As things stand today, DIY hydroponic systems is the best way to solve food shortage especially in the prevailing hard economic times.
If we are to achieve self-food sufficiency, the best alternative is to embrace hydroponic System farming. In this post we shall take you through simple things to consider when setting up DIY Hydroponic Systems at home.
Assembling a homemade hydroponic system
Learning how to grow your own plants in a soil-less system is a very crucial and advantageous thing especially for those living in urban areas and around unproductive lands.
Here are some easy to follow steps on how you can set up a DIY hydroponic system in your home.
1. Get a suitable Location
Determine a favorable area to locate your hydroponic system, should be a well-enclosed structure, most likely a greenhouse or the basement of a house. An outdoor patio or deck could also make a wonderful site.
Level out the floor of the area to ensure there is equal distribution of water and nutrients. If you plan on placing the system outdoors, ensure that you provide secure protection from winds and too much sun. These plants have weak roots so if exposed to winds they will be easily uprooted.
Similarly, they depend so much on water, if exposed to the sun; evaporation will take place easily leading to high water losses. Also ensure that the site you are placing the hydroponic has enough sunlight, if not, supply glow lights to provide the required lighting for plant growth.
2. Assembling the Hydroponic System
A standard hydroponic system consists of about 6 growing tubes of six inch PVC pipes, a PVC stand and trellis, 50-gallon nutrients tank, a manifold and a pump.
The tank should be placed under the table of the growing tubes while the pump is placed inside the tank to ensure the nutrients are supplied to all the plants through the manifold of small tubs and PVC pipes.
The growing pipes should have a drain pipe that flows back to the tank; this is to recycle the nutrients not used up by the plants. The small tubes have small holes strategically placed beside each plant; they shoot out nutrients and spray it to the plants roots.
3. Mixing the nutrients and Water
You should fill the 50-gallon nutrients tank with water, add 2 cups of nutrients or as recommended in the label. Turn the pump on and then let the system run without disturbance for about 30 minutes; this is to get the nutrients thoroughly mixed.
The easiest way of planting in a DIY hydroponic system is by the use of already germinated seedlings. This saves time of growing the seeds in a separate site. You will also get to choose the healthiest seedlings unlike when you germinate them yourself.
There are various types of crops you could opt to grow in a hydroponic system including potatoes, tomatoes, different types of vegetables and commercial crops. For a start, go for simple vegetables like the lettuce.
After acquiring the seedlings, remove all the soil at the roots. You can do this by submerging the seedlings in a bucket of water and then rub the roots gently to get the soil out.
Place the seedlings in a planting cup and add expanded clay pebbles to hold the seedling in place.
5. Tying the seedling to the trellis
Use strings and the plant clips when tying up the seedlings to the trellis. The string is to provide support and ensuring that they climb upright; this maximizes the space in your homemade hydroponic system.
The string should be tied loosely at the top of the trellis attaching the clips to the base of every plant.
6. Turn on the pump
After ensuring that the seeds are in place, it is time to run the system. Turn on the pump and ensure that the water is flowing to each and every plant. Check all pipes and tubes for blockage or any signs of folding.
Also ensure that the drainage pipes are taking the nutrients back to the tank. Also ensure that the holes are spraying the nutrients to the roots of the plants and not elsewhere. Similarly, ensure that you monitor the water levels each and every day.
This is to ensure that the water supply is always sufficient and that evaporation does not result to too much water loss. You should also check the level of nutrients and PH after two or three days.
This is to make sure that the plants are always in constant supply of food and oxygen. Never let the tank run dry, this could cause serious damage since the pump might burn up and also the plant will wither, dry up and die.
7. Monitoring growth of plants
It will take just some weeks for the plants to cover the trellis completely; this is as a result of the sufficient nutrients they are constantly using up. Thus, it is important to keep a watch on the plants after every few days, adjusting the string and clips for better growth.
8. Inspect for diseases and pests
Although no soil is used in hydroponics, there might be presence of insect pests on the leaves and other parts of the plant. Check signs of cut stems and chewed leaves for pests. Also check for signs of withering and drying up and other regular signs of foliar diseases.
Always be keen since a disease could easily affect other plants thus leading to total loss. Remove any sick plants immediately and apply necessary pesticides.
Unlike other plants, hydroponic plants don’t have to go looking for nutrients and water making them concentrate more on growing and fighting of simple diseases.
However, it is still good to keep an eye on them daily since caterpillars and other bugs might find their way into the system causing havoc. Pick any of bug or insects you find and throw them away.
Since the plants in a hydroponic have a well-balanced supply of oxygen, nutrients and light, they will grow faster than a soil plant with almost 30 – 50 percent. They will also provide you with greater yields. In most cases, you can get twice the amount of yields in half the time required from a hydroponic plant as compared to a soil plant in similar conditions.
As you can see, setting up DIY Hydroponic Systems is simple. It’s time to get down to work. We wish you all the best in your homemade hydroponic garden set-up.