Hydroponics is a way of growing plants without the use of soil. Plants grow in a solution of water and nutrients. The benefits of this method are plenty – faster growth, higher yields, no requirement for soil, space optimisation, and sustainable use of water. So if you are a budding hydroponic gardener, here are some tips to help you on your journey.
There are a few factors to consider when you’re taking setting up a hydroponic system. These include the size of the space, what it is you want to grow, your budget, and the amount of time you have to maintain the system.
The three basics systems are water culture systems, wick systems and ebb and flow systems. You can read more about these systems to select the right one for you.
What do you want to grow?
Most plants can be grown hydroponically, however if you’re a beginner, it’s smart to start small. Choose herbs and vegetables that grow quickly, require little maintenance, and don’t require a lot of nutrients. With fast-growing plants, it becomes easy to assess how well your system is working and make amends as you learn more about your system. If you want to grow a variety of plants, it’s important to make sure that their nutrient requirements are similar so that they grow well together.
Hydroponic systems are mostly indoor systems kept in places that don’t have direct sunlight. Most edible plants require 5 to 6 hours of sunlight each day. If you don’t have abundant access to sunlight, you’ll need to supplement it with grow lights. Most hydroponic system kits come with the necessary light fixtures, but if you are piecing together your own components, you will need to buy separate lighting fixtures.
The right conditions are key in setting up a hydroponic system. The primary elements are relative humidity, temperature, CO2 levels, and air circulation. The grow room should have a continuous supply of carbon dioxide. The best way to ensure this is by making sure the room has a constant flow of air.
Quality of water
Hard water with a high mineral content will not dissolve nutrients as effectively as water with a low mineral content. You may need to filter your water accordingly. If your water doesn’t meet required pH levels, chemicals can be used to adjust it into the ideal range.
Nutrients used in the hydroponic system – both organic and synthetic – are available in liquid and dry forms. The product you use should include the macronutrients as well as the micronutrients. Lastly, ensure that the fertilisers you chose are designed specifically for hydroponic gardening.