Save Money with Aquaponics

Save money with aquaponics

Nutrition is essential for good health. Unfortunately, less and less healthy food is available on the market. The fatty, semi-prepared food has taken over the supermarkets and local store. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find organic food that is not only tastier, but it is also healthier than the crops grown with chemical fertilizers. Fortunately, it’s possible to save money with aquaponics.

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Hydroponic Garden Kits

hydroponic grow kit

What is a hydroponic garden kit?

Hydroponic kits provide materials and accessories for growing and cloning seeds or cuttings. Types of kits include outdoor and indoor hydroponic kits, hydroponic starter kits, hydroponic tent kits, and others for supporting your plants in a nutrient solution indoors and outdoors.

However, the more you substitute for nature, the more complicated these kits are and the more expensive they become. When you remove plants from their natural environment, as in indoor gardening, then you have to duplicate all aspects of that environment by artificial or technical means.

The right hydroponic kit will depend on the stage of development, the conditions the plants are grown in and your available budget. Here are some hydroponic kits you may find indispensable:

Hydroponic Cloning Kits

Hydroponic cloning kits can cost between $30.00 to $100.00 depending on the level of sophistication. A hydroponic cloning kit enables you to have faster growth cycles and harvest more often.

The best hydroponic cloning kits will support dozens of trimmings and deliver a high success rate of clones. The cloning kit should consist of a reservoir that holds the water and nutrient solution mix.

The growing chamber section usually consists of trays or pots containing a growing medium for root support. For example, it may contain compressed peat or a perlite Vermiculite mix to support the seeds or clippings.

An automated hydroponic cloning unit will contain an air pump and watering system. This system can include a water pump, water spray or mister.  You should avoid humidity domes as these can lead to mold and wilting of the plant.

Important features of hydroponic garden kit

  • A hormone to enhance the development of roots.
  • Hormone rooting compounds such as Rootex-L, Clonex, or Eziroot
  • A heating pad or propagation mat
  • An anti-stress agent such as superthrive
  • Nutrient solution and thermometer
  • Pruning shears or sharp scissors

You should see tiny root bumps appearing after 3 days and in about a week these roots should be formed and expanding. After about 2 weeks the plants should be ready to be transported into whatever medium you wish – this could be soil or a hydroponic unit.

Hydroponic Grow Kits

When your plants grow to a size that the cloning kit cannot support, you can transport them to a hydroponic grow kit. Many of the required components are similar to that of the cloning kit. However, the unit will be on a larger scale and may be housed within a tent.

A hydroponic grow kit will require light either from the sun or a powerful LED grow light. It will usually also provide various nutrients depending on the stage of development.

The cost of a hydroponic grow kit can vary significantly in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars. The price depends on the size and type of hydroponic unit. However, you can find inexpensive hydroponic kits for sale from various sources. There are a number of different hydroponic units available to growers and hobbyists. Each of these typically uses a different method of water transfer and plant support. Options can include drip systems, ebb and flow systems, wick systems and aeroponic systems.

Hydroponic Nutrient Kits

You can make your own homemade nutrients using fertilizer salts. However, to obtain higher yields and faster plant growth a number of hydroponic manufacturers provide nutrients that contain more than just the major and minor trace elements. These hydroponic nutrient kits contain crop enhancers such as root boosters, amino acids, microbes, enzymes, vitamins, fulvates, humates, and a non-ionic surfactant.

A good hydroponic nutrient kit contains all or most of the above enhancers. They should be easy to use and provide a more than one part formulation containing a different formula. The formula you use depends on whether your plant is in the growth or bloom stage of development.


Hydroponic Guide Sections

To learn more about other aspects of hydroponic gardening, see the following sections of our guide.

Hydroponic Foggers

hydroponic fogger

What are hydroponic foggers?

Hydroponic or hydroponic/aeroponic hybrid systems use hydroponic foggers to feed nutrients to plant roots via a nutrient fog. A hydroponic fogger differs from an aeroponic mister since the fogger produces fog ultrasonically and it doesn’t atomize the solution.

A hydroponic fogger sits below the water level producing fog, thereby raising the humidity in the rooting zone. If the water particles produced by this fog are small enough – usually between 5-15 micrometers this allows for increased nutrient uptake. The oxygen-rich mist combined with high humidity and small water particles results in accelerated growth.

Fogger benefits

  • Reduced need for water and nutrients
  • No growing mediums required
  • Increase in the overall root surface area due to increased growth of small root hairs
  • Reduces the risk of harming the plants with excess nutrients
  • Ultrasonic Hydroponic Fogger

Fogger Products

VEVOR 10 Head Ultrasonic Mist Maker Fogger 250W 5KG/H Mist Maker Fogger Air Humidifier w/Transformer Accessories for Industrial Scenic Agriculture Greenhouse Hydroponics Garden/Lawn/Pond
KISENG 3500-5000ML/H UMM-10 10 Head Ultrasonic Mist Maker Fogger Humidifier Greenhouse Aeromist Hydroponic
Popsport Mist Maker Fogger 12 Head Ultrasonic Mist Humidifier 110V Mist Maker Fogger Humidifier with Transformer for Gardening and Pond Use (12 Head Mist Maker)
Product
VEVOR 10 Head Ultrasonic Mist Maker
KISENG 3500-5000ML/H
Popsport Mist Maker
Price
Price not available
$112.99
Price not available
Number of Heads
10
10
12
Power Requirements
360W
220W
350W
VEVOR 10 Head Ultrasonic Mist Maker Fogger 250W 5KG/H Mist Maker Fogger Air Humidifier w/Transformer Accessories for Industrial Scenic Agriculture Greenhouse Hydroponics Garden/Lawn/Pond
Product
VEVOR 10 Head Ultrasonic Mist Maker
Price
Price not available
More Information
Number of Heads
10
Power Requirements
360W
KISENG 3500-5000ML/H UMM-10 10 Head Ultrasonic Mist Maker Fogger Humidifier Greenhouse Aeromist Hydroponic
Product
KISENG 3500-5000ML/H
Price
$112.99
More Information
Number of Heads
10
Power Requirements
220W
Popsport Mist Maker Fogger 12 Head Ultrasonic Mist Humidifier 110V Mist Maker Fogger Humidifier with Transformer for Gardening and Pond Use (12 Head Mist Maker)
Product
Popsport Mist Maker
Price
Price not available
More Information
Number of Heads
12
Power Requirements
350W

Hydroponic Fogger Tips

  • Use only products that do not contain live microbial cultures as hydroponic foggers can sterilize live cultures.
  • You need to clean the disks occasionally. You can use white vinegar for this. Simply place the Hydroponic Fogger in a glass of white vinegar and run the device for a minute or so and the mineral deposits from the nutrients will shed off.
  • Replace the Teflon disks every 6 months to a year as the discs wear and the mist output decreases.
  • Foggers can increase the temperature of your nutrient solution so monitor the temperature of the solution. If you provide a continuous flow of solution, such as the ebb and flow system, it can help keep temperatures down.
  • You should consider a hybrid system that includes an ultrasonic fogger used in conjunction with a solution (ebb and flow nutrient film technique, or deep water culture, etc.) as hydroponic foggers can sometimes fail. The nutrient solution will feed the bottom half of the roots and the upper half of the roots are fed by the fog produced by the hydroponic fogger. Should the fogger fail there is still a system in place to feed the roots nutrients and water. This also leads to maximum oxygenation and access to an unlimited supply of nutrient solution at the bottom of the tray.
  • The nebulizers on hydroponic foggers can be damaged quickly if water levels drop too low.

Hydroponic Guide Sections

To learn more about other aspects of hydroponic gardening, see the following sections of our guide.

Hydroponic Grow Tents and Grow Boxes

Hydroponic Grow Tents

Advantages of a Hydroponic Grow Tent or Box

With a hydroponic grow tent or box, it is easier to control growing environments conditions such as the temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels. This makes it easier to create the optimum conditions required for a specific plant.

If you purchase a grow tent with a reflective silver coating, the light and heat reflects off the interior sides onto the plant leaves. The confined area and reflective surface save energy and money.

Grow tents are easy to set up — such as lighting, ventilation, etc. Lights may be hung from the steel-enforced ceiling, and most grow tents also come equipped with ventilation holes so setting up ventilation is an easy process.

With a grow tent there are fewer problems with pests because there is a barrier between the plants and the outside environment.

Hydroponic grow boxes have similar advantages to a grow tent. The boxes tend to be better sealed from the elements and you can use them for smaller numbers of plants. Another advantage is that they often include integrated features, like a reservoir, tubing and trays and lighting.

Making Money with an Hydroponic Grow Tent

It’s possible to control and fine-tune the environment within a grow tent. Therefore, you can obtain larger crop sizes and healthier plants than most other environments. A hydroponic grow tent enables you to grow exotic and expensive herbs, fruit or vegetables out of season or under conditions that would normally require a different climate.

You can sell these plants or you could always sell them to restaurants, hotels, farm shops, food halls or private buyers at premium prices.

What to Consider when Buying a Grow Tent

When buying a grow tent the 3 most important factors will be the cost, dimensions, and materials. The materials and size of the grow tent are the biggest factors in determining the price. Other Important factors include light and heat leakage, the strength of the frame, user-friendliness, and accessories.

Size and Cost

Indoor grow tents are available in a variety of sizes. Grow tent sizes include the smaller 3×3 and 2×4 foot tents, medium-sized 4×4, 4×6, or 4×8 foot, as well as the larger 5×5 and 10×10 foot grow tents.

The cost of a grow tent can vary significantly but you can buy a grow tent suitable for a hobbyist for between $100 to $200. For this price, you can expect a decent sized grow tent (at least 4ft x 4ft width x 6ft height) with reflective inner lining.

User friendliness

You want a grow tent that is easy to set up with clear easy to follow instructions. Most grow tents are easy to set up.

Grow Tent Accessories

If buying a grow tent you should also purchase a grow light. A high intensity discharge lamp should be used for this purchase as these are powerful enough to mimic natural sunlight while efficient enough to be cost-effective. Other accessories could include the following:

  • An Air Duct Inline Hydroponic Booster Fan
  • A Flexible Ducting pipe for the air
  • A Hydroponic Carbon Air Filter
  • An indoor humidity monitor
  • A grow light hanger

You can also buy grow tent kits that include all necessary accessories as a single package.

When buying a grow tent you should ensure your tend meets the following standards:

  • The inner surface should be made of reflective material to retain light and heat (Mylar reflective inner surface etc)
  • Be sturdy and strong enough to be moved around and hold a decent sized grow light and/or fan on the bars above the plants.
  • Provide good insulation against heat loss.
  • Made of non-toxic, non-flammable materials.
  • Easy to set up (user-friendliness)

If you are interested in creating a DIY grow tent, you’ll be interested in the following video:


Hydroponic Guide Sections

To learn more about other aspects of hydroponic gardening, see the following sections of our guide.

Hydroponic Garden Ventilation

greenhouse ventilation

Why is hydroponic ventilation necessary?

To maintain adequate hydroponic grow room ventilation, grow room fans can be used to control humidity, temperature, and carbon dioxide levels. A grow room fan or hydro fan within a grow room is essential for a number of reasons.

By exchanging, circulating and mixing the air, a hydroponic ventilation will give you more control over the following growing conditions.

Humidity

Inadequate ventilation can lead to high humidity and this can result in a number of problems for the plant at various stages of growth. A humidity of 60% RH (Relative humidity) is recommended during vegetative growth and around 40% RH during flowering to prevent flowers or fruits from rotting.

HYdroponic ventilation will also help to prevent fungal diseases as fungal spores thrive in humid, stagnant air. Stale stagnant air also provides other airborne pests such as sciarid flies a greater opportunity to infest your grow room.

Hot air holds more water vapor so by extracting hot and humid air and replacing it with cooler less humid air, high humidity will become less of an issue.

Carbon Dioxide

Plants need carbon dioxide (CO2) to grow and photosynthesize and this is essential for plant growth. Plants within any confined space will soon use up that carbon dioxide.

Therefore, a hydroponic extraction fan is necessary to maintain high levels of carbon dioxide and ensure a fresh supply of air into the grow room. We recommended that you try to replace the air in your grow room at least 20 times per hour or every 3 minutes to maintain a reasonable air quality.

Heat

Hydroponic lights within a grow room can produce a lot of heat. When the lights are on the temperature should range between 21 to 28 degrees centigrade (70 to 82 Fahrenheit). Try and reduce this temperature by about 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) at night as this is important for correct flower maturation.

Grow room ventilation using a hydro fan will help maintain the correct temperature. A hydroponic fan speed controller will enable greater control of the temperature as they can be controlled by a thermostat.

A fan speed controller linked to a thermostat will enable you to vary the speed of the hydroponic fan automatically depending on your preferred air temperature.

Hydroponic Fans

Good hydroponic ventilation is essential for healthy plant growth. It is one of the most important factors to consider when growing plants within an enclosed space. Ventilating a grow room or grow tent involves selecting the correct size exhaust fan or extractor fan and maintaining a fresh supply of air from outside.

We created this section of our guide to help you choose the correct hydroponic fan for your grow room. We also provide guidances on the best setup and recommended method for installing a hydroponic fan.

What Size Fan Should I Buy?

Buying an adequate sized fan for your grow area is important as the cost of a hydroponic fan will largely depend on its size and power. Generally speaking the longer the length of the fan the greater the volume of air that can be extracted at any given minute.

However, fan designs can vary significantly and you will want to know the Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) value of the fan. CFM specifies the volume of air in cubic feet extracted every minute.

Firstly calculate the area of your grow room or grow tent. Multiply the room’s length by the width by the height. So for example for a 7 foot by 6 foot by 10-foot area, the volume would be 7 x 6 x 10 = 420.

The extraction fan/exhaust fan should exchange the air in the room at least once every three minutes. So simply divide the area in cubic feet by three minutes to calculate the minimum CFM: 420 / 3 = 140 CFM

If you plan to use a carbon air filter (more on that later) multiply by 30%: 140 x 1.3 = 182 CFM.

This is minimum recommended air flow rate and once this has been established you should buy a hydroponic fan with a similar air flow rate.

Vent Hole Size

The grow room must include a vent hole to draw air into the room while the hydroponic extractor fan is drawing air out. The vent hole needs to be at least the same size as the size of the extractor. For example, if you are using a 7-inch extractor, the size of the inlet hole should be at least 7 inches but preferably slightly larger to reduce drag.

Also, air drawn in through the inlet hole needs to be near to the ground were as the extractor fan drawing air out needs to be positioned near the top of the grow room or tent. This will enable better air circulation and mixing and also remove the hot air that tends to rise.

Intake and Extractor Fans

An intake fan can be used in conjunction with an extraction fan to pull air out of the grow area. An intake fan is the same as an extraction fan. However, it is used to pull air into a grow room instead of removing air. The extractor fan should be positioned at the top and preferably on the opposite side of the intake fan.

Whether you use an inlet hole or an intake fan, the important thing to remember is that the fan pulls fresh air from outside.

If you chose to use both intake and extractor fans, the combined CFM of both fans must total to the required CFM. Therefore, if you require 182 CFM, one fan could be 140 and the other 42. However, the intake fan should always have a lower CFM. It should preferably be a third to a half of the extractor fan.

Having two fans working together provides better control of humidity and temperature; it creates negative air pressure within the room and prevents smells from escaping back through the ventilation system. You will also discover that the fans will be less noisy and last longer.

Sometimes you have to move air to an exterior vent or move air a distance from an outside wall. If so, you may need to use ducting. Ducting comes in standard sizes that should fit all of your fans and filters. Flexible ducting is easier to work with, but it is important to try and keep it straight.

Your ducting should be as short and straight as possible. You should try and avoid bends in the ducting. These bends will create drag that in turn creates noise as the air moves through. It will also lower the efficiency of the grow room fans and may require more powerful fans to compensate.

Buying a Carbon Filter

If the exhaust from your grow room smells you can do something about it. You can use a hydroponic carbon filter with your grow room extractor fan. Carbon filters, also known as carbon scrubbers, will remove almost all of the odor from the air before extraction. You should replace or refill carbon filters periodically.

Normally you would have a setup like the following. You place the fan and filter inside the grow room or grow ten. The fan draws the air through the filter before leaving through some ducting to the outside.

If the growing area is too small you can get away with placing the hydroponic ventilation fan and filter outside. This frees up space inside the grow room.

This way, the extraction fan pulls stale air out of the grow room through some ducting. Since the fan is located outside, the air if pulled through it and through more ducting. The fan also pulls the air through the filter during extraction.

Other Accessories

Fan speed controller: A fan speed controller controls the speed of the fan. If the fan speed controller uses a thermostat to regulate the temperature of the grow area. This is more efficient, reduces noise and prevents the temperature and humidity from being too high or low.

Acoustic ducting: If the fans are too loud you can use acoustic ducting to reduce the air turbulence noise. Fix a silencer on each end of your fan to get the full benefits.


Hydroponic Guide Sections

To learn more about other aspects of hydroponic gardening, see the following sections of our guide.