Ready to take the plunge and create your own hydroponic system? While they’ve been widely used by commercial growers for years, hydroponics are now making their way into homes around the world thanks to their increased affordability and the many benefits they offer.
The most important factor in getting your hydroponic system right is having the correct equipment. With the proper tools in place and the right amount of time and effort, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a hydroponics expert. Here are 5 essential pieces of equipment you need to get started.
- Water Basin
Your plants need something to drink from, which is why you’ll need a water basin as part of your hydroponics system. The size and scope of the basin you choose will depend on what you’re growing and how much water they need, but it’s important that you use something that makes it easy for you to keep track of water usage and when it needs a top-off.
Anything from a storage bin to an old bucket can be used as a basin, although converted basins can be better at preventing an algae buildup. Make sure you keep on top of how full the basin is and how often you add more water to it, and remember to change the water whenever you swap out the fertiliser for different growing systems.
- Grow Lights
As hydroponic systems are entirely indoors, it’s up to you to provide the perfect amount of light to them. If you’re only growing small plants, light from your window alone should be fine. However, if you’re growing something bigger, that will demand a bigger light source. This means you’ll have to purchase lighting that’s specific to the type of plants you want to grow.
Fluorescent lights tend to be the best option as they provide bright lighting without intense heat, which makes them ideal for hydroponics. You want to make sure your plants are getting plenty of light but that the heat isn’t evaporating your water and drying out your greenery.
- Grow Trays or Tables
Next, you’ll need a grow tray or table for your plants to sit on and place above their water source. How many trays you need will depend on the type of system you’re growing, as you can have individual trays for each plant or one large tray for all of them.
The trays will have to be specifically designed for hydroponic systems as the growing medium will then be able to drain itself and send any overflow back to the water basin. Another option is to build your own tray with a wire fence surface, just as long as the water has a way to get back down into your basin.
- Fertiliser or Nutrients
As your plants aren’t being grown in soil, it’s up to you to provide them with the nutrients they need to grow and flourish. Macronutrients such as potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen can be fed to them in large quantities, whereas micronutrients such as copper, iron and zinc will need to be fed in smaller quantities.
Different plants need different nutrients, so make sure you’re feeding them the right kind of fertiliser. You can either buy a premixed fertiliser or buy the hydroponic nutrients separately and make the solution yourself.
- Growing Mediums
Since you’re not using soil to grow your plants, alternative mediums such as rockwool, coconut fibre and perlite can be used to create a sterile environment for your plants to grow in and feed on the water and nutrients that you supply them.
Because any leftover water and nutrient solutions will drip back down into your water basin, you don’t have to worry about your medium getting mouldy or dirty. If you’re looking for the most cost-effective option available, you can even use mediums such as aquarium gravel or cleaned rocks.