Hydroponic gardens have the power to revolutionize the way we grow food. With fewer recourses needed than traditional gardens and higher yields, hydroponic systems are of high value and a significant step toward the future. And yes, you can start one for yourself.
In the simplest way possible, hydroponic gardening skips the soil and finds other ways to support the roots. There are many different system designs to make this type of growth possible, and so many variables to consider before getting started!
There’s a lot of research and learning to do when thinking about how to start a hydroponic garden, but if you put in the effort, you could have sustainable food all year.
How to start a hydroponic garden?
Before you go and start buying or making a hydroponics garden system, you might want to think about location, size, and what your or your visitors might want to grow in your garden. Hydroponic gardens can range from small personal systems to massive farms and greenhouses.
The space you’ll need for your hydroponic garden depends on what you want to grow and how much of it. Be sure to carefully consider the space your plants will need and think ahead. Plants grown too close together will struggle to get as much light and air as plants grown the proper distance apart.
Some plants can be grown closer together than others. Onions can be grown quite close together, while broccoli, cabbage, and Chard which get very wide, need proper spacing. Plan your garden’s size based on how big your plants are likely to get.
If you’re new to hydroponics, you’ll likely want to start out with a small space. Putting your small hydroponic garden near a window is a great way to help your plants get more light. This likely won’t be able to replace an HID lamp or LED lighting, which you’ll need in most indoor growing scenarios. You could also consider dedicating a closet or make a small grow room. You can also make a small setup in the foyer or in the corner of a room that is infrequently used.
Make sure you put your garden in a place that’ll maintain the right temperature. Most plants need a temperature range of 65-80 degrees. Cold garages or hot greenhouses without air conditioning probably aren’t going to work.
What can I grow?
The opportunities are endless with hydroponic systems, but some plants are easier for beginners than others! Strawberries, Lettuce, spinach, and herbs all work great in hydroponic systems. Lettuce specifically is a great starter plant.
What Do I Need?
While there are many different ways to build an indoor garden, the core needs are the same.
To grow your plants inside, you’ll definitely need some special lighting. Each plant has different lighting needs, so make sure you do some research. You can’t be too careful when deciding on the right indoor light for your specific plants.
The water for hydroponic systems has to be at its best. Hydroponic plants have different pH level requirements. Thankfully, you don’t need to have the right stuff on tap. You can buy solutions to adjust the acidity online or at your local garden store.
While this one seems obvious, oxygen is a crucial step in planning your hydroponic garden. In traditional gardening, air pockets in the soil give plants that much-needed 02. Hydroponic gardeners have to make their own pockets.
You can do this one of two ways. First, you can create some space between the plant’s base and the water reservoir. Alternately, you can oxygenate the water, which just means you have to make it a bit bubbly! You can easily purchase an air stone or pump for this.
4. Root Support
The core of a hydroponics system is its root support. Common root support methods include peat moss, rock wool, coconut fiber, vermiculite, and perlite. Try and find root support that’ll act a bit like soil. You don’t want something like gravel that won’t retain moisture.
Without fertilized soil, your plants are going to need nutrients somehow! You can deliver a healthy mixture of nutrients to your plants through the water. While you can technically make your own nutrient solution, you can easily buy some as well!
It’s important to note that there will be different factors and needs to consider with different systems. These are only the core elements you need in every hydroponic garden.
What System Should I Choose?
There are many methods and types of hydroponic system designs to choose from, some requiring more maintenance and precision than others. The type of system design you choose will depend on your personal requirements, the space, and the type of plants you wish to grow.
What Else Should I Consider?
There will be essential considerations for each system and each plant. Something that people overlook far too often is the water temperature. If you have an improper water temperature, your system can develop all types of molds and mildews and hurt your plants.
When water gets too warm, less oxygen gets carried to your plants. On the flip side, water that’s too cold will cause the plants to shut down. A good ideal for most systems and plants is 65° F and 68°F. If you’re struggling to meet this temperature, chillers and warmers are available for purchase.
Why Hydroponic Gardening?
People can grow produce any time of the year anywhere with indoor hydroponic gardens. Hydroponic gardens often have higher yields for fewer resources, making them great for both individuals and the world at large.
Hydroponic gardens can be a lot of work, but they carry many benefits. Having an indoor hydroponic garden is excellent for anyone; from the country farmer who wants basil at his disposal to the studio apartment dweller looking to eat more sustainably, having an indoor hydroponic garden can make a world of difference.
If you were pondering how to build a hydroponic garden, this hopefully serves as a great start. Good luck out there, and happy growing!