Every person who is passionate about gardening would like to learn how to make a hydroponic garden. This represents a gardening system where plants can grow in water, without using any soil. In this way, you will have a sustainable living. A hydroponic garden has a growth rate of about 30-50% higher than a soil garden. Furthermore, it also has a larger yield compared to a soil garden.
Specialists indicate that hydroponics usually tend to have fewer issues with diseases, pests or bugs. If you consider developing a hydroponic garden, you should first think about building the hydroponic system. Then, you will need to add the crops to the system in order for them to grow. In what follows, we will provide a step-by-step guide on creating a hydroponic garden at home.
How to Make a Hydroponic Garden
Developing the hydroponic system
First, you will need to build the flood table. The flood table will represent the container meant to hold the water for the garden. You will see that it is very easy to build a flood table out of wood. Keep in mind the fact that the width of this table depends on how much water you want to use and how much you want to grow in the garden.
If you want a small garden, just make a rectangular frame using treated lumber which is 4 feet, 1-inch wide by 8 feet, 1-inch long. Next, you will need to line it using a polyethylene plastic sheet. This container will hold about 20 gallons of water.
You may also use a big plastic tray as a flood table. However, you need to make sure that your container will hold about 10 to 20 gallons of water. Line the tray with plastic to be sure it does not leak.
Make a floating platform
You will need to develop a floating platform using styrofoam. In this way, you will prevent the roots and soil from rotting. Create a floating platform in order for them to float in the water. If you build a small garden, you will need a four by eight-foot sheet of about 1 ½ inch thick styrofoam. The edges of the styrofoam should move up and down to allow the plants to float.
Next, you will need to cut 2 to 3 inch wide holes in the styrofoam platform. You should use the back of a plant pot as a model. Cut these holes with a saw and make sure that there are enough holes to fit all the plants you intend to plant. The plant pots should perfectly fit in the holes.
Add drip emitters
After building the platform, you should develop drip emitters. They will help to drip out water from the garden to make sure the water does not sit there in the flood table. Experts indicate that you can find these drip emitters in the irrigation supply aisle at any hardware store. Establish a certain drip rate relying on the maximum gallons per hour.
If you build a standard hydroponic garden, you will need your flood table to hold five gallons of water per hours. Therefore, you will need two drip emitters which have a rate of 2gph. Make two holes in the bottom of the flood table and place the drip emitters into those holes. Use hot glue or epoxy to seal any gaps around the drip emitters.
Use a stand with a bucket
Place your flood table on a stand with a bucket underneath the drip emitters. The bucket will collect the water as it drips out of the flood table. Fill the flood table halfway. Depending on its size, you may need between 5 and 20 gallons of water. After you add the crops, you may add more water to the flood table.
Purchase plant food
After setting your flood table, use fertilizer or plant food and add it to the water. Make sure the plant food contains magnesium, calcium and many other nutrients.
Choose leafy herbs and greens
Hydroponic gardens are suitable for plants that have shallow roots, like kale, lettuce, and spinach. However, you may also grow herbs like dill, basil, and mint. Make sure you choose plants that have similar water and light needs. In this way, they will all thrive when growing together in the garden. Nevertheless, as you expand your hydroponic garden, you will able to grow vegetables that have deep roots, such a s cucumbers, squash, and beets.
Develop the potting mixture
The base should provide both air and moisture for the plants. To obtain a suitable mixture, mix one part coco fiber and eight parts perlite. Furthermore, feel free to replace coco fiber with peat moss or vermiculite. Put this mixture in all planting pots and make sure they have holes on the bottom. These holes will allow the roots of the plants to get water and fertilizer from the hydroponic garden.
Plant the plants
Then, you will be able to plant sprouted seedlings in the pots. Make sure you place only one cube of sprouted seedlings in the pot. Next, place the pots in the flood table. You should also lightly water the crops. When you put them in the flood table, you need to make sure that the roots are submerged in the water about 1/6 of an inch. The roots do not need to get too wet, but they will still need to get enough water.
Water the plants
Even if you placed the pots in water in the flood table, you would also need to water your plants. If they start to wilt, you should water the plants twice per day. If the water in the flood table looks scarce, add more water. You need to periodically check whether the roots of the plants are rotting or if they get enough water.
Having a hydroponic garden requires a lot of time and care, being a great responsibility. However, you will be able to grow your own food in an eco-friendly space. In this way, you will avoid spending a lot of money when walking into your local grocery store. You will also eat healthy and green food, leading a sustainable living.
Image Source: Garden Season