Author Topic: Building a hydroponic freight farm and/or greenhouse  (Read 827 times)

Merdox

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Building a hydroponic freight farm and/or greenhouse
« on: August 05, 2017, 07:53:18 AM »
Consider this a challenge. As someone who knows NOTHING about building OR gardening, I'm very much in love with the idea of eating plants I grow myself. A friend who gardens told me yesterday about Freight Farms, a company that sells complete commercial scale hydroponic farms in shipping containers. http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/24/technology/upstart30-freight-farms/index.html

It quickly became a fantasy of mine, though it costs about 76k if you get it from them. I figured there's gotta be a Mustachian DIY version for a fraction of the cost, which brings me to you badasses. I'd love this post to become a brainstorming platform for you brilliant builders and gardeners.

I'd personally prefer a scaled-down version (wouldn't be easy to get permission to plop a shipping container in a residential plot I imagine, not to mention te space issue), but you entrepreneurial types might prefer the full scale to make some profit, and a quick Google search reveals that you can buy a shipping container pretty cheap (under 2k).

I was also thinking if you combine the concept with that of a greenhouse you could benefit from sunlight but still have LED lights for periods of darkness -- so basically a vertical hydroponic greenhouse. DISCUSS!

Papa bear

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Re: Building a hydroponic freight farm and/or greenhouse
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2017, 07:57:46 AM »
Why don't you start with putting seeds in the ground?  See if you even like gardening before you jump all in with hydroponics?

Seeds in the ground require $3 in seeds, a shovel, and some water. 


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Merdox

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Re: Building a hydroponic freight farm and/or greenhouse
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2017, 08:06:04 AM »
Lots of reasons. That leaves you at the mercy of the seasons, elements, pests, and other obstacles indigenous to your area. I'm looking for a year-round, environment proof form of gardening. It's not really a question of whether I "like" gardening; it's something I've already packed into my life concept as someone who eats an entirely plant-based diet.

Papa bear

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Re: Building a hydroponic freight farm and/or greenhouse
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2017, 08:36:11 AM »
I get the advantages of that. But you quoted above that you know nothing about building or gardening.  Figured you should start with normal everyday gardening before go 0-837373993 mph in 3 seconds.


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Merdox

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Re: Building a hydroponic freight farm and/or greenhouse
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2017, 09:04:23 AM »
I hear you, and I may very well try out conventional gardening as well. But I already know my endgame is hydroponic, and I'd very much like to see the ideas folks here could come up with in view of the freight farm concept. Think of the post as less about me personally and more as a place to share and build upon ideas/knowledge on this concept. I imagine a lot of people around here would be interested in seeing a DIY freight farm plan unfold.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Building a hydroponic freight farm and/or greenhouse
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2017, 09:27:18 AM »
If you want to eat what you grow, you need to think about how easy/hard those plants would be to grow either in soil or hydroponically.  I can see, for example, growing tomatoes/peppers/cucumbers hydroponically, but not potatoes/sweet potatoes/grains - too little return for effort.  But things like potatoes/sweet potatoes/winter squash store well, so they are fine to grow outside and then store for winter eating.

Most people do garden in the ground first, just to get the basic gardening skills established, before they branch out into hydroponics.  I know lots and lots of gardeners but very few (1?) who uses hydroponics.  And this is in a northern one-crop-a-year area.
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Merdox

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Re: Building a hydroponic freight farm and/or greenhouse
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2017, 09:32:26 AM »
I eat almost entirely hydroponic-friendly plants.

There's gotta be a hydroponic gardener lurking around here somewhere...

Papa bear

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Building a hydroponic freight farm and/or greenhouse
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2017, 09:48:33 AM »
Ok. For a cheaper option to grow food year round for your own consumption.

1) spring summer fall: hoop style green house, run drip irrigation, plant away in the ground, use that free glowing orb in the sky to provide the necessary blue and red light spectrum.

2) cold winter months: set up a rack/shelving in the house or basement, put out some flats on each shelf, seed greens and micro greens, run full spectrum fluorescent lights. Water yourself daily. 

Edited for typos/clarity


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HipGnosis

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Re: Building a hydroponic freight farm and/or greenhouse
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2017, 10:43:35 AM »
There is a mind-numbing amount of info online about hydrponics - but the vast majority of it is for growing marijuana.

Some DIY systems are;
The Bucket Bubbler is a combination aeroponics/deep water culture system
The Dutch pot / Bato bucket system is one of the best designed hydroponic systems. It is a form of drip system that is enclosed except for the top of the growing surface.  The nutrient is never exposed to sunlight, so no algae will grow.

Many DIY systems use 5 gallon buckets and/or PVC pipe.  But anything that holds water can be adapted.

There are quite a few hydroponic factories - some are even built in old factory buildings. 

paddedhat

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Re: Building a hydroponic freight farm and/or greenhouse
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2017, 01:23:57 PM »
Several local plant nurseries in my area grow lettuce hydroponically. One has a three season operation that grows a large volume in nothing more than multiple rows of long pieces of rain gutter sitting on saw horses. They are pitched for flow and have a continual supply and return of water. They are outside until it gets too cold, then move in to a greenhouse. Slick system with a lot of production for little initial cost.

Merdox

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Re: Building a hydroponic freight farm and/or greenhouse
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2017, 02:47:14 PM »
All good insights. Thanks, folks. I realize I can learn about hydroponics on YouTube and elsewhere, which is what I'll do when I'm ready to embark upon that endeavor. I guess what I'm hoping to see here is the added ingenuity of DIY mavericks and the frugality of mustachians.

Ideally, I'd love to see someone here build their own freight farm and chronicle it, sort of like that recent article MMM did about that separate structure he made at his home. But MMM doesn't seem to be too into gardening, and a personal freight farm - even a scaled down one - would be a daunting project. We'll see if anyone takes up the challenge.

Hotstreak

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Re: Building a hydroponic freight farm and/or greenhouse
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2017, 05:36:04 PM »
Why would anybody build one of those?  It's a terrible idea unless you live in a place with no access to sunlight.  Get a greenhouse instead...

GreenEggs

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Re: Building a hydroponic freight farm and/or greenhouse
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2017, 07:55:42 PM »
Hydroponics is very simple.  You can make a small DIY bubbler style system using a tote & and aquarium air pump & air stones for $20-30.  You can make simple recirculating or ebb & flow systems as large as you want using plastic 6 mil poly sheeting to line the tables or beds and also the nutrient reservoirs.  (You'd have to be clueless to spend $76k on a shipping container sized system) 

Lights are mainly used for secret indoor cannabis growing or to supplement the photoperiod during winter months. 

If you get into it don't buy the expensive hobby (marijuana) hydroponic fertilizers.  Find an agricultural supply company and get their commercial dry "hydroponic mix".    If you're in the Southeast US "Southern Ag" is a good source https://southernag.com/ .   They have a couple of formulas, 5-11-26 is the one I've used.  You'll need to add various amounts of Calcium Nitrate and Epsom Salts to the mix, depending on the requirements of your crops.  You can make tens of thousands of gallons of nutrient solution for about $50-60, which will be enough for years for a hobbyist. 

You'll need a TDS meter & a pH meter.  You'll figure out the pH after a while and may not need the meter much after you get things dialed in, but the TDS meter measures the nutrient concentration and is used often.  There are a lot of brands, I prefer "Oakton".   The larger your reservoir, the easier it is to keep the solution stable. 

I have really enjoyed hydroponics.  It's amazing to see how quickly the plants grow & also being able to see their roots is pretty cool too.