Sure, you can go with the ready made hydroponics systems like Aerogarden or ClickandGrow, but this might not be a cheap solution for anything bigger than growing herbs. What if we can replace the expensive ready made hydroponics systems with cheaper DIY alternatives?
Hydroponics systems DIY – what do you need?
To start a DIY hydroponic setup you need at least:
- a plastic container for the hydroponic solution
- a source of light
- water or air pump
- netpots and a medium where to place the seeds
- hydroponic solution
All these are put together make an Aeroponics like system.
The plastic container for the hydroponic solution
The plastic container is… a simple plastic container. It should be black (to prevent light entering the hydroponic solution and have algae invading the solution) and should be big enough to hold enough hydroponic solution for your plants.
Epic Gardening has a nice video tutorial on how to choose a container for hydroponics – you dont even need an air pump if you start a Kratky non circulating hydroponic system.
Light for the DIY hydroponic system
Well, the best light there is for any plant is sunlight. So if you can, go ahead and place your hydroponic system in the sun. It’s cheap, actually free :)) . But if you want to grow plants hydroponically in your basement, or anywhere indoors you should provide your plants with plenty if light.
You can go for simple CFL lamps, but they are not very effective because they concentrate light in one spot and you might want to have light for longer hydroponic systems. So you can go for the regular T5 fluorescent lights as the cheapest lighting method for the hydroponic beginner.
The T5 fluorescent lights are cheap to start but not so energy efficient on the long run, so you might want to switch to led lighting (you don’t necessarily have to go to the special made growing led lights, but for regular led T5).
You can read more about choosing the best hydroponic lights for the beginner here.
AlboPepper – Drought Proof Urban Gardening has a very nice review of T5 Fluorescent vs LED Replacement Bulb Grow Lights and tests the results growing lettuce:
Water or airpump for the DIY hydroponic systems
If you plan on going with the non circulating Ktraky hydroponic system you don’t actually need an airpump or water pump. But having a good aeration of the hydroponic solution will improve the plant growth as Growing Answers explains. In the Aeration vs No Aeration test growing Hydroponic Peppers you can see if aeration improves the plant life, production or taste:
Netpots and a medium where to place the seeds for the DIY hydroponic system
You can buy netpots and rockwool hydroponic cubes for your hydroponic system. But you can save on these as well. Mike VanDuzee explains how you can replace the expensive rockwools with $1 Pool Noodle
Hydroponic solution DIY
If you are like me, you will not bother with making your own hydroponic solution and just go for some that is already made and available to purchase. But you can actually save some money by doing your own hydroponic solutions for cheap. More info on making your own hydroponic solution can be found here.
ChilLED Grow Lights shows us how he makes a 2 part hydroponic liquid nutrients:
That’s all. If you want, you can also see a professional microgreens setup for your basement which is very similar to hydroponic growing: T5 lightning, shelves from Amazon, plastic trays, regular timers to switch light on and off, and a gardening hose for watering. Nice!
More info on hydroponics
You can find more information on hydroponic systems in the following pages:
- more hydroponic systems
- general information on hydroponics
- preventing root rot in hydroponics
- growing lettuce using the Kratky Hydroponic method
- aerogarden Hydroponic Tomatoes Timelapse
- how to prune your hot pepper plants for maximum production
- hydroponic seeds germination techniques
- Dutch bucket hydroponics