Hydroponics is a technique used to grow plants in a nutrient-rich, water-based solution. There is no soil involved; instead, the root systems of the plants are supported in inert mediums like vermiculite, moss, perlite, peat, Rockwool or clay pellets.
The basic idea behind starting a hydroponic garden is to allow the roots of a plant to come into contact with a nutrient solution that has access to ample oxygen. This is essential for the correct growth of the plants. There are different factors to keep in mind, such as the medium you use, pH levels, the types of LED lighting you use, and more. Here is a guide on how to get started:
The first step for the set up of your hydroponic garden will be to choose the system that matches your own needs. Some of the important aspects to think about is the space you have available, what types of plants you want to grow and how many of them, the costs involved, and the time you have available to maintain such a system.
Three of the more basic setups that are highly recommended for a beginner include:
- Water Culture
- Ebb And Flow
You can purchase these systems in a complete kit from a hydroponics store or online. You can also choose to build your own system by buying components separately.
This is a straightforward system for you to set up. It involves placing the plants in a Styrofoam platform, which you position over a reservoir. The reservoir will house an air-pump that delivers the oxygen to the plant’s roots. This type of system is more suitable for plants that are water hungry, but not an appropriate option for long-term plants like tomatoes.
The wick system is the easiest and simplest set-up, as there are no parts that move. The system features reservoirs that are filled with nutrients and water; above them is the container that holds the growing medium.
The reservoir and container are connected by the wick, which draws the water filled with nutrients up towards the growing medium. From here, these nutrients are absorbed by the plants.
Wick systems are ideal when it comes to learning the basics of hydroponics, but are not suited for water-hungry or large plants like lettuce. The wick can’t supply the water and nutrients fast enough. They are perfect, however, for growing microgreens, peppers and herbs.
Ebb And Flow
The Ebb and Flow system is a bit more complicated. However, it’s also highly versatile. These systems operate by filling (flooding) growing mediums with a specific solution, then draining it back into the reservoir. To make it happen, you are going to need a good quality submersible pump that has a timer. The main benefit of an ebb and flow system is the ability to set your timer so that you can customize the watering schedule. The timing will depend on the number of plants you have, their size, the temperature and humidity levels, and more.
Choose What You Would Like To Grow
Nearly all types of plants will grow well hydroponically. But, if you are a beginner, it’s best you start out with smaller ones. Some of the better choices include vegetables or herbs. They grow fast and require minimal maintenance. It’s recommended you start with the faster-growing plants so that you can determine how efficient your system works, and if any adjustments are needed.
Maintenance-free plants are also the best for beginners because you’ll have more time to learn about the system before moving onto more complex plants. If you decide to grow different plants together, make sure they have similar nutrient requirements so they can all thrive at once.
So, there you have it! If you’re new to the world of hydroponics, have no fear. Just follow these basic set-up instructions, and get growing. Good luck!
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