Starting a hydroponic garden is a very enjoyable hobby that can be fun, therapeutic, and rewarding when harvesting the fruits of your labor, whether growing tomatoes or cannabis. Growing with hydroponics provides many benefits, such as the ability to grow year-round in climates where that is not possible to do outdoors. Growing with hydroponics simply means growing plants in a nutrient-rich water solution without using soil.
Benefits of Growing Hydroponic Gardens
Hydroponic growers realize many benefits, such as faster growth, bigger yields, less disease and pests common with soil, and the ability to grow in less space while also saving water. Another benefit of growing with hydroponics is no need to pull weeds, as is common when growing gardens in soil. If you would like to start a hydroponic garden, there are different types of hydroponic systems, with a few being more suitable for beginners.
Some of the most common and simplest types of hydroponic gardens to set up include Deep Water Culture, the Wick System, and the Ebb and Flow Hydroponic system.
Deep Water Culture Hydroponic System
The Deep Water Culture hydroponic system is one of the easiest systems for beginners to set up, and you can do it with a traditional 5-gallon bucket. You will need:
- 5-gallon bucket
- Air pump, tubing, and air stone
- A netted pot
- Water and nutrients
- If you can locate your bucket in direct natural sunlight, you may not even need artificial grow lights.
- You simply fill the bucket with water so that the pot with holes is submerged enough to get the needed water until the roots grow long enough to submerge just the roots in the water.
- Place your netted pot in a hole in the lid large enough to support it without falling through.
- The air stone keeps the water oxygenated so that the plant roots will not drown as they will take all the needed oxygen from the water.
Setting up a Wick System for Hydroponic Gardens
Setting up a Wick hydroponic grow system is one of the simpler hydroponic methods. The main materials needed include:
- Water reservoir (a basin or bucket)
- Growing tray
- Growing medium
- Hydroponic fertilizer
- Grow lights
- Nylon or cotton cord for wicks
The wick system is simple to set up with no moving parts, although it is not ideal for plants that require a lot of water, like tomatoes or lettuce. These plants require more nutrient solutions delivered than is possible with a wick system. Hydroponic wick systems work well for microgreens such as peppers and herbs.
Directions to set up a Wick hydroponic grow system:
- Create your water reservoir filled with water and the hydroponic fertilizer required for your plants’ nutrition requirements. The water basin or bucket sits under the tray that will hold your plants and grow medium.
- Install wicks to your growing tray through holes in the bottom of the tray (drill holes or use a screwdriver to poke holes). Water is soaked up through the wicks and transferred up into the growing medium in the tray.
- Set up your grow tray and medium with your seedlings above the water reservoir. Grow mediums such as perlite, vermiculite, or soilless mixtures will utilize the wick system effectively and will not drain too quickly.
- Install grow lights above the grow tray. Fluorescent and LED lamps are not as hot as incandescent light bulbs and can be placed 12 or 6 inches, respectively, above the grow tray, although incandescent bulbs should be 24 inches away from the plants to prevent burning.
Setting up a Hydroponic Ebb and Flow System
The ebb and flow hydroponic system is a little more complex but provides more versatility. Also known as flood and drain, the ebb and flow system floods the grow medium with the nutrient-rich water solution before it drains back into the water reservoir.
To set up an ebb and flow system, you will need:
- Water reservoir (a basin or bucket)
- Growing tray and stand
- Submersible pump
- Two tubes to fill and drain the water
- Grow light
- Seedlings in a pot with grow medium
Directions to set up an ebb and flow hydroponic system:
- Create the water reservoir with nutrients and place it below the flood tray’s stand. The nutrient-rich water can be reused for about a week before changing and replenishing nutrients.
- Connect the tubes to drain and fill by connecting the fill tube to the submersible pump with a timer attached. Gravity pulls water down the drain tube into the reservoir for recirculation.
- Connect the timer and control the frequency of watering based on your plant’s watering needs.
- Set up the flood tray, or the plant tray, which is a shallow container on a raised stand. Perforated pots allow for easy water draining in a grow medium such as perlite. Plant your seedlings in pots that are twice as deep as the flood tray.
- Install grow lights with LED lamps at least 6 inches above the plants, fluorescent lamps at 12 inches, and incandescent bulbs 24 inches above the plants to prevent burning.
These are a few of the simplest yet effective types of hydroponic grow systems that are easy for beginners to set up to enjoy a new hydroponic garden. You can contact the horticulture experts at RainMakers Supply.
RainMakers Supply is a leading hydroponics grow store offering quality supplies and equipment for the beginning or experienced home grower. We offer tips for a successful hydroponic growing experience and suggestions for the right nutrients for thriving plants. Contact us with any questions and learn how easy it is to get started on your own hydroponic garden today.