My NFT Panda Film 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 68 litre black plastic tank.  I have partially sunk the tank into the ground leaving around 10cm above the ground to provide protection from ground water and soil bound diseases and pests.

The hole that the tanks sits in has a plastic liner and then sheets of polystyrene in it to provide some insulation for the tank.

I have a plumbed in water float valve to keep the water level constant, this is the white device, bottom left in the picture.

I have a stainless steel heater and thermostat, this keeps the nutrient solution at around 20 c, the heater is the silver bar in the bottom of the tank.  I use a pump because of cold ground temperature in spring and autumn, this allow the plants to grow a lot quicker than if the nutrient was not heated.  Plants generally require their roots to be over 15 c to really thrive.

I have a air pump with air stone, the air stone sits underneath the heater close to the pump, this is not visible in this picture.  The air pump is sitting underneath my NFT channel with a green air pipe running to the air stone.

Small 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 ChannelNFT Channel

My channel is about 1.5m long.  I have a board with small sides nailed on to help keep the Panda Film in place.  The board slopes about 3 cm over the entire length, the slope is toward my Nutrient Reservoir (shown in the background).  I have a cord running the length of the channel, the Panda Film edges meet at the cord and I use plastic spring clothes pegs to hold the Panda Film in place.

I also have some small patches of silicone underneath the Panda Film to ensure it doesn’t slide down.

At the top end of the channel I have a ‘Tee’ connection in the pipe from the pump and two pipes running nutrients into the Panda Film, this allows an even flow over the entire width of the channel.  I sometime will put some open weave multi cloth in the bottom of the channel to make double sure that the entire channel has a supply of nutrients.

At the bottom of the channel I have a piece of plastic guttering that collects the nutrients from the channel and drops them back into the nutrient tank.

NFT ChannelPlanting

I generally grow Tomatoes and Cucumbers in the Panda Film NFT system.  I always use plants that are 10-15cm tall.  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 place the plants by cords running down from the roof of my glasshouse.  I support the plant by placing a plastic spring clothes peg either side of the plant, ensuring that the roots are partially in the nutrient solution.

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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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