In an interest to work on my health issues the natural way I have been doing my best to eat more fruits and fresh veggies. This means at least 2 if not 3 trips a week to my local health food store or farmers market.this gets time consuming, costs cost and the veggies are not cheap. This lead me to thinking about doing the backyard garden again, except for a few minor things:
- Having to clean the backyard
- Having to put in raised beds
- Having to buy or condition soil
- Bending over a lot
I saw this Tower Garden that used hydroponics but ouch $500. So after doing research on it online and I was hooked on building my own.
What the Hell is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics basically is growing plants without your traditional soil. Using water, liquid nutrients and sometimes an inert media to hold the plant. There are many different types of systems and you can build a small basic one for less than $100.
Of course with my OCD small and basic is out of the question. Looking online I got a few ideas and combining a few together I built my first system, a combo hydroponics/aeroponics rails using 8′ vinyl fence post from Lowes. Aeroponics is using sprayers or misters to spray the plant roots with the nutrient solution. This oxygenates the mixture more and is great for the plants. Often resulting in faster growth and greater yield.
The system is recirculating so I just check the Ph and water level once in a while and it takes care of itself. Every 2-3 weeks I drain the reservoir and add new nutrient solution.
Benefits of Hydro:
- No weeding
- No soil
- No remembering to water daily
- Uses less water because there is no run off
- Faster growth
- Greater yields
- It’s been said tastier fruits as well
Well the most known crop of course is that unmentionable weed, but besides that you can grow just about anything. In the first system I have peppers, bush cucumbers, bush tomatoes, Brussel sprouts and strawberries. Being a lean-to vertical system it can do 32 plants in a 3′ x 8′ area. I built a second system with smaller pots for our leafy greens. Spinach, lettuce, kale and herbs which we are starting all from seed? It can do 75 plants in a 3′ x 10′ area! If you can grow it in soil you can grow it without as well. May be more difficult for your root plants such as carrots, radish and onions, but it can be done.
Did I mention my OCD? Hydroponics is great for indoor growing but the lights are pretty expensive and in San Diego the sun is out pretty much 80% of the time but it can get cold. So I’m building a green house 🙂 This way we can grow pretty much year round! I also have plans for a Dutch bucket system for the vining tomatoes, cucumbers broccoli and cauliflower. also a completely vertical tower system(s) for strawberries. I’m hoping to become self sufficient as far as our greens and veggies go. Spending the money do for the systems which can be used over and over again, just have to buy the nutrient solution. Found a hydroponic store around the corner for that but you can buy it online. It seems pricey but it goes a long way.
I’m also looking at building a water reservoir that will hold water to be dechlorinated, then will automatically top off the nutrient reservoirs by float valves. Making it that much easier to maintain the systems!
Hydroponic systems can be built as small or as large as you wish, outdoors or indoors. Making it a great way to grow your food no matter where you live or any climate. Live where it snows, then have a grow room or just a small tub system in the corner. Same thing if you live in an apartment, you can have a small tub growing tomatoes and lettuce in the kitchen or maybe you have a balcony or small deck you can but a system outside. The internet is full of ideas and plans for building hydroponic systems for very little money (or you can be like me and go crazy). The biggest expense in starting is the tools if you dont have them. Hey if your local and need some help or would like a system built for you let me know and I’ll give you a quote!
Stay tuned, I’m thinking seriously of starting another blog on this so I can do updates on everything and more details on the builds 🙂