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How to build and use a hydroponic Fogger System

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How to build and use a hydroponic Fogger System


Hello, I’m Toine Mercier, and I’ll be showing you how you can grow your own herbs, fruits

and vegetables indoors, with high yields and very little effort. This is possible by using

a hydroponic system, which delivers the nutrients straight to the roots of the plants, bypassing

the soil. I’m using a fogponic system, also sometimes called an aeroponic system

definitions of the latter term vary.

How to build and use a hydroponic Fogger System

The reason I opted for a fogponic setup, is that it’s.

easy to build, easy to maintain, and most importantly, it’s very silent, as I keep.

the plants in my bedroom at home, and in my room at university. I’ll show you how my.

system works, and how you can make your own.

These are my first hydroponically grown plants.

They have been in this system for 4 days now, and as you can see, they are doing pretty.

well. They have even started producing some flowers.

 

The roots have already started growing outside of the netcups, developing a nice.

root system.

As you can see, the box is filled with a thick fog, which is actually a mist.

of very fine droplets of water full of nutrients, providing the strawberry plants with everything.

they need. The mist is created by an electronic fogger, which contains a ceramic element that.

vibrates at very high frequencies, which creates microscopically small droplets.

As you can see here, the fogger that I currently use.

has some lights, but I will disable them to prevent unwanted growth inside the box.

 

On the outside, I positioned a tube that allows me to assess the fluid level inside the box.

without opening the lid. It turns out that this wasn’t really essential, as opening.

the lid is quite easy without disturbing the plants too much. I will therefor leave it.

out from the next box I will construct. I also installed a fan to circulate the fog,.

as it tends to collect in a thick layer a couple of centimeters above the water level.

As it turns out, this wasn’t necessary either, as the fog will reach the roots sufficiently,.

even without extra circulation. The fan even made things more difficult, as I will show.

you now.

 

As you can see, the mist is so light that.

this tiny fan running at half speed is strong enough to push the mist out of the box trough.

every possible opening. This would waste too much of the nutrient solution, so I’ve decided.

to remove the fan and cover the opening with some tape.

 

These are the things you will need to construct your own fogbox. Of all, you’ll need.

a container, like this one I got from Ikea. Make sure it includes a rigid lid that will.

be able to support the weight of your plants. Try to find a black or dark tinted box, so.

the light can’t get in. You can always paint the outside if you don’t find a black one.

black, or cover it with plastic. Next you’ll need some netcups. You can get these online,.

On eBay, or you can buy them at a specialized hydroponics store. You’ll.

need a sharpie, or any other permanent marker, a carpenters rule or any other ruler that’s.

large enough. This is the fog-unit I’m using.

You can see. it has LED’s on the side, which you can’t turn off. I got it from eBay, where I couldn’t.

find any foggers for a good price without the LEDs, so I just bought this one, and then.

I painted them black using strong plastic paint, the kind you ‘d use for example for.

model airplanes. This blocks the light from the LEDs completely. You can get foggers marketed.

specifically for hydroponic use, but these cost about 5 to 10 times as much, so for that.

price I was willing to take the risk.

 

Make sure you get a suitable power supply, most.

foggers on eBay are sold without it. I bought this one as a set with the foggers; it’s.

a 12V 800mA power supply, which is more than strong enough.

You’ll also need a drill bit. Try using a wood drill, because these have a predrilling.

tip. This will make it easier for your drill to get a grip on the plastic, thereby preventing.

it from cracking. Of course you’ll need an electric drill to go with it. Last thing you’ll.

need is a hole saw. You can buy an adapter that allows you to use several different sizes,.

which can be used for later projects.

Always make sure you measure the size of the netcups,.

so you get a correctly sized hole saw. As you can see, the largest diameter of this.

adapter is perfect for these netcups. At first, I bought another set of hole saws before I.

had bought the netcups. These turned out to be way too small, so I had to get another.

set. Make sure you get your netcups first, and then buy a hole saw based on your own.

measurements, don’t rely on measurements the store gives you.

 

You can start out by positioning the cups when you have gathered everything you need.

in the way you want. I will be using this box for cherry tomatoes, which need enough.

room for their leaves, so I placed one netcup in every corner. My other fogbox contains.

strawberry plants, which can grow much closer to each other as the leaves and fruits will.

happily hang from the sides of the box, so I used 6 netcups and placed them much closer.

together. After you’ve positioned the netcups on the lid, trace the outline with a marker.

Find the exact center of each cup using a ruler, and mark it with an X.

 

You can still reposition the cups at this moment and start over, so make sure everything is as you ‘d like.

it to be, and verify that everything will fit in place.

As with every DIY project, the rule “measure twice, cut once” applies. I made this lid.

before I had bought the netcups. It looks fine at first sight, until I got the netcups.

and noticed that they were much larger. Yeah … I did try to salvage it, but the holes.

on the side were just too big, so I had to start all over.

 

First you drill a hole in the center of every X you marked on the lid using the wood drill.

This hole will guide the bigger drill that sits in the center of the hole saw, which.

will keep your drill more stable and give you a much cleaner cut. Set your drill to.

a relatively slow speed, so the plastic doesn’t start to melt from too much friction.

Next, use the hole saw to cut out the holes for the netcups. Place the central drill bit.

in the predrilled holes, and slowly cut through the lid. Don’t push too hard on the drill,.

as you might crack the plastic, just let the saw do its job.

 

After you’re done cutting, you’ll be left with a lot of saw dust and some burrs. You.

can get rid of these easily by pulling them off or by cutting them off with a sharp knife.

Next, you’ll want to clean up a bit, as this plastic sticks to everything. Make sure the.

inside of the box is as clean as possible, you wouldn’t want a little piece getting.

stuck in your fogger, as this could jam it. After vacuum cleaning the box, rinse it out.

with some water to be absolutely sure that every last bit is out.

 

All that’s left to do now, is to put everything together. Just insert the netcups in their.

respective holes. The cups have a flanged top, stopping them from falling through. With.

the cups in place, you can insert the fogger unit. Just place it in the middle of the box,.

and guide the wire under the lid, outside of the box. Connect the fogger to its power.

supply, and your fogbox is finished.

 

This is everything you will need to get started with your fogponic system.

Of all, you’ll need some concentrated liquid nutrients.

I suggest you get some specialized hydroponic nutrients instead of regular liquid plant.

feed, as the regular plant feed doesn’t include some essential components that are normally.

provided by the soil, like for example magnesium, iron or molybdenum. In addition, this.

specific nutrient solution I use also contains fulvic acid and humic acid, which do not provide.

the plant with nutrients directly, but help develop healthy roots and promote the growth.

of strong and productive plants. Hydroponic nutrients often come in 2 separate solutions,.

A and B, to prevent certain chemical reactions during storage, like the formation of insoluble.

complexes. When you’re ready to use them, you just mix equal proportions of both in.

the water, and you’re ready.

 

To make sure your plants get enough nutrients,.

you need to check the nutrient concentration of the water, which is expressed as an EC-value.

or a TDS-value. You can measure this using a special measuring device, which you can.

get for about 8 euros. You need to calibrate this meter regularly using the included solution.

Check the TDS-value of your water every couple of days: if it’s too high, you can add some.

demineralized water. You can add some concentrated nutrient solution if it’s too low.

Another way of assessing the nutrient concentration is by looking at the color of the leaves.

A plant that gets too little nutrients will become light green or even yellow. Too much.

nutrients will cause the leaves to become dark green. When the color of the leaves start.

changing, it’s of course already a bit too late, so you’re better off measuring and.

adjusting the nutrient concentration before your plants get affected.

 

Then, you’ll need a pH+ and pH- solution. These are used to raise or lower the pH of.

your nutrient solution. The pH very important, as the roots of your plants can only absorb.

nutrients in a very specific pH-range, most often between 5,5 and 6,0. Too high or too.

low, and some nutrients can get locked out. Additionally, if the pH is too high, some.

components can form insoluble complexes. A pH that’s too low can damage your roots.

To measure the pH of your nutrients, you’ll need a pH-meter. You can buy these for about.

8 euros on eBay. You should calibrate them regularly using the included calibration buffer.

to get accurate readings. This buffer usually comes in powdered form, so you’ll have to.

dissolve it in some demineralized water. As an alternative, you can buy pH test kits that.

use color changing droplets or strips. I wouldn’t recommend using these, as I take one pH test.

from every fogbox every day, and do additional pH tests after adding pH+ or minus, so strips.

would run out too quickly, and droplets would take too much time.

 

Green sensation is something I bought because it was a promotion, so I got it for about.

half the price. It’s a booster which according to the manufacturer, and I quote:”improves.

yields, improves flavor because of greater sugar formation, prevents diseases, and reduces.

plant stress.” I guess it’s worth a try. The water I use in my system is demineralized.

water. This costs about a euro per 5 liters. Alternatively you could also use clean rain.

water. I would advise against using tap water, as this contains chlorine, which will be brought.

in direct contact with the roots, and could potentially slow the growth. There are ways.

to dechlorinate the water, for example by leaving it open to the air for a couple of.

days before using it, allowing the chlorine to evaporate. Another disadvantage of tap.

water is that it already has some elements dissolved in it, with an average EC-value.

of about 0,5. And then there’s also the pH of the tap water, which varies quite a bit.

depending on where you live. Using demineralized water gives you the most control over the.

EC and pH, which will always be 0 and 7 respectively. I also bought this sheet of mylar.

 

Mylar is a plastic that has been coated with a thin layer of metal, giving it a highly reflective.

finish. You’ve probably already seen it being used as a thermal blanket during rescue operations.

I’m planning on using this to reflect some extra sunlight or artificial light on my plants.

Mylar is very easy to work with, easy to find, and doesn’t cost a lot.

You’ll also need some plants of course. These are the Sweet Million cherry tomato.

seeds I planted a week ago, and as you can see, they’ve grown quite wel. I first germinated.

10 seeds on some wet paper towels inside this plastic greenhouse I made from 2 food containers.

After 4 days, I selected the 6 best looking seedlings and placed each one in a coco pellet.

 

About a week later, when the first true leaves appear, they’re ready to be transplanted.

inside a hydroponic system. By starting out with 10 seeds, then selecting the 6 best,.

Only using the 4 best that remain, I take out plants that would potentially grow.

less right from the start, avoiding a lot of wasted time and resources. Of the 10 seeds.

I started, only 8 germinated, and of the 6 seedlings that I placed in a coco pellet,.

2 of them were too weak to support their own weight, so I was glad I used this approach.

These are the coco pellets I used to promote root growth in my seedlings.

 

These pellets.

are made from compressed and dehydrated coco peat. All you have to do is add some water,.

and these pellets will grow to about 5 times their original size. The great thing about.

coco peat is that it’s a fully natural product that would otherwise be thrown away. It provides.

the roots with support, it retains some moisture while also letting enough air in, and has.

a good buffering capacity. Some people experimented with different types of substrate for hydroponic.

systems, and concluded that a mix of 50 % coco peat and 50 % clay pebbles is the best. And.

who am I to contradict them? I’ve never used any other substrate, but the result I’m getting.

so far is great. Instead of starting from seeds, you can.

 

transplant existing plants to your hydroponic system. To do that, remove as much of the.

soil from the roots as possible by gently shaking it and rinsing it with water.

Of course you’ll also need the fogbox we just made. Any other hydroponic system you.

made or bought will of course also work. The second part of my substrate, like I already.

said, consists of clay pellets. These are pieces of clay that are heated in an oven,.

causing the gasses inside to expand and baking the clay at the same time. This results in.

very light pebbles with lots of air pockets and holes, perfectly suited for a hydroponic.

substrate. You can find these at most gardening stores, as this is one of the oldest and most.

commonly used hydroponic substrates. A simple plant spray is always useful, for.

example for foliar feeding, which I will explain in another video.

 

You’ll need some miscellaneous stuff: a beaker, syringes, and pipettes (ìpie-petsî).

It’s best you use a different pipette or syringe for every chemical solution, so mark.

them with a sharpie to remember which pipette is used for what. A small thermometer is useful.

for monitoring the temperature inside the fogbox, but not essential. If your plant needs.

pollinating, like for example tomatoes or strawberries, you can use a small soft brush.

to simulate the work normally done by bees and other insects.

We’re going to rinse the pebbles, as they are covered in a layer of dust which.

could accumulate on the disk of our fogger. Using a netpot as a measuring cup, scoop out.

as much pebbles as you’ll need, in my case four cups. We rinse them under a stream.

of water. As you can see, a lot of dust comes of initially, clearly demonstrating the need.

for this preparation. Keep rinsing the pebbles until the runoff water is almost entirely.

clean. Place the pebbles aside so the tap water can evaporate. After an hour in the.

sun, you’re left with clean pebbles, ready for use.

 

In the meantime we can start preparing our nutrient solution. First fill the fogbox with.

sufficient demineralized water. Make sure the fogger is completely immersed, with the.

water level reaching about a centimeter above the water sensing probe of the fogger. In.

my case, this amounts to 4 liters of water. Next, we’re going to add the concentrated.

nutrients to the water. Follow the instructions of the manufacturer to know how much you should.

add. It’s best to start off with a low nutrient concentration, progressively building it up.

over the next weeks. Plagron, the manufacturer of these nutrients, has provided a handy schematic.

on its website, detailing what to use when. I’ll be adding 8 milliliters of both Cocos.

A and B to the 4 liters of water in the box. This should give me an EC-value of 1.2, or.

a TDS of 600. Shake the bottles so the solution is mixed well, then suck up the desired amount.

of Cocos A using a syringe. Mix well, and clean the syringe using some demineralized.

water.

 

Do the same thing for the Cocos B. The order in which you mix the 2 parts doesn’t.

matter, you can add A first and then B, or do the exact opposite, as long as you don’t.

mix the 2 parts in their pure concentrated form.

When you’ve added the nutrients to the water, verify that it has the correct TDS value.

Immerse the tip of the meter in the water and stir it around. After a few seconds, the.

reading should stabilize. As you can see, the TDS of my water is a bit too low at 450, so.

I’ll add another milliliter. This time, the TDS of the water is a perfect 600.

 

We’re going to check the pH. After calibrating the pH-meter, insert it in the water and wait.

for its reading to stabilize. The pH of this water is 5,5, which is perfect to start with.

as it tends to rise a bit in the first couple of days. As long as it’s between 5,5 and.

6,0, you shouldn’t do anything. If it’s too low or too high, add one or two drops.

of pH plus or minus, mix, and re-measure. Try to avoid overcorrecting the pH.

Adding 4 drops of pH minus and then 2 of pH plus. This could add too much extra.

particles to your water, resulting in raised TDS value.

 

Now you’re ready to put the plants into their new home. Start by adding a small layer of.

clay pebbles at the bottom of each netcup. Carefully position the seedling in the middle.

of the netcup, and add more pebbles around it. Keep adding them until you’ve filled.

the entire netcup.

Write down the date, so you know when you need to refill the box.

I also write down what stage I’m at in my grow schedule, and.

when the next refill is due. I do this on a small piece of paper that I laminated.

This way, when I write using a white-board marker, I can easily rewrite and erase anything I.

want. And that’s it! Plug in the power supply,.

put your fogbox in a well-lit place, and watch your plants grow!

 

Here you can see my 2 fogboxes in their final position, one day later. As you can see, I.

covered the top of the netcups in plastic foil to prevent the mist from escaping too.

much. I don’t know if this is really necessary, but it doesn’t seem to hurt them either.

Both boxes are running fine, and are constantly filled with a thick mist. They are currently.

growing at a rate which keeps astonishing me, and everyone that I show these plants to.

 

 

 

 

 

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