Hydroponics is the technique of growing plants in a mixture of nutrients and water without soil. This kind of setup allows vegetation to thrive in a climate in which they would normally perish by simplifying the ability to control the environment.
There are many reasons why this method of plant growth has gained popularity, including:
• No damage from pesticides
• Easier harvest
• No need for soil
• Lower nutrition costs due to the ability to control nutrition levels
• Easier to destroy disease and pests
• Water can be reused because it stays in the system – lower water costs
Hydroponic systems have garnered a lot of support in recent years, as it has shown to be a very practical and advantageous form of horticulture. The practice has since become an established branch of agronomy.
Homemade hydroponic systems are relatively simple and easy to build, and they allow for the growth of five or six plants at a time.
The simplest set up for a hydroponic system involves the use of a five-gallon fish tank or something of similar shape and size. Be sure the container being used for the project is lightproof.
If using a glass tank, the glass can either be spray painted black or a black garbage bag can be used to cover the container if it is to be reused later. If any significant amount of light is allowed to enter, it will promote algae growth and hinder the other plants by stealing their nutrients and oxygen.
If using spray paint, consider putting a strip of tape running vertically from the top edge of the container to the bottom. After the paint has dried, this tape can be removed so as to monitor the liquid level inside the container. This is not a requirement, as there are other ways of checking this, but it may make it easier.
Grab a piece of styrofoam and cut it to measure 1/4″ smaller than the inside measurement of the container. For example, if your tank measures 32″ by 19″, cut the styrofoam to 31 3/4″ by 18 3/4″. Once that is done, trace around the base of the pot bases on the styrofoam and cut out these holes.
Remember to place the plants so they all will receive ample light. Also, cut a small hole at one end of the styrofoam to give the air line a place to run through.
When choosing a pump, it is best to ask advice at a local hydroponic system supply store. Let them know the size of your container and they should be able to recommend a pump strong enough to create ample oxygen to support the plants.
Attach the air line to the pump and connect the air stone to the other end. There should be enough length to the line to allow for the stone to float somewhere in the middle so the oxygen bubbles that are generated can reach the plants’ roots.
Now you’re ready to combine all your hydroponic equipment in this way:
• Fill the container with a nutrient solution
• Set the styrofoam in the tank
• Slip the air line into its designated hole
• Fill the pots with growing medium and stick a plant in each one
• Slide the pots into the holes in the styrofoam
• Switch on the pump and let the plants grow!
To ensure the plants receive ample light, there are specially designed hydroponic lights that can be bought and used to aid plant growth. Though this is one of the simpler setups, there are many different ways to design a hydroponic system.