Successful hydroponic gardening is an amazing way to grow different types of plants in your home. Hydroponics is rewarding, fun, and challenging. There is more interest in this type of gardening in the last few years than there has ever been before. You can’t possibly argue with a type of gardening that will allow you to have fresh produce every day of the year, no matter what the weather is doing outside. With successful hydroponic gardening on a side table, you will be able to grow enough plants to make a fabulous salad every day. This is also a great way to eat organically without paying the high prices that grocery stores charge for organic produce. This industry is only now beginning to realize the full future potential it has.
Successful hydroponic gardening enjoys the satisfaction of being able to grow their own food. They will enjoy food that tastes better and will save them money. Since Successful hydroponic gardening is environmentally friendly, they will be helping themselves and the environment at the same time. Successful hydroponic gardening is not something to jump into lightly, however. It is a good idea to know all of the things that will help you to succeed and all of the things that you will need to avoid in order to have a successful hydroponic garden.
Tips for Successful Hydroponic Gardening.
Avoid Contamination By Air and Water.
Use a filter or a screen to put over your exhaust and air intake. With most types of systems, you will want to use some form of submersible pump to push the nutrient solution out of the reservoir and into the growing chamber. You can purchase these pumps at pet supply stores and garden supply stores. If the pump you purchase does not come with its own filter, then you can cut a piece out of an inexpensive furnace filter to use in the pump. You might also want to lay a piece of furnace filter over the drain in the growing tray that leads to the drain tube that takes the nutrient solution back to the reservoir, in order to prevent the growing medium from getting into the tube and clogging it up.
Avoid Contamination By Workers.
No one should ever go into your garden area unless they and their clothes are clean. One way to ensure that the area where your hydroponic garden is will stay clean and free from pests is to never go into the room if you and your clothing are not clean. This rule should also apply to guests that want to see your hydroponic garden. Any kind of contaminant that you bring into the garden area, whether on your skin or your clothes, will risk contaminating the plants. In a hydroponic garden, disease and blight will spread rapidly, and could possibly kill the entire garden. So do your plants a favor and never go to visit them if you are not completely clean.
Avoid Contamination By Pets.
Pets do not belong in the hydroponic gardening area. Dogs and cats especially have no business being near your plants. They carry insect eggs and spores from other plants that your garden plants do not want living on them. Animals might knock over the oscillating fans you are using to circulate the air, or they might accidentally unplug the fans, or the grow lights. And since dogs and cats can’t resist eating and drinking anything they think might be appetizing, they run the risk of eating a plant that might be poisonous to them or drinking the nutrient solution with chemicals that will definitely cause them a bit of indigestion.
Avoid Contamination By New Bought Plants.
New plants should be kept in quarantine for two weeks. Many of the infestations that plague home gardens are brought in on the stems and leaves of new plants. All plants being brought into the garden need to be kept in quarantine for two weeks before you put them in the hydroponic garden with the rest of your plants. This will give you time to watch for signs of a pest infestation or any type of disease on the new plants.
Your system will need to be cleaned and sterilized between crops. Not only will you need to keep the floor of the hydroponic garden area well swept, and the surrounding area free from dirt, but you will also need to clean your hydroponic system in between crops in order to keep the equipment clean and germ-free. Don’t confuse sanitation with sterilization. Regular sanitation is vacuuming or mopping to keep the floor clean. Sterilizing is done to the components of the hydroponic system and it is needed for the cleanliness of the plant area. Sterilization is needed to kill off fungus and bacteria. You will also need to routinely sterilize the tools that you use on your plants. Imagine that you prune a plant that has a fungus with pruning shears, and then you use those same shears on all of your other plants. You have just spread fungus throughout your entire garden. Avoid cross-contamination by sanitation and sterilizing.
Essential Practices for Hydroponic Gardening.
Control light and dark with a timer. All plants need a specific amount of light to be able to grow properly. Plants use light in the process they complete to make nutrients for their own use. Plants need light every day, and if you are not using a light timer, then you will need to remember to turn the lights on and off at set times during the day. Plants also require a particular amount of time in which they want to be in darkness. So if you are operating the lights manually, you will need to be on duty every day and every night to be able to turn the lights on and off as needed. If the plants do not get the correct amount of light and dark every day, they will not grow well. Save yourself the aggravation of being tied continuously to your home garden and buy some light timers.
Dark time needs to be completely dark. Just like plants need a certain amount of light, they also need a certain amount of darkness. The plant will not perform the proper processes of making nutrients without regular periods of light and dark. So again, use the light timers.
You will need to change your nutrients and water about every two weeks. The biggest part of being able to grow healthy plants is having clean water, a level pH, and appropriate nutrients. While you will probably need to add water to the reservoir in between cleanings, due to the fact that heat and light will cause the water to evaporate, regularly adding fresh water is no substitute for regular cleaning of the reservoir. You will need to keep track of how much water was in the reservoir originally, and how much you have added. When you have added half of the volume of water back into the reservoir, then you will need to change the water, or at least every two weeks. Then you will drain half of the water out of the reservoir and replace it with fresh water. Then you will add in half of the amount of nutrient solution that you used the first time. Then you will stir the nutrients into the water well and test the pH level, adjusting it as needed.
Keep the nutrient solution away from exposure to light. The nutrient solution in the reservoir will need to be kept away from light. Mold and algae require three things to be able to grow: light, food, and water. The nutrient solution itself provides the food and water, so if you remove the light from the equation, then you will be preventing the growth of algae and mold.
Check the nutrient solution in your reservoir daily for pH levels and adjust it as needed. The nutrient solution pH level is one of the few components of hydroponic gardening that can absolutely make or break you. Keeping a proper pH level will allow the plants to gather the number of nutrients that they need to grow well and abundantly. Letting the pH level get out of range is a guaranteed way to kill your plants. So test and adjust the level of pH in your nutrient solution daily.
Gather all of the equipment that you will need before you begin. There is no crisis worse than being in the middle of anything and suddenly finding out you are missing a critical supply. Or what happens if you suddenly need something in the middle of the night? Most of the tools and components that you will need for your hydroponic garden will be gathered together before you begin to assemble it and put the plants in, but some might be overlooked. You might need to keep an extra bulb or two on hand for your grow lights. Hydroponic systems that use sprayers will require you to keep extra nozzle heads because these will easily clog with nutrients from the solution and will need to be changed often. And the vinyl tubing for water flow will sometimes crack and need to be replaced. Keep some extra supplies on hand so your garden will not fail just because you are suddenly missing something important.
Plan and write down the feeding schedule for your plants. All plants will have their own feeding schedule that you will need to follow. Many plants will have the same schedule as similar plants, so they should be planted together to make feeding easier. Even if you are using timers to operate the pump that pumps your nutrient solution to your growing tray, you will still need to keep a log so you know when the plants are supposed to be fed in case something goes wrong. The power might fail, for example, and then you will need to do manual feeding at regularly scheduled times.
Use commercially available nutrient solutions and follow the directions. Another requirement that plants have pertains to the type and amount of nutrients that they need. All plants have certain food preferences that will need to be followed if you want to reap a good harvest. You can purchase the necessary chemicals and mix your own nutrient solution, which is what many of the large commercial growers do, but for the small home hydroponic garden, it is actually better to buy prepared nutrient solutions. These commercial solutions will have the right amount of nutrients for your plants along with exact mixing and feeding instructions.
Know what type of light requirements your plants have and follow their needs. Different plants have different requirements for the amount of light they need daily and the type of light that they like to have. The lights that you use in your house will not be sufficient for the plants to grow. The grow lights that are used for indoor gardens are specially designed to put out certain spectrums of colors that will mimic the light that comes from natural sunlight. Every grow light has its own unique advantages for helping your plants grow. Small fluorescent lights are best for a small space since they don’t put out much heat and they can be mounted vertically for tall plants. A high-output fluorescent light will grow your plants thick and strong. Fruiting and flowering plants and flowers prefer to use high-pressure sodium bulbs. The light that is most like sunlight is the metal halide bulb. You will need to know what kind of light your plants prefer so that you can set up the correct ones.
Learn and understand the type of equipment that you will need for your system. You will need to understand how each of the hydroponic systems works in order to choose the system that best suits your needs. The space that you are setting up your garden in, the types of plants that you want to grow, and your level of expertise will all determine the size and type of Successful hydroponic gardening that you assemble. Don’t be afraid to begin on a small scale and learn as you go, and as your plants grow. You can add components to your system later or even build a newer, larger system.