A Quick Guide on Hydroponics
Today’s time calls for innovation and persistence when it comes to the hydroponic garden scene. Brought about by concern in what people eat and the ever-growing population of the world, hydroponic gardening is becoming more and more popular especially in urban settings. If you’ve ever wondered on starting your own, then you’re definitely in the right place! This article will contain the things that a new grower will need to know. It will include the basics on the following: lighting, medium maintenance, nutrient monitoring, and planning.
We’ll start off by saying that yes, the whole hydroponic thing might seem intimidating at first glance, but we urge you to stay with us and try it out for yourself! Not only can it be a great hobby with its interesting projects and even more interesting outcomes, it can also help you with the actual outcomes that it can generate!
As you may know, light is important for plants as it is a component of photosynthesis. Outdoor gardening often uses the sun as their source of light while indoor growing uses artificial ones. Poor lighting can destroy a plant the fastest – so make sure to read this section of the article closely!
As stated above, outdoor growing uses the sun as a light source. This actually lifts a lot of burdens compared to indoor growing as the sun provides the spectrum needed quite readily and substantially. However, needless to say, if you’re in a place where sunlight is not so apparent, then you’re going to have a hard time if you opt to go outdoors. When growing indoors, you will need to recreate the sun and doing so isn’t really that easy (but it’s definitely easier than you think!).
Here’s a quick guide to choosing your lights!
25 W of light for each square foot of growing space is needed for leafy and low-light plants and move up to 40 W of light for plants that require more light.
When it comes to spectrum, blue spectrum (around 420-450nanometers (nm)) is generally used to encourage leaf, root and stem development while red spectrum (around 640-680nm) is used for flowering and fruiting.
When it comes to the bulbs, Metal Halides (MH) are designed to be used in the vegetative stage of the plant while High-pressure sodium (HPS) are for the flowering stage. New to the scene, LED lights are also gaining popularity as it can be used in an array of ways. It also solves problems when it comes to spectrum availability and the heat that other lights generate. A big downside to this is that it’s quite expensive.
TIP: To maximize lighting, you can use reflectors to distribute the light more evenly. Additionally, having a cooling system can help any heat issues generated by the light that you will be using. Keeping the lights as mobile as possible can also be handy especially if you have a big grow space.
Mediums refer to the base that the grower will use in growing their plant. In outdoor growing, a common medium is a soil while indoor growing has peat, rock wool, perlites etc. One thing important to consider in maintaining the medium is the pH. The acidity and basic level of the medium are actually quite important and is often overlooked. The reason behind this is that the pH level heavily affects the nutrient retention of the medium and nutrient uptake of the plant. Plants grown indoors relies on the nutrient readily available to them, so having a correct pH level is crucial to their survival. In general, nutrients will be able to dissolve in a level of 5.8-6.8 pH. There are tools available in the market to help you with monitoring and adjusting the pH.
EC and TDS meters can be used to monitor the nutrient present in the medium of the plant. This is important as the nutrients in the soil can fluctuate depending on the environment which means the possibility of having a nutrient-deficient or and an overfed plant is always present. Too few of the nutrients will starve the plant while overfed ones will get damaged, both of which will definitely affect the yield.
An EC (electrical conductivity) reading, as the name implies, reads the ability of the substance to conduct electricity. The reason behind this is that minerals can generally conduct electricity, so having a high conductivity will mean a high number of nutrient.
A TDS reading reads the dissolved particles in water as ppm or Parts Per Million. If you let your nutrient-filled liquid dry up, it will leave powdery residues. That’s actually what the TDS meter reads.
Like most projects, planning is an essential step. One of the most important thing to plan is the system size. Believe it or not, a lot of gardeners often regret not planning a bigger grow space. While it’s true that starting small is the most sensible thing to do, it is not necessarily the best option. In general, small spaced grow space are the most susceptible to problems with regards to bacterial growth, pH level swings, nutrient level swings, and temperature swings. Inversely, larger set-ups take more time getting hit with these problems which give the grower an ample amount of time to recover or to prevent any problem.
Budget is also an important thing to consider. Depending on what you are willing to shell out, certain things are both available to you and unavailable to you. For example, having a bundled set-up can sometimes be more useful than a complete DIY one. An in-depth research can do the trick when it comes to your budget and the optimal set-up available.
Don’t be afraid to start your own hydroponic garden. It’s definitely a great hobby and you will surely be applauded by anyone including yourself. Just be sure to be well informed before you make any move to avoid any mistakes!