As we’ve already discussed, creating your own hydroponic set up is a fantastic hobby. Not only can you have a permanent supply of your own fruit, veggies and herbs but you can also supply local business and make lots of profit.
This short guide is for the total newbie, if you’re just starting out then this is a brief description of everything you’ll need to get started growing your own hydroponic vegetables or hydroponic tomatoes with your very own homemade hydroponic systems.
Choosing A Homemade Hydroponic System
There are many different hydroponic systems! The difference between each system is in how nutrients are supplied to the plants. Since this is a summary page there is not enough room to explain the differences, pros and cons between each system, however this hydroponics systems guide explains each system in detail.
Once you’ve chosen a system, depending on what you’d like to grow, your budget and on what scale you’d like to take your system to, then you’ll be able to move on to the rest.
The hydroponic grow medium which you use, or if you use any at all will depend on which homemade hydroponic system you’re using. Some systems such as the aeroponic system or the NFT system do not require grow medium. The wick system requires grow medium that has high water retention whereas the ebb and flow system will require a different type of grow medium.
The link in the last paragraph contains a good guide in finding the correct medium based on what you’re growing and on what system you’re using.
Hydroponic Set Up Essentials
The first thing you need in your homemade hydroponic system is a location. The beauty of growing hydroponically is that you can do it literally anywhere. Setting your hydroponic set up in your garage, attic or basement will be ideal and it will be out of the way.
You need to plan for the future too. If you’re starting out then how far are you intending to take it? If you only need a small area right now, you may need a larger area later on.
You will need somewhere where there’s plenty of access to plug sockets so remember to keep that in mind.
Remember that plants thrive on CO2! Growing them inside your home will give them ready made access to as much CO2 as they need as long as you’re not growing too much.
Once you expand, you will probably need a greater supply of CO2. The best way of getting this is by using manure. This is why you may want to set up in your garage. Remember to plan ahead!
Heating Your Seeds
To the point of germination, all your seeds actually require as necessity is heat. Once your seeds start to feel some warmth for a few days, they will begin to germinate. You can speed this process up a little bit by soaking your seeds in water for 24 hours before applying heat to your seeds.
So how do I heat my seeds?
Well after taking them out of water, after 24 hours have elapsed, I simply place them on top of a Hydrofarm seedling heat mat!
Seeds germinate much quicker using a heat mat and 99 times out of 100 they look better and feel stronger too. Not only that but the germination rates are much greater also.
Providing Light To Your Seedlings
Once your seeds have sprouted, the next thing they need plenty of is light!
In fact, by placing a grow light system directly above your seedlings, you are not only providing the essential light they need to thrive but heat as well.
Are you beginning to see how by using hydroponics you can grow off season products all year round? This is how I make lots of money by selling them to local farm shops off season. However I have digressed.
The closer you can get the light to your seedlings the better it will be for them. However you really do need to keep a good eye on how fast they grow. The last thing you want is for the plant to touch the light and have it frazzle to death, or worse still, set the place on fire.
The Hydrofarm Jump Start T5 Grow Light allows you to raise and lower the light tube parallel to the ground or even one side more than the other, in case one section of your plants are growing at a faster rate.
Containing Your Plants
Your seedlings can be easily contained within any box, pot or container you have. However much of how your plants are contained will depend on which hydroponic system you’re using. You really don’t need to spend much if any money on a container. Remember too that you don’t need soil. For your growing medium, you can use anything you have to hand such as rockwool, sea shells, pebbles etc.
If you’re really serious about this and you want to get the most out of your grow lights then you will really need to invest in a grow tent. These things are worth their weight in gold. I personally use the Mylar hydroponic grow tent on a large range of things I grow!
Grow tents serve to keep the light contained inside, the walls are silver so that it reflects back at the plants. The outer walls are black to stop it from escaping also. However, as well as the light, grow tents also keep precious CO2 contained within.
Whichever tent you get, it needs to be big enough to house your entire system, lights included.
If your homemade hydroponic system is on a large scale then yes there are large tents available, but you may want to think about using an entire room for your hydroponics. This may mean having to make some alterations.
Ventilating Your Plants
Your grow room ventilation is very important!
All plants require CO2 rich air in order to thrive. If you don’t have adequate air circulation in your hydroponic grow tent or greenhouse then the air will quickly become depleted of essential CO2. This can severely stunt the growth of your plants.
For air circulation, you’ll need an exhaust fan to remove the expired air from the room and also an intake fan to bring in fresh CO2 rich air from the outside. This whole process, if controlled by a thermostat will also enable you to control the temperature and all on autopilot!
Giving Extra CO2 To Your Hydroponic Plants
We all know that all plants live off CO2. CO2 is natural in the air we breath at a rate of 0.035 – 0.04 percent. When given extra CO2, most plants will grow faster and larger. On the flip side, when CO2 levels fall for example in a small room with plants in and limited ventilation then growth slows dramatically.
For a full explanation on how to provide more CO2 to your plants, please read this article on CO2 hydroponics!
Temperature And Humidity For Your Hydroponic Plants
Getting the right hydroponic temperature as well as humidity in your grow rooms is crucial to maximizing the speed at which your plants grow.
The right temperature for your ambiance air is between 70-80 degrees F during the day and 55-60 degrees F during the night. The temperature of your hydroponic nutrient solution should be between 55-60 degrees F for the best results.
For the majority of the time, a humidity level of 50% will be ideal at least for the flowering stages. During the growth stage you could allow for greater humidity levels of up to 70%.
All this can be controlled by using the highly recommended Bionaire BW2300!
For The Beginner Hydroponic Gardener
If of course you want to skip the above steps and go for an all-in-one system, then the only thing i ever recommend to anybody is the Hydrofarm EMSYST Emilys Electric Garden System! This will enable you to do the whole gardening job on its own, just on a much smaller scale. It’s perfect if you’re starting out and you want to dabble in it to see how well hydroponics really works and to see if you actually enjoy it.
If you go for the full system above, then before long you can be picking ample fruits every day. Try striking up a deal with a local store to supply him with your exclusive hydroponic fruit! If you sell tomatoes, you’re in for a killing. Blueberries are so very expensive all year round, yet grow surprisingly quickly hydroponically!
If you have any questions about homemade hydroponic systems or about your existing hydroponic set up then please ask in the comment section below.