Hydroponic farming, also known as soilless farming is attracting farming aspirants across the globe, thanks to its sustainable advantages. Hydroponic plants are grown using LED lights, with minimum usage of water, pesticides and fertilizers. In hydroponic system, nutrients are directly fed to plants, eliminating the dependency over soil. It’s an advanced level of farming where plants are able to manage pH in a better way. Light intensity, temperature and even composition of air are adjusted according to requirement. Hence, hydroponic system can be managed all year round.
One doesn’t need a large farm to create hydroponic garden, it can also be grown at home. Here is how?
1. Create a flood table: Build a flood table out of spare wooden blocks. Even a deep plastic tray can also be used as a flood table. The width of the table will depend upon the quantity of plants you want to grow and how much water are you willing to use. Say for a small garden, rectangular frame of 4 x 8 feet will be enough. It will be able to hold approximately 75 litre of water.
2. Build a floating platform from Styrofoam: Next thing that one needs to do while creating hydroponic garden is to create a floating platform using Styrofoam. It prevents the roots and soil of the plants from getting decayed. For a small, compact garden, you can use 4 x 8 feet thick block of Styrofoam. But, don’t forget to check the edges of the platform. It should be movable up and down, so that plants can float easily.
3. Cut around 2 to 3 inch wide holes in the Styrofoam platform: Cut enough holes on the platform with the help of saw to fit all the plants you are willing to grow. Also, make sure that the plant pots get fitted in the holes and don’t extend beyond 0.4 cm below the Styrofoam platform.
4. Position drip emitters to the flood table. Now, the next important thing to be focused for growing hydroponic plants is to add drip emitters that help drip out water from the garden. It makes sure that the water does not get stagnant in the flood table. These can easily be found in the local hardware store or nursery. Based on maximum gallons per hour, they come in different drip rates. You can insert them by puncturing two holes in the bottom of the flood table. Then, simply push the drip emitters into the holes and seal the gaps around the dip emitters with the help of hot glue.
5. Place a bucket under the flood table: Further, place a bucket underneath the drip emitters. The dripped water will come out of the flood table and will get collected in the bucket.
6. Fill the flood table with water. Pour enough water to fill the flood table halfway. Depending on the size you have chosen for your flood table, this may require 5 to 20 gallons (19 to 75 L) of water.
7. Set up right lightening: Hydroponic system is not dependent upon sunlight to grow. If you are growing the hydroponic garden inside a room, then it’s important to use sodium bulbs, LED bulbs or metal halide lights.
8. Arrange plant food: Lastly, arrange nutrient-rich plant food or fertilizers, so that plants can thrive and grow well. You can search for plant food rich in magnesium, calcium and other food at gardening center or plant store.