My NFT PVC Pipe System

I have a small glass house that has my two Homemade Hydroponic NFT systems in it.  I have one system using Panda Film and the other one using plastic pipe, both of these systems have their own Nutrient Reservoir as I grow completely different types of plants in them and their nutrient requirements are not compatible.

Nutrient ReservoirNutrient Reservoir

I have a 20 litre plastic tank, it is raised off the ground so that I can easily get the PVC pipe in and out of it as required.   I have not yet painted the outside of the reservoir, I currently simply cover the reservoir to stop algae from growing.

I have a plumbed in water float valve to keep the water level constant.

I do not have a heater or air supply in this tank.  There is over 60 cm fall from the NFT channel to the reservoir and this is enough to aerate the solution.  I generally only use this system from late spring to early autumn so heating the tank is not really necessary.

Submersible PumpI have a small fish pond submersible pump, shown at the right of the tank in the middle.  There is a black plastic pipe connected to the  pump, this runs to the high end of my NFT channel.

It is important to make sure that the pump is capable of pumping water to the high end of your NFT channel, this is often described as the pump “Head” on the labeling.

NFT - PVC Downpipe ChannelNFT Channel

My channel is about 2m long and made of 80mm white PVC down pipe, I have two of these connected together at the lower end of the channel with PVC joiners

I have cut 60cm holes along the length of both pipes.  I have also made some covers to go over the holes that I am not using, I made these by cutting the side out of some plastic containers and placing a cable tie over the lid to hold it in place.

At the top end of the PVC pipes I have a ‘Tee’ connection in the nutrient pipe from the pump, this allows the nutrients to flow into each of the PVC pipes.

Planting

I generally grow Lettuce or Strawberries or a mixture of plants that have similar nutrient requirements.  I always use plants that are 10-15cm tall and definitely plants that do not require external support.

Make sure you get all of the dirt off the plant roots, I always soak the plants in a bucket of water and then the soil comes of pretty easy.  Run the roots under water to get more dirt off.

I have small grow pots that fit nicely into the holes in the PVC pipe and allow the roots of the plants to easily reach the nutrient solution.

I use a mixture of aggregates to hold the plants in the grow pots.  As the aggregate is not in contact with the nutrient solution, you can use anything from rock wool to gravel.

I currently do not have anything growing in this system and will upload some pictures when I do

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Static Solution / Deep Water Culture

Static Solution and Deep Water Culture systems are very similar so I will discuss both of these in this post

Static Solution System

Static Solution is one of the easiest homemade hydroponic systems that you can build.

Basic Design

The basic components of a Static Solution Culture system are a  reservoir and optionally an air pump with an air stone to aerate the nutrient solution.  The lid of the reservoir has holes drilled into it and the plants are suspended through the holes with their roots only very slightly suspended into the nutrient solution.  The plants are generally placed in pots filled with aggregate  to hold them in place.

With this method you can simply have one plant growing in a mason jar or any other conatiner with a lid that you have around the house.  A vase or other stylish container can be used, it’s really easy so give it a try.

Design Considerations

There are a few things to keep in mind when you design your Static Solution hydroponic system

  • The nutrient needs to be kept in a dark reservoir to stop algae growing, you can paint the outside of the container to stop light getting in
  • Ensure that the roots are only just in the nutrient to stop the roots from rotting
  • You will need to refresh the nutrient solution

Deep Water Culture (DWC)

Deep Water Culture (DWC) is another easy homemade hydroponic system that you can quickly build

Basic Design

The basic components of a DWC system are a  reservoir, an air pump with an air stone to aerate the nutrient solution.  The lid of the reservoir has holes drilled into it and the plants are suspended through the holes with their roots suspended into the aerated nutrient solution.  The plants are generally placed in a net pot to hold them in place.

Design Considerations

There are a few things to keep in mind when you design your DWC hydroponic system

  • The nutrient needs to be kept in a dark reservoir to stop algae growing, you can paint the outside of the container to stop light getting in
  • The plants require air around the roots to stop the roots from rotting
  • You will need to refresh the nutrient solution

I have located the following YouTube video which demonstrates building a DWC system.  In the video a system is built for propagating plants, simply up size the reservoir for normal plants.

Please refer to the Vegetable Growing Guide for the required nutrient concentration to place into the reservoir.

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