Equipment modifications.

To prevent plugging of the 1/8th outlet tubing with debris picked up by the pump, a piece of fiberglass screen wire was placed around the pump and discharge hose to keep all debris out of pump. It is held in place with a piece of nylon string.

Sleeves were used in the 4 inch PVC pipe to allow all the room inside for large rooted plants. This works very well except a plant must be large enough to reach the bottom of the pipe before planting.

An alternate method is being tried. Plastic cups which will allow much smaller plants were used in place of the sleeves.

Holes were burned on 2 sides of the cups only so the roots could only go in the direction of the pipe. If the roots cannot go between the sides of the cups and the wall of the pipe, plugging should be no problem. The cups were filled with 2 year old cypress chips that had gotten very soft and held a lot of nutrient. The cups do not reach the bottom of the 4 inch pipe, but they can be hand watered a couple times per day until the roots reach the nutrient stream. An alternate method could be to block the outlet of the pipe raising the nutrient level to the bottom of the cup, then lowering it when roots have formed.

June 04, Report on using cups in 4 inch PVC pipe.

Two things were learned from the cups. Only one main root left the cup which indicates that multiple holes were not necessary. One hole about 1/2 inch in diameter facing downstream is probably all that would be needed. Although the roots were about 6 feet long, their height was no more than 1 1/2 inches allowing ample of room for the nutrient to flow by in the 4 inch pipe.

Tomato plant roots removed from 4 inch PVC pipe. As you can see they are about 5 feet long X 2 to 3 inches wide, but are only 1 inch high which allows plenty of room for the 1 quart per minute of nutrient to pass without slowing the flow.

2/20/04 An abnormally warm spring has allowed plants to be put out 2 weeks eariler than normal. This spring, I am growing only tomatoes(Cherokee Purple, Mariannas Peace, German Green, and Better Boy), Peppers(Gypsie),summer squash and sweet potatoes. This will be my first attempt at hydroponic sweet potatoes.

A styrofoam ice chest with a low wattage light will give sufficient temperature to germinate seed in cool weather. (Shown with the lid removed.)

Once germinated, the plants can be put in a tote and set out in the sun.

The tote can be covered on cold days, them moved inside at night, then as it warms, left open during the day and covered on cool nights.
When the weather is right, plants can be put in hydroponics for an early start.

My first attempt at using cups to grow tomatoes in 4 inch PVC pipe.

Healthy spring tomatoes in bato buckets.

A simple way to propigate tomatoes. Cut off a sucker, put in a jar with 3 of 4 inches of water and set it in partial shade. It will root in 7 to 10 days.

Marianna's Peace tomatoes in bato buckets.

Better Boy tomatoes in PVC pipe on left, Cherokee Purple tomatoes in Bato buckets on right.

Yellow crookneck squash in trough with cypress mulch.

Preparing trough for sweet potatoes.

Trough filled with 10 inches of perlite, covered with fiberglass screen to prevent the wind from blowing the perlite away. Small cuts in screen allows shoots to be planted.

45 days later, Sweet potato plants growing well in the perlite.

This Marianna's Peace tomato is my largest this spring.

Part of my spring crop. Includes Marianna's Peace, German Green, Cherokee Purple, and Better Boy.