So, you’ve been growing in soil for a few years and you think it’s time to step it up to hydroponics? You’ve heard you get bigger yields, better quality, it’s automated and you can go on a three week vacation and not have to worry about it. And NASA does it and so can you. Right?
Let’s clear up a few things about hydroponics; yes, you could get bigger yields. Yes, you could get better quality. However, it not as easy as you may have heard. Oh, and the three week vacation, forget about it. Hydroponic cultivation requires a bit of maintenance. Yes, you can set up automated dosers, monitoring systems and reservoirs with controllers and then the system is virtually self-sufficient. However, you are also looking at several thousand dollars for that kind of equipment. If that’s what you want, then by all means, go for it. For the rest of us, monitoring the pH and the EC/PPM of our reservoir is a daily routine.
The average home hobbyist who is just getting started in hydroponics needs to consider a few key things before getting started.
- Which type of system is ideal for the crop I am growing?
- How much money am I willing to invest in this project?
- How much time am I willing to invest in this project?
If you are growing small plants like lettuce, basil, spinach, arugula, etc. I recommend an Aeroponic system such as our AeroFlo models, or our RainForest models. These systems encourage extremely rapid growth and use less nutrient per plant than other hydroponic methods. Bear in mind, I am talking about the small scale grower here. If you are looking to do hundreds or thousands of heads of lettuce, then this is not the system for you. A Floating Raft system would be what you need for something of that scale.
If you are growing medium to large plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, etc. I recommend our WaterFarm, PowerGrower or EcoGrower systems. These RDWC (Recirculating Deep Water Culture) systems are the way to go. They both come in single unit models or expandable systems with multiple modules connected to a controller bucket and reservoir. These systems have large growing chambers to accommodate massive root systems.
Another great system for medium to large plants is our EuroGrower. It is an 8 site “Dutch Pot” system. If you are wondering why they are called Dutch Pots, well, it’s because they were invented by the Dutch. Isn’t that weird? They sit atop our 40 gallon Panda Reservoir and each pot is fed by a ¼” drip line. It is very easy to use and to maintain.
We do offer another type of RWDC system for HUGE plants; The MegaFarm. People grow trees in this thing (wink – wink). It boasts a 20 gallon growing chamber which nests inside of another 20 gallon container. The water holding capacity is about 5 gallons. I’ve seen 8’ banana trees in this thing with giant clusters of bananas on them. Really cool!
So, whatever you are growing, there is a hydroponic system that will suit your needs. Hydroponic cultivation is fun and rewarding. However, there is a bit of a learning curve, so do a little bit of research before you get started.