What is Hydroponic gardening?
Hydroponic gardening is becoming a prevalent method of home gardening these days. Wondering what it is?
Hydroponic gardening means growing plants without soil.
Yes, you read it right! Now you can grow your plants without soil and prevent them from the dangers of bacteria, weed, and pests from ruining your garden.
Proven to be advantageous over soil gardening, plants in Hydroponic gardening works by using mineral nutrient solutions in water solvent. In a hydroponic environment, the plants receive nutrients, light, and water in mechanical systems.
Hydroponic gardening yields lot more than standard methods of gardening and farming do.
It is because, in a controlled environment, the plants get exactly what they need. The nutrients are delivered right to the roots of the plant. The plants are free from the dangers of pests and rodents, though it takes the effort to keep insects away from a hydroponic garden.
The plus side is the health and larger productivity of your small hydroponic farm. To get you started on how to maintain your hydroponic garden, we’ve got some information for you.
Preparing the Starter Cubes
To grow your plants, you will need starter cubes and a tray to hold them. The starter cubes are the medium in which the seedlings of your plants are grown. These are cube-shaped plugs with little holes in them to keep the seed.
Starter cubes are of various types. They can be made of foam and peat moss, but the ones made of coconut coir are the most popular. A few other types of starter cubes are Rockwool, Oasis Cubes, and Rapid Rooters.
To begin with the starter cubes:
- You require water. Soak the starter cubes in water for a few hours until they gain moisture.
- Do not press or squish the starter cube. Doing so might affect its internal structure and make it unsuitable for use.
- The pH of the growing medium matters. The plants could be affected adversely with a high pH. Specific starter cubes come with high pH, so it’s important to soak them in low pH water instead.
- Once the starter cubes are soaked, they are ready for use. Place them in a tray with cube-like spaces so that you can proceed with the seeding.
- Do not keep the starter cubes soaked in water. Put just enough nutrient solution to reach half the starter cube.
Note: The starter cubes are used only until the plants have grown into saplings. From then on, they can be shifted into a growing medium.
Preparing the Special Nutrient Solution
The nutrient solution in hydroponic gardening is what gives the plants everything they need. This nutrient solution is known as a hydroponic solution and consists of essential macronutrients and micronutrients that your plants need.
The hydroponic solutions are the easiest way to provide nutrients to your plants at first. They are hassle-free, quick to use, and come in either liquid or solid form.
Once you gain expertise in hydroponic gardening, you can quickly prepare your hydroponic solution. All you need is the right measurements of the nutrients and elements that your plant requires. Since the measurements need to be very specific, you will also need some additional hydroponic gardening equipment and gear.
Note: Preparing your nutrient solution takes a lot of time and effort. However, a tailor-made mix might help your plant grow healthier.
While using a hydroponic solution:
- Make sure the nutrient solution is suited to your plant. Each plant has a different requirement, and the nutrient solution should be measured accordingly.
- The pre-mixed nutrient solutions are concentrated. They need to be diluted as per the instructions.
- Tap water is not suitable for preparing nutrient solutions. Tap water (or regular water) has many contaminants that could affect the nutrient solution. The best bet is to use distilled water instead.
- Always measure the pH of your hydroponic solution. Plants require a ph level of 5.5 to 7 to grow. The pH solution can be measured using kits that are readily available in the market. Using this, you can adjust the pH of the solution.
Your Permanent Growing Medium
A growing medium is a permanent material in which you grow your plants. After the seeds have built to a considerable amount in the starter medium, they can be transported into the growing medium.
Growing mediums absorb enough water to support the plant, and hold lots of air. They are also sterile. They are much safer than soil regarding preventing rodents and pests from affecting your crops. But since plants are fed by water, you must always keep an eye out for algae growth to keep the plants healthy.
There are many different kinds of growing medium to use:
- Wood fiber
- Coconut Coir
- Clay pebbles
The growing mediums will have their specifications of pH and maintenance. These specifications can be found when you purchase the growing medium. For example, the wood fiber may require some nitrogen supplements because it depletes nitrogen. Rockwool needs to be allowed enough runoff and fertilizer.
Once your saplings have grown, place the starter cubes into your growing medium. The sapling’s roots will push out of the cube and into the growing medium on its own.
Lighting For Your Plants
Plants require lots of light to survive. A plant typically receives 14 hours of sunlight a day, and fewer hours of direct sunlight. The seeds in the starter cubes don’t need much light. Providing darkness could assist in germination. But once the seeds have grown into saplings, your hydroponic gardening system will require backyard lighting.
Every plant has its light requirements. Certain plants need sunlight for three-quarters of the day. Others may require only a few hours of good backyard lighting. But regardless of their lighting requirements, they also need their darkness. Plants photosynthesize in the day. They carry out important metabolic processes in the night.
If your hydroponics gardening equipment and gear can be placed somewhere that gets good lighting, like a balcony or roof, it would work just fine. But if not, it’s going to need some lighting.
Each lighting set-up has a few components:
- A light source: Fluorescent and metal halide bulbs are two kinds of the many bulbs available in hydroponics gardening. It’s recommended to check the suitability and power requirements before you purchase them.
- A reflective hood: This is to ensure the light is spread to the entire plant grid, so all the plants receive enough light.
- 3. Timer: If you are not home to monitor the plants daily, the lighting requires an automatic timer to regulate light exposure. Regular excess exposure could harm your plants.
Ready-Made Multi-plant Hydroponic Gardening Kit
Apart from the products already specified, you also require a pump system to provide water and drainage. To build a system from scratch might prove to be a lot of hassle. Certainly so for a beginner. Instead, you can purchase a hydroponic gardening kit. These kits come with hydroponic gardening equipment and gear like water reservoirs, pump systems, and sometimes, installed lighting. The pumps automatically provide air and nutrient solution to the plants regularly. So, all you need to do is make sure the answer is fresh and the growing medium clean.
Here is a list of different types of kits to get you started. You can find many different products online too.
- Emily’s Garden: An all-inclusive kit. Contains a water reservoir, pump and tubes, 6-grid planters, starter cubes, and a water-and-air aerated system. It also includes seeds, fertilizer, and nutrient solutions. This is great for a beginner to test out the waters in hydroponic gardening.
- Seed Pantry Grow Pod 2: A hydroponic kit that comes with a water reservoir, adjustable LED lighting, smart technology that alerts you when the plant needs watering. The kit comes with a nutrient solution, three kinds of seed packs, a plug-in power adapter. The attractive part about this kit is that it is aesthetically pleasing.
- Window Farm: It is a vertical growing hydroponic gardening set and is built to be mounted on a window. The kit comes with four columns of the water reservoir and pump systems to water the plant. The downside is that the kit does not come with additional hydroponic gardening gear and equipment. This set up is also aesthetic and elegant.
Conclusion: Get started with Hydroponic Gardening today
The opportunities with hydroponic gardening will only increase as people look to building small farms inside their urban homes. As technology grows and research expands, hydroponic gardening will become even more productive than it is now. Hopefully, this post has helped you with the basics of your set-up! Feel free to reach out to us in case of any queries. We would love to answer them all.