We are currently growing vegetable plants in two greenhouses. One is a traditional glass greenhouse, This is in my parents garden. The other greenhouse in our own garden is a new polycarbonate plastic one.
The reason we have this type is because we live near a playing field and we didn’t like the thought of a football smashing the glass every other week, Also we have two young children who play near the greenhouse.
A consequence of having two different types is that we can find out which plants appear to like growing inside different types of greenhouses.
Inside the glass greenhouse it gets very hot as it get’s full sunlight, Whereas the plastic greenhouse keeps relatively cool and due to the polycarbonate the sunlight is diffused.
On this page you can see details of the plastic greenhouse we have in our garden, And the different types of hydroponics systems we are using within it.
After trying different configurations of plants, We are now concentrating this greenhouse on mostly cucumber production as they seem to prefer growing in the slightly cooler diffused light. (Although this seems to contradict certain books I’ve read on this), We do though have one tomato plant and a Aubergine plant growing inside.
The green house consists of two main NFT channels along each side, Nutrient solution from a holding tank is pumped up to the first channel on the left hand side of the greenhouse. This then flows past the roots of the plants and falls into a piece of guttering at the end of the greenhouse. This then flows across into the second NFT channel where it flows back down into the holding tank.
The channels themselves are made from wood we had lying around with a pond liner inside to make the channel water proof.
The holding tank is automatically topped up by a water butt located outside, The butt is filled up with nutrient solution manually every few weeks. The automatic topup system itself is simply a low cost cistern ball valve and float bought from a local DIY store.
Having something like this setup allows us to go on holiday for a couple of weeks knowing the system will look after itself.
This is produced by a company called Nutriculture Ltd based in the UK, These are ideal starter systems as they come with all the necessary equipment to get you started and you can just plug in and grow.
The system consists of a small holding tank at the bottom, With a small pump to pump the solution into the NFT channel resting on the top.A sheet of white polycarbonate is placed over the channel with squares cut in it, As you can see in the picture plants grown in rockwool blocks are simply placed into the holes.
The whole system is self contained and very easy to move about. We are considering using this unit inside during the winter this year.
As you can see in some of these pictures we currently have growing.
- 1 cucumber plant in the left NFT Channel
- 1 large tomato plant in the left NFT channel.
- 3 cucumber plants growing in the right NFT channel.
- 1 cucumber plant growing in the small NFT system at the far end.
- 1 aubergine plant also in the self contained system.
The plants are still quite young at the moment, As the season goes on we’ll put some more pictures here so you can see how they’ve got on.
The pumps used in the systems are timed to turn on for most of the daylight hours by simply electrical timers which you can pick up for just a few pounds.
The hydroponic systems pretty much look after themselves but once a week we check the ph value of the water.
This is quite important with hydroponics to make sure the plants get the correct nutrients they require. To check the nutrients we use ph testing solution which comes in small dripper bottles, To test the solution we syringe 2ml of the solution into a little test tube and then drip 2 drops of the ph tester into it. The colour of the solution then tells us what ph the solution is with yellow being too low and blue too high, Ideally we’re aiming for green which is approximately pH 6.0.
Fortunately the pH of the rain water we use in the system is usually pretty much perfect after having the nutrients mixed with it.
The nutrient solution we use in all our Hydroponics systems is made with a nutrient concentrate solution called Power-Gro Universal from Nutriculture Ltd. This comes in two containers labelled A and B, And you simply mix an equal amount of A and B with water to create the nutrient solution. We use 7.5ml of concentrate A&B solution with each gallon of water.
To end the tour of this greenhouse here are some photo’s I have taken of the first fruits and plants from this season, I will add to this as the season progresses.
On the left below is the first cucumbers and on the right is the the aubergine plant.