5 Easy Ways to Build a Hydroponic Grow System
Starting your own hydroponic grow system might seem like a daunting project for beginners. You've probably seen phrases such as "Nutrient Film Technique" or "Ebb and Flow" and thought to yourself: "Help!"
It might sound complicated, but building your own hydroponic system is actually a simple and extremely rewarding home gardening method. Your vegetables will grow up to 100% faster and you will use less water, less land and fewer pesticides- reducing your carbon footprint!
The Aqua Gardening team has put together this Hydroponic Grow System guide, with five easy methods to choose from. All made from readily available materials with a minimum of expertise.
Basic Materials Required
- A container for your plants to grow in - called a "grow bed".
- A bucket to hold your nutrient solution - a "reservoir".
- A water pump - with a filter.
- Nutrient solution - available from any hydroponics store.
- Grow media - a "substrate" to grow your plants in such as clay pebbles, coco coir, perlite, rockwool or soil.
- Piping or tubing - to deliver your nutrient solution to your plants.
- A timer - to control when the pump turns on (or lights for an indoor garden).
- An air pump - for aeration of the nutrient solution.
- Mesh pots - also known as net pots to hold the plants roots.
- Lighting - for indoor gardens.
Types of hydroponic systems
1. Run to Waste
This is by far the easiest and cheapest grow system to set up. All you need is pots filled with your choice of substrate, a bucket for your nutrient solution and a watering can.
Simply mix your solution according to the instructions and manually water your plants once or twice a day. Try to minimise runoff to make the most efficient use of your nutrients, any runoff you do get can be used to occasionally feed other garden beds.
2. Ebb and Flow
This grow system consists of a reservoir with a grow bed sitting on top. A timer and pump flood your plants with nutrient solution and then drains it back into the reservoir.
You can make one at home by taking a plastic tray and drilling two holes in the base. This will be your grow bed. Next, take a storage bin (your reservoir) and drill two holes into the lid that will line up with the holes in the grow bed.
Install a "flood and drain fittings set" (available at your hydroponic store) into the holes in the bottom of your grow bed.
Place a water pump at the bottom of your reservoir and install a length of black tubing over the pump's outlet hole, running the tube through the lid and into the short fitting in your grow bed.
Drill an additional hole on the outside edge of your reservoir lid, and feed the line from an air pump through it, putting the air stone at the bottom of the reservoir.
All that you need to do now is fill your reservoir with nutrient solution and arrange your plant pots in the grow bed. With this system you should have your air pump on constantly and the water pump on for 15 mins three times a day.
You can also plant directly into your ebb and flow system if you choose, make sure to fill the grow bed with expanded clay growing media so that the plants will have good structure and drainage for the roots.
3. Deep Water Culture
Deep Water Culture hydroponics involves suspending the roots of your plants in aerated nutrient solution constantly.
You can make a simple one by purchasing some mesh pots and cutting holes in the lid of a storage bin for the pots to sit in. You then simply fill your pots with substrate, fill your storage container with nutrient solution so that the bottom part of the pots are submerged and add an air pump. Viola!
You should keep your air pump on 24 hours a day and change your nutrient solution every two weeks.
4. Nutrient Film Technique
This hydroponic method basically consists of a thin stream of constantly flowing nutrients around your plant roots.
To build one yourself you will need some NFT channels or PVC piping and something to stand them on, such as a wooden frame. Once you have assembled this, attach caps to the ends of your piping and drill any drainage holes if you need to.
Attach tubing to your inlet and outlet and place the oultet/drainage hose in the bottom of your reservoir, and the inlet hose to the outlet hole of a water pump.
Then, take some small net pots and make holes in the top of the PVC piping or channel lid that will hold them in place. Fill up your nutrient solution bucket and plant your seedlings into your pots filled with substrate.
5. Recirculating Drip System
As the name implies, this hydroponic grow system drips your nutrient solution into the top of your plant containers.
For this system you will basically be taking your plant containers (large buckets will work well) and drilling a hole in the bottom of each for drainage.
Install an outlet on your drainage hole and attach tubing, making sure drainage hoses are long enough to reach the bottom of your reservoir.
For your watering system, connect a length of tube to a simple "T" connecter. Take some more tubing and make a loop that will sit around the top of your plant bucket. Using a hot pin, poke plenty of holes into this loop.
Attach the watering system to your water pump, place your pump in the nutrient reservoir and you're in business!
This system would suit a growing media like perlite, if using perlite, run your pump on a time and irrigate several times per day.
Need Some Help?
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