For people living in urban places, gardening can prove to be a challenge not only because of the limited space that most apartments in the city have but because of the lack of soil as well. Fortunately, there are already contemporary methods to grow greens even in locations where soil or space is scarce. For instance, you can explore hydroponics, or growing plants without having to use any soil. This article focuses on the things that you need to know about growing plants using hydroponics.
Hydroponics in Brief
Hydroponics is a means of growing different types of plants without using any soil. In this case, you need to substitute the soil with mineral nutrient solutions in water. This means that you can even choose to grow your plants indoors through the hydroponic system if you wish. If you want to delve into this method of cultivating your greens, then the best time for you to start is now.
Reasons to Delve into Hydroponics
There are several reasons why you should consider setting up a hydroponic system in your home. One of these is that plants tend to grow faster with a well-maintained hydroponic system. Thus, you get to experience bigger yields. You don’t even have to worry about soil because a hydroponic system doesn’t require it.
You also have the opportunity to set up a hydroponic system even in a small apartment because it doesn’t take up much space. Even if the plants are grown through water, you still get to save on water because of the reservoir that you need to set up to sustain your plants. The best part is that you don’t have to deal with weeds or various other diseases and pests that can be harmful to your greens.
How to Get Started
● Wick System
There are various ways on how you can get started with hydroponics. One of them is beginning a wick system which is the simplest one because you don’t have to set any moving parts nor electrical components. However, you need to consider that this system is not the best if you want to grow water-hungry plants such as lettuce or tomatoes. Nevertheless, the wick system is best for herbs and peppers.
Some of the things that you need to get started with a wick system are a bucket or basin for a water reservoir, as well as water and hydroponic fertilizer. You can also set up some LED grow lights if you prefer. Apart from this, you also need some growing medium and tray, as well as your seedlings.
In this system, the first thing that you need to set up is the water reservoir. From there, you need to connect the wicks to the growing tray. The next thing that you need to set up then is the growing tray. Finally, you should set up the light fixture although you can skip this step if you are using natural light.
● Water Culture System
Another way to get you started with hydroponics is by setting up a water culture system. Sometimes, this method is also referred to as the lettuce raft system. Like with the wick system, the water culture system is also easy to set up. In this case, all you need is a styrofoam sheet rather than a growing tray. Your seedlings should also be in a net pot.
The first thing that you need to set up is the water reservoir, much like you would in a wick system. From there, you need to aerate the water using an air stone and a pump, which is one of the most cost-effective ways of doing so. The next step would be to set up your growing raft by cutting your styrofoam platform in a size that will perfectly fit the top of your water reservoir. You also need to cut holes because this is where you will insert the net pots where your seedlings are. Finally, you can already set up the light fixture, which can again be omitted in case you are using natural light.
● Ebb and Flow System
You can also consider starting your hydroponic garden using the ebb and flow system. Others refer to this method as the flood and drain system. While it can be slightly more complex than the two methods mentioned above, the ebb and flow system is more versatile. For this method though, you need to have a submersible pump.
Like with any of the two methods mentioned above, the first thing that you need to set up is the water reservoir. From there, you need to connect a fill tube and drain tube. The fill tube is the one that should be attached to the submersible pump with a timer while the drain tube should allow gravity to pull the water back into the reservoir after flooding. After you have connected the submersible pump and timer, you need to set up the flood tray as well as your light fixture in case you are not using natural light.
● Nutrient Film Technique
Finally, you can also consider setting up a hydroponic garden using the nutrient film technique. In this case, a water-nutrient solution constantly flows in a loop from your water reservoir to your growing tray. This system is ideal for fast-growing and shallow-rooted plants such as lettuce and radishes, as well as various herbs.
The first thing that you need to set up with this system is the water reservoir and aeration. From there, you need to connect the fill tube, drain tube, and pump. You also need to set up the growing tray, as well as the light fixture. Overall, this may take you an hour to set everything up.
Hydroponics is one of the most viable solutions if you want to grow plants but you are faced with many restrictions such as the lack of space or soil to plant your greens. Just make sure that you are familiar with the things you need to get started. When you do, you will find yourself cultivating some of the best plants that you can only dream of before.
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