The hydroponics system is a system of growing plants in a soilless medium. In recent years, this system has gained much importance for quality food production in your garden. In a hydroponics system, a variety of soilless media such as perlite, vermiculite, and coconut coir can be used. The primary purpose of using a hydroponic system is to reduce the barriers to quality food production. The hydroponic system is cost-effective and can provide desired level production throughout the year. Depending on the requirements, the hydroponic system can be very small or large for supporting tons of food production. In addition to the freshness and quality of food, the hydroponic system is also smart in terms of the economic point of view.
In this article, you will learn some steps on how to build your own hydroponic growing system.
Determine a Suitable Location for your Hydroponics System
So, How to Build Your Own Hydroponic Growing System ?
The first and foremost step for building the hydroponic system to determine a suitable location where a hydroponic system can operate well. The hydroponic system must be placed in an enclosed structure, such as in the basement of the house, in the outdoor deck or patio or the greenhouse. There should be proper leveling off the floor, for ensuring the appropriate distribution of nutrients and water in the plant system.
If the system must be placed in the outdoor conditions, then proper protection should be provided against some elements along with checking of water levels and the provision of wind barriers. There should be appropriate measurements for controlled loss of water in the form of evapotranspiration. If the system is to be placed in the interior of the home, then there should be proper placement of a supplemental lighting system to ensure the healthy growth of plants.
Assembling of Hydroponic System
It is a basic hydroponic system that is easier to build compared to other hydroponic systems. The concept of this system is about 1000 years old, but at that time, it was not given a fancy name as a hydroponic system. In this system, there is no involvement of air pumps or water pumps. The movement of nutrients and water to the plants is supported through the wick. This system only works best for smaller plants, so you should be extremely careful about selecting the hydroponic systems.
Use of Growing Tubes
Usually, this system comprises of 6 growing tubes, which are made up of PVC material, a pump, and a gallon for providing water to plants. The placement of the tank is under the growing tubes, and the pump is adjusted inside the tank. This provides an equal amount of nutrients to all plants. A drain pipe is provided to all growing tubes whose other end is placed back in the water tank. The pump works to deliver pressurized water to the pipes and growing tubes. In the nutrient tubes, small holes are provided. Additionally, a jet of water is also supplied to make air bubbles for giving oxygen to the growing plants.
Deep Water Cultures
This system is more complicated as compared to the tubing system. In this system, the roots of growing plants are directly submerged in the nutrient solution. The requirements of oxygen, pumps, and nutrients solution are the same as that of other systems. In this system, there is no requirement of any tray, and only one reservoir is needed. The filling of this reservoir is done with the nutrient solution. The installed air pump serves to supply dissolved oxygen continuously.
Systems Including Nutrient Film Technique
It is one of the most popular methods in hydroponics. The working of this system is almost the same as other systems, as this hydroponics system works on the same concept, but there are only a few changes in terms of optional requirements. This system requires both a growing tray and reservoir. A pump is needed that pumps the nutrient solution from the reservoir to the trays. The flowing of nutrient solution is uniform throughout the tray, and lastly, it has to drip back to the reservoir. Just like another system, the proper level of oxygenation is also essential for this setup. This system needs more maintenance.
Flood and Drain Systems
This system is also known as Ebb and flow system. Depending on the conditions, this system can be very useful in producing quality foods. In this system, the roots of plants are not directly exposed to the nutrient solution. A tray can be used that is filled with a growing medium. The nutrient solutions are supplied in the flooded tray several times in a day. A reservoir is provided below the tray where the water pump is installed for pumping water to the plants. In this system, a timer is also required to monitor and scheduling the cycles of flooding. After flooding the tray, the water is drained back to the reservoir, where it is again oxygenated. This system has gained popularity due to its flexible nature.
Mixing of Water and Nutrients in Tank
For this purpose, the tank should be filled with distilled or deionized water. Then the addition of nutrients should be done according to the requirements of crops. Usually, Hoagland’s solution is added in this water, but it is a must to ensure proper mixing.
Placement of Plants in Growing Tubes
One can easily purchase seedlings from any reputed nursery, especially if there is no time for growing seeds by yourself. For this purpose, healthy plants should be selected, and the soil from their roots should be entirely removed by washing. Too cold or hot water can affect the plant roots in negative ways, so lukewarm water should be used for washing roots. The separation of roots from the roots of other plants should be very gentle. If the roots are not washed properly, then the soil can easily clog up the spray holes, which ultimately reduces the efficiency of the nutrient system. After cleaning the roots, pull the roots through planting containers and then add the clay pebbles for holding plants in its upright position. The clay pebbles are lightweight but hard and don’t cause any kind of minor or major damage to plant roots.
Tying of Plants to Trellis
One can use strings and plant clips to tie the plants with trellis. String provides excellent support to the plants and helps them to climb in a straight position. Additionally, it helps the maximization of space in the confined area. The string should be loosely tied with the top of the trellis. The string and clips should be attached to the base of all plants.
pH Management of Growing Solutions
Balancing the pH is one of the most critical factors that is having a significant contribution to the normal functioning of hydroponics. Slight changes in the pH of nutrient media can lead to the death of plants. Changes in pH can lead to excessive nutrient uptake or insufficient nutrient uptake. pH is used to measure the basic or acidic properties of any medium. The solubility and bioavailability of different nutrients are directly affected by pH. The reduced uptake of nutrients leads to stunted growth, and eventually, it results in the death of plants. I recommend the use of pH meter or pH strips to check the pH of the growing medium regularly.
Lights in Indoor Growing Conditions
Though the installation of growing lights is an optional part of the hydroponic system if in an area there is no access to the natural sunlight, then it is a must to use grow lights for supporting plant growth. As compared to the standard lights in the house, the grow lights are different. They are designed in such a way that they can emit a similar spectrum as that of natural light. As a result this spectrum of specific wavelengths helps the plants to conduct photosynthesis.
Daily Monitoring of a Hydroponics System
It is essential to check the water levels daily. In some areas, there may need to check it twice or thrice a day due to excessive evaporation in the summer seasons. I advise you to check the nutrient levels and pH after a few days. The pumps of the hydroponics system is running at all times without any break, so there is no need to use any timer. As a result of continuously running the pumps can heat up , in the absence of water, so it is essential to supply the optimum level of water in the water tank.
Check Plant Growth Regularly
After a few weeks of planting, the plants can cover the trellis completely, as they are provided with all the required nutrients and water It is an important thing to note the plant growth every few days.
Inspection of Plants for Diseases and Pests
One should be regularly checking the symptoms and signs of diseases and pests. If the attack is on one or a few plants, then they should be immediately removed as they can quickly infect other plants. As in the hydroponic system, the chances of leaves to get wet are much less so, they are less likely to get diseases and fungal attacks. Although, the plants in the hydroponic system have reduced chances of diseases but may still be affected by pests. Caterpillars and insects can easily find a way to the hydroponic gardens, and they can cause significant damage if left uncontrolled. The bugs and insects on the plants should be immediately picked and disposed of. Additionally, there is no involvement of any weed management.
Pros and Cons of a Hydroponics System
Hydroponic can substantially increase your food produce. These systems are very effective and harmless to the environment. This infographic below will show you the pros and cons of a hydroponics.
Hope you liked my How to Build Your Own Hydroponic Growing System article. This is a start to a self sustaining lifestyle. Food is important for our living. It is really wonderful to know how to produce the best quality and quantity of food. We do not have to rely on super markets where we never really know for sure what exactly we are buying. If you find this too complicated and want to try something easier read my article on indoor vegetable gardening for beginners or check out my other indoor gardening articles.