DIY Hydroponics is Doable
You have decided to build your own hydroponics system, but you are wondering where to start. First of all, there are many plans available online, in books at your local library and in gardening magazines. The time it will take to complete your project depends on the complexity of the system you choose.
All hydroponic systems require a nutrient reservoir, a bed or containers to hold the plants and plant nutrients. Depending on what type of system you choose there will be specific additional parts needed. Before you start your project, review the plans to ensure that you have all the parts needed to build your system. It is frustrating to start a project and then discover you are missing a part.
All Hydroponic Systems use a reservoir to hold the nutrient solution that feeds your plants. This container should be opaque to prevent exposure to light of any kind. Light may cause algae to grow to require replacement of the solution. The reservoir will need to be sterilized to prevent exposure to disease-causing germs. When the build your own hydroponics system is completed, allow a mild chlorine bleach solution to cycle through your system for about 30 minutes. Empty the solution from the system and allow it to dry completely before adding plants.
Some types of hydroponic systems require a submersible pump. These pumps should not rest on the bottom of your reservoir. You can use a PVC pipe, a sterilized piece of flat non-sedimentary rock or a small plastic container with holes cut out to support your pump. Air bubblers, used in some systems, also work best when they are not resting on the bottom.
Net pots are specifically designed for hydroponic gardening. Rock wool, pea gravel, and sand can be used instead of net pots when building your own hydroponic system. Styrofoam can be used to support plants if a passive saturation or wick system is used. Net pots work best for NFT systems as the open holes allow complete nutrient saturation of the root bundle.
You can grow your own plants from seed or purchase seedlings from a nursery. Hydroponics can be used to sprout your seeds. A growth medium like perlite will be needed to support the seedling until a sufficient root bundle has grown. Some seeds may require an overnight soak in vinegar or water before they will sprout. Review the seed package carefully or research the plant to identify if it may need soaking.
Rinsing your seedlings before transplanting them into the growing bed is important. It doesn’t take much to clog a pump or bubbler, which will cause additional work later. Carefully remove the seedling from the sprouting medium and shake gently. Rinse the root system with water before placing it into the pot or growing bed.
It is easy to build your own hydroponics system. The reward will be homegrown vegetables and fruit and the satisfaction of a job well done.