Hydroponic farming is the process of growing plants without soil. The process relies on liquid instead of soil to provide the nutrients that plants need. To support the plants as they grow, you need to use a porous material like sand, gravel or peat. With the right supplies and a basic understanding for the growth cycle of plants, anyone can start hydroponic farming.
Things You'll Need
- Hydroponic farming system
- Porous material
- Nutrient solution
- Seeds or plants
Determine whether you want to use sub-irrigation. In this culture technique, you use trays filled with porous material and periodically flood them with nutrient solution. You can collect and reuse the runoff for as long as it maintains an adequate amount of nutrients.
Consider using the water-culture method. This method uses porous material like glass wool that can float on top of a water solution fortified with nutrients. The material supports the plants, allowing the roots to extend into the solution below as they grow.
Evaluate the benefits of using the slop or drip methods. Both culture techniques replace soil with sand. In the slop method, you pour nutrient solution onto the sand as needed. With the drip method, you establish a system designed to provide a constant drip of liquid.
Think about the type of hydroponic system you want to use. Most systems fall into the categories of active or passive. In an active system, a pump moves the nutrient solution around the system. Passive systems rely on the porous material to provide a capillary action to get the liquid to the roots, which can create less than optimal growing conditions.
Purchase the necessary supplies, which will depend on the type of culture technique you plan to use. In most cases you will need a hydroponic system, porous materials, nutrient solution and plants or seeds. Hydroponic farming stores sell ready-to-use systems, as well as the other items you need. The nutrient solution often comes as a concentrate with the dilution rate of two to four tsp. per gallon of water.
Set up the equipment and plant your seeds or plants. If you plan to farm outdoors, you will want to follow your local weather guidelines for planting. Otherwise, you may want to invest in a green house or begin farming indoors.
Maintain your hydroponic farm as the plants grow. The larger your farm, the more work this will take. You need to make sure you provide the nutrient solution at the correct time for your system, as well as pruning and picking plants as needed.