What is Hydroponics?
Have you been searching for an interesting and inexpensive way to grow your favorite herbs and spices indoors? Then you might be interested in building a hydroponic grow system.
To put it simply, hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil. This efficient, cost-effective science has changed the food industry and given people all over the world a great way to grow their food quickly in a controlled environment.
Here is an overview of hydroponics before we get into more details about it.
Show Post Contents
- What is Hydroponics?
- The Benefits of Hydroponic Growing
- Vegetables That Are Perfect For Hydroponics
- How to Get Started With Hydroponics Vegetable Growing
- Tips For Successful Hydroponic Growing
How does it work?
Every day, people and animals have to set aside some time to take in food for nourishment. The same thing goes for plants. The primary difference here is that plants take in the nutrients they need through their roots instead of mouths.
The most common form of hydroponics involves suspending the roots of the plants you intend to grow in nutrient-rich water that circulates consistently. These nutrients feed your plants so that they can reach their growth potential.
What kind of materials do I need?
The setup for a hydroponic system can be as simple or complex as you would like for it to be, but you can accomplish quite a bit on a very modest budget.
Generally speaking, the water culture system is the easiest, most inexpensive hydroponic system to build. This can be done by repurposing an old aquarium or any other basin that can hold water and allows for the plants to be placed in a floating tray on the surface of the water.
The tray that floats on the water will hold the plants in place so that the roots are suspended nicely into the water. An air pump and airstone are placed at the bottom of the reservoir to bubble the water so that the roots can receive oxygen.
The only drawback of this system is that it is primarily designed for fast-growing leaf plants like lettuce. Heavier plants require what is known as a growing medium. This is a porous material that both supports the plant and holds the nutrient solution close to the roots of the plants.
How long does it take?
Time varies with different plants, but leafy plants such as lettuce can be fully ready to eat within as little time as 3-4 weeks. With a small amount of research, you can find which type of hydroponic system that is most suited for your needs.
The Benefits of Hydroponic Growing
Now that you understand a little more about what hydroponics is, it helps to know why you should do this for your vegetables.
There are a lot of advantages to growing your vegetables at home through hydroponics, from the space used to the overall costs. Take a look at some of the benefits so you can decide if this is what you want to do.
You Don’t Need Land
One of the best features of the method of growing food is that it doesn’t require soil, and doesn’t take up much space. Hydroponic growing allows you to set up a grow space in small areas like closets, kitchen nooks, and other unique areas in your home.
Some people ever get imaginative enough to incorporate their hydroponic garden into their home decor by creating a beautiful, living, oxygen-creating wall.
Hydroponic systems are designed to be somewhat self-sustaining. This means that you will use far fewer resources and spend less money during the time you are growing your crop.
Once your plants have reached their full potential, you can be up and running again with minimal investment. This also means that there will be fewer steps for upkeep and save you valuable time as well.
Since you are likely to be grown indoors, this means you won’t be using any harmful pesticides to keep away insects that can threaten the health of your plants. Testing the pH of the water is also much easier than soil, and can be done with relatively inexpensive equipment for under $30.
Plants were grown in hydroponic systems typically grow in nearly 50 percent of the time it takes for traditionally grown fruits and vegetables.
During this time, the plants are fed a balanced formula of nutrients specifically selected to maximize the growth potential and nutritional value of your plants.
You will appreciate harvesting delicious, healthy food that you know that you have grown yourself, with a much smaller environmental footprint than traditional growing methods that can cause imbalance due to watering runoff that depletes important trace minerals in the soil.
Vegetables That Are Perfect For Hydroponics
As you can see, hydroponics is a great way to grow your own food in a small amount of space very quickly, but a few of the growth systems have limitations that might make growing food difficult or disappointing.
This could result in wasted resources and time that could have been spent elsewhere, so research is needed to maximize the potential of your hydroponic system.
In the interest of saving you some time, the purpose of this article is to provide you with just a few examples of which vegetables are highly suited for hydroponics, along with some fruits and herbs.
This leafy vegetable and many other similar plants grow very well using the nutrient film technique. Lettuce and other plants of this type grow extremely fast using this system and require very little resources to grow. When you are ready to harvest your lettuce, you can enjoy it in a salad or on your favorite sandwiches.
This amazing vegetable is an important ingredient in many recipes. Celery roots are short and need to be kept wet. The ebb and hydroponic flow system are much more suited for the growth of celery.
Too much water could kill your celery, so this system will be sure to purge the water after it has delivered it’s nourishing nutrients to the fragile roots of your plants.
There are also many other vegetables you can try growing with hydroponics, including the following:
- Brussels Sprouts
There are some spices that are used all over the world by multiple cultures, and basil is one of them. It can grow using either the nutrient film technique or the drip system.
Fresh hydroponic basil will taste much better than flakes from a plastic container, so why not try to grow some today?
This is another plant that grows very well using the nutrient film technique. The one difficult thing about strawberries is that too much humidity can often result in root rot, so some special precautions will need to be taken to protect your future food. The best thing about this, however, is that you will be able to enjoy delicious strawberries all year long.
The immediate drawback of blueberry bushes is that they take two years to grow fruit, but there is the third plant on this list that grows very well using the nutrient film technique.
The positive is that they will not need to be replanted every year. With such a long period to wait for fruit, it’s of little surprise that these berries are often expensive to purchase in comparison to other berry varieties.
How to Get Started With Hydroponics Vegetable Growing
Traditional gardening methods require a lot of water, money, and resources. However, solutions to this are within reach, and even more efficient.
Hydroponics is a fast, inexpensive way to begin growing food in a small space, but how do you do it, and what do you need? The following article will be exploring exactly how to get started with hydroponics vegetable growing.
What You Will Need
- Hydroponic cloner
- 2-inch Mesh Net Pots
- Rapid Rooter Starter Plugs
- 1 Air Pump
- 1 Air Stone
- pH measuring tool
General Hydroponics pH Down
Fill your cloner with water. The reservoir should come with instructions on how high the water needs to be. Then, set up your air pump by connecting the tubing to the water stone and place it under where your plants will be.
Connect the other end of the tubing to the air pump and be sure that it has power. Soak the starter plugs in water and set them in the net pots.
When placing the seeds into the starter plugs, you will want to place more than 1 or 2 in each because some may not germinate. Be sure to keep the plugs moist so that the sprouts can make it through.
Clip off the weaker sprouts so you can have the best crop possible. Be sure to let them root somewhat in the starters before moving to the next step.
Adjusting pH Levels and Adding Nutrients
Now that the seeds have germinated, grown and begun to root, it’s time to set up your plants to grow hydroponically in the water.
At this point, your young plants are living off of their leaves, so if you wait too long, they will feed on themselves and die. Check the reservoir pH using your device of choice. Adjust pH to 5.8 using the pH down.
Once the desired level has been reached, add the required amount of nutrients to the water. Set the rooted young plants into the water, and now you are ready to tend to your first hydroponic system. Grow your plants to your preference, then and harvest to enjoy your hard earned work.
Tips For Successful Hydroponic Growing
Now that you’ve decided that you want to grow your favorite vegetables in a hydroponic garden, you are likely to have carefully selected the equipment like your grow lights and water pumps.
You’ve also probably done the research needed to be sure that you understand how to set up your equipment for a great yield. As you reach the point where your crops begin to grow, you may find that it is not as automatic as you had previously hoped. This short guide is geared toward giving you a few tips for successful hydroponic growing.
Know What You Need
Having the proper equipment is a must for just about everything in life. The same goes for successful gardening, especially in regards to hydroponics. Be sure that you know what every piece is for, and why it is important.
Also, be sure to have all of the proper nutrients and how much of the nutrients are needed by your plants. A misstep during a crucial time can decrease plant health, and even kill it. Don’t use any additives your first time setting the nutrients. Keep it simple to reduce any chance for issues.
Use only high-quality products to make your nutrient-rich water. Measure and adjust your nutrient water reservoir every day. This will protect your plant from any mistakes, sudden changes, or other things that can chemically go wrong.
It’s important to know exactly what is happening in your system. Be sure to have a feeding schedule written before you begin a crop. Keep sunlight away from your nutrient solution.
It may be a good idea to change your nutrient solution at least once every two weeks. Use a digital timer to keep track of dark periods. Do not visit your crop after you have visited other crops or being outdoors.
After the Harvest
Take the time to clean and sterilize your reservoir after every crop. This prevents any sort of contamination. Have an extra reservoir handy for quick replacement after water changes.
Garden indoors once the temperature reaches 13 degrees Celsius or below. Only visit your garden after you have changed your clothes. It would be preferable to keep pets out of your garden. Be sure that visitors to your garden follow similar rules.