The Automatic hydroponic System brings water, air, and nutrients to the roots of plants, and the plant can concentrate its energy to grow green parts. With Hydroponics you do not use soil, but plants are implanted and rooted in stone wool or clay pebbles inside the Plantsteps.
Growing on the Plantsteps
When growing plants on hydroponic grow modules - Plantsteps the plant roots grow out from the net pots and get nutrients from the water flowing in close loop inside the system. The Water Flow Rate can be adjusted by tuning pump flow valve or by changing to a more efficient water pump.
Water flows in the Plantsteps usually with thin, about 5-15mm high water film. This irrigation technique is called NFT. Water height inside the Plantsteps can be adjusted by changing the tilt angle of the Plantsteps and by trimming the roots of large plants.
Growing on Nursery Level
Nursery level with water tank are SupraBase -unit, the base unit for Supragarden -system. It can be a starting base for even 6 PlantSteps. It can be used also for growing with several hydroponics techniques like NFT, Flood & Drain and Drip Feed.
You can adjust the height of the water in the middle of the Nursery level by adjusting the height of the water exit - return connector. You should always use a Propagation plate to protect the roots of the plants from light and algae growth.
The hydroponics techniques listed below all have different benefits and one should select the fittest method according to plants, size and their growing phase in case.
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is perfect for salads and herbs, but great also for most household plants that like water.
A stream of water flows inside PlantSteps body and come back to Nursery level where waters plant roots. With NFT you can use even constant water flow and optimize growing speed of lettuce etc.
Ebb and flow
Also called Flood and drain -system. There water level is raised some 10-45 millimeters, time-to-time, according to timer setup. Typically 5-12 times during the day and none during the night.
Ebb & flow is good for young plants who do not have yet roots reaching outside net pot.
Deep Water Culture means that plant roots are growing in the water tank. Plants live in net pots at the PlantSteps holes on nursery level. This is an efficient way to grow big fruit plants like chilies and tomatoes.
With DWC you have to make sure water gets enough oxygen or plant roots will drown. This can be done by pumping the water often, almost constantly, or by adding an air pump and an air stone to the system.
COMBINATION OF MANY
You can also combine these hydroponic techniques. PlantSteps can be using NFT and Nursery level Ebb&flow and also DWC together with big plants on Nursery level corner holes. You just divide water rise pipe from the pump to two lines. One going to the top of PlantSteps and one going to Nursery level connection. For lower line a valve may be needed to adjust water flow equally for both levels.
Use of plant grow lights:
Choose the plant grow lights to the Supragarden system based on the plants to be grown
Timing of plant lamps for edible plants: 14-18 hours on per day
Use a mechanical meter to time the lights
Always keep a plant and a net pot in the plant places of Plansteps and Nursery level plate:
Empty net-pots and the input and output connectors of Nursery Level can be covered with aluminum foil.
This prevents light from entering the system, which prevents algae growth.
The water pump circulates the nutrient water to the plants
The water circulation can be on all the time or it can be adjusted with a timer
Circulate the water at least 8 x 15 minutes a day, no breaks of more than 3 hours
The growth tips of the plant roots must not dry out or they will die
Always keep at least 30 liters of nutrient water in the tank, preferably 60 liters
Adding water and nutrients once a week or according to plant consumption:
For example, add 50 ml of SupraMIX A mother solution and 50 ml of SupraNitro B mother solution for every new 10 liters of water
Always keep 30-60 liters of nutrient water in the water tank. Add it 1-4 times a month.
Removal of old plant nutrient water from SupraBase water tank:
Once a month, it is recommended to remove about half of the old nutrient water before adding new water to the water tank.
Changing the water reduces the amount of salts that accumulate in the water and are not used by the plants.
Water can be removed easily by using a water pump and connecting the water drain hose to the inlet water connector on the seedling level.
Close the water pump and turn off any timer. Disconnect the "top-hat" part from the Nursery level water inlet connector B, connected to the water pump.
Connect the drain hose with O-connector to B connector that came with the system.
Place a 10 liter bucket or watering can next to the water tank. Start the water pump and let the water flow through the hose into the container.
Finally, stop pump, disconnect the O-connector and the discharge hose, connect the "top-hat" back to B connector.
Add new water and nutrients. Restart the water pump and timer.
Pour the removed water down the drain
Measuring and adjusting nutrient water for hydroponics and aquaculture:
The temperature, pH and nutrient concentration (EC) of the nutrient water should be measured and adjusted, especially if the plants do not look in good condition.
Keep the water temperature at approx. 19-22 degrees, pH 5.7 – 6.3 and EC nutrient content 1.0-1.8
You can find more information about hydroponic growing techniques from the internet. Like Aquaponics, where the aquarium is the water tank and fish waste is the nutrient source for plants. That is the real local and organic food.
Read Next - Fertilizers for Hydroponic growing