Hydroponic farming in the balcony
Who doesn’t desire to produce own veggies or house plants, but is lacking space to do so?
Who doesn’t desire to decorate their balconies with beautiful flowers and scented herbs?
A small hydroponic system in your balcony could be the answer!
So here we are today, after reading this article your new address could be “house with lush green balcony’’.
A step by step guide to hydroponic farming in the balcony
The skill of soil-less gardening hydroponics has earned fame as a modern gardening technique. It basically includes raising healthy plants exclusive of the use of a traditional soil medium by making use of enriched nutrient mediums like a mineral-rich water solution instead. It is the production of plants in a soilless medium in which all of the required plant nutrients are supplied to the crop that is dissolved in water. It doesn’t mean that you have to build a huge system in the backyard or in-ground exclusively but it can be done anywhere apartment hydroponics is reality. You can have hydroponics at home at any corner be it in a balcony or even in a small mason jar.
Advantages of balcony hydroponic farming
- In the hydroponic system not only do plants grow up without soil, they often grow a lot better with their roots in water instead.
- Having our supply of vegetables, herbs or any sort of greenery is home id a bless so hydroponic farming at home is no less than meditation, we always feel relaxed and motivated with plants.
- Hydroponics provides growers power over nutrient and pH management which means a little attention and you decide the future of your plants which means high yield too.
- Most of the re-circulating hydroponics systems are closed, meaning nutrients and water are re-circulated through a hydroponic pipe, and none is lost into the ground so no wastage and your balcony won’t be slippery.
- Hydroponics is great for both the environment and the grown product, hydroponic gardening practically eliminates the need for herbicides and pesticides compared to traditional soil gardening.
Crops you can consider farming in the hydroponic balcony
Try growing plants similar to much as necessary in their watering and nutritional needs with that you wouldn’t have to worry about giving special attention to the other side of things. You can start with growing following listed plants:
- Cherry Tomato
- Brussel Sprouts
- Summer Squash
- Mustard Greens
- Sweet Peppers
Hydroponics ginger farming can also be considered if you have sufficient space to keep containers in your balcony.
Tips for balcony hydroponic farming
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- While you can grow almost everything hydroponically, but some vegetables grow very well in hydroponic systems than others. pick plants that don’t have rigid moisture requirements and that don’t get too big compared to their set up, such as cucumber, tomato, capsicum, strawberry, lettuce, and leafy greens. Though you can grow them if your balcony is large to accommodate them since they require trellis and support.
- You must test the nutrient levels and the water level weekly. Consider refilling the nutrient solution when you sense the water level going down.
- Maintain enough space between planting pots for your plants to let them grow and expand.
- Place the system in a place where it will receive a sufficient amount of light.
- The taller, heavier plants especially the vining plants will be benefitted from some added support because there’s no soil to have support for them in the ground.
- Also, when setting up a hydroponic garden in your balcony, depending on the size, durability and root development of the plants to be grown and the structure of the system, one has to choose whether to make use of only a solution culture or some sort of a growth medium as well.
Types of hydroponic systems for balcony farming
Nowadays there is a variety of hydroponic systems available in the market especially designed and equipped with facilities for balcony gardening you can consider buying hydroponic pipe setup directly from the stores or make your own DIY hydroponics setup.
Basically there are following types of hydroponics system and these systems are modified for the convenience of the grower for example by installing an automated system or any special system as per the demand.
Wick Systems: it is the most basic type of hydro system you can build even on your own. It is also known as passive hydroponics, meaning that you don’t require any air pumps or water pumps to use it. Nutrients and water are provided into a plant’s root zone with the help of a wick, which is usually something as simple as a rope or piece of felt. One key to success with a wicking system is to utilize a growing media that transports water and nutrients very well. Good choices consist of coconut coir, perlite, or vermiculite. Wick systems are recommended for smaller plants that don’t make use of up a lot of water or nutrients. In a balcony hydroponic garden it is not very much used since in smaller place growers wish to vegetables which won’t really thrive in this system so if you don’t want to put in so much effort and have space you can plant some ornamental plants in it and keep it aside.
Deep Water Culture (DWC): Deepwater culture system is hands-down the easiest and most used type of hydro system. In a DWC system, you make use of a reservoir to contain the nutrient solution. The roots of the growing are plants are suspended in that solution so they get a continuous supply of water, oxygen, and nutrients. To oxygenate the water aeration is important, for this you can use an air pump to propel bubbles into the nutrient solution.
The plants are typically placed in net pots that are placed into the top of the container called a reservoir. With some hydroponic growing media added into your net pots, they provide support especially at the very beginning of your root system and plant stems. Though this system is very easy and common, for balcony hydroponics still it is not an ideal system as it will help you grow only a limited number of plants.
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT). The Nutrient Film Technique is a popular commercial hydroponic system and is best for hydroponic plants indoor. Plants are raised in channels made up of PVC pipes that have a nutrient solution pumping through them and continue running along the bottom of the channel. When the solution reaches the end of the channel, it is drawn back into the main reservoir and is sent back to the starting point of the system again. This makes it a perfect re-circulating system, just like a deep water culture. Unlike deep water culture, your plant roots are not entirely submerged in an NFT system numerous plants can be placed in these channels with the help of net pots and growing medium and can be harvested on a one-by-one basis.
Ebb and Flow/Flood and Drain Systems
Ebb and Flow systems, which are also recognized by the name Flood and Drain, are a less-commonly used system. But they are still quite effective for balcony gardening and can be the best choice depending on the space you can offer to it. Unlike the previous two hydroponic systems that we have discussed, it does not expose the roots of the growing plants to the nutrient solution on a regular basis. Instead, plants are grown in a tray filled with the growing medium. The tray is “flooded” with the nutrient solution a few times per day, depending on factors like:
- The size of your plants
- The water requirement of the plants
- The temperature
- Where your plants are in their growth cycle
Flooding is achieved by using a reservoir placed below the tray, a water pump, and a timer to programme the flooding cycle.
Once the tray is flooded, gravity will drain the solution back down into the reservoir, where it is being aerated by an air pump and air stone. It will be there waiting for the next flood cycle, and this is how the process goes on.
Vertical tower system
Vertical farming is all about growing more by stacking several layers of plant surfaces. It is easy to see why the concept of the hydroponic tower has become highly popular. Because indoor hydroponics enthusiasts frequently suffer from lack of floor space, vertical hydroponics remains the best choice. A tower garden, also known as a window farm is an arrangement of vertical hydroponics, which comprises of an A-Frame hydroponic system, hydroponic wall, and even cascades of bottles. It can be utilized for growing various crops such as strawberry, lettuce, Swiss chard, herbs, spinach, kale, broccoli, and flowering petunia. Vertical hydroponic towers characteristically have a closed nutrient water flow system. There is no runoff as the water keeps on circulating. This prevents wastage of valuable resources and nutrients. The whole process can also be automated in order to reduce maintenance.
A simple guide to setting up a homemade hydroponic farming system in your balcony
You may also check this: Growing Organic Vegetables in Greenhouse.
Do-it-yourself hydroponic systems come in different forms based on your interest, creativity, and of course availability of material. You can construct one using different locally-available materials such as recyclable plastic bottles, containers, boxes, and even PVC pipes.
Here we will be discussing basic systems designed using recyclable plastic boxes/containers and PET bottles.
Choose the Kind of system You Want to grow your plants in, you can make this decision based on which type of plant you can to grow and its growth habit
the growth medium to be used since we are going to be soil-less hence Growth medium plays a significant role in the whole process you can consider buying grow media such as Rockwool, clay pellets, cocopeat, coconut fiber/coconut chips, perlite or vermiculite.
Step 3: Make your Nutrient Solution or simply buy it
The right nutrient mix is a combination of primary nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, magnesium; secondary nutrients like calcium, sulfur, phosphorus; and micronutrients like iron, copper, manganese, zinc, molybdenum, boron. Since these, all nutrients are to be in precise quantity so it is recommended that you buy the high-grade nutrient solution from the store especially when you are a beginner. You should keep the solution at room temperature and strictly away from light. Shake it well before using it always.
Step 4: Constructing the system and planting
- Here we will be discussing one simple system utilizing a recyclable plastic box, the size can be determined based on your necessity. Ensure it is at least 20 cm deep since this box will be used a reservoir holding all the nutrient solution.
- We will drill holes of about 5cm into the lid of the container, maintain a distance of 5cm between each hole.
- Fill most of the box with the mineral-rich water solution after thoroughly cleaning the box. When pouring in nutrient solution leave a 3-inch space from the top.
- Out of the drilled holes on the lid, keep two holes open. One for adding the air pump used for aeration and another hole will be used as an access point to test the water or make any adjustments.
- An air pump generally used in aquariums will create tiny bubbles of oxygen in the hydroponic tank when air is forced through the stone by using a pump. The bubbles make the dissolved oxygen diffuse widely throughout the system encouraging plant growth.
- In this setup, while one end of the tube is attached to the air stone inside the tank, the other end will be connected to the air pump outside to facilitate the functioning of air stone.
- Switch on the air pump to check if the system is working right before planting.
- Once you have ensured the functioning of the reservoir now the next step is to insert net pots into the holes that you have drilled on the lid.
- Net pots refer are simply netted recyclable plastic planters that contain the growth medium and seeds or seedlings. You can also buy them online or create them with the help of disposable cups by creating holes around the sides and at the bottom.
- Now you need to fill the growth medium into the net pots and add seeds of your choice.
- After a few days, you will start noticing the growth
- We will suggest starting with simple plants like any herbs such as coriander, mint, basil or salad leaves, tomato, cucumber, bottle gourd (if you can provide the proper support)
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