When it comes to soilless gardening, hydroponics is the best option because it uses less water and takes up less room. Hydroponics is a farming system in which plants are grown in a nutrient rich solution rather than soil, as well as a plant growth technique in which plants are grown in a continuously moist medium.
Hydroponics, in fact, dates back to the earliest civilizations. Commercial greenhouses and private gardens both use contemporary hydroponic systems on a regular basis.
If you’re new to hydroponics or want to brush up on what you already know, this article is for you.
Learn the basics of hydroponic setup in this guide, and you’ll be able to start a year-round hydroponic system of your own!
Setting Up Hydroponics Systems
Deep Water Culture
According to the vast majority of specialists, Deep Water Culture hydroponics systems are the simplest when it comes to establishing hydroponics for indoor cultivation.
Deepwater culture DWC hydroponics is a method of growing plants in which the roots are suspended in a solution of water and nutrients. Because it will come into direct contact with the plant roots, the tap water used in DWC systems must be of high quality. Furthermore, the pH of the water must be carefully monitored to ensure that the plants can absorb the nutrients properly. Commercial growers frequently use DWC systems because they can produce high yields in a small amount of space. They can, however, be used by hobbyists who want to experiment with hydroponic gardening. Regardless of your level of expertise, a DWC system can provide you with a rewarding and enjoyable gardening experience. (DWC) hydroponics is a method of growing plants in which the roots are suspended in a solution of water and nutrients. The tap water used for DWC systems must be of high quality as it will be in direct contact with the plant roots. In addition, the pH level of the water must be carefully monitored to ensure that the plants are able to absorb the nutrients properly. Commercial growers often use DWC systems as they can achieve high yields in a relatively small space. However, they can also be used by hobbyists who want to try their hand at hydroponic gardening. Regardless of your level of experience, a DWC system can provide you with a rewarding and fun gardening experience.
Before installing a DWC system, there are a few things to consider. First, you must determine the best location for your system. Because the plants’ roots will be suspended in water, it is critical to choose a location that receives plenty of sunlight, unless grow lights are used. You must also ensure that the area you choose has adequate drainage. Otherwise, your plants’ roots may become waterlogged and rot.
Once you have chosen the perfect location for your DWC system, you will need to gather the necessary materials.
- Small gallon of buckets
- A nutrient reservoir
- Net pots
- Air tubing
- Air stones
- Air pumps
- Nutrient solution
- Growing medium
- pH meter
- Connecting pipes
- Grow lights
Step 1: Consider purchasing a large nutrient solution storage tank. Now, connect each plant’s smaller reservoirs to the main tank. After that, you will need to link the pipelines of the small tanks and reservoirs together.
Nutritional solutions will pass from the large tank to numerous smaller ones. As a result, the solution will be recirculated or returned to the main tank.
The water is filtered and recirculated through an inline water filter. The plant’s roots will be entirely submerged in the nutrient solution during the growing process.
Step 2: For each tank, you’ll need an air pump and an air stone. When air pumps and air stones are used together, bubbles are created that promote gas exchange and proper aeration.
Because oxygenation is crucial to the development of your crops in deep water culture, this will ensure that the plant roots are well oxygenated.
Step 3: Next, you’ll need to utilize net pots to keep your plants safe and secure. Using the net pots, your plant’s roots will be able to stay submerged in the nutritional water solution.
Afterward, you can begin filling the pots with a growing media such as perlite or lava rocks.
Step 4: Make sure you check your pH level once you’ve finished building your deep water culture system. Maintaining pH levels between 5.5 and 6.5 is critical to the growth of plants.
There are two options for replacing the nutrient in your reservoir: once every two weeks. Keep an eye on your reservoir’s nutrient levels by using a PPM meter and an EC meter.
A hydroponics wicking system is a type of setup in which plant roots are supported by a growing medium and water and nutrients are delivered directly to the roots via a wick. Peat moss, coconut coir, and perlite are the most commonly used materials for this type of setup. Because it is lightweight and has good water retention properties, peat moss is a popular choice. Another popular option is coconut coir, which is more environmentally friendly than peat moss and has good water-retention properties. Perlite is frequently used in conjunction with other materials to improve drainage and aeration. It is critical to choose the right materials for your specific needs when constructing a hydroponics wicking system.
Step 1: Using your nutrient-rich water, fill up a bucket or container. It’s best if the container is somewhat smaller in diameter than your growing pot. It should also be opaque. Your plant’s water and nutritional solution will be stored in the container.
Step 2: Afterwards, set the wicks in the middle of the pot you’ll be using to house your new plant. The wicks must be able to hang from a small hole in the bottom of the pot.
Ensure the wicks are able to reach the roots of your plant and are fully buried in your fertilizer solution before adding your chosen growing media to the plant pot.
Step 3: Perhaps the wick is too long? But after you are satisfied, you can set the plant pot on top of the jar. It’s time to suspend the pot above the liquid, with the wicks partially submerged, so the plant can get some sunlight.
Step 4: Seal the tank at the bottom to keep out bugs and pathogens. Your liquid solution should not be exposed to either air or light.
Congratulations! You’ve just set up your own hydroponic wick system. You’ll need to keep an eye on the reservoir’s level to see if it needs to be refilled. How often you need to top it up depends on the water consumption of your plants.
Note: You can make a wick out of anything, including mop head strings, nylon rope, old clothing strips, and propylene strips.
Each one can be pre-tested in a jar of colored water. A good estimate of how fast and far water moves can be gained within the first hour. Finally, employ two wicks for each plant for the greatest results.
You can check out this video for more on how to set up a hydroponics wicking system.
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
To cultivate crops, farmers employ hydroponic systems like the nutrient-film technique (NFT).
The nutrient film technique (NFT) is a hydroponic growing method in which plants are grown in a shallow stream of nutrient-rich water. Water is pumped from a reservoir and flows through a network of PVC pipes at various levels. The plants are placed in small plastic pots with holes in the bottom, and their roots are allowed to dangle into the water. The water is then drained back into the reservoir and recirculated. This system necessitates careful monitoring of pH levels and nutrient concentrations, but it can be a cost-effective way to grow plants.
Numerous factors contribute to the popularity of NFT among hydroponic farmers, whether they are professionals or hobbyists. Nutrient film hydroponic setup is more expensive compared to other methods, so it’s really only appropriate for large-scale commercial operations.
The NFT system was first developed by Dr. William Cooper in the 1960s and has since been used to successfully grow a variety of crops, including lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. This method of hydroponic gardening is ideal for leafy greens and herbs because it provides the roots with oxygenated water and nutrients on a continuous basis. The main advantage of NFT over other hydroponic methods is that it uses less water because the roots only come into contact with the nutrient solution for a brief period of time. As a result, NFT is an excellent choice for growing crops in areas with limited water resources.
Let’s look at how to set up a nutrient film hydroponic system:
- 4-inch PVC pipes
- Plastic tote
- 2 PVC end caps
- 3-inch net cups
- 1.5-inch poly tubing
- Water pump
- pH test kit
Step 1: Your 4-inch PVC pipe should be cut to the desired length. You can design this as long or as small as you choose. This is where you’ll be broadcasting from.
Step 2: Make a small hole inside one of any end caps, and then make a number of 8-inch-diameter holes in the PVC pipe’s top using a drill or a hacksaw. This is the location where your crops will be placed.
Step 3: On the other end of the holes, drill a 12-inch hole in your pipe’s bottom, and tie your end caps in. Drill two 12-inch holes in the lid of the plastic tote, one on each side. Take off the water pump and put it in the tote.
Step 4: Cut two 6-inch portions from your scrap 2×4. Using a simple “V” shape, cut a slot into each one. If you put your pipe in these grooves, it will stay put. Reduce the length of either of these pieces by cutting or sanding the bottom.
Step 5: Decide where your NFT channel will be located in this step. Alternatively, you can set it down on a nearby table or bench in addition to the plastic tote. After you’ve set up your layers of wood, you’re ready to add your pipe.
Step 6: In order for water to go to the drain, place the smaller piece of wood on the drain end of the hose.
Step 6: Make sure you have enough 12-inch poly tubing to attach the pump to the end cap’s opening. When you’re done securing the tube, insert the other end into a hole on the reservoir lid, and connect it to a water pump.
Step 7: Poly tubing is needed to link the PVC pipe’s little hole on the end of the other connection on the lid of the plastic tote.
Step 8: Insert the seedling net cups into the pipe’s 3-inch openings and turn on the pump and add nutrient solution.
Final Thoughts on Setting Up Hydroponics
Setting up your hydroponic farm offers you lots of advantages. But, you will need to arm yourself with as much information as possible before embarking on this endeavor. You don’t have to be an expert in hydroponics to construct a successful hydroponic garden. Just follow the steps mentioned above when setting up and you’ll be good to go!