DIY HYDROPONIC SYSTEMS

An All-Inclusive breakdown of Hydroponics Basics

Hydroponics

What are the Hydroponics basics?

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants and vegetables without soil, either indoors or outside. Growing plants hydroponically removes the risk of diseases that are caused by soil organisms. 

 

Hydroponics was invented thousands of years ago but has evolved exponentially over the last one hundred years.  Now there are different methods of hydroponics and 11 different system design types for growing plants and vegetables without soil.

 

 

How does Hydroponics work?

Instead of getting their nutrients from the soil, hydroponic plants get their nutrients from a recirculating purified water reservoir that is fortified with nutrients that are supplied to their roots. The Nutrient solution is supplied to the roots either through passive or active irrigation.

 

Passive

Nutrient water is delivered to plants roots via a wick or a static solution. Plant roots usually grow in some type of medium.

Passive Hydroponics
Passive Hydroponics

 

 

Active

Nutrient water is delivered to your plant’s roots by way of a mechanical pump.  Plant roots may use some type of medium in some system methods There are 2 types of active irrigation.

 

Active top-irrigation

Nutrients water is delivered to the top of the plant which then drips down to the roots and reservoir.

Active-top-irrigation
Active-Top-irrigation

 

 

Active sub-irrigation

Nutrients water is delivered to the plant container to spray, flood, or wash the roots.

Active hydroponics
Active- Sub-irrigation

 

 

 

Different Methods of Hydroponics

Depending on whom you ask or where you are located in the world there are 4 basic hydroponic methods, segments, or schools of thought for hydroponics. Hydroponics, Hydroculture, Aquaponics, and Bioponics. Bioponics is fairly new and has yet to be time tested, but due to the popularity of gardeners’ increased use of beneficial microorganisms in their systems, we have decided to include it here. There is great controversy as to the efficacy of hydroponics produce being organic due to the use of chemical fertilizers. Aquaponics and Bioponics could help make organic produce from hydroponic systems a formal reality. Each method is segmented either by where the nutrient solution comes from or by whether or not an aggregate medium is used.

 

Hydroponics

  • A custom mix of chemical fertilizers are provided by the gardener
  • Plants are placed directly into the system. However, the use of a medium is optional in some hybrid system design methods.
  • Nutrient solution delivery via multiple different system methods

Hydroculture

  • A custom mix of chemical fertilizers are provided by the gardener
  • Plants are planted in some type of aggregate medium.
  • Nutrient solution delivery via multiple different system methods

Aquaponics

  • The nutrient solution comes from fish waste.
  • Plants can be placed directly into the system or planted into some type of medium.
  • Nutrient solution delivery via multiple different system methods

Bioponics

  • A custom mix of beneficial microorganisms and aquatic animal or plant waste instead of chemical fertilizers are provided by the gardener
  • Plants can be placed directly into the system or planted into some type of medium.
  • Nutrient solution delivery via multiple different system methods

 

 

Different System Design Methods

There are many different system design methods for growing crops hydroponically available. Advances in technology and experience have many gardeners mixing branches and systems design methods regularly to produce the most, efficient, fasting growing, highest yields in the smallest possible growing space with the least amount of water, nutrients, and energy possible!

 

Kratky

Hydroponics or Bioponics

 

Wick

Hydroculture, Bioponics, or Aquaponics

 

Deep Water Culture (DWC)

Hydroponics, Hydroculture, Bioponics or Aquaponics

 

Ebb and Flow (aka Flood and Drain)

  • Bato Buckets (aka Dutch Buckets) – Hydroculture, Bioponics, or Aquaponics
  • Tray System ( aka Slide bench)  – Hydroculture, Bioponics, or Aquaponics
  • Rotary – Hydroponic

 

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

Hydroponics, Hydroculture, Bioponics or Aquaponics

 

Deep Flow Technique (DFT)

Hydroponics, Hydroculture, Bioponics or Aquaponics

 

Drip

  • Bato Buckets (aka Dutch Buckets) – Hydroculture, Bioponics, or Aquaponics
  • Vertical – Hydroponic, Hydroculture, Bioponics or Aquaponics
  • Run to Waste – Hydroponic, Hydroculture

 

Aeroponic

Hydroponic, Hydroculture, Bioponics or Aquaponics

 

Fogponics

Hydroponic, Hydroculture, Bioponics or Aquaponics

 

 

 

Why use Hydroponics?

 

Safety and Sustainability

Market produce
Market produce, Source

Do you know exactly where your veggies come from or how they are grown? Most people don’t. Consumers are beginning to question the safety and sustainability of the current agriculture industry. Many now purchase organic produce or shop at the local farmers’ market. Others have decided to take matters into their own hands…literally, by growing their own produce at home.

 

Population growth

Over population
Overpopulation, Mumbai India, Source

Population growth is increasing the demand for food all over the world.  The world population is expected to reach 9.1 billion by 2050. Food production is expected to increase from between 25% to 70%. Many high population areas of Europe and Asia where land for growing is becoming scarcer are adopting high-yield farming technologies such as indoor hydroponics.

 

 

Advantages over traditional Agriculture

  • No soil, less opportunity for bugs and organic issues
  • Maximum plant growth
  • Maximum plant yields
  • Saves Water up to 90% or better in some systems
  • Easier to harvest most plants

 

If your system is set up indoors, you receive these additional advantages

  • Complete environmental control
  • Less harmful pesticides- some indoor systems are able to use no pesticides
  • Less, or no pests
  • Grow year-round

 

 

Where can you grow Hydroponics?

Kratky method in plastic bottles
The Kratky method in plastic bottles, Source

Hydroponics can be set up to grow indoors or outside. Growing outside makes plants susceptible to the same conditions as traditional agriculture. Growing indoors gives gardeners full control over the environment and growing conditions. Indoor hydroponic farms have become increasingly popular in niche locations in recent years.

  • Difficult to transport locations in Inner Cities
  • Hard to reach outer suburb areas.
  • Extremely cold or hot climates
  • Nasa grows hydroponically grown veggies in outer space

 

 

Final Thoughts

No matter what branch or method of hydroponics you choose, anyone can grow their vegetables hydroponically. Hydroponic herbs, mushrooms, and lettuce farms are finding their way into Niche markets in vacant retail stores, basements, or container farms in inner cities. Hobbyist gardeners are setting up small kitchen countertop appliance-type systems for fresh cooking herbs.

 

Home-based hydroponic systems are more trendy than ever after the advent of the Covid -10 pandemic,  as more families want to grow their own fresh produce safely and more sustainably with no GMO seeds or harmful pesticides.  Large-scale agricultural farms are popping up locally outside major cities all over the world in order to meet the growing population demand.

 

How does your hydroponic garden grow?

 

 

 

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Penny

Penny

Hi there! I'm Penny a Marketing Guru turned Hydroponic Researcher and Farmer. For some time, I have been successfully growing & enjoying nutritious greens by applying hydroponic vertical farming technique. Now I want to share all the knowledge and skills I acquired through my many hours of research, experiments and mistakes so that maybe you don't have to.