Below is what one of our members is doing in Geelong.
I am not new to hydroponics, but by no means do I consider myself an expert. I have been running my four systems at home and two at the newsagency for five years or so and partially like growing tomatoes over the warmer months and cauliflowers, broccoli and cabbage & Kale over the cooler months of winter.
A little about the systems I run, the ones at work out the back of the newsagency are just a couple of dual pot, smart valve, gravity feed pots with perlite as the medium, I grow chilies, capsicums and cherry tomatoes in these. I also have tomatoes and beans & capsicums in the ground fed by a timer watering system. I tend to put seeds and seedlings in here at work given to me by my customers ( I don’t always know where the seeds have come from so I try them at work first and if Ok it take them home the next year!) I have had the very best tomato seeds & seedlings this way.
At home I have four systems, two I will call NFT and two I will call Bato buckets or Dutch buckets systems.
The first NFT system I built from scratch. It’s a 90mm storm water PVC pipe system about three meters long with three long pipes all joined together with elbows and joiners, with fifty 50mm holes for the plant pots or cups. It sits on a timber stand about meter off the ground. I have it slightly raised at one end and the tank or reservoir is under the lower end.
I ran feeder tubes around the whole “raft” and used micro spar tube to fee directly to each plant. The lower end of the raft drains into the reservoir where the pond pump is located. This system runs 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Pumps last about two years, with an annual clean or when required. The float in the picture keeps the tank topped up from a reserve tank which in turn is topped up from my house rain water tanks. The reservoir also has an air stone bubbler and an aquarium heater in winter.
About two years ago I was given a similar NFT set up made of rectangular PVC down pipe with similar 50mm cup holes, so I now run two of these 24/7. Seen here with chilies growing.
I also run two Bato Buckets or Dutch Buckets systems one of which can be seen in the back ground of the picture above along the fence. I feed to each bucket and run a return tube past each bucket back to the reservoir. Both systems run off the same timer and I adjust the time depending on the season and the plants but something like twice a day for 5 mins in winter and up to 5/6 times a day in summer when its stinking hot! I mainly grow tomatoes and broad beans in the buckets (Love growing broad beans in hydroponics) and I use coco fibre in the buckets.
For nutrient I use a two part powder/granules A & B mix it’s a professional tomato mix which I purchase from my local hydroponics club, The Geelong Hydroponic Inc of which I am an active member, Our Web Page http://geelonghydroponicgardening.com.au/