What a Hydroponic System is
DIY hydroponic is a gardening system that directs water and nutrients directly to the plants, omitting soil altogether. The various system types include drip, aeroponics, ebb and flow, nutrient film technique, deep water culture, and wick systems.
Other than the wick system, these systems generally use a water pump, a reservoir containing the nutrient solution, PVC pipes, grow lights or natural light, and a growing medium such as perlite, vermiculite, or coconut coir. Some types also require net pots, an air pump, air stone, tubing, and so on.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Hydroponic Garden
- Takes up little space – You can build a vertically stacked garden if you have a small yard, no yard, or greenhouse.
- Grows in any climate – You can put your garden indoors.
- No bug issues – These don’t use soil, which bugs love.
- Fast growth - Plants grown in a hydroponic garden grow between 20 and 50% faster than plants do in a soil garden due to oxygen stimulation of the roots.
- High yield - Hydroponic garden plants have at least 25% more yield than traditional garden plants yield.
- Low cost - A DIY hydroponic system should cost you less than $100.
- Easy to set up –Once you pick a system type, find out exactly what you need to assemble it, these systems are easy to set up.
- Requires oversight - You must maintain all of the inputs that plants need to grow: water, nutrients, light, etc.
What Grows in a Hydroponic Garden
Although you can grow just about anything in a hydroponic garden, some fruits and vegetables are easier for beginners to grow than others are. These include cucumbers, herbs, strawberries, tomatoes, and leafy greens.
What You’ll Need
The deep water culture hydroponic system is the easiest type to use. You may have some of the needed supplies and things on hand. You can borrow equipment from somebody or rent it from a hardware store if you won’t need them on future projects.
- Net pots
- Growing media
- Air stone
- Air pump
- Support frame wood
- 27-gallon plastic storage container with a lid
- 48” PVC pipe
- 4” PVC pipe caps
- Black PVC pipe tape
- 4” hole saw
- Hacksaw and guide
- ¾” drill bit
General Assembly Instructions
Set up the storage container, water and air pumps, and the tubing. The air pump oxygenates the water, which stimulates roots.
Cut pipes and tubes to the needed lengths. Space the grow sites along the horizontal grow pipes one foot apart when you cut your holes for the sites. Inset a clay pellet-filled net pot into each grow site.
You’ll need to drill a ¾” hole in each end of your horizontal pipes. One is for intake, and one is for the outlet. Put the intake hole high on the intake end cap and put the outlet low on the outlet end cap.
Test the hole height to make sure the water does not pass through the pipe too quickly. You also want the water to drain properly so it will flow back to the reservoir through the outlet tubing. Otherwise, the water (and the nutrients you’ve put into it) will overflow through the grow sites and go to waste instead of being recirculated by the water pump.
Set up the grow lights. Fill up your reservoir with water. Put the medium and the seeds/plants into the nets and put the nets into the grow sites. Then turn on the lights and the pumps. Do an overall inspection to assure everything works.