With the advancement of technology, hydroponics systems have gained popularity among many indoor growers. Hydroponics is the method of growing crops in a nutrient rich solution. Unlike traditional systems, hydroponic systems do not use soil as a growing medium. Instead, this system uses inert materials such as clay pellets, perlite, vermiculite, coco-coir, etc.
However, as a beginner, it can be a daunting task to start your hydroponic garden. Here are general tips to get started with hydroponics systems.
#1. Know the different types of hydroponic systems
As a beginner, you should understand various hydroponics systems that are available. There four common systems that include Top drip system, Ebb and flow system, wick system, and Deep water culture.
i. Top Drip system
This is the most popular hydroponic system. In this system, the nutrient solution in a reservoir is pumped to the base of the potted plants. The excess nutrient solution is then returned to the reservoir. This process is repeated 2-4 times each day.
ii. Ebb and Flow
This is an advanced system that is easy to build. The potted plants are placed in a drain table. Water and nutrient solution are then pumped to the drain table. The nutrient solution gets into the plants through the holes at the bottom of the pots. The reservoir is the drained after soaking the plants for few minutes. This process is done about 2-4 times a day.
iii. Wick system
This is the simplest form of hydroponics. In this system, you don’t need any pump. The nutrients are fed to the plants through a cotton wick.
iv. Deep water culture system
In this system, plants are cultivated in small net pots that are suspended in a Styrofoam plank which lies on a shallow pan of nutrient solution.
#2. Choose the right growing medium for hydroponics
Unlike soil-based gardening, the hydroponics system does not use soil as a growing medium. Instead, the hydroponics systems use an inert medium such as Perlite, vermiculite, Coco-coir, clay pellets, etc.
#3. Buy the nutrients for hydroponic systems
The nutrients used is hydroponic systems are different than those in soil-based systems. The soil nutrients do not contain all the micro-nutrients needed by the plants. In this case, you will need nutrients that are designed specifically for the hydroponic systems. However, you should note that there many brands of nutrients available on the market. Dry fertilizers are much cheaper than liquid fertilizers.
#4. Install the lighting system
Remember that most hydroponic systems are situated indoors and will require artificial lighting to allow optimum growth for the plants. The artificial lights can be brought about by using High-Pressure Sodium and Metal Halide lamps. These lights can simulate an environment that is effective for your plants.
#5. Use the pH adjusters
You will need to have an optimum pH in your hydroponics system. The pH should be within a specified range. Usually, the hydroponic system comes with a pH testing kit so you can easily monitor your pH. To maintain a stable pH, you will use pH adjusters such as pH DOWN and pH UP.
#6. Install the Pump timers
This is a gadget that is used to run the water pump and specified intervals. This is very crucial because it ensures that right amounts of water and nutrients are supplied to your plants.