Today Ive decided to tackle a tutorial Ive been wanting to do for a while, Ive seen a LOT of tutorials and youtube videos on the subject and forgive me but its almost like most of them have never built anything like it and have next to no understanding of how aeroponics actually works.
This tutorial is not specific to one application and I had trouble coming up with a name for this post because of that. This tutorial will tackle making simple and inexpensive aero systems but not only for cloning or not strictly for growing actual plants. This will give you the means to make aeroponic systems for any of those applications and pretty much anything else you want to use aeroponics for.
If you do not know aeroponics is a method of growing plants where the roots are not in any sort of medium at best the root ball has a small portion of medium where it was cloned and thats only if you did not have access to an aeroponic cloning box.
Aeroponics the roots hang in the air inside a container, the container size and design depends on what your doing ie cloning, veg tables flowering tables or for the real serious guys aeroponic buckets used to grow TREES.
there is then a pump which cycles on say 30 seconds every minute or so forcing the water nutrient solution through sprayers atomizing it creating a very fine mist which surrounds the plants roots and gives very easy access to the nutrients.
Plants only have so much energy its not infinite and they budget that energy accordingly you see this in nature a plant grown in a well prepared garden space do much better than a plant grown in clay, or rocky compacted soil. this is because the plants have to choose energy into root growth or energy into vertical growth and producing flowers or fruits.
The harder it is to grow new roots the less vertical or flower and fruit growth you will get.
So aeroponics main benefit and real claim to fame is that that your hard pressed to find a growing medium with less resistance than air. So you find that your plants roots haver less tap water seeking type root than you get millions of tiny feeder roots which when you see them make your roots look like a fuzzy mass.
Some people will tell you that aeroponics are prone to root rot and you should steer clear of aero at all costs. these people do not understand and if they have root rot in aero they have root rot in hydroponics, bioponics, NFT and so on because the cause is the same across the board and that is that they are creating a prime breeding ground for infections because their reservoir temperature is too high and while they blame aeroponics its only because they can see the roots easily but if they broke open the other mediums they would have rot there too.
Aeroponics must be run on a cycle timer they should never run 24/7 for two reasons 1st it creates heat in the res pumps make heat all motors do so to counter that heat production a cycle timer is employed. and 2nd is that you actually want the roots to dry a smidge between watering so the plants thirsty and gobbles up the water and nutrient solution.
Aeroponics can be worrisome if the pump fails but now days building or buying a moisture detecting switch is easy peezy and if connected to a relay where if it gets too dry the switch actuates and shuts off the lights. No light No heat No heat no worry of killing your plants and they will sit for a few days if needed in the dark and not die of course you do not want to do this, it can happen in a pinch and you will be ok. the problem comes if you have no pump and your lights stay on that’s most likely death.
Ok now we have done the set up lets get to the actual build…
You will need a few parts you have two choices here, the first is an all PVC version and the second is made from poly line and barb fittings common to irrigation. Both are effective one is a little neater less prone to leaks and such.
The container you put them in should be strong enough to hold the nutrient solution not bow out. Some people build a wood frame or even put a rope or band of gorilla tape around it, for support.
thick walls and lid, big lip to stop leaks, no split lids or clear sides the white ones will reflect light reduce heat but they will be an algae magnet which does not hurt anything its just ugly.
Ive used parts I had in my spare parts box so please excuse the lack of showroom shine.
you will need two lengths of 1/2inch PVC pipe you will need these to be about half as long as the space you want to put the completed unit into
for example if your putting it into a standard Rubbermaid tote you want the end of each PVC pipe to be about 2inches short of reaching the end of the tote on each side. You will have to take into account the space the PVC T takes up as well as a PVC end cap on both ends..
Including the pump which depends on make and model can be 6+ inches tall the entire manifold should not be any higher than just over half the height tall inside the tote. This is because your roots need space and grow down not up plus the mesh pot also drops a few inches internally.
That will dictate how long this portion of your manifold will be and why I have not included a measurement for you here.
DO NOT GLUE ANYTHING TOGETHER UNTIL EVERYTHING IS COMPLETE AND YOU ARE HAPPY WITH THE FIT.
You need to keep in mind that the pump will be sitting in the nutrient solution
You need to have space for the nutrient solution, which has to be below the cross bar that has the emitters. You will change this water weekly so too much water means more work for you.
Now lets put the Air in aeroponics, Sprayers this is what makes or breaks the whole system. you want a 360 degree sprayer for this type of rig you want a mister that’s threaded so it will screw into the PVC, its interesting to know that most emitters that screw into PVC also screw securely into certain sizes of spaghetti, micro, poly, lines. something I will get into later when we talk about 5 gallon aero bucket systems
From left to right: Nipple model 1 threaded, 180 green, 360 dark green, 360 blue, 360 black, 180 black , adjustable 360 sprinkler (not used in aeroponics)
you can see the opening on the mister if you can look straight through its most likely a 360 degree if like the first green mister that is 180 degree and if its half that its a 80 degree.
The colors denote how much water they pump out, more than anything else thats what you look for when searching for a mister. I recommend a 17gph green that works well with smaller Mad drive pumps like a mag-250gph as well as more powerful models like the
little giant sump pump which pumps out 12gph and because of its head height t can pressure up and power a LOT of misters.
To high a gph and you will not get a fine enough mist too small and you wont achieve the results. Colors and GPH ratings can vary depending on the manufacturer but as long as its around 17gph your good.
for the best fit you will need a 15/16 Drill bit and a 15/32 tap to put the threads in I put it in a screw driver as a drill can move and if its not straight you could cross thread and have leaks. So its a screwdriver or a drill press to do it right.
Drill the hole slightly offset not right on the top but not on the side either somewhere in between. an average size Rubbermaid tote (24″ or so long) will require 4 misters , more if its one of the long ones (36 plus inch)
The Idea is to allow the misters to overlap slightly and fill the entire space in the tote with a nutrient solution in the form of a fine mist, you do not need to get fancy in face the less space you use for the aeroponic manifold the better as its space your plants could be using to fill up with feeder roots which in turn means greater yields. 4 , 17-GPH misters in a standard tote is more than enough anything more is a waste its overkill and could actually be detrimental as if the atomized water come into contact with one another they combine and become drops not mist.
Your plants roots will as I said look really fuzzy tons of tiny hair like feeder roots and the more you have the more nutrient solution your plants could take in.
If you decide to run this style for veg, flower, or mothers be SURE to ad the valves so you can drain it for changing nutrients is not you will be hating life when the plants are big. if your in a small space use the low profile Rubbermaid bins as long as they are the thick walled ones. they will not bow out as long as you do not put too much water in them.
More to come…….