For the skeptics, a hydroponic growth system seems incredibly intimidating as it differs so much from traditional gardening. However, curiosity and hydroponics’ benefits make you wonder if it’s time for a change. Let’s dive into the concept of DIY hydroponic systems to help you figure out how to start.
What Does Hydroponic Mean?
Hydroponics is the science of soilless gardening that has been around for thousands of years. While most of us think soil is an essential part of growing, the plant doesn’t need it to survive. It only requires the minerals and nutrients from the earth.
There are many types of hydroponics. However, one common element to them is an oxygenated mineral-nutrient solution. Growing cannabis using hydroponic systems is becoming popular as it helps address soil problems. It is also an excellent method of gardening for indoor growers.
Benefits of Using Hydroponic System on Cannabis
There are many reasons why most gardeners prefer using a hydroponic system in growing plants. By replacing soil with water, you can improve your plants’ size, density, and yields. Let’s look at some of the excellent advantages that hydroponics can give you.
1. Resolves Common Soil Issues
Soil quality can significantly change the quality of your final product. Traditional cannabis growing using soil presents a few challenges for both indoor and outdoor growing. Hydroponics has more advantages over using dirt.
For example, soil requires a lot of space and constant monitoring of ist pH level. As an alternative, hydroponics can be designed and customized to fit almost any space. Having no soil to deal with also means less mess. Harvesting, replanting, moving, and cleaning is a lot easier.
2. Easy and Full Control
You want your plants to receive as many nutrients as they can through their roots. It is challenging in soil-based gardening as the nutrients you apply becomes diluted and hard to control. It is because the soil gives you limited access to the roots.
With hydroponics, administering nutrients is much effortless, and there is little to no waste. The exposed roots provide easy access for direct feeding. It also allows you to monitor signs of deficiency and distress that would have been impossible with traditional gardening. You can swiftly check the condition and tweak your mix at any stage, anytime, and as much as you want.
3. Reduces Risks Of Pests
Without soil, there is less risk of unwanted weeds, insects, or pest infestation. It means there wouldn’t much need to use pesticides and herbicides when using hydroponics, especially indoors. Hydroponics makes it more effortless to keep your plants free of chemicals and contaminants.
4. Higher Quality And Larger Yields
Hydroponics lets you control the amount and combination of nutrients that you give to your plants. This method is highly beneficial if you want to achieve larger high-quality yields, faster. Even without the ideal environment that comes with outdoor gardening, you can utilize water, nutrients, and growing space to get the same, if not better, results.
You can also design a setup that will allow you to grow cannabis the whole year-round. If you prefer growing outside, your hydroponic system can be easily moved indoors during cold seasons. Given the ability to effortlessly maintain optimum conditions for your plants, it is possible to attain faster maturation. With it, you can harvest as much as six times a year.
5. Helps Conserve Water
The idea may sound ridiculous, but hydroponics indeed uses less water than soil-based gardening. Just think of it, when watering a soil-grown plant, the roots absorb only some of it. Most of the water spread out into the soil and drains to the bottom. The hydroponics setup provides a way to deliver the water to the plant directly.
Basic Types Of Handmade Hydroponics
Whether you are using a hydroponic kit from this site or choose to make a DIY system, it is up to you. But, before you start, you should understand the functions of the different kinds of hydroponics.
This particular method needs no growing medium. It delivers nutrients to the exposed roots via fine spray or mist. The plant is hanging in mid-air in a chamber that maintains a 100% humidity. Just remember to check and clean the sprinkle heads to avoid clogging.
Deep Water Culture
It is one of the most straightforward hydroponic solutions that even beginner gardeners can do. The plant sits in containers with the roots stretching out into the nutrient solution. You will use an air pump to provide oxygen to the solution. The only drawback to this is that it requires more water and electricity to maintain.
The wick system is a straightforward solution. You place the containers that hold the plant and growing medium above the reservoir. Wicks extending from the bottom of the vessels draw the nutrient solution from the tank to the roots. However, the nutrient delivery system isn’t efficient enough to suit large plants.
Using small droppers feed the nutrients and oxygenated water to the growing medium and the roots. Tubings atop the growing chamber drip the solution at regular intervals. A pump and drainage system recirculated the nutrient solution. One of the issues with this system is that you have to check the pH periodically.
Ebb And Flow
Similar to a drip system, it doesn’t involve completely submerging the roots into the water. The only difference is, it uses a timer and pump to flood the growing tray with oxygenated water.
Then, the pump switches off, and the drainage system replaces the solution to the reservoir. Just make sure you have a backup power source to ensure that the pump works at all times.
Nutrient Film Technique
With this method, the roots extend to a tray that holds the circulated nutrient solution. The container or chamber is angled to ensure that the water continually drains into the reservoir. A water pump then feeds the water back into the growing tray to keep the roots moist. Make sure that the drains clean to prevent flooding in the chamber.
Things Needed to Start a Hydroponic System
Regardless of what method or type of hydroponics you choose, the underlying elements that make up each of them are the same. If you are going to start your hydroponic system, here are the supplies that you will need. Keep in mind that this lists only the minimum requirements in building a hydroponic grow room. You can add other materials and equipment as you like.
1. Hydroponics Essential Materials
After choosing the hydroponic system that you want to build, you will need a few materials. These are some of the necessary parts to create simple hydroponics.
- Reservoir Tank – It is a watertight vessel that will contain the nutrient solution.
- Submersible Water Pump – This equipment delivers the nutrient from the reservoir to the growing table or tray.
- Plastic Tubing Or Wick – This pipe or line carries the nutrient solution from the reservoir to the chamber.
- Grow Table Or Tray – It is a chamber that holds the plant. It needs drain holes that return the water to the reservoir.
- Dripline Or Lines – A pipe that collects the solution at one end from the grow table and returns it to the reservoir tank.
- Air Pump – It supplies the required oxygen to the plant roots.
- Light Source – You will need 8 to 10 hours of light supply from sunlight or full-spectrum growing lights.
2. Nutrient Solution Composition
The key ingredient that every hydroponic system design depends on the nutrient solution. Besides water, oxygen, and a growing medium, your plants would need nutrients, including:
3. Different Growing Mediums
There are tons of growing mediums available in the market today. Each artificial or organic material has its advantages. Growing mediums provide the best environment for roots to grow. Here are a few of the popular mediums you can choose:
- Clay Pellets – These pebbles or spheres give plants’ roots the best oxygenation. It allows the roots to grow efficiently and without resistance. As a result, your plants can absorb more nutrients effectively.
- Rockwool – It is another popular choice for hydroponics. Besides providing excellent oxygenation, it also has water retention properties.
- Coconut Fiber – This medium is a natural waste derived from coconut plantations. It has a significant advantage compared to using soil as it can retain water without developing fungi.
- Perlite And Vermiculite– It is a mineral that has superior aeration and retention properties. This material does not degrade nor decomposes. Moreover, it has a neutral pH and can be washed and dried repeatedly. However, it does not retain water and nutrients well, unlike vermiculite. And this is why the 50/50 mixture of these two minerals work perfectly.
The Bottom Line
There is no question that hydroponics can provide tons of benefits for all gardeners versus soil-based growing. While there are numerous kits to choose from, you always have the option to make your handmade hydroponic system. Switching methods may be challenging, but with a lot of effort, research, and testing, you can master hydroponics quickly.