Hydroponics is a fun way to grow food and plants indoors without lots of work or money. This post will show you 2 easy hydroponics gardens for beginners and includes great tips for seasoned hydroponic gardeners.
What is Hydroponics?
It is simply a way of growing plants without using soil. Instead of soil, you use a water and nutrient solution.
Why grow with Hydroponic gardens?
Hydroponic gardens produce bigger, healthier plants without any of the diseases that typically affect many soil plants.
Because the water and nutrients are so easily accessed by the roots, plants don’t need to fight thru soil to find what they need. This fact allows hydroponic plants to grow as much as 35% bigger than soil plants.
Your plants will be healthier because they get all the nutrients they need. It is very easy to adjust the nutrients as your plant’s needs change.
The greatest thing is that there is much less disease with hydroponic gardens. Many of the typical diseases that affect plants are soil-born. Things like leaf spots, fruit rot, and root rot are all caused by a fungus, bacteria, and other organisms that live in the soil.
Starting Hydroponic Gardens you need to keep these things in mind:
Plants need air
Everyone knows this however did you know that the roots of your plants need air also? Soil plants get air to the roots thru the small air pockets in healthy light soil. Hydroponic plants get air by putting an air stone in your system. These are the same air stones found in any fish tank. All hydroponic systems will need an air stone except one. There is a hydroponic that does not need an air stone. That’s the Kratky method. These systems are easy for beginners and don’t need any electricity to use.
Your indoor hydroponic gardens need Light
There are lots of different ways to give your plants the light they need.
Your hydroponic plants need the same light as soil plants. Many plants will do well in a very sunny window. If you have limited sunlight then it is best to add some grow lighting to your garden.
You can use a mix of both grow lighting and natural lighting. The important thing is that your plants get the type and duration of light they need to thrive.
Your hydroponic gardens will need nutrients
Hydroponic plants need to get their nutrients from a nutrient solution. These are very similar to the fertilizers that are used in a soil garden. They contain the same nutrients.
The main differences between soil fertilizers and hydroponic nutrients are the strength and whether the nutrients will stay suspended in water.
To make it easy for hydroponic beginners, there are many complete plant-specific solutions available on the market. So you can just pick the solution that is most appropriate and follow the instructions.
Many national brand soil fertilizers now include instructions on their packages for hydroponic gardens. These can be good choices because they are readily available and typical less expensive.
An important thing to remember is that the nutrients need to stay suspended in water. So whichever nutrients you use, test that they will be suspended and not settle to the bottom.
So now that you have the basics let’s look at 2 easy DIY hydroponic Gardens for beginners
The easiest hydroponic systems are the ones that don’t need to pump water. These are great little systems that are simple to use and are good for growing most herbs and greens.
Window sill gardens
Believe it or not, if you have herbs growing in a glass or bottle on your windowsill then you have a basic hydroponic system. Remember that hydroponics is the art of growing plants in water. So your herb cuttings count as hydroponics.
To make your herb cuttings into a long term growing method you just need to do two things:
- add a few nutrients to the water
- DON’T fill the bottle all the way! Leave an air pocket with some of the roots in the air, not the water. This will give the roots the air they need to stay healthy.
A Green Garden
To make great fun and easy hydroponic garden for greens like lettuce, kale or other greens use a plastic food storage container.
This is a good first garden for beginners.
What you Need
- a 2″ net cup or very small disposable plastic cup that you cut lots of holes in the bottom and sides
- a plastic food storage container that is at least an inch deeper than the height of your cup but no more than twice as deep as the cup is tall
- a small amount of fertilizer like Miracle Grow or Neptune
- rock wool or if you can not get any rock wool you can use soil in the cup
- lettuce or greens seeds
Cut a hole in the lid of the container that will hold the net cup. Make sure that the hole is big enough for the top of the cup to sit on the lid without falling thru.
Put the rock wool in the cup and plant your favorite lettuce seeds. Make sure that the rock wool is moist without beginning to drip wet.
Add very diluted water/fertilizer mixture to the container. The level of the water should be just below the bottom of the cups.
As the seedling grows the roots will reach into the water. Don’t refill unless it goes completely dry before the plants reach maturity. If you do need to add water, only fill half the container.
When the lettuce is ready to harvest the system is done. Clean and repeat the process as often as you like.
Bonus. A fast way to start an easy hydroponic garden
You can put a soil growing plant into your hydroponic garden if you follow these sets
Hydroponic Gardens can be fun and easy so try one and you might be hooked. Try these 2 easy DIY hydroponic gardens and you will be surprised how easy it is.
Please let me know how successful you are! Please leave comments or questions. Thank you!
And for more information about hydroponics please read “What is Hydroponic indoor gardening”