We have moved again - now at St Kilda. You can contact us on 0411 105 365. We are in the process of setting up hydroponic and aquaculture displays.

Monday 0930 to 1730
Friday 0930 to 1730
Saturday 0930 to 1230

We are available for consultation and site visits at these times- other times by appointment by email (robin@soladome.com.au)

After 35 years at 44 Chapel Street it was time for a change to a web based operation and to offer guidance based on many years of practical experience.

 

 

Soladome Hydroponics ?

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil.

Soladome has a number of simple systems from $1.00 to get you started.

The plants are grown in a sterile material called a medium - some of the popular mediums are Versarock, Perlite, Vermiculite, Growool, Expanded clay, quartz gravel, dolomite.

A fertiliser especially made for hydroponic growing is mixed with water and fed to the plants.

The plant containers can be placed at a convenient height to avoid bending down and because there is no soil then there are no soil-bourne diseases or pests to worry about. There are fewer weeds and because the mediums are generally well drained the roots have plenty of air for healthy root development.

All sorts of containers can be used to hold the medium and plant. All your old plant pots can be adapted for use in a simple system. There are automatic feeding and watering systems to suit a variety of climatic situations.

Although there has been a lot of recent interest in hydroponics this method of growing dates back to 600 BC wuth the Hanging Gardens of Babylon located in what is now southern Iraq. King Nebuchadrezzar The Second built a series of hanging and terraced gardens to cosole his wife and remind her of her undulating and lush homeland.

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pH - a more scientific definition

pH refers to the relative concentration of H+ ions in solution. The numerical value of the pH is the negative of the exponent of the molar concentration. Thus low pH values indicate high concentrations of H+ ions (acid), and high pH values indicate low concentrations...

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Nutrient solutions - more technical

Hoagland & Arnon in U.S.A. in 1938 developed a nutrient solution for laboratory research purposes and their formula is listed below. To the right of their formulation is the general range of nutrient elements used by plants...

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Nutrient deficiency symptoms - a brief summary

Potassium
Lower leaves are mottled. Yellowing and death of tips and edges of older leaves.

Nitrogen
The plant is light in colour and weak and spindly. small leaves with the lower leaves light green. some plants ( strawberries ) show a reddening of the older leaves.

Too much N/NO3 - plants uncontrollably vigorous
Too much N/NH4 damage to roots and collapse of plant

Phosphorous
leaves are unusually dark and may become purple. Lower leaves may turn yellow between the veins. plants are stunted

Calcium
Tips of young leaves and growing points die. blossom end rot of tomatoes.

Magnesium
Margins of lower leaves curl. Yellow areas may appear between veins

Iron
Younger leaves yellow between veins but yellowing spreads to to whole leaf and the leaves die from the edges.

Manganese
Upper leaves become yellow between the veins and in severe cases dead spots form. the veins remain green.

Boron
Plants become brittle and growing tips may die.

Drought conditions or high salinity can cause the edges of the leaves to burn and in severe cases leaves will drop from the plant.

Is there a suggested reading list?

A Suggested reading list

Title

Author

Publisher

ISBN number

Approx price
(Australian$)

                 
 

Hydroponics Simplified

 

Tom Colcheedas

 

T Colcheedas

     

$ 7.90

 

Hydroponic Gardening

 

Stephen Carruthers

 

Lothian

 

0 85091 557 0

 

$ 14.75

 

Hydroponics For Everybody

 

Dr. Struan Sutherlamd

     

0 908090 94 3

 

$ 22.75

 

Hydroponic Gardening in Australia

 

J. Romer

 

Reed Books Pty. Ltd.

 

0 7301 0098 7

 

$ 24.95

 

Simple Hydroponics for Australian Home Gardeners

 

A.C. Sundstrom

 

Thomas Nelson Aust. Ltd.

     

$25.75

 

Hydroponic Gardening in Australia

 

Lon Dalton & Robin Smith

 

Lothian Press

     

$ 33.00

 

Basic Hydroponics for the do-it-yourselfer

 

M. Edward Muckle

 

Growers Press Inc

 

0 921981 40 6

 

$ 32.50

 

Growing Herbs

 

John Mason

 

Kangaroo Press

 

0 86417 552 3

 

$ 19.95

 

Advanced Guide To Hydroponics

 

James Sholto Douglas

 

Pelham Books

 

0 7207 1571 7

   
 

Gardening Indoors

 

George F. Van Patten

 

Van Patten Publishing

 

1-878823-11-6

 

$ 44.95

 

Practical Hydroponics & Greenhouses

     

Casper Publications Pty. Ltd.

 

1321-8727

 

bi-monthly $ 5.95

   

For more information on commercial type operations

                   
 

Hydroponic Crop Production

 

Joe Romer

 

Kangaroo Press

 

0 86417 527 2

 

$ 35.90

 

A Practical Guide to NFT

     

Johima Books

 

0 9513519 0 7

 

$ 69.00

 

Commercial Hydroponics

     

Kangaroo Press

     

$ 35.90

 

Hydroponic Food Production

 

Howard M. Resh, Ph.D.

 

Woodbridge Press Santa Barbara CA

 

0 N88007 171 0

 

$ 59.95

 

Commercial Hydroponics in Australia (A Guide For Growers)

 

Australian Hydroponic Association Inc

     

0 646 15525 3

 

$ 49.95

 

Master Guide To Planning Profitable Hydroponic and S/CEA Operations Worldwide

 

Adam J. Savage Ph.D (1987)

 

International Centre for Special Studies Honolulu Hawaii

     

$ 79.00

 

Proceedings of the Introductory South Pacific Hydroponic
Conference ( 1990 )

 

Australian Hydroponic Association Inc for Special Studies

         

$49.95

 

Australian Hydroponic Conference February 1993

 

Australian Hydroponic Association Inc

     

0 646 18970 0

 

$ 49.95

 

Australian Hydroponic Conference July 1995

 

Australian Hydroponic Association Inc

     

0 646 18970 0

 

$ 49.95

                   

I've bought seedlings and want to grow hydroponically ?

You will need the following

  1. A container, old plant pot, plastic ice-cream container, in fact almost anything that is not metal.

  2. A medium for the plants to grow in. Perlite, clay balls, coarse washed river gravel or versarock. The medium should not contain any organic bits & pieces.

  3. A balanced hydroponic nutrient solution.

And of course some seeds and plants.

One of the easiest methods of starting is to take a standard plastic garden pot of 10 or 15 centimeters ( 4 to 6 inches ) and sit it in a plastic saucer or old ice-cream container. Wash the medium to be used and then put it in the pot. Plant the seed in the medium at a depth equal to twice the diameter of the seed. Water daily with rain water or spring water and keep a little water in the saucer.

Keep the pot in a sunny warm position. When the seed has germinated and the seedling is 10 days old start addding the balanced hydroponic nutrient to the water you put on the medium. Use the nutrient at half strength for a week and then gradually increase to full strength over the next week. Make sure that there is always a little liquid in the saucer to keep the medium damp.

If you buy a punnet of seedlings from a plant nursery they can be converted to hydroponics as follows. You will need two containers each three times larger than the punnet of seedlings.

  1. Put warm water in both containers and put the punnet in the first container

  2. Gently ease the seedlings out of the punnet by pushing up on the underside of the punnet. Use fingers and thumb to knead soil so seedlings separate from each other.

  3. Place seedlings still with some soil attached to their roots into the second container.

  4. Continue to soak and gently knead soil to remove from roots. Wash out first container and refill with warm water. Transfer seedlings to the first container and continue to remove as much soil as possible - if necessary by repeating the move to cleaner warm water.

  5. When most of the soil is removed place the hydroponic pot half filled with medium in one of the washing containers, add water until the lip of the pot is just under water. Gently hold the seedling in the middle of the pot whilst you add more medium to settle the roots into position. When the pot is full of medium lift the pot out of the water and stand it in a saucer.

  6. Keep the young plant warm but out of direct sunlight for a few days and feed half strength nutrient making sure that the medium is kept damp at all times. After about a week you should be able to increase the nutrient to full strength over a few days and move the plant to your chosen location.

How long will it take my heater to warm my nutrient ?

First a little physics is required

P = E/t
( P in watts, E in Joules, t in seconds )

Calculate the change in heat of the substance

delta h = C*m*delta T
( h in Joules, C specific heat capacity JK-1 g-1,
m mass in gms, T in degrees K
Cwater = 4.2 JK-1 g-1)

Assuming no energy losses by conductance from fluid to surroundings and using a 250 watt heater in a 200 litre reservoir with the water at 12 degrees Centigrade how long will the heater have to be on to raise the water to 22 degrees Centigrade ? ...

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How do I start growing hydroponically?

Getting started

KEEP IT SIMPLE - Use readily available bits & pieces and keep the moving parts to a minimum

  1. A container of some sort - milk cartons, ice cream containers, plastic bottles and bags - in fact almost any non metallic container will do.

  2. An inorganic medium - perlite, rockwool, clay balls, versarock, or a well washed coarse river gravel to put into the container.

  3. Make up a balanced nutrient solution by either mixing a hydroponic nutrient powder in clean rain water or by putting a small amount of concentrated liquid hydroponic nutrient into water. Use the mixed up solution to keep the medium in the container wet.

Little seed starter kits suitable for hydroponics are available costing from $2.00

Mediums cost from 25 cents per litre upwards

Nutrients cost varies from 1/2 a cent to 9 cents per litre of working strength solution

How do I make a simple drip feed system ?

Chose a location that will suit the plants to be grown to give good light, warmth and shelter from strong draughts.

Mount the gulley so that it is horizontal and the drain end is just higher than the top of the waste bucket. Make sure that the holes in the gulley are facing up. Set up the reservoir so that the base of the reservoir is 30 cm above the drip-in hole of the gulley...

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