A Brief Guide to Hydroponic Gardening for Noobs

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Ali Asjad
Ali Asjad is the owner of Crayz Media, a content marketing firm that specializes in business promotion through online media by means of press releases, articles, social media marketing and organic search engine optimization.
Ali Asjad
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Hydroponic_onions_nasaThis is a brief guide for complete and utter noobs who are interested in learning the ropes of hydroponic gardening. You’re visionaries! When the human species first begins colonizing Mars, we’ll be almost entirely dependent on hydroponic gardening.

Why? Because we’ll be doing all the growing indoors in smaller highly controlled environments where the temperature, humidity, water, CO2, air circulation, and other climatic conditions are kept in check. Once we terraform the red planet into something more similar to earth, then we can talk about conventional outdoor soil gardens.

First Some Specifics

Let’s talk about the conditions of your hydroponic grow space. These are rules of thumb to grow by. Learn them. Love them. Your yields depend on it.

  • Humidity: If we’re going to talk in terms of ideal, you want to shoot for between 40% and 60% to see the best results. Of course, this is dependent on your plants. Keep in mind that higher humidity requires more clean up on your part to avoid mildew.
  • Temperature: It’s gonna be warm. We’re talking 68 – 75F. And you’ve got to consider the relationship an increasing amount of heat will have with your chosen degree of humidity. Relax, it’s an easy learning process. You’ll know it when it becomes too much for your plants.
  • CO2: Most typical rooms with decent circulation are going to have roughly 300-400 ppm. But the more the CO2 concentration, the better your yield. Think 1400 ppm as an ideal to aim for.
  • Circulation: If reaching those levels of CO2 are out of the question in the beginning, all you need to do is make sure that there’s ample air circulation to constantly supply fresh CO2.

Let’s move on to choosing your first setup.

Choose Your Hydro System

As you might have guessed, the modern world is undergoing a hydroponic revolution. The different kits and equipment you can get these days are absolutely staggering.

The potential accessories in the setup stage alone will melt your mind. Then there’s all the complexity that comes along with every other step in the process if you want to get crazy. So, a noob’s best bet is to start with a simple hydro

system. You’ve got 3 choices: wick, water, and ebb & flow.

An Ancient Wick System

These go way back. It’s the most basic approach to hydroponics and a great touch-off point for the nobbishly inclined. After you setup your first wick system, you’ll grasp the foundational concept of hydroponic gardening. From there you can move on to more complex systems. The team at HorticultureResource.com summed it up nicely:

“Ebb & Flow growing floods and drains a tray of plants with a nutrient solution at regular intervals. Drip growing drips a nutrient solution onto the plant root base through tubes leading to each plant. Aeroponic growing sprays an oxygenated nutrient water mist onto the roots of plants. NFT Growing creates a slow moving nutrient solution ‘film’ that flows over the roots of the plants.”

Beware Industrial Nutrients

You need to avoid all the nastiness out there in the mainstream hydroponics industry. Many of the heavily marketed solutions are filled with refined, highly-processed ingredients. It’s still not easy or all that cheap to find “organic” hydroponic solutions, but they’re out there and you can find them online if you do your homework.

Here’s a quote from UrbanFarmOnline:

“USDA National Organic Program standards only allow for the use of unprocessed, mined mineral or animal-based fertilizers, such as rock dust, blood meal, bone meal and animal manures. Many organic fertilizers can’t be used in hydroponics because their nutrients are generally not water-soluble.”

Why Go Soil-less?

With hydroponics, the plant can transfer all the energy it would have used in developing an extensive root network into providing better yields and quality crop. Here’s another good thing about soil-less gardening: it is far less messy than traditional growing. If you’re going to have a lot of plants in a small space then hydroponics, coupled with Advanced LED Grow Lights is your best bet.

There, that should be enough to get you thinking about your grow space, the types of containers you’ll need, how much yield you’re interested in and how to get your hands on proper solutions and mediums. Stay tuned for the next post where we’ll dive deeper into the ocean that is hydroponics.