You do not need a lot of space to own a hydroponic garden in your home. Growing an indoor hydroponic garden will work very well even if you live in an apartment.
Hydroponic farming does not require you to use soil. It is therefore less messy, and can work well with your indoor space. You can grow your vegetables all year-round right from your indoors.
Basil and strawberries plant, as well as other herbs can do very well indoors through hydroponic farming.
The reason why hydroponic farming is reliable is because you will not guess around watering your plants. The plant roots are also in constant access to oxygen. There is no risk of under or over watering because the plants get as much water as they need.
The use of hydroponic systems is to bring the optimal growing conditions to the plants. This ensures that the plants grow steadily, as long as they have the proper nutrients and light.
How can I make hydroponic system at home?
When you want to make hydroponic solution at home, there are several steps to it:
Step 1: Buy nutrients
For your solution, you will need to buy the nutrients that will help to make the base. Such nutrients will include, calcium, phosphorous, nitrogen, etc.
These nutrients are in the form of salt, and you would need to mix them with water to form a solution. The water will break the salts down and you will end up with a solution.
You can mix them in the following measures:
- Ammonium phosphate-2 teaspoonfuls
- Magnesium sulphate- 4 teaspoonfuls
- Potassium nitrate- 4 teaspoonfuls
- Calcium nitrate- 4 ½ teaspoonfuls
Nitrogen and sulfur are important for supplying amino acids and proteins. Phosphorous comes in to boost growth and photosynthesis. The plants need potassium and magnesium to help in the formation of starch and sugars. The plants need nitrogen and magnesium for the production of chlorophyll. Calcium boosts growth.
Step 2: Get clean water
The best is to use filtered water. That is the way to ensure you have no dirt or contaminants. You can work with 10 gallons of water for the mixing of the solution.
Step 3: Mixing the salts
Get the salts and add them slowly into the water. The best way to do it is to add a type of salt each time, one at a time.
Next, cover the bucket with a lid and thoroughly shake the water such that the solution mixes up completely. This is what creates the micronutrient solution.
Step 4: Adding the micronutrients
Get another container and add a quart of water. Get a 1/4 tsp of boric acid. Get a ½ tsp manganese chloride. Stir the mixture well.
Get a half cup of that solution, mix it up with the micronutrient solution. Next step is to get a different bucket, pour a quart of water into it. Introduce ½ tsp of chelated iron.
From that solution, get a 3/5 cup and add it to the macronutrient solution. The plant will need the macronutrients for growth.
Step 5: Adjusting the pH levels:
Adjust the pH levels and ensure it ranges between 5.5 and 6.5. In case it gets to 7.0, you would need to adjust it, because that would be too alkaline.
To reduce it, you can add vinegar to the solution. pH that is lesser than 5.5 is too acidic. To reduce the acidity, add baking soda to the solution.
Step 6: Adjusting the electrical conductivity
Electrical conductivity is the ratio of nutrients to water. An electronic EC meter comes in handy to measure the readings. The readings must be within the range of 0.3 to 0.8.
The reading 1.5 to 2.5 is mostly the appropriate measure. When you notice the EC reading is too high, what you need to do is to add water to take the reading lower.
To get the most out of the yield plants, you should ensure all the nutrients are in the right quantities. Also, ensure your plants are getting adequate light.
When the growing conditions are appropriate, you will not experience pest attacks on the plants. Weeding will therefore not be necessary. The more you practice making the hydroponic solution at home, the better you will keep getting at it.
Where to best place your hydroponic garden
You need to locate a convenient place to position your garden. Get an enclosed space where the floor is completely level. This will help to ensure that the coverage of the water and the nutrients to the plants is even.
If your indoors does not allow enough natural lighting, add grow lights so that it helps supplement lighting-the plants will need that. Ensure that where you place your garden is secure from direct winds.
Steps to build an indoor hydroponic garden
Hydroponics basically means you are growing the plants in a solution of nutrients, and in water. You do not need soil. That is to say, you will not need to put the plants in the ground.
Where do you start when you want to grow your hydroponic garden?
Here are the steps to follow;
Step 1: Determine the plants to grow
Decide on the plants and seedlings you want to grow. That will help in choosing which hydroponic system to use. It will also help you to decide on the level of lighting you need for the plants, and the space as well.
There are some systems or set ups that would work better for some plants than others. When starting out for the first time, it is advisable to start with a leafy green plant such as the lettuce.
Step 2: Assembling the hydroponic system
Decide on the hydroponic system to work with. Several factors will help determine which system would best fit you. Check the amount of space you have available.
The type of plant you are growing will also factor in, and your estimated budget. You could choose to buy or make the hydroponic system by yourself. The thing to note about hydroponic systems is that their role is one- to feed the plants with nutrients and water.
The only difference between the various types of hydroponic systems in the market is on how they feed the plants. You could even choose old liter soda bottles for your hydroponic system.
You could also get a kit that is within your budget. Most kits that you would buy will come with most, if not all of the nutrients your plants need to grow. There is also the option of making your owe hydroponic kit using PVC pipes.
Step 3: Choose a source of light
Your plant will need ample lighting to thrive. If you need to supplement natural lighting, choose the grow lighting that will best suit your indoor garden. Research on the light needs for the plant you will grow.
Factors to consider are the intensity of the light, the costs, the light spectrum, and the area that needs lighting coverage. You can check on the different types of lighting, understand their advantages and disadvantages. Choose what works for your plants.
To get the best quality produce from your plants, do not choose the cheapest options for your lighting. If you are still not certain which grow lighting to go with, you can consider using a full spectrum LED light.
These lights are relatively cheap, they can perfectly serve leafy green plants and the fruit ones. They are also efficient.
Step 4: Determine the hydroponic grow medium you will use
The type of plant you are growing, and the type of hydroponic system you have chosen. Each medium has different advantages.
What you need to consider when selecting the medium are things such as; its cost, aeration levels, its water retention capacity, as well as pH stability.
In case you are not sure which medium to go with, you can opt for the expanded clay pebbles ones. They work well with different types of plants, and are a versatile medium.
Step 5: Buy the hydroponic nutrients and supplements
Different hydroponic systems come in different parts; some in 1, 2 and others 3-part solutions. If you are a beginner, it is advisable to start with a 1-part nutrient solution.
For vegetable growth, Dyna-Gro Grow nutrient solution will serve you well. There are also a variety of available supplements whose role is to make your plants stronger, enhancing their capacity to resist diseases.
Step 6: Get a pH meter, and pH up, pH down
Plants can only consume nutrients which are within a certain range of pH levels. You will therefore need to keep testing the pH levels of your nutrient’s solution. There are a few other available options that would help test the pH levels.
You can use test strips, a liquid kit, or an electronic meter. The electronic meter is a favorable option. You will notice that those options are inexpensive on the internet, and they are efficient as well.
There are times the pH levels can either go above or below the recommended levels. You will therefore require the pH up pH down to make adjustments to the pH levels of your nutrient solution.
Step 7: Mix and add your nutrients, then start your system
This is the last step of starting your hydroponic garden. You are now ready to get everything going.
- Put water in your system, and let it run to ensure that everything is working properly. This will help you to catch any leaks as soon as possible.
- When you ensure that everything is okay, mix the nutrients. Wait for a span of 15 minutes and test the pH levels. Ensure the pH levels are in the proper levels, and adjust that if they are not well balanced.
- Next step is to add the plants to the now ready system.
- Position your grow light timer so that the plants can get the light they need for growth.
What is the easiest hydroponic system to use?
The easiest system to use is the Deep-Water Culture system, DWC. This system is a perfect choice for beginners. All you need to do is fill up the reservoir with the nutrient solution.
The next step is to suspend your plants in that solution, where they will grow. In that solution, the plants will draw their nutrients, water supply in continuous measure, nutrients and oxygen. Add a continuous oxygen supply to the water.
Most growers use an air pump plus an air stone to oxygenate the nutrient solution. They simply pump bubbles into the solution. Oxygenating your nutrient solution keeps the plants from “drowning”-because the plants will use up all the oxygen in the water.
The DWC is an extremely easy set up when you learn how to do it. It is also extremely low maintenance. It is friendly for first timers.
What are the benefits of growing plants hydroponically?
- You will not require any soil, so you will not end up with a messy place.
- It has been proven that plants grown in a hydroponic garden taste better, and are more nutritious.
- If you grow herbs and flowers hydroponically, they will give you a more vibrant color and scent.
- Plants grown in the hydroponic garden grow faster and eventually turn out to be bigger than those grown in the soil.
- You will end up with fewer issues of pests and diseases, when grown indoors and kept clean.
- It is a great way to make use of space and location. You can even make use of your extra bedroom.
- When you grow plants in the soil, the spread out their roots. This is usually because the plants are searching for foods and nutrients. In the case where your plants are growing hydroponically, they are in direct contact with the nutrients. They do not need to spread out their roots. You can therefore grow the plants much closer, and they will turn out just fine.
- You have control over the climate when you grow the plants hydroponically. You can take charge of the wind, light intensity, humidity, among other factors.
- Unlike traditional gardening where you grow your plants during the right season, you can grow using hydroponics all year round.
It is easy to start your hydroponic garden, all you need is make sure you have everything needed in place.