Not only is this a practical approach to gardening, but also it’s an ancient one. Just think of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or the Floating Gardens of Ancient China.
Despite these extravagant examples, this approach to gardening is as accessible to the novice grower as it is to large-scale commercial operations, and its setup is even ideal for those in urban settings who may lack outdoor space.
Many hydroponic systems or kits are available in various sizes to accommodate your space needs and your yield expectations. But if you’re wondering about how you should get started, consider these fundamentals.
Select your system. Four common hydroponics systems include: the classic ebb and flow, which is easy to build yourself; the top drip system, which is the most common; the deep water culture system, the most economical; and the wick system, which is the simples. Important things to consider when selecting a system are space, cost and the time required to maintain it.
Learn about lighting. If your hydroponic garden is indoors, lighting is a must. Lighting kits can be purchased to complement your system, and it’s recommended that you purchase all the components together rather than individually. In this way, the ballast, lamp and bulb wattage will match.
Research nutrients. Choose the water in your nutrient solution carefully. Reverse osmosis, spring, distilled or well water is recommended, then mix the fertilizer at the manufacturer’s recommended rate. Monitor the pH of your nutrient solution with a pH adjuster, aiming for a reading between 5.5 and 6 for all growing mediums.
Choose your medium. Though hydroponics doesn’t use soil, a growing medium is still needed. Coconut coir and Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate (LECA) are recommended as good starter mediums. The former excels at absorbing water, and is recommended for all systems but ebb and flow. LECA excels at drainage, so it is ideal for the ebb and flow system.
Pick your plants. Select plants that set you up for success, particularly if you are a first-timer at hydroponics. Good starter plants include: greens, like lettuce, spinach and kale; herbs, including basil, parsley, mint, oregano and cilantro; tomatoes; strawberries; and hot peppers.
If you still have questions about where to begin with hydroponics or need more specific guidance about your existing system, call us at 1-800-531-4769 and let our friendly representatives help you today or visit our website at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com for hydroponic gardening supplies.