Let’s face it; now is the perfect time to do some gardening. The weather is cooler, we’re required to stay at home unless leaving for essential tasks and we all need to be supporting local businesses wherever possible.
If you’re looking for a soil-free garden or one ideal for balconies or small spaces, a DIY hydroponics setup is ideal for you. In this guide, you’ll discover what exactly they are, the positives, negatives and how to build your own in a few easy steps.
What is a hydroponics system?
Hydroponics is the process of growing plants without soil; instead using a mineral-nutrient solution in water. The very controlled method of growing the plants and providing nutrients, and no pesticides, makes for typically faster-growing, healthier plants. It’s one of the many reasons hydroponics has become so popular for apartment owners in recent years.
However, hydroponics is not a new concept. One of the first-known reports of a hydroponic garden system is The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The gardens were located near today’s Baghdad, and used a watering system to provide a constant supply of nutrient-rich water to the plants.
6 Top Benefits of Hydroponics
- Plants grow faster.
- Takes up less space than a traditional garden.
- No soil needed.
- Perfect for balconies.
- Hydroponics can use up to 10% less water.
- No need to weed.
5 Top Negatives of Hydroponics
- Can be time consuming.
- Setup cost can be pricey.
- While risk is reduced, if disease occurs, it spreads quickly.
- Most systems require electricity.
- Some system knowledge is required.
Gardening Australia’s Easy DIY Hydroponics System Setup
In 2011, Gardening Australia released their guide to Simple Hydroponics. This particular setup requires minimal investment and you can get everything you need at your local hardware and gardening store. Better still, the system does not rely on electricity to run.
We highly recommend watching the video for a full understanding of how to set up your system properly.
You will need the following for your DIY Hydroponic Garden:
- Table or surface that will be above one end of your garden.
- 2 x 20 litre food-grade buckets.
- 150mm PVC pipe in the desired length you want for your garden. Ask your local hardware which is safe to grow food in, if you plan to eat your crops.
- 2 x 100m wide end caps.
- 20mm poly pipe.
- 1 x tap.
- 3 x poly pipe elbows.
- 2 x eye bolts.
- 2 x lengths of rope.
- A bag of perlite.
- Seedlings of choice.
How to Build a DIY Hydroponics System
- Take your PVC pipe and drill 90mm holes, at least 250mm apart, for each of your seedlings planted in later on.
- So you can suspend your hydroponics system, drill two small holes at each end and screw in an eye bolt to each, looping your rope through them to hang.
- Secure each end cap onto each end of your PVC pipe, drilling a hole at the bottom of your intended ‘bottom’ point for water to drain out of, and one at the ‘top end’, which will be attached to your nutrient-distribution system. Seal your end caps to the PVC with some silicone.
- Hang up your PVC pipe on a slight downward slant. Ensure there is space below the pipe for a bucket at the downward end and a higher surface to rest your top bucket on.
- Using poly pipe, run a system from the hole at the bottom of the PVC pipe at the end into a bucket. This will be where water will drain out.
- Drill a hole near the bottom of one of your food-grade buckets and secure in your tap.
- Attach the tap to the top end cap of your PVC pipe using some poly pipe.
- Now, fill the PVC with perlite.
- You can now plant your seedlings.
You will want to hand water your plants with the appropriate nutrient-dense solution while they settle. After this, you will want to run two to three buckets of solutions through the system a day, so once in the morning and once in the evening should suffice.
Visit your local nursery for advice on what to put in your watering solution. Alternatively, there are ready-to-go hydroponic systems available at most garden centers.
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