Using alternate materials for hydro...

Discussion in 'Indoor Growing' started by Nugs1, May 9, 2018.


    Nugs1 Well-Known Member

    Go to the bottom for the summary if you don't want to read it all-

    I thought about starting this thread because of a couple reasons, I have found some alternate mats to use for a hydro and also to let people see how it goes for me.

    When I grow indoors I love doing hydro, I love being able to push the plants right to the edge of their potential and knowing whether I've went too far within a few hours, and when I do hydro I LOVE trays. But anyway on to the story.

    I started up my hydro with some mats I had left over from a while ago, I decided to do a perpetual grow which meant I needed more trays. I drove an hour away to an awesome hydro store that has never failed me before.... well I get there with a couple hundred bucks in my pockets and I leave with a couple hundred buck in my pocket... I was very pissed. I then found another hydro store a little closer but it was not the type of store we are all used to, so they didn't have what I needed..

    Trying to buy these trays online are WAY too expensive and often not discreetly packaged. And the same goes with some rock wool cubes/slabs.
    After some research and thinking, I decided to make trays out of 4" schedule 40 PVC pipe. Something that looks just like an NFT system except I like feeding each one with a drip line. I did 2" cuttings with 3" net pots that I cut out about 1/2" out of them to fit snuggly into the holes.

    I know what you thinking, why not just do the NFT system? Well, I don't like that if the power goes out then theres no medium to hold some water for the plants to drink at least for a few hours. Again rock wool slabs can be expensive and sometimes hard to get. So after doing some research I came across QUILT BATTING.

    I bought some non fire retardant quilt batting for about $13 it was 5' long about 4' wide, thats a pretty good amount for cheap.
    From my reading the batting is ph neutral and a great material for the roots to grow through and receive plenty of air mixed with the water. The quilt batting holds a pretty good amount of water, Not as much as rock wool but still plenty in case they had to miss a couple of waterings due to a power outage.

    Each clone is taken from the cloner and put into a 1" plug and then sat into the net pots, I fill in the space and make sure they are sturdy with broken up pieces of rock wool cubes that I have left over, when I am all out of rock wool I will wrap them in the quilt batting.

    My tubes will be 5' Long, just enough for 8 plants each, I'll have a couple tubes on my table. Below are some pics of the system. I already have some plants on the table that are almost done, the new clones are beside them to help shield them from light until they can adjust from the transplant.

    Summary: Shit is expensive and hard to find if you don't have a good hydro store close by. And getting stuff mailed to you isn't as safe or discreet as you may like. I found alternate materials that you should be able to find no matter where you are.

    Heres some pics. I'll try to keep this updated as much as possible for the information of it all.

    This isnt really a grow log/report, but I will report on how they are doing because it may be directly related to the materials used.

    These are Swami seeds The Yogi, cloned with hearty strong roots.

    Sorry in advance for the orange light, I'll jump in the room just before lights on and take some pics with regular light.

    Pics don't want to upload but I'll get them in as soon as I can.

    Nugs1 Well-Known Member

    A look at it up and running.

    Attached Files:

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    Nugs1 Well-Known Member

    So far so good. Plants seem to be taking to it. This strain has been a pissy little thing. Takes longer to come back from shock than other strains I have. Anyways. I’m putting them in full light tomorrow. I have had no leaks or issues except, today I was changing the reservoir and realized while taking out the pump the black 1/2” pipe gets moved around a bit but not much. That little bit doesn’t mess anything up for my plants in the trays but half the drip lines popped out of the plants in the 4” pipe. Not a big deal just an extra step before turning pump back on.
    This does cause me stress about the drip lines popping out in the middle of the night. While it hasn’t yet I feel like it could at any moment. I need to find a better way to secure the drip lines.
    They are basically pushed down in between prices of Rockwool that I’ve used to fill in the net pots.

    Nugs1 Well-Known Member

    So the biggest problem securing the drip lines to the top of the net pots. I tried using the drip line stakes that they clip into and that doesn't work, not enough space really. I tried putting the drip line into the rock wool and at first it seemed to be ok but they slowly worked themselves free. 1 popped out and drained the whole reservoir on my floor. at least 5 gallons. I refilled reservoir sopped up a lot of water with towels and turned a large fan on the floor under the table.
    I stuff the drip lines all the way down into the bottom of the net pot. At this point the roots are growing down through them so the water was still getting to them easily. After checking several times to make sure the pump wasn't kicking them loose are anything I called it a night.
    I woke up first thing to see that a different one had worked itself loose and dropped another 4-5 gallons on my floor. Needless to say I had a lot of work to do this morning. The one that popped out seemed to be a little too short. I cut a new longer one and placed them all back the way they were. Its been a couple hours and I had an idea to use garden twist ties to secure the drip line to the net pot. This should work just fine. But I feel like theres got to be a better way.

    Nugs1 Well-Known Member

    Well I'm updating after a month now to let anyone who is paying attention know whats up.
    The clones got stressed and ending up hermy'ing terribly, I mean balls every where!!! Even right beside white pistils.
    So I cut them and tossed them all.
    Thankfully I had another set of clones coming through soon.
    I cleaned the system out and set it up better than before. One of the issues was the 1/4" drip lines popping out. I took garden ties like the sandwich bag twist ties and tied the line to the basket. So far so good I haven't had any issues with them moving around.
    I put the new clones in and set them up, they have taken off. Looking great! And healthy.
    I'll add a pic of them first in the system and 9 days after.

    To try and help with some shock I Made sure to give them some super thrive and some RAW Omino A
    Also to try and help with note shock (going from 0 ppm water to note water) I started with 500 PPMs a week and half before moving out of the cloner.

    They went into the system at 850ppms GH Flora series (recirculating) PH is hanging around 5.8-6.0

    I don't have a way to look at the roots to say how they are doing but some of them are curled into the bottom of the cup.
    You can kinda see some of them through the pieces of rock wool thats placed on them. From what I can see they are doing very well, side shoots and "hairy".

    Nugs1 Well-Known Member

    Its not letting me upload pics for some reason I'll try again later.

    Nugs1 Well-Known Member

    The day i put it in and then 9 days later, clearly the girls are doing good with no serious stress.

    Attached Files:


    Nugs1 Well-Known Member

    Been almost 2 weeks since my last update.
    I cleaned the ladies up a bit cutting off the lower suckers but leaving the leaves. I want most of the bud and bud energy going up to the top buds.

    The roots are exploding, its a little weird to see the roots growing all around and expanding. I'm hoping that all is well with the roots and they are mostly growing down into the quilt batting that is the alternate growing material, of course I won't know until its time to harvest.
    Other than that I'll have to say the plants are healthy/ doing well in their location.

    Nugs1 Well-Known Member

    The pieces of leaf in the cup there are from me just trimming the plant.

    Attached Files:

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