Hydroponic systems vary, but they also have major similar components. These constitute what is required for the system to be complete and function as required to prevent failures. You may choose to work with the already provided kits in the market or choose to construct one as an individual. Whichever choice you go for, there are some basic components that everyone will require. This will include a growing media, grow lights supplies, as well as a nutrient solution. In addition, you will need to consider the regular maintenance.
Grow Light Supplies
Indoor plant cultivation requires lighting that closely resembles that of the sun. In this, you need a full spectrum of light. In this, there are different types of light solutions depending on the plants you want to grow. Fluorescent lights are ideal for growing foliage plants as they supplement natural lighting despite not being able to provide a full spectrum.
On the other hand, flowering plants and vegetables will require better lighting and thus the use of metal halide lights. These are designed to provide the closest similarities to sunlight. High pressure sodium lights are also a consideration and it is important to note that these provide more red/orange spectrum. These are important for the process of photosynthesis and chlorophyll production. You can include light movers and/or reflectors to help boost the efficiency of lighting.
Do not overdo it to avoid burns and death of plants.
A growing medium is what replaces soil in natural cultivation. There are different growing mediums and depending on the type of hydroponics; you will be able to choose the best medium to work with. Growing mediums hold all the nutrients that you would need for growth.
The most common mediums used include Rockwool and expanded clay as they provide more advantages as compared to other mediums. However, it is not limiting to just these two and others may use sand, gravel, bark, coconut fiber, vermiculite, polyurethane foam, as well as perlite.
- Rockwool has the added advantage of holding more water content while at the same time boosting air circulation with the roots.
- Expanded clay has the added advantage of promoting air circulation. In addition, it is pH neutral and overtime, it will not compact making it durable.
The nutrient solution is responsible for holding all the necessary nutrients required by your plants. The solution is simply water and the nutrients which will be held by a reservoir. The solution should be water soluble with minimal residue. Even better, a solution with no residue is advisable as this will not reduce maintenance requirements. Also, ensure that you change the solution as required ranging between one and two weeks.
Going for a hydroponics nutrient solution is recommended as it has the required proportions of the necessary nutrients. In addition, it avoids a toxic level for your plants. Before you can settle for a nutrient solution, it is best that you test its electrical conductivity level. This is done with the help of a conductivity meter. Keep in mind that a high electrical conductivity translates to a vegetative growth as opposed to flowers and fruits.
The amount will vary with the consideration of other factors such as the quantity of plants and the age of the plants as younger plants will consume less. Other factors will be determined on the basis of the type of hydroponics.
This is where the solution is placed for use before the plants gain access to it. It is not restricting to what you can use as a nutrient reservoir. One can use an old fish tank, a large plastic container or any equipment that can hold the quantity of water you need.
However, while you can choose from different materials, it is best that you avoid reservoirs made from metallic materials. This is because they are likely to introduce other components that are considered harmful for the plants. Strong plastic is highly recommended as it is also easy to clean and maintain for right about anyone even a beginner in hydroponics.
A grow tray serves the purpose of holding the plants. Many think that the plants are placed in the nutrient solution but this is not the case. Plants are separated. The plants are grown in the grow tray or what is commonly referred to as the grow chamber. Others will use pots especially for small scale cultivation. This will vary also depending on the type of hydroponics. A supplier will guide you through the benefits and challenges of using one grow tray as opposed to another.
A pump serves the purpose of pumping water from the reservoir. Its key purpose is to oxygenate the water and prevent algae growth in the reservoir. This is similar to that of an aquarium. The circulation makes it easier to ensure that the water is fresh and clean. Every hydroponic system must include a pump. Ensure that it does not block as this will negatively affect the plants. Constantly check on its functionality to prevent any blockages.
An airstone is normally included though it is not a basic necessity. It is highly recommended as it serves the purpose of adding oxygen into the nutrient solution. Oxygen is required even for traditional cultivation to help facilitate germination and overall healthy growth. More oxygen production means that you will boost faster growth as well as keep the nutrient solution fresh for use.
You can work with the already provided kits that are easier to assemble and use. Alternatively, you can choose to construct one as an individual right from the start. However you go, there are some basic components that everyone will require. These vary from a growing media, grow lights supplies, trays, pots, as well as a nutrient solution. In addition, you will need to consider the regular maintenance to help boost functionality. Hydroponic systems vary but they also have major similar components. These constitute the above components that will ensure proper and adequate functionality.