Irrigation - putting my engineering degree to good use

I bought a Wi-Fi enabled pump and got it set up today.


I probably ran it a little too long during the set up but it’s awesome. With the seedlings, I only have to run it a couple minutes. When the plants are larger, it will run ≈45 minutes. Best of all, I can program it’s run cycle so I only need to remember to fill the water and mix the nutrients before I go to work.

On the downside, the app for it kind of sucks. But it’s manageable.

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Very cool. I keep going back and forth between automating and loving hand watering

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Thanks.
J
I started growing to help with my wife’s chronic pain management. Between working, taking care of her, & taking care of the house, I need to build as much automation in as I can.

A peristaltic pump I ordered just arrived. I’ll use it to pump out the irrigation return flow. I’ll set it up this weekend. It is not Wi-Fi enabled but I think I can run it on a timer. And because it’s a non-contact pump, I don’t have to worry about it over heating if it runs dry.

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A little expensive but autopots seem to be a decent automated setup. I have them running 2 different grows. As long as I keep the reservoir full I can go a week or 2 without checking on the plants. I still go out and look every night. But I don’t have too as long as the res is full. Good luck. Looking good so far!

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Jußt get a pump with a float so when the drain tray fills so much the float lofts to turn out.p on to drain when the float drops the pump shuts off. They have them for autopots ect. Look them up might be a better idea than a pump running dry causing a fire one day from dry running.

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It’s such a dinky low flow pump, ≈5.2gph, I doubt it would cause a fire. It also has 2 built in pumps, so I can draw from two different sources. I’m more worried about a dripper getting out of place and dripping all over the floor.

For a reservoirs, I currently have two 5 gallon buckets. I have spare food grade 7 gallon buckets from home brewing if I need to go larger on a day-to-day schedule. Worst case, I’m going out of town for a while, I can hook up a rain barrel and fill it with a garden hose.

The auto pot system describes it self as “automatic.” Their webpage gave me a 404 when I tried to look up the manual, so I don’t know how it works or how the irrigation volume is set. That worried me.

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Basically it has a valve system that allows the pot to go mostly dry before providing water back to the plant. It’s a bottom fed system that works off of gravity.


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I like the autopot xl spring pot system. Comes with fabric pots that I actually like. There’s a video on ytube that you can watch that explains how it works.

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Very cool. I’d suggest using light-proof tubes though, otherwise you can get algae.

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I have some black tube. If algae becomes a problem over the course of this grow, I’ll swap it out right away. If I get through this grow and it isn’t a problem, I’ll probably flush the system with a couple gallons of Starsan, a citric acid sanitizer, as part of my regular maintenance. That should kill almost everything that might be trying to get a foothold.

On the subject of algae, is it a toxicity problem for the plants or a nuisance problem because they steal nutrients and can mat the soil surface?

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Just use a raised floor and have your tube runs under the floor and come out by each pot. That solves two issues, light exposure and tube clutter. All while preserving ease of troubleshooting. You can easily make covers for the riser tubes. Just maker sure have the max head to handle it, in most cases that shouldn’t be an issue.

I plumbed my hydro setup that way years ago. Made the raised floor from plywood cut into 2x2’ sections and 1" dowels 4" tall. The dowels were attached to a washing machine leak tray so the raised floor section just sat on top. Left a decent gap so you could check of leaks without lifting the floor.

Depending on your medium you should be able borrow the water cycle for hydro\aeroponics setups. I wouldn’t overthink it too much. I’m sure I used much thicker tubing either 3/8ths or 1/2" OD, it was they same tubing I used for my liquid cooling on my PC at the time.

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I’m resistant to building a false bottom because then I’m losing headspace in the tent.

I ended up redoing the irrigation system and switching to subsurface drippers. I also needed to give myself more slack between pots so I switched to the black tube at the same time. The tube is tucked under the rims of the saucers.

The clear bins were also swapped out for 16” terracotta colored saucers because I needed more space between plants.

I’ve also kept the fertigate bucket loosely covered to keep that side safe from algae gaining a foothold and vacuumed the plant side daily.

There haven’t been any algae problems yet.