Introduction to vertical Hydroponic gardening
Hydroponics gardening is a way of growing plants without using soil. Such a hydroponic system is efficient in more ways than one and easily be pursued even at home. Vertical Hydroponics design is simply the setting up of a Hydroponic farm except in a vertical fashion. It is a proven fact that this hydroponic system aids efficient water use up to 90 percent. Gravity plays a main role in such a system where, the water begins to flow at the top of the system and flows down to the bottom, where it settles. Vertical farming is the growing of plants in vertically stacked layers. Vertical hydroponics system, as the name suggests, is the combination of hydroponics and vertical farming. Therefore, in vertical hydroponics grow system; you will have several stacked levels, with plants being grown on each level. The practice is also called by several other names. Tower hydroponics, tower gardens, vertical grow systems are the most popular names of vertical hydroponics.
A step by step guide to vertical Hydroponic gardening
Vertical hydroponics requires much less space than traditional farming is not affected by drought and greatly reduces water pollution from fertilizer runoff. Hydroponics gardening is a method of growing plants without soil horizontally or vertically, where mineral nutrients are provided through the water. Hydroponic systems that allow vertically growing plants are called as vertical hydroponics. Vertical hydroponics garden works by using conventional hydroponic techniques in a vertical, gravity-fed system.
Advantages of a vertical Hydroponic gardening
Vertical hydroponics has several advantages over traditional crop production methods including;
Hydroponic vertical gardening requires much less space. In general, a one-acre vertical farm will produce the same size crop as 4 to 6 acres of farmed land. Vegetable plants can be grown all year in greenhouses, but this type of farming does not require a greenhouse. Reduced water usage is another advantage, as this type of farming requires only about 30 percent of the water needed to grow crops planted in the field. Diseases that flourish in the soil are not a problem with vegetables grown in vertical hydroponic systems. Hydroponic vertical gardening good for small sunny places like balconies, patios, and rooftops.
No necessity of soil – The presence of soil would invite the chances of many diseases and pests that will attack the plants. A Hydroponics system, in general, does not use soil at all, and in a vertical Hydroponic system, the absence of soil makes the tower lighter and facilitates the simple flow of water. This helps in the absence of weeds which eliminates the need to weed regularly.
Optimal use of space and optimal results – In a Hydroponic vertical system especially, numerous plants can be fitted than in a conventional soil setting. This allows for many plants in less space. With selective nutrients and adequate lighting, there will be high plant growth that will be even more luscious.
Compact design – The design of a vertical hydroponic system allows for smaller space occupancy and larger production potential. How the tower is designed itself helps in occupying less space and is built in a compact form.
Automatic maintenance and reduced wastage – The hydroponic system is constructed, the water and nutrients inside the tube stay inside itself without any spilling. Also, they reuse themselves until they reach the point of no use. Then, this ensures optimal usage and minimal wastage.
Growing vegetables in vertical Hydroponics
A wide variety of vegetables can grow in vertical hydroponic systems. Cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes are some of the products more commonly grown vegetables in hydroponic vertical systems. Strawberries and herb plants also thrive in hydroponic systems.
How the Hydroponic vertical system works
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Vertical hydroponic systems can be formed using containers stacked on poles, usually with 3 to 10 containers on each pole, PVC pipes that are set up at an angle or hanging bags. Perlite is a common growing medium for this system; a mixture of perlite, coconut coir, and composted pine bark and sphagnum peat moss is also appropriate. An automatic watering system pipes irrigation to the containers and fertilizer tank hooked into the system provides nutrients as needed, depending on the crop requirements. A sump pump can help pump the water and fertilizer to smaller setups, but a larger, more powerful pump is necessary for big vertical hydroponic farms.
A vertical hydroponics system uses a tower of sorts to vertically farm. In this hydroponic tower system, a tube is connected to a small water reservoir at the bottom where a hydroponic pump will assist in pumping the water to the top. There, gravity comes into play and it is used to bring water down in a controlled manner back to the reservoir, in the method of which it delivers the nutrients to the plant. The tube can be one in the system or there can be installed numerous channels through which the nutrients and water reach the plants. The plants are located in net cups angled at 45 degrees for easy allowance of the water to flow through the roots.
Another kind of vertical hydroponic system is the zig-zag vertical hydroponic system. This type of vertical system has pipes arranged in a zig-zag manner where the net cups holding the plants are located in the pipe holes at a standing 90-degree angle. In the same way, the water is first pumped to the top of the hydroponic system and from there it begins its downward flow. In the case of an indoor hydroponic system, the light may be a concern. This is why multiple light panels are arranged on top of each of the pipes to provide light equally and also equidistantly. There are several different hydroponic techniques like ebb and flow and nutrient film technique (NFT). Due to the unique dynamics of a vertical system, the NFT system is often the easiest to do. Nutrient Film Technique system involves having a constant thin stream of water flowing over the root system of the plants. This is a closed, constant flow system, which makes it perfect for a vertical tower hydroponic design.
Plants suitable for vertical Hydroponic gardening
The vertical hydroponics system lends itself very well to leafy green vegetables. The plants growing in vertical hydroponics system successfully are lettuces, cabbages (red and green), and herbs like basil, cilantro, mint, dill, and chives, spinach, kale (dwarf curly variety), broccoli and petunias.
Fast-growing plants and herbs are the best options for tower hydroponics. This includes leafy greens like Lettuce, Kale, Chard, Mustard greens, Collard Greens, Spinach
Other plants include Flowers, Cabbage, Basil, Cilantro, Mint, Dill, Chives, and Broccoli.
Fruits and some veggies can also be grown. These include;
Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Eggplants, Peppers, and Strawberries.
Vertical Hydroponic gardening setup
A vertical hydroponic set up where the plants have been stacked one upon the other is one of the most basic setups that you can simply assemble by yourself for your garden. This hydroponic set up is customized specifically for a backyard garden or a house set up. And because vertical hydroponics is easy to assemble and manage, you wouldn’t face many problems.
Though, there are a few things that you would need to pay attention to. The water flow in the stack has to be regulated so the plants are provided with the water adequately. You have to see to it that the lower plants do not drown. The supplement of light has to be carefully supervised. The hydroponics system thrives on light and that is why they must get adequate light. Adding to that, you have to take care of the nutrient mix that you will provide the plant with. If all these things are properly taken care of, and then you will have a successfully running backyard vertical hydroponic system that you won’t regret investing in.
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Hydroponic vertical garden ideas
Framed vertical Hydroponic system
A framed vertical hydroponic system can be easily assembled by carefully following the right instructions. This hydroponic set up allows for the growth of a large number of plants in limited space because of which production is a lot higher. Because there are several layers of pipes, the tubes required will also be more. Because the water flow is not just in one direction, the pumping system will be a little more complex than normal. But it’s not anything you can’t do.
Vertical Hydroponic tower
In a vertical hydroponic tower, the idea is to use a tube system with a pump to get water to the top layers. From there, use the assistance of gravity to channel the flow down to the reservoir. You can use a single tube to deliver water to the top level or use multiple channels to different layers for optimal delivery of water and nutrients. The plants are housed in net cups to allow the water to flow through the root systems. In a vertical hydroponic tower design, the plants are grown at an angle, typically around 45 degrees.
Zig – Zag Hydroponic vertical system
A zig-zag hydroponic system is a kind of vertical system that is very space-efficient and helps in higher production. With instruction and a few PVC pipes, you can easily build it by yourself for a garden. The pumping in such a system can be a little complicated, but once you figure it out, you will easily be able to further operate it. Such a hydroponic system can come in handy for the growth of many plants efficiently.
Not all vertical hydroponics systems need to use the vertical tower hydroponic design. Though, outdoor designs use multiple PVC pipes arranged on a trellis frame at diagonal angles. The pipes are in a compact zig-zag pattern going up. The plants are housed in net cups, placed in regular 90-degree angles and these systems also use NFT techniques to grow the plants. The water with nutrients is pumped to the top pipe, and from where it flows down in a constant stream. With an indoor system, artificial lighting is the main concern. Since the plants in a tower vertical hydroponic system are placed at an angle, the best option might be to use vertical grow lights. Panels hanging from the ceiling may not be ideal as all the plants are at different heights. The best method to circumvent is by using multiple vertically mounted lights to cover all the growing surfaces uniformly.
Rain Tower Hydroponics Set Up
A rain tower set up is the usual tall tube hydroponic vertical set up that is the most efficient. It makes sure that the water is very efficiently used. Other than water flow, this hydroponic set up provides no problem. Water flow too can easily be tackled. And the best part is, it can easily be set up.
Vertical Gutter garden
You can build a vertical hydroponic system by using the gutters and rainwater will be a huge help in this. It’s simple to build. It can easily be controlled and will also beautify your garden if placed in the right spot.
Set up a simple vertical hydroponic tower
You will need the following ingredients for this setup;
- A large PVC pipe (3 inches or greater diameter)
- End cap for the pipe
- A large bucket, minimum 5 gallons, with a lid
- Submersible pump
- Net pots, around a dozen
- Vinyl hose for the pump, ½ inch inner diameter
- LED Grow lights
You will also need the below basic tools A miter saw (or a hand saw should do the trick), A finely bladed jigsaw, Tape measure, A drill and various sized drill bits, Pencil and paper, Tape, and Ruler.
- Use the 5-gallon tub or bucket will be the reservoir. The PVC pipe will be located in the tub by making a proper sized hole in the lid.
- You can use any length of pipe depending on the height of the ceiling in the indoor grow area. For a standard tower, 5 feet seems like a safe choice.
- Then, mark the PVC pipe with slots where the net cups will be placed. And, you can use the entire 360-degree surface area of the pipe for this purpose.
- The holes drilled into the sides of the cup must be large enough to house one net cup. Plan the size of the net cups based on the size of the main PVC pipe.
- You can cut up smaller PVC pipes to make holders for the net cups and stick these to the sides of the main pipe to create 45 degree angled planters.
- Use the tubing and motor to deliver water to the top of the hydroponic tower. In a rain tower system, the water then percolates down through the inside of the pipe, delivering necessary nutrients to all the plants.
Disadvantages of vertical Hydroponics
Difficulties in water flow – In vertical hydroponics, because the plants are placed one above the other, the water needs to be delivered in a vertical form. To send the water to the top against the force of gravity you would need pumps with a higher power. And if the water is not constantly sent up, then it would collect at the bottom and too much of it will pose a danger of drowning the below plants.
Supplying light – Light in a hydroponic system is very essential. When setting up this hydroponic system outside, the issue of light is not much as it can easily be tackled by strategically arranging the net cups. Whereas, the indoor system is more tricky. All the levels of plants would require equal amounts of light at an equal distance and this can be solved by placing separate light panels that cater to the plants equally.
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