The first step in building your hydroponic garden is determining what style system you want. Depending on how you set up your garden, there are different ways of delivering nutrients to your plants. The water in a hydroponic system is continuously circulating and moving. Instead of rooting through the soil to find the nutrients they need, plants absorb them directly through the water. Learn more about how to set up your own DIY hydroponic garden.
Choosing a Pump
Pond pumps are important for maintaining water quality. They keep the water circulated and not stagnant. Still water becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes and algae and does not have enough oxygen for plants to thrive. A pump will keep the water properly oxygenated and filter out any organic material from the water.
Pump strength is determined by pumping height and the amount of water you need the pump to move. You can also decide if you would like a shut-off feature or not. Some of the smartpond pumps have a low water shut-off sensor that turns the pump automatically off when there’s not enough water running through the system to avoid damage.
Types of Hydroponic Systems:
The classic hydroponic setup is the drip system. In a drip system, the pump moves water to each plant, and then the unused water drips back into the reservoir. The pump is put on an outlet timer to regulate the water movement.
Flood & Drain
The overflow valve is the key to a flood and drain method, which ensures the water doesn’t get higher than the specific height you determined. The pump sits in the lower pump reservoir and is put on an outlet timer. It “floods” the plants with water above to a specific height. Once the pump is turned off, the water returns to the lower water reservoir.
Nutrient Film Technique
This technique tilts the tray of plants, and the roots are exposed inside. The pump is put on an outlet timer and pushes water from the reservoir to the tray of plants at the top. The tilt of the tray pours the water out at the end, returning it to the reservoir.
When using the water culture technique, the roots of the plants are allowed to grow and reach into the water reservoir. The pump circulates the water in the reservoir to keep it fresh and clean. Plants have access to water at all times.
Using a wick-like cord, water is absorbed from the water reservoir and brought to each plant in the tray for continuous watering. The pump circulates the water in the reservoir to filter out organic material and maintain water quality.
You don’t have to have green thumbs or even good soil to garden. You can set up a soilless garden inside or outside. Hydroponic gardens use less space and resources compared to traditional soil gardens. You can set up your DIY hydroponic system and garden all-year round. As long as you maintain the water quality and the plants have enough sunlight (or the right artificial light) and nutrients, your plants will be healthy and happy.