If you’ve been thinking of trying home hydroponics, there are a few things you need to know. Hydroponic gardening is a great way to maximize your harvest and gives you all the control over what you grow since you’re controlling the environment.
Quick Guide to Home Hydroponics
Where to set up your hydroponic garden
one of the major advantages of hydroponics is that you can put it anywhere! Outside… inside… a closet or dark basement… even in a space station, if you’ve got one of those!
It’s time now to give some thought to where you’re going to put your new garden. Is it going inside or outside? At the end of this page, we’ll provide more information to help you decide. But first, consider these options for your home hydroponics garden:
- An inside garden (with moderate to good window lighting)
- A closet or small grow-room (few or no windows)
- A patio garden
- A hydroponic greenhouse (sweet!)
If you are just beginning your “water gardening” journey, we suggest you start with a fairly small indoor unit. This way, you can get your feet wet, learn the basics, experiment a little, and decide whether you want to continue with home hydroponics.
You can always grow your operation to fit your passion. Hydroponics lends itself well to modular expansion.
Once you see how fascinating and productive hydroponics really is, my guess is you’ll be hooked, just like us.
Light for your hydroponic garden
Plants with any fruit or flowers require 4-6 hours of direct sunlight and at least 12-14 hours of very bright light per day.
So unless you have a sunny south-facing bay window or patio in full sunlight part of the day, you’ll have to provide a special lamp (HID) for your unit. Fluorescent “Gro-lites” are fine for philodendrons and wandering jew, but not for producing tomatoes and green beans.
An HID lamp may well be the most expensive part of your whole setup ($120-200+). Just so you know this upfront. And those lights put out heat! You’ll need a fan to keep your plants cooled off.
Even if you do need supplemental lighting, try to put your home hydroponics garden near a bright window, or position it for direct sunlight if at all possible. Can’t beat nature’s ultimate grow light!
The right temperature for aquaculture
Your plants need a temperature range of 65-80 degrees.
Can you provide that?
Do you have enough heating or air conditioning to create the proper atmosphere?
One of the major mistakes beginners make is in overlooking this one very important requirement. You cannot grow tomatoes in a 40-degree basement or lettuce on a 90-degree patio. It just doesn’t work!
TIP: Your plants can tolerate occasional dips as low as 45° and as high as 90°, but the routine growing range needed is 65-80°.
The nutrient solution must be kept cool … between 60-75 degrees. This means you can’t keep the vat out on a hot patio without providing insulation or some other means of keeping it cool. There are other ways to do this (water chillers) but they are expensive.
Your hydroponics setup can’t be directly out in the rain, as it will dilute and overflow your system and get the electrical equipment wet. Bad combination.
Knowing these important climate requirements may help you decide where your Hydro Pod should go. And keep you alive…
What is the right hydro garden size to start with?
For your first unit think small, at least at first. You’ll be amazed at just how much produce you can harvest from a 4X4′ footprint.
This unit, deemed bets invention of 2020 by Time Magazine, can grow up to 30 plants in a 12″ x 24″ x 60″: perfect for a beginner, yet a great source of food for your family.
With a little thought and planning, you can keep a constant rotation of seedlings started and mature plants ripening. If you replace a head of lettuce with a new seedling as you harvest, your home hydroponics setup will truly be a continuous “food factory”.
For your first gardens, use only bush, patio, or miniature varieties of the big vining crops (tomatoes, cukes, squash, and green beans). As your skill grows, you can experiment with trellising and other creative crop management techniques. But remember, with an indoor unit, your plants can only go as high as your lights. Think short!
A small garden can be placed anywhere it will fit, even in a closet!
Hydroponic gardening books
When you’re new to any method of gardening, it’s nice to have a book or two to flip through and get a professional opinion on how you should go about it. Here are 3 of my favorite hydroponic gardening books for beginners to get you started.
If you want to learn more about gardening in general, these are the best gardening books for beginners.
Hydroponics for Absolute Beginners: How to Build your Inexpensive Garden without Soil Fast and EasyThe Step by Step Guide on How to Build an Affordable Hydroponics Garden, and Grow Organic Veggies, Fruit & Herbs All Year RoundHydroponics for Beginners: The complete step-by-step guide to growing fruits, herbs, and vegetables hydroponically at home!
Closing thoughts about home hydroponic system
One last thought. If you have a sunny porch or patio, you might consider an indoor-outdoor garden. Keep it indoors under lights during the harsh
winter months, and move it to your patio in the spring, when the last frost has passed.
How could you do this? Put your unit on wheels. Or, just break it down and reassemble it on the porch. Simple.
Hopefully, now you have a better idea of which spot in your home would be best for your garden.
But before you decide, you may want to explore a little further: