A Beginners Guide to Hydroponics

A Beginners Guide to Hydroponics

The first step to setting up your first hydroponic garden is selecting a system that best fits your needs. Important factors to consider include how much space you have, what you want to grow and how much, cost, and how much time you have to spend maintaining the system. The 2 most basic setups recommended for beginners are Water Culture, and Ebb & Flow. Both of these systems can be built from separate components or bought complete either online or in a hydroponics store.

Water Culture is extremely simple system to set up. In this system, the plants are placed into a Styrofoam platform that sits right on top of the reservoir. An air pump is added to the reservoir to deliver oxygen to the roots. This system is ideally suited for water-hungry plants, but not for more long-term plants such as tomatoes.

Ebb and Flow systems are slightly more complex but are extremely versatile. This system works by flooding the growing medium with a solution and then draining it back into the reservoir. To do this you need a submergible pump with a timer. One of the greatest advantages of Ebb & Flow is that you can use the timer to customize your plants’ watering schedule based on the plant size, number of plants, temperature, humidity, etc. You also have the option of potting plants individually for easy customization or filling the entire tray with growing medium and planting directly in the tray.

Choosing what to grow

Just about any plant can be grown hydroponically, but for beginners, it is best to start small. The best choices are herbs and vegetables that grow quickly, require little maintenance, and do not have a huge variety of nutrient needs. You want fast-growing plants so that you can assess how well your system works and tweak it as necessary. It would be a real letdown to wait months until harvest time only to find out your system is not working properly. Maintenance-free plants are great for beginners because they allow you to focus on learning about your system- you can move on to more complex veggies later. If you are growing a variety of plants it is also important to make sure that they are similar in their nutrient requirements, so that they grow well together.

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