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 What is Hydroponics 
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Post What is Hydroponics
What Is Hydroponics?

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Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:32 pm
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Post Re: Hydroponics
This is pretty unique

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Post Re: What is Hydroponics
Some Tricks on Hydroponics (1)

You can grow food, hunt for it, catch it, gather it, steal it. A wise survivalist will have the necessary skills to do all of this.

Let’s have a look at hydroponics again. To grow food using hydroponics you only need one thing - sunlight. Anywhere there is sunlight you can grow food. But this is not as easy as it sounds. If you put your grow boxes in places where there is sunlight, it means that other people will probably be able to see your plants and steal them. It means you can’t grow in a forest because the trees will block out the light for most of the time, and you won’t be able to grow in heavily built up areas because buildings will block out the light.

Remember the things you need to grow hydroponically. You need nutrient and you need some sort of media to grow in. Your media can be sand, or mixtures of sand and vermiculite, crushed bricks etc. The only qualities that media must have is that it must be inert, it must soak up and hold nutrient, and it must allow for the passage of air. You pour your nutrient into this media and your plants will grow happily.

So, where and how to grow? You can place your media in containers such as plastic buckets with holes punched in the bottom to encourage air circulation, and you can place the bucket on the roof of a building. This is an ideal setup. You can even improvise containers by placing your media into the guttering of a building and pouring nutrient over it, again ideal but if it rains your media might be washed away.

The principles are simple.

1. A container, preferably made out of some inert material such as plastic.

2. Nutrient.

3. An inert growing media. Vermiculite is great stuff which costs $40 per sack at hydroponics stores. Mix this with other materials such as sand to give your medium a bit of weight.

If you don’t have any media you can improvise. If say, you live near sand dunes, you won’t need any media, just pour nutrient into the sand and plant your crop. If you have a water container you can run a hose from it and drip feed your plants. Such basic technology is all that is needed.

Once you know the simple principles, as outlined above, your imagination is the only limit.

Containers are also cheap, you just have to shop around. When shopping for food the other night I saw some containers highly suitable for hydroponic growing in Go Lo. They were only $2 each, and I saw a very savvy old lady buying them. Alternatively you can cut the tops of 2 litre plastic milk containers, fill them full of media, half bury these in the soil and grow.

To illustrate how potent this method of growing is, I once put a bucket of old perlite in my back yard, that I had grown a previous plant in. Two years later there was an 8 foot gum tree growing in it, that had broken through the bottom of the bucket and is now well on it’s way to becoming a beautiful tree. I didn’t do anything except put the bucket in a corner of the yard.

Can you use urine as a hydroponic nutrient?

NASA in the United States conducted the first controlled studies of using human waste as a hydroponic nutrient solution for growing food plants in the 1970’s and 80’s.

"Urine is approximately 95% water, 2.5% urea, and 2.5% contains a mixture of minerals and organic substances such as hormones, amino acids, enzymes etc. When properly diluted with water, urine makes an excellent fertiliser. To demonstrate, NASA scientists grew vegetables such as cherry tomatoes and string beans using a hydroponic solution of 0.5% urine and tap water. It was pumped through the plant roots for 15 minutes every hour. After about four months, the cherry tomatoes had produced an average of 210 tomatoes per vine with a total plant height of about 11 feet."

From Growing Clean Water by Bill Wolverton.

Does anyone have any reason to starve? This is one of the little known hard-arse methods of survival.

Okay, so what if you don’t have any growing media? You can still use hydroponics in ordinary soil. Look for physical characteristics. Does the soil allow air between the grains? Is the soil poisonous? Ie., has motor oil or anything been dumped there in the past? If the soil has the right physical characteristics, then it’s okay. The soil, no matter how poor, will have some nutrients of its own, therefore these must be taken into account or your plants will get an overload and might die of reverse osmosis. Therefore feed them only with half strength nutrient, and gradually build it up as you see how your plants respond.

What containers should I use? Anything made out of plastic is great? Growing tubs, milk containers, plastic shopping bags, old pieces of plastic plumbing pipe cut down the middle to form troughs - just use your imagination. Avoid metal, as metal can be dissolved by the nutrient over time and your plants won’t like it.

Can I re-use my media? Yes but flush it with water after every crop to get rid of the build up of salts from your nutrient. Remember however, that these salts are still mighty potent, and you should flush them out over your normal growing areas in the garden because your plants will love them.

Buying nutrient.

Unfortunately, buying the chemicals to make your nutrient might be problematic as they are the same chemicals used in bomb making eg., potassium nitrate, ammonium nitrate, but to name only two.

On the other hand, buying powdered nutrient already made up is expensive, and buying the two pack nutrient is ridiculously expensive. Still, science can’t be held back. I do not intend to live in the dark ages because somebody misuses certain chemicals. I have never found any problem in buying this stuff however. Do not buy reagent grade chemicals, the commercial stuff is quite good enough, and might even be better as they contain impurities which might be trace elements that your plants can use.

Currently there are about 16 known elements that your plants require to grow, but occasionally another one is discovered.

What are the things I would most highly value ATSHTF as a survival grower? Tubes of trace elements from Bunnings would be one, a pH testing kit would be another. A roll of PVC tubing would be great as I could drip feed plants, and even a hand operated pump would be great as I wouldn’t have to fill drip bags etc. by hand. And anything made out of plastic is a great thing to have in hydroponic growing, as it is inert and pleasant to handle. Fruit juice and milk containers have hundreds of uses.

So you can see, hydroponic growing is easy and fun. It will also feed you in the very worst case scenarios. The only thing you must have are seeds and the above knowledge and you cannot starve.


Can I grow a plant out of a brick wall? Yes, provided that the mortar between the bricks is loose and crumbly. Simply insert your seed wrapped in a piece of grow wool, and drip feed it from a garbage bag. Your pH might be a little high due to the calcium in the mortar but you will get a reasonable plant at the end of sixty days or so.

Won’t the salt in ocean sand dunes raise the salt levels to dangerous proportions and encourage reverse osmosis? No - the sand on top of sand dunes is usually low in salt because it is flushed by rain water. I have grown hydroponically on beach sand that was 10 feet or so above the water.

Is there such a thing as foliar feeding or is this just an old wives’ tale? Basically, it’s an old wives’ tale. Lot’s of growers swear by it, but it has little scientific back up. Nutrients have to go in through the roots of a plant and not through the leaves. Spraying plants with water will certainly slow down water loss but the leaves of plants have enormous resistance to taking in nutrients in this way. Save your nutrients for the roots. I had a paper on this somewhere around here and if I find it I’ll get into more detail.

What is a really hard method of growing for the totally unprepared? Get an old shopping bag, fill it with sand and bury it back in the sand. Pour dilute urine into the bag and plant your plant. The shopping bag will stop the dilute urine from spreading out into the sand. Once you have grown one plant the next will be easier.

What’s another hard method of growing?

You should be able to figure out your own methods now, as you have all the facts. Growing plants is about understanding principles and applying them. The most important of these is knowing the cycles of nature. Inorganic compounds become organic compounds and then they die away and become inorganic compounds again. The elements never go away, they just change form. To grow food your nutrients always need to be in an inorganic form - in other words plants can’t feed off other plants - the nutrients they feed off need to be completely dead, just as rock is completely dead. Understanding this cycle will lead you to being able to solve any problem in growing plants. To make one plant completely dead, in order to feed another, we can for example, make it dead by burning it and feed the other plant with its ash.

Do plants like a full moon? Yep, they sure do. And the reason is very scientific. The moon has a lot to do with high tides. High tides don’t just happen in the ocean, but on land as well. The water level in the soil rises, just as it does at sea, and the plants like the extra moisture and minerals that the higher water levels bring.

Do plants like clean, healthy environments? Plants will grow anywhere, but they especially like dirty environments, with lots of diesel fumes, and dogs urinating on them. Once plants take hold they are pretty hardy. Take a look at the plants growing along median strips in traffic congested areas. So don’t worry about clean environments.. Anywhere with sunshine and a handy water supply is an ideal place to grow plants.

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Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:03 pm
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