I have been gardening outdoors for over 25 years and recently became interested in growing some garden plants indoors during the winter.
I usually seed start in the winter to prepare for my spring garden, but thought it would be really nice to have home grown lettuce. I also didn't want to spend a fortune on setting up a hydroponic system or buying one off the shelf.
I watched some Youtube videos and gathered information on what I would need. I ended up with a system that is simple and anyone can set one up. I had an advantage because I already had a grow light setup for my seed starting so I used that as a base.
The disadvantage to my light setup is that there is not a lot of room between the lights and the top of the hydroponic water bins. If you are purchasing a light setup, make sure you get one with enough clearance for your fully grown plants.
I've run this setup now twice and had great results both times. The first time, we ran the setup for my daughter's science fair project. For that one we tried growing tomatoes and basil. Both plants grew wonderfully, but tomatoes are hard to grow indoors since they need pollination by insects or you have to hand polinate. And also I had that pesky problem that my lights are way too low for tomatoes. But, with hand polination, you could probably grow tomatoes to maturity indoors. We didn't get any mature tomatoes since the project was completed before we got any. My daughter did win first place for her grade level for her project!
The second time I'm running the system, I have just planted several varieties of lettuce. This is working well with my light setup but I still wish I had more space!
So, on to how to setup your own hydroponics system.
What you will need: (please scroll down for buying options for some fo the items)
- * Plastic Bins with lids
- * Aquarium Air line hose
- * Aquarium Air Stones
- * Aquarium Air Splitter
- * Aquarium Air Pump
- * Aquarium Rocks
- * Rockwool
- * General Hydroponics MaxiGro for Gardening
- * 2 inch Round Net Cups Pots Wide Lip
I decided to purchase 3 bins that were a good size to fit on my light stand. They need to be able to hold a good amount of water but you want to make sure they aren't too tall if you are limited by your lights like I am.
I cut 8 holes the size of the round net cups in the top of each bin. Depending on your bin size, you may be able to fit more/less. Put a net cup into each of the holes.
Next setup your air lines. Plants need air to grow and this aerates the water and also helps it move around some. I drilled holes in the sides of my containers, but I don't recommend this. Drill your holes in the TOP near one corner. I have to be careful when filling the containers because it leaks around the hose and in the beginning I would like to be able to fill my containers a little more. Cut lengths of airline hose and run it from your splitter into each bin through the hole in the top. Put an airstone on the end of each hose. Hook up your aquarium pump to the splitter.
Next, I use a combination of aquarium stone and the rock wool in my net cups. The rock wool is a great growing medium for hydroponic plants. It sucks up with water and brings it to where the plant is so when starting the seedlings it's helps a lot. My rockwool doesn't fill the entire cup, so I put aquarium stone in around the rockwool.
The setup is almost complete. Mix up your hydroponic growing solution and fill up your plastic bins with water. Turn on the aquairum pump and you are ready to plant seeds.
The seeds can be a bit tricky to get started. I put a few into the hole in each rock wool. I also cover them with clear plastic cover until they sprout and get started (like the covers you use for seed starting). I also spray the plants/rockwool every day until the plants get established.
Once the plants get started, you will only need to tend them occasionally (a few times per week probably). Make sure the water doesn't run out and refill as necessary adding hydroponics grow solution to it each time.
I hope you setup your own hydroponics and have a successful indoor garden! If you have questions, you can send us an e-mail through the 'Contact Us' link.
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