Types of Hydroponic Systems – Ultimate Learning Guide {2020 Updated}

In this article, I will reveal to you the six best Hydroponic System available out there. Hydroponic farming systems incorporate different soilless farming techniques to maximize production while saving on costs

I am going to explain how these hydroponic systems are used and under what circumstances so keep it here. So without more to tell, let me outline the list of hydroponic systems.

Best Hydroponic Systems Available

These are the most popular hydroponic system I will highlight in this article:

  • Drip Hydroponics System
  • Wicks Hydroponics Growing System
  • Water Culture System
  • Nutrient Film Technique System
  • Aeroponic System
  • Ebb and Flow Hydroponics System is also known as Flood and Drain System

Let’s dive deep into each of them; if you need to get the system immediately, you can go ahead and click on the buy now button which will take you to Amazon directly.

1. Drip Hydroponics System

drip hydroponic system

This is the most commonly used hydroponic system because of its simple and easily modifiable operation.

The chief operating principles of the Drip Hydroponics System are simple making it easy to use. Vital plant nutrients are dissolved in a water tank which becomes the nutrient reservoir that is kept away from plants.

The nutrient solution is then pumped through a network of drip irrigation pipes to individual plants.

The pump can be controlled by a timer – bypassing manual irrigation-hence making it possible to have regular and timed irrigation of the plants. When an emitter is attached at the end of each irrigation pipe, you can control the timing and amount of nutrients to each plant. This means you can plant a range of crops in the same system.

Subtypes in the drip hydroponic systems:

  • The recovery drip hydroponic system
    • In recovery drip systems, there’s a provision for recycling excess nutrients. The excess nutrient solution drains back into the nutrient reservoir making the system for efficiency. Recovery drip system requires a regular inspection as concentrations of nutrients diminish over time as they are taken up by crops.
  • non-recovery drip hydroponic system.
    • Non-recovery drip system does not recycle the excess nutrient solution. This type requires less maintenance as ph and nutrient levels remain constant. Non-recovery drip system also minimizes disease spread throughout different plants.
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Ebb and Flow hydroponic system (Flood and Drain system)

EBB Hydroponics System

Ebb and flow hydroponic system is also a favorite type of hydroponic system due to its relative simplicity in setting up and operating. Just like the drip hydroponic system, flood and drain system uses a reservoir tank full of nutrient solution.

The nutrient solution is pumped and flooded on the sprouting tray. After flooding, the pumped goes off, and the solution in the growing tray trickles back into the nutrient reservoir.

A timer in the pump is set to activate the pump, periodically flooding the crops on the growing tray. The timer can be configured to come on at different times depending on the type and size of plants, temperature and humidity and the growing medium used. Some growing medium such as gravel and perlite don’t hold water for long hence may need more frequent flooding than in other water-holding media such as rock wool, vermiculite, and coconut fiber.

Since the runoff filters back into the reservoir, the hydroponic system is shallow in maintenance and self-sufficient. On the downside, the nutrient solution in the reservoir tank needs a frequent inspection for optimal nutrient, oxygen, and ph levels.

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Wicks hydroponic growing system

This is the most basic type of hydroponic growing and is widely used in classroom instructional settings. This system uses a reservoir to hold the nutrient solution which is wicked up to the growing medium by capillary action.

In this system, it’s essential to use good wicking (water sucking and holding) growing media such as vermiculite, rock wool, perlite, or coco coir.

In the wick hydroponics system, the most critical component is the wick. For an efficient system, you need an excellent absorbent wick for the optimal delivery of nutrients to the plants. The conventional materials used in the wick systems include propylene felt strips, fibrous rope, tiki torch wicks, rayon rope, wool felt, polyurethane yarn, nylon rope, cotton rope, or pieces of fabric from old blankets.

The major downside with this system is that it doesn’t work for larger plants that require more substantial amounts of the nutrient solution since the wick can’t keep up with the delivery. The other con with the system is that it needs frequent flushing since excess nutrients might build up to toxic levels around the roots.

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Water Culture hydroponic system

Water Culture Hydroponics System

This is the oldest type of hydroponics and has been widely used for instructional purposes because of its technical simplicity. In hydroponic water culture systems, plants are suspended directly into the reservoir tank containing the nutrient solution. While the plants’ leaves are suspended above the floating Styrofoam, the roots are submerged into the nutrient solution.

Since the nutrient solution is stagnant in the reservoir, a pump is required to pump oxygen into the solution hence maintaining optimal oxygen levels.

There are four techniques used for aeration in this system:

  • Air bubbles: An aquarium air pump and air stones are used to introduce air bubbles into the nutrient solution. The airstones are made of a porous rock-like material with the small pores creating many individual air bubbles which rise to the top of the nutrient solution near the roots.
  • Falling water: In this version, falling water splashes hence incorporating oxygen. The higher the fall or, the larger the volume of water, the bigger the splash which means more oxygen is included and provided to the growing crops. This method of aeration is commonly used in commercial water culture where large amounts of water are used.
  • Circulating water culture system: This is a variation of the water culture system works on the same principle as flood and drain system only that the nutrient solution is never removed. Circulating water culture system allows the utilization of falling water as an aeration source.
  • Deep water culture (DWC): This is a variation of the water culture system with the only difference being the depth of the nutrient solution. In true DWC, the nutrient solution depth is 8 to 10 inches deep. The thickness of the solution is mostly determined by the size of the plant’s roots, nutrient and water requirement, or the type of container used.

Although the water culture system is quite technically simple, it can be limited in the range of crops that can grow in this system. Since the roots are submerged in the nutrient solution, some plants die off due to excess nutrients, and only water-loving plants such as lettuce do well in this system.

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Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) system

Nutrient Film Technique System

Although this system is popular with many hydroponic growers, it is only suited for growing quick-growing plants such as different types of green vegetables such as lettuce, baby greens, and other kinds of herbs.

In Nutrient Film Technique system, the nutrient solution is continuously pumped into the growing table or pipe which gently slopes to allow a gentle flow of the thin nutrient film which collects and drains back into the reservoir. The plant’s roots are suspended in the space in the growing table or pipe. The flowing nutrient solution passes beneath the roots dampening and giving them an opportunity to absorb dissolved nutrients and water.

This system allows a continuous supply of nutrient solution to the growing plants hence eliminates the need for a timer and thus needs less attention in controlling the system.

In NFT system, the flow rate of the nutrient solution and the slope gradient of the growing table or growing tubes are significant factors in nutrient delivery and overall efficiency of the system. The recommended slope of the growing table is 1:30 to 1:40 ratio, that means 1 inch in vertical drop for every 30 to 40 inches horizontal length. It’s recommended that in designing the system, the slope should be adjustable while plants are growing to keep up with the growing roots and avoid stagnation.

The recommended flow rate in the NFT system is typically 1-2 liters per minute for each growing tube. The flow rate should be adjustable as younger delicate plants require lower flow rate compared to bigger maturing crops. Flow rates (higher or lower) are usually associated with nutrient deficiencies.

Nutrient film technique is highly associated with power outages; hence regular pump and electrical maintenance are essential to avoid system failures where the roots may dry out rapidly.

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Aeroponic Hydroponic System

Aeropinics Hydroponics System

Although it is the most technical hydroponic system, aeroponic systems have been slated as the solution to future food shortages as it utilizes the least amount of water.

In this system, just like the NFT system, the plants’ roots are suspended in the air with their roots hanging in the air. The nutrient solution is pumped from the nutrient solution reservoir to high-pressure pump which is then sprayed with a mist over the hanging roots. This system ensures maximum oxygen availability to the roots. Because the misting provides less amount of nutrients than in other systems; hence the spraying takes place more frequently.

Due to the frequent circulation and spraying, the nutrient solution in this system is the most oxygenated resulting in faster growth and maturity rates of crops in the hydroponic, aeroponic farming system.

This technology is looking promising for future food production because the system offers the possibility of growing crops vertically thereby maximizing output in a small area.

Tower Garden

The primary factor affecting the aeroponic growing system is the size of the droplets. Roots sprayed with fine-small droplets grow much faster and with a larger surface area for absorption of nutrients than roots sprayed with large water droplets like in sprinkler heads.

There are three subtypes of aeroponic growing system categorized according to the water droplet size.

  1. Low-pressure aeroponic system (soakaponics): Although they aren’t the most efficient of aeroponics systems- because of large droplets-they are the most popular aeroponic systems because of their low cost and don’t require much in terms of specialized equipment. This system is usually uneconomical in large-scale growing.
  2. High-pressure aeroponic systems (true aeroponics): Although high-pressure systems are expensive and technically complicated, they are the most efficient aeroponic systems. In these systems, the nutrient solution is highly pressurized (60-90 psi) to atomize the solution into a fine mist with a tiny droplet size. In high-pressure systems, the roots get maximum oxygen and nutrients resulting in faster crop growth and maturity.
  3. Ultrasonic foggers: Ultrasonic foggers are used to generate mist. These foggers are usually used in creating visual displays on ponds or stage. Although they are capable of producing cloud, there is very little actual moisture in the fog. The other downside with ultrasonic foggers is that the mist seems to drop to the bottom making it difficult to ensure the roots are covered by the mist at all times.

Deep Water Culture (DWC) Ultimate Guide {2020}

What is Deep Water Culture System

What is a Deep Water Culture System?

Deep water culture is a hydroponic farming technique where plant roots are submerged in the nutrient and oxygen-rich water solution at all times. This system is the most popular hydroponic system for beginners and classroom instructional purposes due to its technical simplicity.

DWC hydroponic farming system consists of plants whose roots extend from a net pot that is suspended from a lid with the roots hanging into the nutrient solution in the reservoir container. An air pump and airstone are used to aerate the nutrient solution.

The diffused oxygen allows your plant roots to take up maximum amounts of nutrients resulting in accelerated growth. The accelerated oxygenation of the roots improves water nutrient absorption which leads to accelerated cell growth. Efficient nutrient absorption leads to reduced amounts of growth fertilizers used compared to other systems.

It is called deep water culture mainly because of two reasons, one is because of the deep nutrient reservoir which stores a large amount of nutrient rich water.

The second reason it is called deep water culture is because of how much root is submerged in the nutrient rich water. The roots are going to stay in water on a 24hrs basis.

The DWC system is a fairly simple and straightforward design. This type of hydroponic farming system can be built with readily available equipment available online or at your local hardware store. It’s also an inexpensive to build and operate.

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What Plants Grow Best in a Deep Water Culture System?

The system is usually suitable for growing greens such as lettuce and other long-term crops such as,

  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes with proper support
  • Basil
  • Okra
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Sorrel
  • Chard
  • Bok Choy

 

Pros of Deep Water Culture.

  • Boosted Growth due to nutrient water and oxygen.
  • Better cell growth of the plant.
  • Lower consumption of fertilizer.
  • Easy and most efficient way of hydroponic farming.
  • Easy to maintain.
  • Mobile method.
  • Fast growing time.

Quick Setup Guide on Deep Water Culture (DWC)

To set up a deep water culture hydroponics system, you will need the following materials;

  1. Reservoir
  2. Plastic Grow Cups/ Net Cups
  3. Grow Media/Medium
  4. Air Pump & Tubing
  5. Air Stones
  6. Hydroponic Nutrients
  7. Thermometer and ph testing kit

All of the materials used in this build are available on amazon. Below I’ve provided links to the specific materials I used to build my system. For a more simple startup I’ve also included a link to a ready to go system, just add plants and sunshine. We are now going to focus on each step.

  1. ReservoirThe Reservoir used for Deep Water Culture should be food grade so they don’t release harmful toxins into the water under UV light and high heat. They also have some other properties which are suited for this particular growing technique. The reservoir should not be transparent and also be algae resistant. The reservoir should also be big enough (minimum 5 gallon bucket) for storing enough of the nutrient rich water. If you are doing this for your own interests or as a hobby you may buy a single bucket or small reservoir. Otherwise a 4 – 8 bucket system or larger reservoir is recommended for a new setup.
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Plastic Grow Cups/ Net CupsThese cups hold the plants on the floating platform. It’s recommended to use tapered cups with a wide rim to prevent them from falling into the solution. The net cups or the grow cups should be UV resistant and highly durable for the better growth.

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Growing Media or MediumGrowing mediums that can be used include rock wool, vermiculite, perlite or clay pellets. In addition to supporting the young and delicate roots and stems, the medium performs wicking functions during early plant development to move nutrients to the higher parts of the roots.

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Air Pump and TubingAn air pump is extremely critical and important to the DWC system because the nutrient solution is stagnant and needs constant aeration to add oxygen and prevent the plants from suffocating. In the DWC system, the air pump works 24/7 and a power outage may cause detrimental effects on your crops. Aeration of the water leads to proper bubbling in the reservoir which promotes an even mix up of nutrients and oxygen to the roots.

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Air Line/Tubing This creates the connection between the external air pump and the submerged air stone. The size and length of the tubing depends on the pump size and the distance from the pump to the air stone respectively.

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Air Stones- This is a highly porous air diffuser that is submerged into the nutrient solution which evenly diffuses air into the solution for plant uptake. Air stones are available in all aquarium stores and the size depends on the size of your system and the size of the air pump.

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Hydroponics Nutrients- These are trace elements, fertilisers, and other growth supplements that are essential for healthy plant development. These may either be the commercial premixed hydroponic fertilisers or homemade organic fertilisers.

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Thermometer and pH Testing Kit- These are important in maintaining the best environment for optimal plant growth. Since the nutrient solution is covered, the solution temperature tends to rise while ph varies widely. Water temperature and ph are essential factors in proper plant growth.

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Lighting If you intend to set up your deep water culture hydroponic system indoors, it’s essential that you consider proper lighting for good plant growth. Garden system size and the plant growth phase determine how many light fixtures and what wattage is needed. The common types of lighting used in commercial setups include high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps during the growth phase and high-pressure sodium (HPS) during bloom to maximize yields. Multi-spectrum LED grow lights perform well in a small home system.

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How to Build a Simple Deep Water Culture System

Tools required in preparing the hydroponic deep water culture (DWC) setup include sharp cutting tools, tape measures, and a marker.

  1. Using a tape measure, measure the dimensions of the reservoir. Using the measurements, cut a piece of floater Styrofoam a quarter-inch smaller than the reservoir’s dimensions; this is to allow the floater to move up and down with the changing solution level.
  2. Place the grower cups on the foam, using a pencil, trace the bottom of the pots on the Styrofoam. Using a sharp knife, cut out the holes on the Styrofoam. Ensure that the grower cups hang just below the Styrofoam but don’t fall through.
  3. On one edge of the Styrofoam cut out a hole for the airline.
  4. Add water to the reservoir and mix the nutrient solution as per the instructions by the fertilizer manufacturer. Check the ph of the solution and adjust accordingly. It’s important to note that ph requirements vary from one crop to another.
  5. Attach the airline from the air pump to the air stone and then place the air stone at the bottom of the nutrient reservoir. Switch on the pump to make sure the air stone is releasing air bubbles.
  6. Add the growing medium of your choice along with one plant into each cup. The medium should not fall through the holes in the cup.
  7. Place the floater Styrofoam on the surface of the nutrient solution. Place the grow cups to their designated holes on the Styrofoam platform.

Pro tips for maintenance of Deep Water Culture

  1. Regularly monitor the root growth. Once the root system is long and robust lower the solution level to prevent overfeeding.
  2. Monitor the temperature. The recommended nutrition solution temperature is 62-68 oF (17-21oC). Too much heat reduces dissolved oxygen in the solution while low temperatures lower the plant’s metabolism.
  3. Monitor dissolved oxygen level. You can monitor dissolved oxygen using an oxygen meter.
  4. Checking the pH regularly helps in controlling growth in the various growth stages. For example, a pH of 6.0-6.3 is for vegetative growth while 5.7-5.9 is optimal for flowering and fruiting.
  5. Check the nutrient solution regularly to prevent starving off the plants topping up when needed. It is recommended to refill with pure water during the first refill to prevent nutrient build-up. During the second refill, the reservoir is drained and then refilled with fresh solution.

Enjoy this video on how to set up a deep water culture system –

The Ultimate Guide to Hydroponics Farming in 2020

Updated on  25th March 2020

The history of hydroponics farming can be traced back to 1627 with Francis Bacon’s work on water culture.

However, it was not until around 1929 when a University of California at Berkeley scientist, William Frederick Gericke began to publicly promote the use of solution culture in agricultural production.

The earliest large-scale success of hydroponic farming was in the 1930s on Wake Island, a rocky island in the Pacific Ocean used as a refueling station for Pan American Airlines.

Hydroponics farming techniques were used extensively in the soilless island to grow vegetables for airline passengers.

In this guide, you will learn what hydroponics are, the benefits, different systems, and also the tools you need to get started.

What is Hydroponics Farming

Hydroponics, by definition(Wikipedia), is a way of growing plants in a nutrient-rich, water-based solution. Under this technology, the use of soil is forfeited and instead, the root system is anchored by water or an inert medium such as rock wool, perlite, peat moss, clay pellets or vermiculite.

The basic principle behind the technology is allowing plant roots to come into direct contact with the nutrient-rich solution, while still being able to sufficiently access oxygen which is vital for healthy growth and development of the plant. In its simplest, hydroponics is gardening without soil.

Hydroponics

Benefits of Hydroponics Farming

Hydroponic Farming is an ideal choice for any grower regardless of their scale of production. It is an excellent choice because it gives you the freedom to control and vary the factors that affect the growth of plants.

And truth be told, a fine-tuned hydroponic system will easily outdo a soil-based system in terms of yield, quality and the amount of space required to produce.

Politics and sentiments aside, if you are interested in growing the juiciest, yummiest and biggest plants in your neighbourhood, hydroponics will come in handy.

The whole undertaking might seem intimidating at the beginning but the end results are worth the money, time and effort.

The golden rule is to start small and be simple – then watch your system make your gardening dreams come true.

Advantages of hydroponics

If you are still not convinced, here are a few reasons you should consider starting a hydroponics garden.

  1. More yields – Hydroponics farming comes with many benefits, however, none of them is more prominent than the fact it increases the productivity of your plants. In a fine-tuned hydroponic system, plants will produce 30% more when compared to plants grown directly on the soil.
  2. Quicker growth -In a hydroponics farming environment, plants have the leverage to grow faster because they don’t have to work extra hard to reach nutrients. Even a small root system will sufficiently deliver enough nutrients to any plant. Therefore, plants are able to concentrate on growing upwards instead of expanding their root systems to reach deeper nutrients and water. Plants under this technology will grow 25% faster than oil-based ones.
  3. Water-saving -Since a hydroponic system isn’t open, it results in less evaporation. Plants are therefore able to utilize less water than soil-based ones making the technology environmentally friendly.
  4. Year-round production -With hydroponics, you’ve got control of the seasons. There are no longer limitations on when you can sow or harvest your plants since the whole system is in a controlled environment. Even when winter hits hard or summer burns itself out, they are guaranteed a bountiful harvest.
  5. No yard required -If you are not privileged enough to have a backyard where you can grow a few plants, it should come as a reprieve to know that it is possible to build a hydroponic garden indoors. You can transform that extra space in your house to a steady source of homegrown veggies and flowers.
  6. Less labor requirement – Hydroponics farming is capital intensive. This implies that they require less human labor. You do not have to weed the plants not forgetting that most systems are automated

Hydroponic Systems Overview

deep water culture

 

The good thing about hydroponics farming is its versatility. I mean, there is a wide variety of Hydroponics Systems to choose from. The decision here depends on your budget, needs, plants you want to grow and the space you are willing to give up for the project.

1. Deep Water Culture System

The Deepwater culture or the reservoir method is by far the simplest and easiest hydroponic system to set up. Under this system, roots are suspended in a nutrient-rich solution while an air pump oxygenates the solution to prevent the roots from drowning.

If you feel that this is the system for you, keep light from penetrating inside because it will encourage the growth of algae, which will eventually destroy your system.

The advantage of using this system is its low maintenance requirements. Unlike other systems, there are no spray emitters or drip lines to unclog.

This property makes it an ideal choice for organic hydroponics because the use of organic nutrients is susceptible to clogs and breakdowns.

Best Complete Deep Water Culture Systems

Follow the link to find more information on the Deep Water Culture System.

Also, check out best deep water culture kits reviews for more valuable information

2. Nutrient Film Technique

The Nutrient Film Technique is a type of hydroponic system where there is a continuous and steady flow of nutrients over the tips of plant roots. The system is slightly tilted so that the nutrient concentrate can flow by the force of gravity.

This way, plant roots are able to absorb more oxygen from the air than the solution. The technique is effective because plants are able to absorb more oxygen.

3. Aeroponics

Under this method, roots are suspended in the air then misted with a nutrient-rich solution. There are two ways nutrients can are sprayed on the roots.

The first method uses a spray nozzle to deliver nutrients. While the second one uses a pond flogger. If you opt for a pond flogger, ensure that it is Teflon coated. This will reduce its maintenance requirements.

If you are out for a good Aeroponics system, check out the AeroGarden. It is a commercialized Aeroponics system with very little setup requirements.

The system also comes with all the supplies and tools you need to get started.

4. Wick Hydroponics System

This is one of the most affordable and easiest hydroponics systems to have. The idea behind Wick Hydroponics System is having an absorbent material such as cloth surrounded with a growing medium such as peat moss or vermiculite then dipping one of its ends into a nutrient-rich solution.

The rich solution will then be wicked to your plants’ roots.

The system can be simplified by getting rid of the wicking material then replacing it with an anchoring medium that has the capacity to wick nutrients to your plants.

This can be accomplished by directly suspending the medium into a solution rich in nutrients. Keep away from mediums such as coconut coir and Rockwool because these can absorb too much of the nutrients and end up suffocating your plants.

5. Ebb & Flow System

This Hydroponics Farming system is also known as flood and drain and boasts as one of the most effective ways to grow a plant under hydroponics. The system is programmed to flood plant roots with a nutrient-rich solution at specific intervals. After some time, the solution seeps back to the reservoir awaiting the next round of applications.

The pump is normally connected to a timer. Therefore, the process repeats itself automatically.

This system is ideal for plants that require regular dry spells. Such plants flourish under regular dry periods because it allows them to grow deeper roots. As the root system becomes bigger, these plants are able to absorb more nutrients in very short periods of time.

6. Drip Irrigation System

drip irrigation

The drip irrigation system is simple. It works by slowly feeding a hydroponic medium with nutrients. If you decide to go for this system, go for slow draining mediums such as coconut coir, Rockwool or even peat moss. If these are out of your options, you can still stick with quick-draining mediums but be sure to use quicker drip emitters.

The only problem with drip irrigation systems is that they are prone to clogging. However, if clogging is not a bother to you, it is a cheap and effective hydroponic method to grow plants.

Must-Have Hydroponics Tools

If you are new to hydroponics, you will need tools to get you started. Although there are different types of hydroponic systems, the tools used are more or less similar.

1. Growing Chamber

hydroponics growing chamber

The growing chamber is part of the hydroponic system where plant roots develop. In simple terms, it is the container that holds the roots, nutrient concentrate, and provides support to the entire plant.

Protect this chamber from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures since these can cause heat stress to the plants. If the growing chamber is exposed to high temperatures, plants will suffer from heat stress and end up aborting flowers and fruits.

The shape and size of this compartment will depend on the hydroponic system you are building as well as the plants you are looking forward to growing.

Plants with bigger roots will demand a big growing chamber while those with small ones will be contented with a small one. Options are endless and almost any container will make a good growing chamber.

However, it is advisable to keep away from anything metallic because most metals are prone to corrosion or will easily reach the nutrient concentrate.

If you can’t buy a commercial growing chamber, look around your homestead and you will be surprised by how many things you can transform into one.

However, if you feel that you need something commercial and stylish, here are a few growing chambers to take into consideration.

Check our best selling and reliable growing chambers

2. Reservoir

hydroponics reservoir tank , hydroponicsbase.com

As the name goes, this is the part of the hydroponic system responsible for holding the nutrient concentrate. This solution is usually a mix of plant nutrients and water.

Depending on the choice of your hydroponic system, the nutrient solution can either be pumped from the reservoir into the growing chamber in timed cycles or continuously.

In other systems, the reservoir also functions as the grow chamber, allowing plants to suspend their roots in the nutrient concentrate 24/7.

You can fashion a reservoir out of anything that holds water as long as there are no leaks and it can hold enough water for the plants you want to grow. It also has to be light proof to prevent sunlight from penetrating.

If the container you have is not light-proof, there are many ways of making opaque. You can paint it, cover it or wrap it with an opaque material. The idea here is to prevent algae from growing in the container. If you are not the DIY type, commercial reservoirs are also available.

3. Submersible Pump

submerisble pump for hydroponics

Most systems have a submersible pump that is responsible for pumping the nutrient-rich solution from the reservoir into the root zone or growing chamber.

They are available at hydroponic shops or home improvement stores that deal with garden supplies. These pumps are available in a wide array of sizes. The option here depends on the size of your project.

Submersible pumps are nothing more than impellers that use electromagnetic fields to spin and pump water. They are easy to maintain. Most of the time you only have to clean the filter. And if yours never came with one, make one easily by cutting a piece of the furnace filter that seamlessly fits the pump.

The filter and the pump need frequent cleaning to ensure that the flow of nutrients is never obstructed.

 

4. Delivery system

A delivery system isn’t more than what its name suggests. Its role is to deliver nutrients directly to the plant roots. The whole concept is very simple and highly customizable to fit any hydroponic system.

A normal delivery system will consist of standard PVC tubes and connectors, black or blue vinyl tubing and garden irrigation tubing connectors.

Depending on the choice of your hydroponic system, you can opt to use sprayers and emitters as part of your nutrient delivery system. Though these will be useful, you should be prepared for frequent clogging as a result of nutrient build-up. Try avoiding them as much as possible.

 

5. Timer

Not all hydroponics farming systems require a timer to operate. The question of if to use or not use a timer will be answered by the nature of the hydroponic system you are building and its location.

If your system is going to be indoors where you have to use artificial lighting, you will need a timer to turn the light system on and off. For drain, flood, Aeroponics and drip systems, a timer controls the submersible pump.

However, some versions of Aeroponics will require special timers to work efficiently. Some of the best timers under this category include:

Though standard pump and light timers work well, it is highly advisable to go for a timer that is rated 15 amperes instead of 10. 15 amp timers are often heavy duty and have a cover that protects them from the water.

Just check the back of the package to make sure you have made the right choice.

Unless you have a battery backup, digital timers are not recommended over analog ones simply because they lose all their data once unplugged from a power source.

Analog timers also have more actual on and off settings. Be sure to check that your timer has pinned all around the dial to avoid regrets.

For your reference, you can check top-selling hydroponic timers on amazon by clicking the link below.

Hydroponic timers

6. Air Pump


Though not compulsory in all hydroponic systems, air pumps come with numerous benefits. They are also relatively inexpensive and widely available in stores that sell aquarium supplies.

Their role is to ensure a steady supply of oxygenated air to the water and roots in the growing chamber. They pump air through airlines into air stones which created bubbles that bubble up through the nutrient-rich solution.

In a water culture hydroponic system, an air pump will prevent the roots from drowning in the solution since they are suspended in there 24/7. For other hydroponic systems, air pumps are fitted in the reservoirs to keep the water oxygenated and also increase the levels of dissolved oxygen in the water.

Using air pumps also keeps the nutrients and water in constant circulation. This ensures that the nutrients are evenly distributed at any given time. Supplying oxygen in the water also discourages the growth of microbes and pathogens.

 

7. Grow Lights

 

Grow lights are an optional part of hydroponic systems. Depending on where you plan to put your hydroponic system and grow your plants. You could choose to either use natural sunlight, or artificial light to grow your plants with. If you can make use of it we prefer natural sunlight, it’s is free and doesn’t require any extra equipment.

However, if there just isn’t enough natural sunlight where you put your hydroponic system, or at that time of year, you’ll need to use at least some artificial light to grow your plants.

Note that grow lights are not similar to your standard household bulbs. They are designed to emit specific color spectrums that mimic natural sunlight.

Plants use these color wavelengths (spectrums) to photosynthesize. Photosynthesis is vital in the process of flower and fruit formation.

Therefore, the type and intensity of sunlight a plant gets by large, impacts its ability to photosynthesize.

8. Growing Medium

 

This is basically where the plants grow in. the growing medium is responsible for providing physical support to the plants. Think of it as soil, only that in this situation it is inert.

Different hydroponic systems will demand different types of growing mediums. For instance, in an Aeroponics system, the growing medium is air while other systems use Rockwool, peat moss or lava stone.

All in all, a good growing medium should have the capacity to retain moisture, in such a way that water doesn’t have to be applied minute after minute.

 

9. PH Test Kit

For plants to thrive in a hydroponic environment, the PH level has to be balanced. A PH test kit will help you determine if the PH level of your nutrient solution is optimal. If it is too low, Olivia’s pH Adjuster Up’ will help bring it up and if too high Olivia’s pH Adjuster Down’ will help bring it down.

Starting Your First Hydroponic Garden

Now that you’ve learned too much, it’s time to fold up the sleeves, put on some gumboots and start growing. Planning for your hydroponic garden isn’t any different from the traditional soil garden. A little pre-planning will mean less trouble throughout your growing season. And here’s how to get started in 7 simple steps.

1. Decide What to Grow

The first thing when starting a hydroponic garden is determining what you want to grow. This will help you choose the best hydroponic system, the amount of space available and the best light source. Different hydroponic systems will work better with different types of plants.

If this is your first time using hydroponics, it is advisable to start with a less demanding crop like lettuce. However, bear in mind that different plants will perform better under different climatic conditions. Do your homework and determine the best crops to plant in your geographical location.

2. Select an ideal Hydroponic system

After deciding on the plants you want to grow, you will be in a better position to choose an ideal hydroponic system. Apart from the type of crops to grow, there are also other factors to be taken into consideration. Your budget, the number of crops to grow and the space available will all come handy in choosing an ideal hydroponic system.

3. Choose a light source

Adequate sunlight is an important factor in determining the success or failure of your garden. If sunlight is not an option for you, you’ll have to provide light for your plants using artificial grow lights. If this is the case, you have to choose the right to grow light for your hydroponic system. Several factors should also be taken into consideration. For example, the coverage area, light intensity, and cost. If you are high-quality produce, go for the sun and if you can’t, stick with artificial light.

4. Choose a growing medium

Unlike in a soil garden, you have to determine the best growing medium to use in your hydroponics garden. The type of the medium will depend on the crops you are planning on growing and the system itself. Like we have seen, several types of grow mediums exist. When choosing one, the following factors should be taken into consideration. PH stability, water retention, cost, and aeration.

5. Buy the right additives and hydroponic nutrients

Different types of nutrients are available in 1, 2, and 3 part systems. If you are a beginner or not yet familiar with hydroponics, it is advisable to stick with a 1 part nutrient like Dyna–Gro Bloom and Dyna–Gro Grow.

If you are a veteran with some knowledge of hydroponic plant nutrients 3 part series nutrients are perfect for general hydroponics. Most companies will have a feeding schedule on their websites. So be sure to check them out.

There are also additives that will help you in sterilizing your hydroponic system, improving the taste of your products and boosting their growth rate. Think of them as multivitamins in human beings. Though not necessary, they will help you increase your yield.

6. Buy a PH meter

Plants will only absorb nutrients at a certain PH level. Therefore, you need to regularly test the PH of your concentrate solution. There are several options when it comes to measuring PH. You can buy test strips, liquid kits or even electronic meters. I prefer electronic meters because they are convenient and inexpensive.

Don’t forget to buy a PH down and PH up solution set to adjust the PH of the nutrient solution accordingly. Most of the time, you will be using the PH up

7. Start your seeds

Once you have your system all set up, and all the supplies for the growing season are in store, it is time to sow your seeds. If you can, gather your supplies before in advance to avoid delays. When starting seeds, it is advisable to use a rapid rooter then placing it in a dome-shaped greenhouse for the seeds to sprout. Seedlings can be left in the tray until they have attained enough root system to be transplanted into the growing chamber of the hydroponic system.

You can check out starter seed kits on amazon

Useful Hydroponics Farming Tips

 

Keep the following in mind when doing Hydroponics Farming:

  • It is strongly recommended that you change your nutrient solution every 2 or three weeks.
  • Water temperatures in your water reservoir should be between 65 and 75 degrees. Temperatures can be maintained by using a water chiller or heater.
  • Using an air stone pump will help in oxygenating your nutrient solution to reduce the risk of plants drowning
  • If your plants look discolored, unhealthy or stunt, check the PH level and adjust it. If the PH level is okay, flush the entire system with a detoxifying solution like Clear.
  • After every growing season, clean and sterilize the whole growing system. Get rid of any debris and flush the entire system with a mix of non-chlorinated water.
  • Since a hydroponic system isn’t open, it results in less evaporation. Plants are therefore able to utilize less water than soil-based ones making the technology environmentally friendly.

Final Words

 

As we come to the end of this growing guide, it is my hope that you have learned a thing or two regarding hydroponics. With this knowledge, nothing can stop you from enjoying fresh homegrown veggies and flowers. Until next season, I wish you all the best in your growing endeavors.

You can check the best starter hydroponic kits on amazon by going on the link mentioned below.

 

>>Best Hydroponic Starter Kits for 2020<<

Best Hydroponic Drip System – Ultimate Guide {Updated 2020}

Updated on – 03 Jan 2020

The working principles behind the hydroponic drip irrigation system are that they are relatively easy to setup hence their popularity. The drip system consists of a grow tray holding several grow cups and is separate from the solution reservoir.

A Submersible Water Pump pumps nutrient-rich solution from the reservoir through a drip irrigation network to the grow cups. Each drip line ends at the base of each plant thereby emitting the solution next to plant reducing moisture wastage.

The grow tray has a draining outlet allowing the system to recycle excess nutrient moisture. The excess nutrient solution drains back into the nutrient reservoir making the system for efficiency. Drip Hydroponic System requires regular inspection as concentrations of nutrients diminish over time as they are gradually absorbed by the crops.

The beauty of this hydroponic farming system is that you can control the amount and rate of delivery of the nutrient solution to different crops enabling you to grow different plants on the same grow tray.

Drip Hydroponic System Supplies or Starter Kits

1. Flood Tray

This is a large tray that holds the grow pots. The tray is used to collect excess nutrient solution and drains it back to the nutrient solution reservoir. The size of the flood tray depends on the number of plants you intend to plant.

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Super Sprouter Quad Thick Propagation Tray - 10" x 20"
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  • They Are Four Times The Thickness Or Regular 10 X 20 Trays
  • No Need To Use Multiple Trays To Gain Strength When One Quad Thick Tray Will Do The Trick

2. Nutrient Solution Reservoir

This reservoir can be any non-transparent container big enough to hold the nutrient solution. If the container is transparent, paint it black leaving a clear vertical line for monitoring nutrient solution levels.

Botanicare 707155 resevoir, 40 Gallon
  • Designed For Excellent Performance And Easy Maintenance, Botanicare'S Premium Reservoirs Are True Capacity With Exceptional Durability
  • These Reservoirs Are A Reincarnation Of Botanicare'S Original Reservoir Offering With The Benefits Of Our Low Profile Reservoirs/Eazy...
  • They Include Front And Side Bulkhead Ports To Accommodate An Internal Pump And Allow Multiple Reservoirs To Be Joined In Line Or...

3. Submersible Water Pump

A submersible water pump is used to pump the nutrient solution to the manifold which in turn spreads it to the drip network. The power of the water pump depends on the size of the growing area. You should invest in a powerful pump if you are planning on expanding the capacity of the growing area in the future.

The pump should be fitted with a water filter to prevent debris from clogging the drip network and the pump itself.

Simple Deluxe 1056 GPH Submersible Pump with 15' Cord, Water Pump for Fish Tank, Hydroponics,...
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4. External Air Pump, Air Tube, and Air Stone

Although the nutrient solution is circulating, the use of an air pump ensures that the nutrient solution is well oxygenated. An air stone is used to diffuse air into the nutrient solution. The size and number of the air pumps and air stones depend on the amount of nutrient solution in the reservoir.

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Uniclife Aquarium Air Pump 4 Watt 4-LPM 2 Outlets with Accessories, Adjustable Oxygen Pump for...
  • Uniclife Adjustable aquarium air pump is perfect for both Freshwater and Marine Aquariums.
  • 4Watt, 4-LPM, Pressure: 0.016Mpa.
  • Adjustable flow rate with 2 outlets, fit for fish tanks from 20-gallon to 100-gallon.

5. Drip Tubing and Manifold

These make the bulk of the hydroponic system, and they include delivery lines, drip lines, drain lines, and connector manifold. It’s recommended you use half-inch light-proof black vinyl tubing to prevent the growth of algae which could eventually clog the drip system. The polyvinyl pipe uses simple barbed manifold connectors that fit comfortably and tightly using PVC cement. The length of the tubing should be equal to the distance from the water pump to the plants and the size of the growing area.

HOMENOTE 1/4 inch Blank Distribution Tubing Drip Irrigation Hose, 42.6ft Drip Irrigation Line for...
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Raindrip 13800UB Hydro-Port 8 Port Watering Manifold
  • Manifold
  • Converts traditional underground sprinkler system into a micro irrigation drip system
  • Waters up to 8 plants with one unit

6. Water emitters/drippers

The water drippers allow you to control the amount of nutrient solution delivered to each plant. In simple systems, one can forego the emitters by drilling small holes on the delivery tubing. But if you intend to grow different crops on your system, it’s recommended you use emitters to ensure optimal nutrient delivery according to the individual crop’s needs.

Rain Bird SW20-30PS Drip Irrigation Spot Watering Dripper/Emitter, 2 Gallon Per Hour, 30-Pack
  • 2.0 gallon per hour pressure-compensating emitter delivers same uniform flow rate from beginning to end of tubing runs
  • Slow watering rate allows soil to absorb water more completely in the root zones of plants
  • Self-piercing design; use with 1/4" Drip tubing or insert into 1/2" or larger Drip tubing

7. Growing medium

Some suitable growing media for hydroponic drip systems include rock wool, coco coir, perlite-vermiculite mix or hydroton rocks. These hold and support the plant’s roots.

The choice of growing medium determines the drip irrigation cycle. For example, rock wool needs irrigation once every 3-5 hours while hydroton rocks are suitable for continuous dripping.

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1.5" Rockwool Starter Plugs, 2 Sheets of 49 Plugs (98 Plugs Total) + Twin Canaries Chart
  • Made from molten rock spun into cotton candy-like fibers and then compressed into cubes, blocks, or slabs
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  • Seedlings or cuttings started in the Grodan cubes can also be transplanted into more traditional planters and growing mediums

8. Drip System Controllers

These include pressure regulators, flow valves, and timers. It’s possible to get by without these in a simple beginner system, but they are critical in larger, more complicated setups.

Timers regulate drip irrigation. It helps in automatically turning the pump on and off at regular time intervals.

The flow valves and pressure regulators let you monitor and control the flow rate of the nutrient solution throughout the system.

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Rain Bird 1ZEHTMR Professional Grade Electronic Digital Hose End Timer/Controller, One Zone/Station,...
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  • Instant override buttons for "Cancel Watering" (also acts as up to a 96-hour rain delay) and "Water Now" (manual watering)

9. Hydroponic Nutrients

These can be either premixed or homemade organic essential water-soluble nutrients needed by the crops. There are many different options available for nutrient solutions, I’ve put together an article to help you decide which is best for your plants and setup

Read more about the Best Hydroponic Nutrients to learn which will be the right one for you.

10. Temperature and pH test kit

The thermometer and pH test kit are used in monitoring the temperature and pH of the nutrient solution. This ensures the solution is in a conducive state for optimal absorption by the roots. PH adjusters are used to adjusting the pH of the solution either up or down as needed.

VIVOSUN pH and TDS Meter Combo, 0.05ph High Accuracy Pen Type pH Meter +/- 2% Readout Accuracy...
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Other tools needed in setting up the drip system include a drill, cutters, filter material, shovels, tape measures, and PVC glue.

How to assemble a simple hydroponic drip system

  • Using a drill, drill a hole on one end of the bottom of the flood/grow tray. This hole connects the drain line from the grow tray to a hole in the lid of the solution reservoir. Cover the hole with filter cloth to prevent grow medium from falling through to the reservoir.
  • Fill the grow tray with well-draining media such as rock pebbles. The grow tray is placed in an elevated area to allow draining by gravity.
  • Fill the grow pots with more water-holding media such as rock wool or perlite-vermiculite mix. Place a single plant in each of the grow pots and place them in the flood tray. Remember to use the recommended spacing guidelines.
  • If the solution chamber is transparent, paint it black to make it light-proof. Remember to scratch off a vertical line that will serve as the level meter.
  • Drill a 1″ hole on each end of the lid of the reservoir. One hole is for the airline from the air pump to the air stone and electric cord to the submersible water pump. The other hole is for the tubing delivering the nutrient solution from the pump to the manifold.
  • Cut out another hole on the lid of the drain line from the grow tray. The drain line holes can be as many as the drain pipes.
  • Connect the line from the water pump to the manifold.
  • Connect each drip line from the manifold to the respective grow pots in the grow tray. The drip lines should already be fitted with drip emitters.
  • Fill up the reservoir with nutrient solution and then test and adjust the pH accordingly.
  • Place the submersible water pump and air stone in the reservoir and connect the lines accordingly.
  • Connect the water pump to the timer’s power outlet to start your drip hydroponic system.

Drip System Hydroponics Irrigation Maintenance Tips

  • The most common problem with the system is clogging. Clogging is caused by debris in the drip system. This is solved by cleaning and flushing your water filters and drip lines. The water filters should be replaced regularly to ensure optimal functioning.
  • Since the system relies so much on external power, prolonged power outages can starve the crops to death. This small beginner system can be protected with a small UPS (uninterrupted power supply), but large commercial systems require an automatic alternative power source such as a generator.
  • Monitor the nutrient solution regularly. Check the temperature and pH and adjust accordingly. Refill the reservoir as frequently as needed and flush the system occasionally.