In this last part of our blog on indoor gardens using hydroponics we will look at an interesting growing system you can build yourself
Systems for Hydroponic Gardening
There are a lot of ways to grow plants using hydroponics. You can buy various ready-built systems using wicks, drip-lines or other techniques or you can build your own.
Once of the best and simplest methods of hydroponics is called Deep Water Culture or more commonly called ‘Lettuce Rafts’ because this is a popular and
easy crop to grow using this system.
An indoor garden using lettuce rafts is easy to set up and operate. The plants grow in holes cut from a thick slab of Styrofoam. This is the raft. It floats in any suitable container which is filled
with water containing a little soluble fertilizer. The roots of the lettuce grow down and hang in the water, so they can take up water and nutrients. That is it! This is a very simple way to do hydroponic gardening. No pumps to break down and no lines to clog.
You can make it small in a converted cooler. You can take over the bathtub and go bigger. You can even convert your swimming pool and do hydroponics instead of laps! Almost anything can be used as long as it is waterproof and holds a 4-6 inch depth of water.
If you go here you will find details from the University of Florida on building your own hydroponics floating system. These instructions make a fairly large unit, but the dimensions can of course be modified to fit the space you personally have for an indoor garden.
Points To Pay Special Attention To
- Unless your water is very hard, make sure the hydroponics fertilizer you use contains calcium. This is such an essential nutrient for plants that it is not worth taking the risk and using a fertilizer without calcium.
- Pay special attention to the size of the holes in the Styrofoam you make to carry the pots. It is really important that the bottom of the pot barely touches the water. If the pot is actually in the water then you run a big risk that the soil will take up too much water and your plants will drown.
- You can start your plants from seed in peat pellets or rock-wool cubes. They should be well-rooted before putting them into the raft. If you start them in regular pots remember to take them out of the pot and don’t add soil to fill up the hole in the Styrofoam. The seedlings should sit with room around them so they get oxygen for the roots.
- Remember to change the growing solution after two harvests. The nutrients will have been mostly used by then so you need to make a fresh start.
What to Grow In Your Hydroponics Indoor Garden
Butterhead, Romaine or Leaf lettuce will all do well, so this is a great place to grow a few plants of several varieties so that your salads don’t get boring. An easy way to do that is to choose a lettuce seed blend.
Other leafy crops, like Kale and Swiss Chard will also do well. Herbs like Purple Basil will do well, and for something different, try Wrinkled Crinkled Cress, which grows into quite a good size without bolting to seed.
Choose plants that prefer plenty of water. Plants that prefer dry conditions, like spinach, for example, should be saved for outdoors.
Don’t Forget Hydroponics Outdoors Too
Lastly, if you want to try hydroponics outdoors on a patio, this is a great idea too. You save the cost of lights, but of course if you live in a cooler area you won’t be able to grow all year round.
Good luck with your hydroponic gardening – let us know how it goes and please comment with any questions!