Garden & Greenhouse July 2017 Issue - Page 12

for the construction. Ebb and fl ow systems can be de- signed to fi t in virtually any garden space. Nutrient Film Technique Nutrient fi lm technique, or NFT, is a system made popular by commercial lettuce growers. NFT systems utilize a series of gutters or troughs which are angled slightly. With the help of gravity, the nutrient solu- tion fl ows down the slight angle to the reservoir or to the next gutter or trough in the series. A submersible pump in the reservoir creates a slow, but continu- ous, fl ow of nutrient solution. This slow fl ow of nu- trients produces a “fi lm” at the bottom of the gutter or trough, hence the name “nutrient fi lm technique”. Homemade NFT systems are commonly made from PVC pipes, plastic house gutters, or plastic fence posts. Dialing in the rate of fl ow is an important step in homemade NFT systems. Be sure to know the height of the overall system before purchasing the pump. horizontal orientation. In other words, the plants are set up to maximize the fl oor space by being “stacked” on top of one another. Homemade vertical systems can consist of small modules that are stacked or a PVC pipe (6 - 8 inches) with holes drilled throughout for planting. A feed- ing tube (1/2 - 1 inch PVC) is wrapped in a material to hold the moisture and placed in the center of the large PVC pipe. The nutrient solution is delivered via the feeding tube and the outer PVC pipe holds the plants in place. The biggest advantage of a verti- cal hydroponic system is the maximization of fl oor space. The biggest disadvantage is its diffi culty for novice hydroponic gardeners. DIY vertical hydro- ponic systems can be a little more diffi cult to set up and maintain when compared with other commonly used homemade hydroponic systems. Put another way, these systems are great for growers with some hydroponic experience or for those who are more mechanically inclined. Vertical Hydroponics Vertical hydroponic systems are another popular type of DIY hydroponic systems. Vertical hydroponic systems can be built from a wide variety of materi- als, but many home hobbyists choose PVC piping. Vertical hydroponics refers to the way the plants are positioned in a vertical manner instead of the typical Nutrients Hydroponic systems must use some type of nu- trient solution because there is no soil to supply essential elements to the plants. There are many dif- ferent brands of hydroponic nutrients available. It is very important to get a base nutrient that contains all of the essential elements needed by plants. Base 12 July 2017