Aeroponic Vertical Column System Using PVC Pipe and Containers
This system is the fastest, cheapest, and easiest column system to build.
In most cases, this system is used to grow small plants. Seedlings can be induced to flower at 5 weeks old, clones at 6 inches.
Typical uses for this system are 12 pipes at 8-inch centers or 10 pipes at 10-inch centers using three 400-watt lights. Or 28 pipes at 8-inch centers, or 24 pipes at 10-inch centers using two 1,000-watt lights.
But a grower can use half of the pipes described above and double the spacing to grow midsize plants. This system mists roots that are inside of the PVC pipe.
The feeding in this system can be done continually, or every 20 minutes for 2 minutes.
1. One mesh per plant (i.e. 2 inches).
2. One 1/8-inch fitting per plant.
3. One piece of 1/8-inch tubing per plant.
4. One reservoir.
5. Four-inch PVC pipe.
7. Bypass valve.
8. 1/2-inch black poly tubing.
9. 1/2-inch black poly elbows.
10. 1/2-inch black poly Ts.
11. 1/2-inch black poly end caps.
12. 3/4-inch flex hose.
13. One 3-gallon bucket per pipe.
14. 3/4-inch thru-hull fittings.
15. 3/4-inch end cap.
16. 6ml black poly.
18. Contact cement.
19. 11 to 13 PSI misters.
1. Drill and 1-inch holesaw.
2. Exacto knife.
3. Crescent wrench.
4. Custom-sized holesaw (i.e. 31/2 inches).
5. Handsaw or skillsaw.
A. Choosing the desired pipe is the first step: 4 to 8-inch PVC is a good. The 4-inch is cheapest, but larger pipe is easier to use because there is more room for the roots. To keep things simple, these instructions are with 4-inch PVC:
In this example, 45° 4-inch PVC elbows are used for the plant holders. (Figure 4.261)
This easier option is to buy the pipe with the plant holders built into the plastic; they come with plant holders on one side for indoor systems.
B. All 4-inch piping should be cut into small pieces (i.e. 6 inches) so that when they are glued with the 45° PVC elbows the distance between plants will be 8 to 10-inch centers. (Figure 4.261) The 4-inch piping is glued with PVC cement to the 4-inch PVC elbows so that the space is 8 to 10-inch centers.
C. The tops of the pipes will have 4-inch PVC end caps attached loosely to the top to keep out light. The cap should be able to be removed easily. (Figure 4.261)
D. One piece of 4-inch PVC should be cut at a height of a few inches above the buckets. A 4-inch end cap should be glued to the bottom with PVC glue.
E. A hole should be made just below the height of the 3-gallon bucket to drain the solution. (Figure 4.262) The buckets should have a diameter less than the center spacing of 8 to 10 inches.
F. Each bucket at the base of the piping should have one hole made about 2 inches from the bottom on each side using a 1-inch holesaw for 3/4-inch thru-hull fittings that will be inserted into each hole. (Figure 4.263)
G. The 4-inch PVC pieces (from step D) can be glued to the bottoms of each bucket with contact cement. The placement in the bucket should be dead center. (Figure 4.264)
H. Each bucket lid should have a hole made into it to fit around the pipe. The lid will add extra support to the pipes and make for less water loss through evaporation. The lid can be placed on the bucket when the glue is dry. Holes can be made with a 41/4-inch holesaw, hacksaw, or jigsaw.
I. The columns can be glued with PVC cement to the 4-inch pipe. (Figure 4.266) The columns can be on the same side with or opposite side from the thru-hull fittings.
J. The pipes should be placed in a circle to be 1-foot + plant distance from bulbs in middle. (Figure 4.267)
K. Take 6 inches of 3/4-inch drain hose and attach it to each thru-hull fitting. (Figure 4.267)
L. A 3/4-inch PVC T is attached to each piece of 6-inch hose. (Figure 4.267)
M. All drain buckets are connected to each other with tubing that is connected to 3/4-inch thru-hull fittings. (Figure 4.267) This is like a chain that can be shaped any way that is desired to place plants at optimum light distances. (Figure 4.267)
N. The first bucket nearest the reservoir will connect to the 3/4-inch thru-hull fitting in the reservoir. (Figure 4.267)
Feeder Line Components
O. 1. A long piece of 1/2-inch poly tubing should be run along the tops of the pipes until it reaches the last one in the circle.
2. A 1/2-inch PVC T is inserted at the end. (Figure 4.268)
3. The open end of the 1/2-inch PVC T is connected to a line that runs to the bottom of the reservoir. A 20-gallon reservoir will do. (Figure 4.269)
4. The main line is cut at each pipe, and a 1/2-inch PVC T is installed for each length of vertical pipe. (Figure 4.270)
5. The PVC T is connected to pieces of 1/2-inch poly tubing that run down the sides of the large piping to a height just above the top of the reservoir. (Figure 4.271)
6. The poly tubing is connected to 1/2-inch PVC end caps.
7. Holes are punched and an appropriate threaded fitting is inserted, such as 1/8-inch fittings for 1/8-inch lines. One fitting is used for each plant.
8. Lines are cut to a length that reaches each plant container with a little slack, and inserted into the connection fittings. There are two options. (Figures 4.272 and 4.273 or 4.274 and 4.275)
8. Misters are inserted in the ends of the tubing.
P. The pump is connected to the 1/2-inch poly tubing that reaches the bottom of the reservoir. (Figure 4.276)
Option: A bypass valve can be inserted between the pump and the first 1/2-inch PVC elbow. To insert a bypass valve:
1. A 1-inch chunk is cut out of the 1/2-inch poly line.
2. A 1/2-inch PVC T is inserted into the cut out section.
3. A 5-inch chunk of 1/2-inch poly plastic is connected to the 1/2-inch PVC T.
4. A lightweight plastic tap is connected to the 5-inch chunk of 5-inch black poly piece.
Q. Lights are hung in between the plants without hoods.
For example, three to four 400-watt lights (two to three sodiums and one halide in middle) can be placed on top of each other to illuminate the plants grown in ten to twelve 6-foot high pipes.
R. It is easiest to feed the plants with the pump timer running full-time only during the light hours, with an injection or two in the middle of the dark hours.
But plants can be fed continuously all day and all night. Also, plants can be fed intermittently every 20 minutes for 2 minutes, or for 30 seconds every 2 to 5 minutes during all hours.
More detailed feeding options and instructions are provided in chapter 4.