Hydroponic Plants

I'm looking to build an enclosed hydroponic plant growing unit thing.
The main feature was supposed to be the LED growing lights that I'm going to build (since LEDs produce such a narrow spectrum of light, I can precisely control what wavelengths of light and how much the plants get, rather than wasting energy on parts of the spectrum [greens mostly] that are just reflected by the plants), but some other things have come up.

One being what type of hydroponics system I'm going to build and what type of enclosure to use. Right now I'm thinking of using a "video cabinet" type thing with doors that close, and the entire inside lined with mylar. The growing medium will probably be something like pea-gravel. And I'm thinking of using a system pressurized by an air pump to push the nutrient solution up to the plants.

Another issue is deciding what to grow. Ideally I'd be growing things that I could eat. Plants that don't get very tall, and don't creep or spread. Right now all I've come up with is lettuce and strawberries. I need some suggestions for other things to grow though! Any idea?

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  1. Cactus Joe said,

    I think strawberries do actually creep, via underground rhizomes.

    Also, if there is no green in the light hitting a plant, what color does the plant appear to be, white? That would be super cool.

    I think you should build a terrarium instead, with tree frogs. Tree frogs are cool. We have one that climbs onto our kitchen window every night and eats the moths attracted by the light. It's fun to watch nature in action.

    Sometimes shocking too. Tracy saw a chipmunk get snatched by a hawk in our backyard tree and heard it's screams. Then a few weeks ago I was down working in the CJP studio and I heard a commotion outside the little basement window. I looked up and saw this bullfrog frantically jumping against the glass, and seconds later a possum's head appeared and yanked that poor frog to meet it's maker.

    Rural America is cool.


    September 1, 2009 @ 8:02 am

  2. cactus Joe said,

    Also, how did you incorporate Adsense into your blog here. This is a wordpress based blog no? Did you pay extra for that? I would like to do that. How?

    September 1, 2009 @ 8:03 am

  3. sparx said,

    Strawberries do creep. You just have to manage the runners (and, if done correctly, you can run them into another container and allow them to start as a new plant).

    I can't eat tree frogs. Well, I could, but I don't think my stomach would like them as much as strawberries. 😛

    I'm hosting my own wordpress installation, so I have full control over themes/plugins/etc. No imposed limits like blogs hosted on wordpress.com have.

    September 1, 2009 @ 8:30 am

  4. sparx said,

    Also, opossums creep me out.

    September 1, 2009 @ 8:32 am

  5. sparx said,

    Sorry Joe, I forgot to answer your plant color question.

    The plants reflect the spectrum of light that they don't absorb – for most normal plants, that's primarily the visible green spectrum. When they're provided with almost no green light, the plants take on a darker color. Depending on the plant, they could end up being a much darker green almost to the point of being black.

    I'm including SOME amber light (very little) that hits between the green and red spectrums, plus it's not going to be a light tight enclosure, so it'll get a little fluorescent and sunlight from my room.

    I'm delaying the hydroponics part right now, and just focusing on tweaking my grow lights using plants potted in soil. The hydroponics system will be designed and implemented in version 2.

    September 2, 2009 @ 10:39 am

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