Many gardeners today are interested in learning how to grow plants without the need for soil. While some hydroponic systems are quite elaborate and expensive to build, there are also systems that can be built with just a few relatively inexpensive tools and materials.
Hydroponics for Beginners
The first step in building your own hydroponic system is deciding which type of system to build. Different hydroponic systems include:
- Deep Water Culture
- Ebb and Flow
- Drip System
- Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
- Wick System
There can be many variations and different names, however most hydroponic systems fall into one of these basic designs.
Building a Deep Water Culture System
One of the easiest designs to build and maintain is the Deep Water Culture or Container System. Be sure to read through all the steps of setting up your hydroponic system before buying your materials to make sure you buy the appropriate product. You can build a system like this with the following materials:
- Large plastic tub or plastic planter
- Grow pots
- Liquid plant nutrient
- External air pump
- Air Stone
Setting up Your Water Culture System
Once you have the right materials, setting up your system can be done in four easy steps.
Buy the container first. That helps determine how much Styrofoam you need. Buy a piece of Styrofoam that will cover most of the area inside the top of the container. It is best to buy the foam slightly bigger than the container opening and then cut it an inch or two narrower, so it fits inside with a little extra room on either side.
Next you will need to cut holes in the Styrofoam to accommodate your plants. The easiest way to do this is to go ahead and buy your grow pots with mesh bottoms and then cut the holes in the Styrofoam to the appropriate size, so the pots are suspended in the nutrient solution.
Now it is time to set up the air pump. The air pump is an important element of your hydroponic system as it will provide the oxygen needed for healthy plants to thrive. It is important to buy the right size pump, which will be determined by the size of your container. Figure out approximately how many gallons of water your container will hold and then buy an air pump that can accommodate that volume of water. Attach one end of the flexible air hose to the pump and attach the other end to the air stone. Place the air stone in the bottom of the container.
Your hydroponic system is now ready for use. Fill your container with water and the appropriate amount of liquid plant nutrient (make sure to buy the appropriate type of nutrient according to the type of plants you are growing) according to the directions on the bottle. Turn on the air pump and make sure it is working properly. Place the grow pots in the Styrofoam and then place the foam inside the container. Make sure your system is placed in an area with plenty of natural light or buy the appropriate grow lights.
Hydroponic Growing Supplies
Whether you decide to try this very basic Deep Water Culture container growing system or you decide to try a more advanced hydroponic growing system, you will need to find a good resource for hydroponic growing supplies. The following retailers carry complete hydroponic system kits and the supplies you will need to build your own system:
Enjoy Gardening No Matter Where You Live
In the past, gardening was a hobby for those who lived in the country or rural areas where homeowners had spacious yards. Hydroponic growing can be done practically anywhere. People who live in high-rise apartments surrounded by metal, glass and concrete can enjoy growing their own vegetables or a beautiful flower garden with a hydroponic growing system.