Cheap DIY Hydroponic Grow Bed Setup and Designing:
As the world population continues to increase, people are increasingly encroaching forest reserves and other natural habitats in search for new colonies to grow food.
The high population is causing pressure on land, food reserves, and the management of other factors like nutrients and mineral components of the plants is becoming a problem.
This has resulted in more innovative and creative systems of farming known as hydroponics, which relies on grow beds with various designs.
What is hydroponic ?
This is growing of plants in an aquatic based environment or a soil-less medium.
It is a subset of hydro culture and uses a mineral nutrient solution instead of soil to feed the plants.
With these systems, no one is limited to production period by either water availability or climate but only by your needs.
Hydroponics offers flexibility in production both for humans and for livestock where the hydroponics hay production is gaining popularity day by day.
But today we are going to look at how to setup a grow bed for your indoor hydroponics garden system.
We’ll go into how to structure a cheap growing bed with ease using best designs.
Site selection for your hydroponic grow bed
The site you choose for your hydroponic system is very crucial and critical since once set, you will not have the flexibility of moving it from place to place especially where the whole system is bulky.
For the case of greenhouse planting beds, the system is fixed in the greenhouse hence site selection should be based on the precise hydroponics greenhouse requirements.
The following are some of the things to consider when selecting where to lay your next hydroponics grow bed setup.
Stability of the site: Make sure you choose a location that is stable and preferably on a level ground.
Since some of the hydroponic system and components are bulky, there is a likelihood of the supporting elements sinking to the ground.
This may have adverse effects such as disrupted water flow, collapsing of the system or even flooding of the system.
Weather elements such as rain, wind, and storms: Whether your hydroponic grow bed is in a greenhouse, open space or any other place, weather considerations is a critical factor since extreme weather conditions may cause stress to plants and damage the structures.
For the case of strong winds, they have an adverse impact on the plants leading to low production and sometimes total loss as the wind may damage the productive systems and break all the plants.
Rains have a more pronounced loss for they can dilute the nutrients in the hydroponic system, cause water overflow or in the case of snow, extreme temperatures may even solidify the nutrients.
Therefore, it is important to allow your plants receive maximum sunlight per day.
This should be in relation to the type of plant where we have the short day and long daylight plants.
Therefore, depending on your area, choose a site with optimum sunlight for your crops.
But if you are doing your project indoors then you need to invest in quality lighting.
For instance, cabbage, salad greens, and lettuce are light sensitive, and will bolt in excessive sunlight and produce seeds at an early age, and some may even become unpalatable.
When choosing your site, note that the sun moves from east to west, and thus you should choose a site that utilizes this sunlight appropriately.
Ease of access, fencing, and utilities: A hydroponic system is reliant on several utilities such as electricity for operation.
Therefore, the site selected should be near utilities including water reservoirs whether piped water or rainwater.
Besides, the system should be readily available on a daily basis for maintenance and servicing.
Additionally, to keep off intruders and for security purposes, elect a fence or a barricade.
Greenhouse grow beds
Greenhouses are essential in areas where temperatures are extremely cold and, this interrupts production during some periods of the year.
With a greenhouse fitted with the greenhouse grow beds, all year round production is possible without any interruption or the need to replace soil due to the buildup of pests.
The grow beds are designed like other grow beds in the hydroponics system.
However, the design you adopt should factor in issues concerning the shape and size of the greenhouse.
Examples of grow beds to use in this environment include large plastic grow trays, and small hydroponic grow beds that are versatile for different greenhouse designs and much more.
Considering that constructing a greenhouse is expensive, you can opt for cheap grow beads to minimize your costs of production.
How To Design your own DIY hydroponic grow bed:
Wood grow bed design
Due to the increased adoption of the hydroponic farming technology, more people have ventured into this business, and it is common to find cheap hydroponics grow beds for sale either online via companies such as Dealzer or on Bonanza.
However, some of these systems are difficult to configure hence the need to have a basic knowledge about their construction for efficient operations.
The following guide illustrates how to build and maintain a classic wooden flood and drain hydroponic growing bed.
First, we need to construct a box with screws placed tightly through the bottom at intervals of 41 cm and the side walls reinforced together to form a leak-proof box.
Note that, large plastic grow beds can be used to replace the wooden grow boxes.
Once the box is set, make holes in the bottom to fit in pipes and seal the crevices properly and don’t forget to install an overflow pipe at the lower end.
Next, fit in a perforated pipe measuring 6 inches long with a sump of wire mesh to protect it from the growing medium. There, you now have your raised garden setup ready to go.
Here is a review of one of the best grow medium
Coconut Coir Fiber – All Natural and Environmentally Friendly Coconut Peat
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Coconut Coir Fiber – 4 Pack of Convenient Blocks is created from the inside of a coconut shell or the fibrous coconut husks. Due to its amazing drainage and airspace, remarkable water holding capacity, it is a helpful soil amendment for gardens, containers and potted plants.
Coir is simpler to hydrate and will last for a long time in soil. It is conditioned for low salt content and a neutral pH. In clay soils, this product helps break up the hard-packed earth, permitting the movement of moisture and nutrients through the soil.
In sandy soils, this product helps keep moisture and nutrients close to plant roots rather than washing away. You can purchase compressed as bricks, making for trouble-free storage.
By keeping a constant air and moisture level and by being naturally free of weed and disease, this product generates the best environment for starting cuttings and seeds. It is also widely used in worm farming.
- Great for use in soil mixtures for gardening in containers
- Needs less regular watering
- Four convenient blocks – Each expands to more than a gallon of coco peat
- Repels mold, bacteria, and bugs
- All natural and eco-friendly
- Deteriorates gradually producing soil air pockets, therefore, prevents root decay.
- Coir lightens up the soil; therefore, it does not become weighty after adding coco coir.
- Loosens the texture of soil and improves drainage.
- Improves water retention and with its usage, roots often grow quicker.
- Its antifungal properties protect plants from Pythium, Phytophthora and other fungal root infections.
- Absorbs water more easily and retains it without waterlogging.
- Contains a neutral pH that might not be ideal for plants, which like acidic soil such as the weed.
Now that we know the medium to use lets get on with it; The sump also enables periodic cleaning of the pipe holes without digging it up.
The perforated pipe fitted should be run through next to the drainage pipe and have its top flash with the upper part of the medium. Then either tie the pipe into the drainpipe or fit it directly to the sump.
Fit or place a block under one end of the box to tilt the growing box toward the drain. If you are planning to operate your hydroponics in a greenhouse, place this hydroponic bed in the greenhouse preferably on a bench and the reservoir on the floor beneath it.
Look for a plastic container, a digital timer, and a submersible pump and fit them next to the reservoir to aid in automating the filling process. Connect the pump and the timer and program the timer to flood the box two times in a day.
To check the efficiency of your hydroponic system, make sure that, the grow bed or the box fills into the brim and drains completely in about 15 minutes.
Main components of a cheap hydroponic system:
The hydroponics garden grow bed :
Any pod can work with a suitable depth for you, but the ideal depth is between 6 to 8 inches. This is suitable for gravel as well as other Medias for proper root development.
In cases where the pod is too deep, and the available media is expensive, you can use Styrofoam blocks or a material of your choice to take up excess space in the bottom and then fill the remaining bit with your desired media.
Avoid using degradable materials such as wood. This makes fiberglass grow beds and plastic grow beds a suitable choice. However, plastic materials tend to succumb to elasticity with time. Therefore, they will lose shape with time unless well supported at the bottom.
Nutrient Reservoir for the hydroponic system:
The best nutrient reservoir should be at least of equal volume with the grow bed for sustainability of the system. To ease access for servicing purposes, the reservoir should be higher in length than the grow bed with at least an excess length of 6 inches for access.
Control light penetration in the reservoir to avoid excessive growth of algae by fitting an opaque material over the nutrient reservoir.
Fittings to use in the hydroponic setup:
These include the fill/drain fitting usually mounted on the grow bed at the bottom position close to the edge of servicing. This pipe is fitted with a pump with half inch tubing.
It acts as the channel through which water gets to the reservoir when the pump is running and drains out when the pump is off. Another fitting in the bottom is the overflow pipe fitted exactly half an inch below the surface of the grow media.
This pipe serves to control the maximum level of nutrients flowing to the grow bed.
Factors determining the size of your hydroponic grow bed:
The design : Readymade grow beds are always designed into a fixed size.
On the other hand, customized grow beds are made to measurements of your choice and thus more flexible regarding the shape and size.
Types of plants to grow : This mostly influences the depth and size of the grow bed.
Some plants are deep rooted which necessitates the need for a deep grow bed while other have large canopies which necessitates room in terms of large space from one another. Some of these plants include tomatoes, lettuce, rice, bell pepper just to mention a few.
Some selected grow beds review :
Dealzer greenhouse grow beds are flexible movable bags that are durable and spacious enough to allow production in a greenhouse setting.
There is also Marshalls, it is a vegetable and fruit company with expertise in agribusiness. If you contact them they will offer to advise concerning the right plants to plant in the grow bed.
Therefore, a hydroponic grow bed can range from glass, wood to plastic components whose aim is to hold the growing plants.
Last update on 2022-05-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API