Whether you are planning to go “all organic” or you are simply looking for ways to cut down on your grocery expenses, having a hydroponic vegetable garden can come in handy. Apart from the obvious benefits of having a vegetable garden at your disposal, a hydroponic garden can produce fresh vegetables all year-round. One common myth surrounding hydroponic gardens is that they are expensive to set up this is not entirely true. Although you will have to chip in a few dollars at the start, once you get your hydroponic garden up and running, it will be profitable in the long run. If you are looking for a comprehensive guide on how to set up your very own hydroponic vegetable System/garden, we have got you covered.
What is a hydroponic system?
Hydroponics is the latest technique in horticulture that involves growing plants without the typical substrate medium of soil. In this technique, plants are placed in a nutrient solution that works as soil, providing all the essential nutrients to the plant directly. This technique has gained widespread popularity nowadays, primarily because of its efficacy and cost-effectiveness.
A system that employs hydroponic techniques to grow plants is known as a hydroponic system. Any such system can grow vegetables round the year and is a convenient method to grow plants. This system boasts vegetable crops with superior quality and exquisite taste. It mainly functions by allowing plant roots to come in direct contact with nutrients and water, thereby enhancing nutrient uptake which in return fosters their growth. Hydroponic systems allow you to control the essential factors of a plant’s growth such as light, temperature, and pH. Consequently, you can control these factors according to the plant’s needs.
Why should you go for hydroponic gardening?
The most obvious benefit of a hydroponic system is the year-round availability of fresh crops. Though, this benefit is not restricted to hydroponic gardens only. Aeroponic and traditional gardening practices boast this advantage as well. What differentiates hydroponic from other horticulture techniques is that it offers a unique balance between affordability and utility. You won’t need to empty your pockets for setting up a hydroponic garden, and it will be extremely useful for you as well.
Best hydroponic system for growing vegetables
Depending upon the mode of delivery of nutrients to the plant, there are six types of hydroponic systems. If you want to grow lightweight and small vegetables then Deep Water Culture (DWC) is your best bet. DWC hydroponics is the easiest and the simplest of hydroponic systems. It can be built using inexpensive materials and is not a burden to maintain. In this system, there is no barrier between plants and nutrients; the whole root structure is directly submerged in the nutrient-rich solution. One particular benefit of this hydroponic system is that it can be grown in limited spaces. Even a sturdy container or a spacious bucket can host a DWC hydroponic system easily. DWC is also known as raft system because the plants float on top of a raft with their roots submerged in the nutrient-rich solution. The direct delivery of nutrients to the vegetable crop and the ideal conditions makes this system the perfect fit for growing lightweight vegetables.
What vegetables can I grow with a hydroponic system?
Nearly all types of vegetables can be planted in a hydroponic system. From lettuce to tomatoes, be ready to enjoy a variety of fresh vegetables from the comfort of your home. However, if we talk about the DWC hydroponic system, there are a few vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables that thrive better than others. This is because these are short-statured plants and can sustain themselves on rafts. Bulky and top-heavy plants can sometimes be too difficult for rafts to bear the weight of. If you want to grow top-heavy plants, you can use mesh and trellis netting to provide them with the required mechanical support.
Setting up your hydroponic vegetable garden
Now that you are done with choosing the right type of hydroponic system for your vegetable garden, get ready to build one yourself.
Find a suitable location
One of the best things about a hydroponic setup is that it can be established anywhere. Whether it be indoors or outdoors, setting up a hydroponic garden is easy. An ideal place for a hydroponic garden would be under a greenhouse or an indoor setting with sufficient space. Ensure that the floor is level so that the nutrients can be distributed evenly across the system. If you have decided to set up your garden outside, then make sure that the hydroponic system is not deeply affected by the aberrant weather changes.
Gather the tools
Make a list of everything you will need to set up your vegetable garden. If you are making a DIY hydroponic setup, then gather the PVC pipes, water tank, and other objects. If you are aiming to make a durable and long-lasting system, then consider buying one of these. This combo package includes a carbon filter, LED lights, ventilation kit, and top-quality growing tent. If you want, you could also buy individual items such as grow lights, clone accelerator, and others to foster the growth of your vegetable gardens.
Assemble the hydroponic system
If you haven’t bought a hydroponic system as a whole, then it is time to assemble it piece-by-piece. Line up the PVC pipes on top of a plastic stand to provide mechanical support. The nutrient tank is also placed below to provide the vegetable seedlings with enough water and nutrients to make them bloom. If you are making an Ebb and flow hydroponic system, then to transport the water from the nutrient tank to the PVC pipes, you will need a water pump. A DWC does not need a water pump, because the plant roots are already submerged in a nutrient-rich solution. The PVC pipes have small holes in them. These holes are the sites where seedlings are placed and where the plant will grow from.
Fill the nutrient tank
The nutrient tank can be filled with a variety of solutions. Mix the nutrients and the water thoroughly either manually or by using a pump. The tank should be filled to the top if the water content is low then there are chances that the solution will become concentrated, resulting in pH fluctuations.
Plant the seedlings in the hydroponic system
Here comes the fun part. Plant all of your seedlings inside the PVC pipes and wait for them to grow. The most common and easiest method would be to use seedlings bought from a nursery. Choose the healthiest seedlings that will thrive in your hydroponic garden. To remove the dirt from the roots, gently put it into lukewarm water. This would remove any dirt or unwanted particle that might clog the system. If you are looking for a substrate medium to hold your plants, then consider buying this coco block.
Provide support using trellis
When growing heavy-top plants like tomatoes, having a trellis is a must-have. The trellis provides mechanical support to the plants that is absent because of the lack of soil. The string of the trellis will hold them upright, giving them the much-wanted straight stature.
Keep an eye on the crop’s growth
One important thing that needs to be monitored is plant growth. The initial days of development are important for the vegetable crop. If you witness any problems in development, or if the seedlings are not growing fast enough, then its time to start investigating. It is very important to monitor the water level in the nutrient tank as well. If the vegetable crop is low on water content during the early stages of its development, then it would show lethargic growth. Keep an eye on the pH level, and make sure to maintain it within the specified ranges. Clean the tank regularly, and replace the water with a fresh batch twice a month.
Keep the insects and pests at bay
Insects and pests can be hazardous for the growth of young vegetables. It is highly recommended to look for signs of pests, if any, and use an organic pesticide. If the pest problem arises due to mites, then this anti-mite spray would alleviate your concerns. If you want to get rid of some pesky insects, then this Ozi Magic Terminata is your best pest organic control option.
Setting up a vegetable garden can be hectic, but it is definitely worth the effort. You need to know the right tricks and have the proper tools at your disposal. You could either buy a whole hydroponic system or you could purchase individual components and assort them to make a DIY hydroponic system. Deep Water Culture hydroponic system is the best method for novice gardeners to get the taste of hydroponic culture techniques and to grow some tasty vegetables. Just make sure to follow the guidelines given above and get ready to witness the bloom of your very own hydroponic garden.