Introduction to Hydroponics gardening tips for beginners
Hydroponics system is a dirt-free, space-saving, water-effective method of growing soilless. Hydroponics gardening is the method of growing plants without soils. Plants are grown in a soilless medium and then come into contact with the nutrients in the water for their growth. Hydroponics method operates on the premise that as long as you can provide with what they need, plants will grow well. Hydroponics replaces the soil with water and using the growing media. For example, the growing media can be Perlite, sand, Rockwool, etc. Their main role is to transfer the nutrients in the water and keep the plant roots oxygenated. Nutrients are added to the water and are moved to the growing media and through the plant roots usually by a water pump. The interval of each action is set by a timer.
A guide to Hydroponics gardening tips and techniques
The hydroponics method is usually grown indoors or in a greenhouse. This means growers will take full management of the environment such as climate, temperature, lights, ventilation, and so on. The hydroponic method is defined by the method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions or inert mediums such as perlite, gravel, or mineral clay pebbles without any use of soil. It is a widely used method for harvesting plants, but can also be very complicated.
The hydroponics method is now becoming a popular trend among amateur as well as for professional gardeners. There are many factors which are making this type of farming popular like it allows the growth of a lot of plants in a very small area in a controlled environment with less water and less light than conventional systems, it is easy to harvest and reap which makes it a suitable choice for a hydroponic beginner. This farming requires less use of pesticides and healthier than traditional soil-based growing. It is a cost-effective investment for professional gardeners as it is developed to increase productivity with minimum costs.
Hydroponics comes up with several benefits that the soils cannot compare to.
- Better growth rate – It’s not uncommon to see that hydroponically grown plants than enjoying a 20 to 30% better rate than those in the soil, grown in similar conditions. This is because roots directly contact with the nutrients rather than searching for food in the soils. All of these energies will be instead consumed in plant growth, and in producing fruits and flowers. Growers are also in charge of the whole growing system such as nutrients, temperature, lights, and so on. By this, you can give with the ideal conditions that plants require.
- Bigger Yields – You can expect at least 20 to 25% more yields with hydro as compared to growing in soil.
- No Weeds – One of the most tedious and time-consuming activities for many gardeners is cleaning their gardens and pulling out weeds. With hydroponics plant growing there are no weeds to pull.
- Fewer Diseases and Pests – Because you’re not using soil, you get rid of a lot of soil-borne diseases and pests that can normally wreak havoc on your plants and make gardening a pain.
- Hydroponics saves water – This hydroponic growing method uses only 10% water in comparison to soil agriculture. And it can do that because of its efficient recirculated system. Hydroponic growing plants get sufficient water while the run-off ones are captured and get back to the system.
- No soils needed – You can grow plants anywhere whether in arable or heavily contaminated places. It saves the lands by growing plants in convenient locations like large-scale indoor greenhouses, or even in an apartment. All of the weeds and soil-related pests and diseases are eliminated in a Hydroponic garden.
- Effective use of nutrients – All nutrients are added to the solution, and you are 100% controlling giving the specific amounts of nutrients that plants need. Unlike the soil, nutrients are not lost as they are held in the reservoir.
Hydroponics gardening tips to maximize crop yields
- Maintain a constant temperature level and improve climate control with easy grow reflective sheeting.
- Ensure proper nutrient mixing and oxygenation of a reservoir by using an air bubbler and air stone.
- Maintain pH levels with a Pro system Aqua automatic pH dosing pump, and avoid essential nutrients being locked out of plants.
- Maximize the availability of light, reduce energy costs, and also eliminate hot spots using diamond Lightite sheeting.
- Replace growing bulbs regularly. Lights lose lumens quickly and can degrade by as much as about 30% within a year.
- Add CO2 to grow room the natural way using Exhale CO2 bags and let your plants breathe.
- Avoid the degradation of valuable nutrients by storing in a dark place and avoiding exposure to sunlight. Green Planet nutrients are all stored in black bottles to avoid this happening.
- Enhance the biology of your plant using Myco Fusion mycorrhizae powders and improve nutrient uptake by using Fulvic and Humic Acids.
Tips to staring a Hydroponics gardening for beginners
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Here are a few basic tips for starting your hydroponic garden;
Choose your ideal Hydroponic method or system
There are several methods of hydroponic farming are available. A hydroponic method is to be chosen according to your scale and complexity of your garden. For a beginner “Deep Water Cultivation” is a good choice as it is easy to set up and very economical while the “Nutrient Film Technique” is good for large scale farming as it has low usage of water, electricity, and nutrient. Apart from these, there are several other methods obtainable.
A hydroponic system is a technique you would use to grow your garden. There are many common and easy techniques for a beginner to choose from.
The first technique is the wick hydroponic system. This is a very easy hydroponic set up of all the systems because it has no moving parts. It mainly includes a reservoir filled with water and nutrients with a container filled with a growing medium above it. All you do is connecting the two containers by a cotton wick that feeds the plants its nutrients. This process does not require anything special like pumps, timers, or aerators. Though, this system may not work well with water-hungry plants because the wick will be unable to supply a sufficient amount of water fast enough. This system is considered a simple type of Hydroponic system. This type works by pumping the nutrient solution from the reservoir up to the plants by the capillary movement like a wick into the growing media of the grow tray.
Another easy method is the Water System. This method is probably the cheapest because you grow plants inside a Styrofoam plank that sits on top of the reservoir filled with the nutrient solution. Make sure the reservoir is slightly shallow so that you can add an aerator that will help deliver oxygen to the plant roots. Unlike the Wick System, the Water Culture system is better suited for water-hungry plants, but not for a long time.
The other technique is the Ebb and Flow system. The Ebb and Flow hydroponic system are the most complicated of the three, but highly adaptable. Keep in mind it can suitable for house pots of any size. Start by arranging potted plants onto a drain table that is filled with 2 to 3 inches of water and pumped with nutrient solution. The system works by flooding the growth medium with a solution and then draining it back into the reservoir. The trick is to use a submersible pump with a timer, which would allow you to customize the plant’s water schedule based on size, temperature, etc. Ebb and Flow hydroponic method work by using a timer to set the pump to pull the nutrients from the reservoir to the grow tray periodically. After the nutrient surrounds roots, it drains back to the system.
Choose the right growing medium
Once you have chosen a system and assembled your growing bed, be sure to pick the right growing medium for your system. The best growing mediums for hydroponic beginners are Coconut Coir and LECA (lightweight expanded clay aggregate). Coconut Coir is great because it can absorb up to 8 times their water weight, but they are not suitable for the Ebb and Flow hydroponic system. LECA is clay pebbles that are dense and hold water very well. Then, they are heavy and don’t move, they are a great fit for the Ebb and Flow system.
The absence of soil in a hydroponic system means there should be something that the plants can be propagated in and supported by for the nutrient solution to flow effectively through. The determination of a good growing medium is one that allows a good balance of oxygen and moisture to be absorbed by the plant roots. The combination of clay pebbles and coco coir is used in hydroponic systems because the combination retains oxygen and moisture at an elite level. Clay pebbles are clay pellets that are inexpensive and also known for retaining oxygen at a high level and coco coir is made from coconut husks that can easily stand alone as a good medium in both areas but are expensive. So, mixing it with grow rocks is often done to keep down costs.
Rockwool is also another medium that is used frequently because it is like coco coir. It is great at retaining both oxygen and moisture and is manufactured in cubes allowing plants to be easily located in rows. The downfall is that it should be thrown out after just one use.
When choosing a growing medium for Hydroponic system, these are the great traits that you should take into account;
- Good aeration and drainage
- Lightweight enough to work with and carry around
- pH neutral
- Not costly
- Organic made and environmentally friendly
Selecting a plant for Hydroponics system
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When selecting a plant for the hydroponics system, consider the amount of space you have, the kind of system that you’ve set up, and the gear you’ve invested in. Some plants are just too big for small hydroponic systems; others are just right. Then, find the right cultivars for the scale of the system that you happen to have.
Lighting tips for your Hydroponics gardening system
Edible plants require at least 6 hours or a maximum of 12 to 16 hours of sunlight each day. If you opted for indoor hydroponic farming it is necessary to give ample lighting for them to flourish. Each plant needs at least 40 to 70 watts of light and most of the ready-made hydroponic system comes with an inbuilt lighting system. If you don’t have one, go for a High-Intensity Discharge or a Fluorescent or an LED and take care that the light sources produce light between 5,000 to 10,000 lumens per square foot.
Water quality and pH in Hydroponics
Growers need to test the quality of water supply before introducing it into a hydroponic. The pH level measures the acid or alkali levels in the water and is important to keep track of with a pH meter or pH strips. The pH level scale runs from 0.0 to 14.0; 7.0 is neutral, less than 7.0 is looked at as acidic, and above 7.0 is alkaline. The pH levels growers want their water to be within is between 5.5 and 6.5 in most hydroponic systems, but where pH levels stay is determined by a grower’s preference and the type of plants being grown in the hydroponics system. Multiple nutrients are absorbed in different rates and then required pH levels can fluctuate depending on the type plant or where the plants are in their life cycle. The water temperature in any hydroponic system must be between 20 and 22°C. Growers can keep their water temperatures with a water heater and water chiller. Then, this ensures that the water is distributed to the plants isn’t too warm or too cold.
Temperature maintenance tips for Hydroponics gardening
If you are opting for farming in a room, then you must maintain the optimal temperature of the room for the growth of plants. Take note that the room temperature range will exceed its original range because of the lights. To maintain the temperature, you will want to operate a small heater in a cold climate. Use fans or a ventilation system if the temperature rises above 29°C.
Seed germination tips for Hydroponics gardening
Before hydroponic planting, it is very important to germination of the seeds that you want to plant. It can be done with traditional methods. First, moisten a paper towel and carefully lay seeds on the moist surface. Cover the seeds using a dinner plate and you can also wrap the seeds in a moist paper towel and place the seeds and paper towel into a plastic bag. Place the seeds in a dark location for 24 hours to germination.
The best tip for beginners when hydroponic gardening is to start small. When you’re first starting to use natural lighting, complete nutrient solutions, and also fast-growing plants. Some good starter plants contain spinach, lettuce, herbs, and hot peppers.
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