Hydroponics, also known as indoor growing, is picking up traction because of its efficiency, higher yield and reduction of labour. Hydroponics uses on average 20 times less water than soil-based gardening, 20% less space for growing, and the growing environment is sterile, which means there’s no need for pesticides. You only use around 10% of water compared to soil-based gardening, and it can be recirculated, allowing you to conserve water. If you’ve been curious about starting your own hydroponics garden, read our guide to learn more about the 4 key things you need to know before embarking on this road.
1. Grow Area
Before you do anything else, you need to think about where you can start growing your plants. Some popular growing spaces include basements, closets and spare bedrooms—easy to see why indoor growing is becoming popular in the cities aye? But your grow area can’t just be a random space you happen to have free. It needs to be completely light-proof and have good ventilation. Artificial lights will be used to nurture the plants, so even a sliver of natural light will confuse them and affect their growth. A lot of growers tend to make holes for vents and then cover them using ducting to make it light-proof. If you’re a no muss, no fuss kinda person, the easiest way to get started is with a pre-made grow tent. These can be set up anywhere and are already light-proof and have ventilation systems in place.
2. Grow Lights
When it comes to hydroponics, you need something more powerful than your average household light bulb. There are 3 lights to choose from: HID, CFL and LED. You can read in depth about grow lights here (link to first blog on lights).
- HID Lights
Most powerful indoor lights with the highest temperature—also the most expensive. Ideal for growers using a 1m2-sized space or larger. Two types of bulbs: HPS or MH. Requires an external ballast, ventilation and reflector.
- CFL Lights
Average power but affordable. Ideal for very small spaces or smaller yields. Good for seedlings and clones.
- LED Lights
Most efficient and cost-effective. Creates more light with less heat, using less electricity. Will produce a lower yield than HID lights, but more than CFL lights.
Just like you need to crack the window open from time to time, plants need ventilation to breathe fresh air, regulate temperature and keep humidity levels down. Many growers use heavy duty duct fans and ducting for ventilation, and it’s highly recommended that you attach a carbon filter to the end of ducting to remove any unpleasant smells. It’s also important to keep the air flow moving, and this can be easily done with small clip fans that create a gentle breeze.
4. Growing Medium
Regular indoor growing can be achieved
with good quality soil, but hydroponics doesn’t use soil. Some good
growing mediums that support the root system include perlite, rockwool,
expanded clay, peat moss, clay pellets, gravel, sand, and vermiculite.