The latest adaptations I've made to my first hydroponics system aren't immediately noticeable but have made a major change in the system including the amount of time I have to work on maintenance.
The biggest change in functionality was replacing the reservoir. The old held slightly under 2 and 3/4 gallons of water, including the water circulating in the pipes. The new one can hold a little over 4 gallons. I was having to add up to two galons of water every five to six days. One time coming close to damaging the pump as it started sucking air while I was out for the day.
I also replaced the aerator stone, subsisting a 3 inch one for a 6 inch one. So far I have not seen any sig tof the dreaded white algae that was so bad with the first iteration. Of course, we are moving into fall now so it easier Iand cheaper) to keep the temperature here at a lower temperature which I am sure is helping keep the algae at bay. Hmm, is rthere a pun in there somewhere?
Anyway, the biggest change I've made that has affected plant growth is to the plant cartridges themselves. I've started placing one of the AeroGarden grow sponges in the center a grow basket then line the outside of it with cut up pieces of another sponge. I also snip the top of the centered sponge so roots can more easily penetrate it. I keep the packing around the center sponge kind of loose, but not so much loose that whatever seeds I am using fall all the way through the basket only to fall out the bottom or side of the basket. I make sure the top of the sponge (and sponge pieces) are 3/8" to 1/2" below the top of the basket
Once that is done I sprinkle several seeds over the surface, top the basket off with perlite, and place one of the clear basket caps over it to keep everything in place until it's ready to go into the system.
For the first run with this new cartridge design I left the caps on for three days. I won't be doing that anymore. The perlite got wet from the built up humidity and started fusing together and was making it harder for the sprouts to break through to the surface.
The main reason I decided to try this new method is that, as intend and directed by the AeroGarden instructions you place one to 3 seeds in the center hole of a sponge which goes down about half the length of the sponge. It was taking 7-14 days in most cases for the sprouts to make it to the surface of the sponge and only one plant would survive, making the seedling leggy and weak. This is fine for plants like Basil, Cilantro, Parsley or Mint that get bushy quickly from a single seedling/plant but you can't get a decent harvest of herbs like Rosemary, Thyme, or Oregano, at least not very quickly.
Using this new method I had a ton of seedlings surface within just three days (the Red Leaf Lettuce, Dill, and Basil), and got multiple sprouts at 5-7 days (Rosemary, Thyme, and Marjoram). The only thing that looks like it's not going to makke it is the Oregano. As of this writing it's been ten days with no sign of life. I believe I may have set the surface of the Oregano seeds way to low, and likely left the cap on too long, drowning the seeds.
After Checking out the pix below take a look at some of the videos of my hydroponics system.