Hydroponic gardening is a great way to be certain of the quality, and chemistry, of the food in your home. It’s also a great way to ensure a steady stream of fresh herbs and veggies for your family.
The basic concept of hydroponics is growing plants—without dirt—in nutrient-infused water to suit different needs, spaces, and availability of resources.
Believe it or not, all a plant really needs in order to grow is a direction.
Hydroponics have increased in popularity because the plants are high quality, take up less space, and require fewer resources than traditional gardening. Because plants grown hydroponic don’t have to use energy to find food, they spend more time growing. You can also grow, and mix, plants in small spaces or even indoors—year-round. There are lots of fruits, vegetables, and herbs that can thrive in the smallest of spaces, no yard required.
BUILDING YOUR GARDEN
You can assemble and build a simple garden in a day’s work using anything from PVC pipe and plastic cups, to plastic or styrofoam bins and pots. For growing, just add clay pebbles, water pump, plant ties, and seedlings to your shopping list. You can review expert plans at DIYNetwork.com and AlternativeDaily.club.
All you need is a level and enclosed structure or room, or an outdoor patio or deck with a wind barrier. Be mindful of extreme cold outside, and provide lighting if you plant inside.
When you get your seedlings home, soak the root ball in a bucket and separate the roots to remove all of the soil. Any soil left on the roots could clog the holes in your nutrient tubes or cups.
TIPS FOR GROWING
Hydroponics are great for crops that need a lot of water to produce a lot of fruit; think tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons.
To help your garden self-sustain, also consider sweet potatoes. Cuttings from a sweet potato vine grow well when placed in water, with good light and a consistent temperature. Their rapid growth is supported by ammonia and nitrates so the vine is ideal to convert toxins in your nutrient solutions.
If you set up your garden outside, be sure to keep your water reservoir in a location with as little direct sunlight as possible. This will inhibit the growth of algae in your nutrient solution.
You can also support tomato growth with aspirin. Mix one tablet in a gallon of water and spray twice a month to prevent blight and wilt.
Styrofoam coolers are best lined with plastic or trash bags to keep water from seeping out, and light from seeping in.
Pool noodle cuttings make great plant stabilizers; they do not lose their shape or rigidity in water.
Whether indoors or out, it is important to look for signs of pests and diseases; chewed leaves and fungal diseases. Since the leaves of the plants never get wet (unless it rains), they’re much less likely to get leaf fungus, mildew and mold. But, because of their size and proximity, one sick plant can quickly damage others—remove them immediately.
Even if growing hydroponic, insects and caterpillars can always find a way into the garden, so be sure to pick off and dispose of any bugs you see.
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