One of the benefits of a DIY hydroponic system is that you can rely on a constant stream of fresh produce, year-round, in regardless of the outdoor weather. If you live in a hot environment with limited water access or a particularly cold climate with a limited growing season, hydroponics can be a sustainable urban farming solution to cultivate your own food in a small space.
In order to make a DIY hydroponic system at home, you will need an indoor or outdoor area where you have access to natural light or can install grow lights, and can grow plants in a controlled environment. If you’re growing outdoors, this will necessitate a greenhouse. If you’re growing indoors, you can use a box or other container.
Depending on the type of system you choose to install, you will need certain materials and tools. Luckily, there are a few versions to choose from, ranging in price from $50 to $5,000.
If you are looking for an easy plan to get started, there are beginner, intermediate and expert plans available online, and most are free.
Types of Hydroponic Systems
There are six main types of DIY hydroponic systems. These include Deep Water Culture DWC, Wicking, Drip, Aeroponic, Ebb and Flow and Nutrient Film Technique (NFT).
Each of these systems can be customized to fit your particular growing situation, and can easily be set up in just a few hours. Regardless of the system you choose, you can rest assured that each type is incredible at conserving water and reducing your water footprint, which is one of the main benefits of growing hydroponically.
Some systems are passive, requiring no electricity and little maintenance. Others require an automated system, which involves the use of a reservoir and pump.
Depending on your growing climate, it is possible to install hydroponic systems indoors or outdoors, though each setup will require proper attention to moisture and temperature levels to create an optimum growing environment.
If space is an issue, don’t fear! You don’t need a full basement or a greenhouse to install a DIY hydroponic system. If you have a plastic storage tub or a few mason jars, you can easily grow vegetables and fruit hydroponically for a very low price.
DIY Growing Tips
Depending on the type of hydroponic system you install, whether or not you use a pump or grow under artificial lights, there are a few growing tips that are applicable in any setting.
First, temperature and humidity are incredibly vital to the success of your hydroponic garden. Luckily, since hydroponics involve growing produce in a controlled environment, you don’t have to worry about pests or weather or unhealthy soil. However, you do have to worry about how much light your plants get, and whether the growing environment has enough humidity.
The ideal temperature for a hydroponic garden is between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity levels should be around 40-60% relative humidity, and for optimal growth, plants should get 12-16 hours of sunlight a day.
Because hydroponic produce depends on a water-based nutrient solution to grow, you will want to measure the pH of your system regularly to ensure that the plants are able to take up the nutrients they need. While it sounds complicated, measuring pH can be easily done using cheap pH strips from any home and garden store.
The Benefits of DIY Hydroponics
If you live in an area where it’s tricky to grow fruit and vegetables in soil, either due to climate or a lack of space, hydroponics can be a great option. Additionally, if you grow food seasonally but want access to fresh greens in the middle of winter, hydroponics is a cost-effective solution for growing your own food year-round.
DIY hydroponic systems require less space and less water, and they have higher yields than naturally grown produce. Once you obtain the necessary tools and materials and set up your system in a way that works best for you, you have the ability to produce nutritious food with very few inputs. Even if you are a beginning gardener, it’s easy to get started in hydroponics!