Saturday, December 25, 2010

Aeroponics Deconstruction

     As I prepare for my trip to France, I have to get ready to move most of my stuff back into my parents' place. This includes taking apart my aeroponics setup for transport. This is the first time I've taken apart the system since I set it up. I ran across several surprises.

     First off, I think some of the plants did develop a little root rot. Particularly the onion plants which had no root really to speak of. Second, the roots of many of the plants extended too far! They grew all the way down into the water reservoir, removing any control I had over their nutrition or water uptake. Maybe it would be a good idea to have a separate tank for the water/nutrient solution.

     Another surprise was how dirty the water had gotten. None of the sprayers were clogged and there was no trouble with the pump, so the pump filter must have sufficed.

      Since it was dirty, everything needed to be cleaned. I started out by cleaning out the net pots. Those were easy enough. I dumped out all the clay pellets into a bucket (strands of roots and all) and used a scrub brush in the sink to wash off the pots.

     Next, I had to clean out the clay pellets to use again. The problem was how to get the little root hairs off the pellets, without having to do it all by hand which would have taken ages. I tried boiling all the pellets in a big pan. I got the heat up to boiling and then stirred the pellets often. I hoped that the roots would boil down into a pulp like spinach does in order to clean off the pellets. Unfortunately it didn't work! I just had a lot of warm, root-covered clay pellets. Hmm... I think a strong garden hose and some 1/4" wire mesh would do wonders.

     One pleasant discovery was two carrots. They grew pretty well for not being in soil. I washed them off just to get off any excess nutrients, but besides that, no dirt to scrub!

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