The science of hydroponics involves growing plants without soil. Water is the medium in which plants grow in hydroponics, which is infused with micronutrients. Once considered the domain of science fiction, indoor gardening has become more popular as gardeners try to ensure a sure supply of fresh vegetables year-round.
Hydroponic Gardening Indoors
Anyone can start hydroponic gardens. There is no need to purchase expensive tools. Creating a hydroponic garden with the simplest methods can be done using recycled materials.
Rather than using soil to grow plants, hydroponic growing uses water mixed with plant nutrients. A plastic bucket with a lid will do well as a basin for water reservoir. A Styrofoam container, such as the type used by fish stores for transport and sale, is suggested. Quite a few will give away the cartons free, but you’ll have to let them dry out if the smell of fish persists! You may want to consider the frosting canisters used by commercial bakeries. Usually used with commercial cake frosting or batter, these large plastic buckets can hold up to a gallon. They are usually thrown out after use by restaurants, bakeries, and other food service providers. If any are being thrown away, ask for them. Before using, wash them thoroughly with soap and water and rinse thoroughly.
Hydroponic plants require plenty of light and a timer. Your growing plants will need artificial lighting if they cannot receive direct sunlight or natural light. You can use your own indoor grow lights to achieve this. For your hydroponic garden, a fluorescent light fixture, which holds two tube lights, purchased from your local hardware store will suffice. Install a timer so the grow light will turn on and off automatically. It is recommended that you get between 8 and 10 hours of light each day.
You can water your hydroponic garden with tap water. You should purchase plant food in the form of liquid fertilizer 15-15-15 or 15-20-15. Fertilize the soil only after the roots have developed in the ground.
Several hydroponic vegetables can be grown indoors, but many people prefer to grow lettuce and other green, leafy vegetables. You will need mesh bags, seed starting medium, and a few of your favorite seeds for this project. You can add seeds to the bag after adding seed starting medium and suspending the bag in your plastic container. Add the water-fertilizer solution to the container once the seeds begin to grow roots.
Hydroponic farming uses aeration to help plants thrive and prevent algae and bacteria from growing in the nutrient water. Set the timer for the air pump to run on a second day. The water gets aerated daily. Alternatively, you can find secondhand fish tank pumps at thrift shops and garage sales or even at a pet store.
Setting Up Your System
If you have curious children or pets, place your hydroponic system in a place where it won’t be disturbed. In households with pets, it’s imperative to place a lid on the water reservoir to prevent curious animals from drinking nutrient-rich water; prevent poisoning accidents and contact your veterinarian immediately if you think your pet has ingested the fertilizer!
A basement, garage or similar area is a good place for lettuce and leafy greens, as they prefer cool temperatures up to 70 degrees. Hang your light fixture over the table and place the water containers on it. Adding the water pump to the container is a good idea. Make sure the pump and lights have timers.
The lids of your containers need to be pierced about 5/8 of an inch. This is where your plants will be suspended as you suspend the net and seed starting medium. Once your seedlings sprout, this is where the plants will be suspended. The old string bags you used to store onions or tulips in the fall would serve well for making a net. During the fall bulb bagging period, there are fewer holes in the netting. You should add water to each container. Once the plant roots have developed, you can add the nutrient solution. Make sure that water reaches the roots by checking the water level weekly.
It would be best if you placed heat-loving types of plants such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant in a warmer environment. They require more space and take longer to grow. Depending on how tall they grow, the distance between the light fixture and the tabletop may need to be increased, so you should be prepared to move or raise the fixture.
The Future of Hydroponic Gardens
In the future, hydroponically grown food may be available to urbanites, apartment dwellers and more. Using clear containers for the plants’ roots allows the children to see the plant’s roots grow while you conduct a hydroponic experiment.
Astronauts, explorers, and colonists may one day cultivate fresh food in space using hydroponic gardening techniques. It is hard to believe that just 30 years ago, many people would have considered the Internet to be science fiction, too! Hydroponic gardening is a great way to experiment and have fun. In the middle of winter, it is a great way to add healthy, fresh vegetables to your table.