional), timer, reservoir, nutrient water solution, water pump, air stone, and air pump.
Drip systems are more complex than the previous two hydro systems we introduced, and as we mentioned above, much more versatile. Be aware that drip systems also support spouts that spray and stream, in addition to dripping. For this introduction, we will focus on an indoor drip system, geared towards cannabis cultivation. We choose drip styled spouts because they allow gardeners to avoid foliage spray, which can lead to mold and mildew issues.
To construct your own, you start with the same basic materials in the previous two systems introduced. You can use various grow mediums for drip systems, most commonly, rockwool or a potted coco-perlite mix. Once planted, place plants evenly in your grow environment or on a grow table if you choose.
Reservoir setup follows next. You’ll notice drip and NFT systems share similar reservoir layouts. In a NFT system, the water pump pushed nutrient water through one opening, to provide a constant film of water. But in a drip system, the water pump pushes nutrient water through plastic tubing, which then splits into individual drip spouts. The drip spouts are not constant, but are plugged into a timer, to avoid over watering. Perfecting the interval and length of watering time for your own drip system may take some trial and error, but don’t give up. Once you have your desires drip spouts, lightly push one drip spout into the top of the growing medium, to allow water to drip down to the plant, and continue until all of your plants have a drip spout. Mainely Hydro grow specialists highly recommend an air pump and air stone in your reservoir. Since the flow of nutrient water isn’t constant, dissolved oxygen levels may deplete faster. This simple fix will allow your nutrient water to stay oxygenated.
Depending on the size of your drip system, or if you have chosen to grow atop a growing tray, you may want to add a return opening to your reservoir. If this is the case, you can angle your growing tray slightly downward, above your reservoir. This will enable return water to naturally empty into the reservoir. Utilizing a return water system helps to cut down on unnecessary water usage by recycling extra runoff. The water and its nutrient content will change and deplete overtime in the reservoir. Be sure to regularly monitor the levels of nutrients and pH in your reservoir; it doesn’t matter if you choose to reuse your runoff or not. Simple horticultural devices, like TDS meters and pH meters, are a must have for all hydroponic gardeners.
Drip systems can be used to automate gardens and minimize time spent manually feeding. This can be especially beneficial for feeding many plants at once. Drip systems can also manage power outage issues better than a NFT system. If there is an interruption in water flow to plants in a NFT system, they will quickly dry out in a matter of minutes. Drip systems deliver a larger volume of water, at various intervals, for a specified amount of time. This technique allows plants to get adequate feeds throughout the day. The drawback to drip systems? It’s no secret plants are individualized when it comes to nutrient and water needs. Feeding each plant the same amount of water, for the same amount of time, at the same time of day could lead to over watering or under watering of specific plants. As long as you are monitoring your garden regularly you can correct these issues as they arise.
Drip systems, a versatile, automated, hydroponic system that can be applied to indoor and outdoor cultivation alike. Helping immensely to simplify your garden’s feeding schedule. Hydroponics 101 will be back next Green Thumb Thursday to introduce ebb and flow, or ebb and flood systems.Posted on: April 7, 2016, by : cmello