Hydroponic Home Gardens for Beginners
Hydroponic home gardens allow you to grow ornamental plants, herbs or vegetables anywhere. It doesn’t need any toxic pesticides or herbicides, so it’s a more Eco-friendly and cleaner way of gardening. Hydroponics doesn’t require you to prepare rows of soil plots or use potted soils, so it’s perfect for indoor gardening. It gives hobbyists and growers more control over the growth and farming parameters of their plants. Hydroponic home gardens give you chemical-free and healthier produce. Here are some tips on how to get started.
Choose a System
The hydroponic system should fit your needs. Consider the amount of space you have and what you want to plant as well as the cost and how much available time you have to take care of the garden. The ebb and flow, the wick and the water culture systems are the 3 most basic setups suitable for beginners. IKEA does a great kit for those that want to get started, at home.
Ebb and Flow
It floods the growing medium with a water and nutrient solution and drains it back into the reservoir. This system is quite complex in design, but is very versatile. If you want to use the ebb and flow system, you have to get a submersible pump that is equipped with a timer. You can customize the watering schedule of the plants using the timer. For instance, you can set the watering schedule based on the number of plants, plant size or temperature. You can also fill the tray with growing medium and plant directly in the tray or pot plants individually.
This system is ideal for water-hungry plants, but not for long-lived plants like tomatoes. A bubble air pump delivers oxygen to the plant roots.
This system is perfect for micro greens, peppers and herbs. It’s composed of a reservoir that filled with nutrient-filled water and a container that contains growing medium. A wick connects the 2 containers. This system is not ideal for water-hungry plants and large plants as the wick can’t deliver water fast enough.
What Plants Will You Grow?
Start small. Vegetables and herbs are ideal for beginners as these plants require little maintenance. Fast-growing plants are also good as they make it easy to evaluate how well y our system is working and you can adjust it if needed. If you want to grow different plants, make sure that they have similar nutrient requirements. Good starter plants include herbs like oregano, basil and parsley, greens like kale, lettuce, spinach, strawberries and tomatoes.
Nutrients are available in synthetic and organic types and in dry and liquid forms. Whatever you choose, make sure that it includes the main macro-nutrients and important micro-nutrients that the plants need. The main macro-nutrients are phosphorus, nitrogen, calcium, magnesium and potassium, while the micro-nutrients are trace amounts of iron, boron, manganese, zinc, chlorine, copper and molybdenum.
The best pH level for water used in hydroponic systems is between 5.8 and 6.2. You can use chemicals to adjust the water’s pH level into the ideal range.
The ideal humidity for hydroponic grow rooms is from 40% to 60% relative humidity. Higher humidity levels can lead to fungal problems. The ideal temperature is between 68 and 70 Fahrenheit. The room should also have a constant flow of air to provide the plants with enough carbon dioxide.
If there’s not enough natural sunlight in the room, you have to provide supplemental grow lights. Most edible plants need at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. The ideal lighting for hydroponic systems is High-Intensity Discharge (HID) light fixtures that can include either Metal Halide (MH) or High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) bulbs. The latter produces an orange/red light that is ideal for plants that are in the vegetative growth stage. T5 is also used in hydroponic grow rooms. This type of lighting is great for growing plants that have short growth cycles and for plant cuttings. Some people find playing music, or talking to their plants helps growth, but I play at Chilli Casino and my lettuce and herbs prefer some games and not others!