Have you always wanted to start a garden but have been limited by space, the sun, or a general dislike of dirt?
You're not alone. Thankfully, there's a gardening alternative available. It works great for those who have poor soil quality, few sunlight hours, or who don't have space in their yard for a garden.
Hydroponic gardening is taking the gardening world by storm.
Because it's a way to have the garden you always dreamed of -- no matter where you live.
Want to know more? Read on for our full guide to hydroponics systems for beginners.
What's a Hydroponic Garden?
Hydroponic gardens are based on the system of hydroponics.
It's a system that doesn't require soil to grow plants. Instead, you use a liquid and a nutrient-rich solution to provide plants the food they need to grow.
These gardens are grown in a structure designed to hold the plant, water (or an optional growth medium), the nutrient source, and a source of life.
There are two common types of gardens.
A solution culture refers to a garden grown with only liquid nutrients. An aggregate culture garden uses a medium like clay, gravel, pellets, or sand to grow the plants.
You can use hydroponic gardens on a large or commercial scale. You can also use them as a small standalone kit for home use.
Regardless of the size of the garden you want to build, you have two options when choosing a model. You can purchase whole systems or build your own.
You'll find four basic features in hydroponics systems for beginners:
- Water (or a water reservoir)
- Sunlight (or artificial light)
- Medium (in aggregate culture gardens)
Benefits of Hydroponic Gardens
These gardens have become popular in mainstream gardening, and it's not hard to see why.
A hydroponic garden is a great solution when you don't have space or the sunlight required to grow a garden. Additionally, it helps if the soil in your yard is low in nutrients or contaminated, because there's no soil required.
Plus, Hydroponic gardens produce higher yields than a traditional garden.
Hydroponics Systems for Beginners
There are four common hydroponics systems for beginners in the field:
1. Ebb and Flow
This classic hydroponic system is made up of potted plots arranged on a drain table.
2. Deep Water Culture
This economical choice includes small net pots designed to float in a styrofoam plank.
3. Top Drip System
The Top Drip System is the most common hydroponics system. Nutrients are delivered from the reservoir.
4. Wick System
Wick Systems are the best hydroponic systems for beginners. No extra equipment is required. Cotton wicks feed the plants nutrients via a wicking mat underneath a large pot.
After choosing between a nutrient solution or an aggregate solution garden, this is the next decision you need to make.
To choose between these four systems consider the following:
- The plants you want to grow
- Your gardening skills
- The space available
- Amount of equipment you want to invest in
Choosing a Nutrient Supply
You'd need a whole printing press to fully discuss all the options and implications of the nutrient systems used in hydroponic gardens.
There are few options to choose from when you're building hydroponics systems for beginners who are just getting into gardening.
It's possible to purchase nutrient solutions from a garden center or a specialty store. These solutions may come ready-to-use. Others may need mixing. Special solutions designed for specific types of crops can also be purchased.
You can also choose to mix a custom solution on your own. This is a good d option for gardeners who want to cater directly to the plants they're trying to grow.
A few chemicals will show up over and over again on ingredient lists.
Nitrogen will almost always be found in a nutrient solution because it's required for creating chlorophyll and building amino acids that turn into proteins. Sulfur is also common, and it also contributes to building amino acids. Potassium is another common ingredient.
Magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus are a few other primary ingredients.
Some of the more common micronutrients may include:
You'll be able to see whether you've achieved the right balance in your nutrient solution. You can do this by looking directly at your plant! Are you missing key nutrients? Are the plants being overfed nutrients they don't need? If so, the plants will turn brown and the leaves will curl.
Lighting Systems for Your Hydroponic Garden
Nutrient solutions are one of the most important decisions you'll make. But you can't create a hydroponic garden for beginners without considering your light source.
If available, natural sunlight is an option for hydroponic gardens.
You can also replace or supplement natural light with artificial light. Though, be sure to keep your light system flexible to able to adjust it as your garden grows.
There are a few types of artificial lighting to choose from:
- High Intensity Discharge (HID)
- Fluorescent lights
- Sulphur plasma
For a more in-depth guide to lighting systems, check out our guide on installing hydroponic grow lights indoors.
Seeds vs. Seedlings
By now, you've seen everything you need to start critically thinking about hydroponics system for beginners. So, it's time to talk about seeds!
Starting out with hydroponic seeds is a good way to start from scratch. They also come in a greater variety of choices and don't have bugs or viruses.
Though, seedlings are another choice if seeds are too much for you.
If you go the seed route, it's a good idea to start them out in cubes made of inorganic material. The seeds need to grow roots in order to survive even in a hydroponics system for beginners.
When they're ready, go through the proper steps involved in transplanting them into your unit!
Building hydroponics systems for beginners is a great way to dive into gardening.
Hydroponic gardening is a way to get involved in gardening when the soil, climate, or your own will to spend weekends weeding would otherwise get in the way.
Ready to get started?
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