A hydroponic system offers numerous advantages over planting in pots or planters. You get the convenience of not having to deal with cumbersome pots. Hydroponic systems also do not attract pests or bugs. You get to grow your plants anywhere, use less water than with traditional gardening, require less space, and do not need to use pesticides.
Though, planning in pots of soil does have its own advantages. It is a natural root structure for your plants. Though, the drawbacks quickly become apparent. For example, the soil may require large pots if you are growing indoors. It is also easy to over water your plants when you choose soil.
So, how do you choose the best hydroponic system? You need to look at the main features of hydroponics. If you are not familiar with hydroponics, then you may be surprised to learn that there are quite a few different hydroponic setups.
The primary difference between different hydroponics systems comes down to the process they use for delivering water and air to your plants. Here are some tips to help you choose the best hydroponic system.
Decide What You Want to Grow
The first step is to think about what you want to grow. This will determine the size and setup of your hydroponic system. If you are planting a few small herbs, you are not going to need as much space as you would for growing a large crop.
Once you know what you want to grow, you need to decide how to grow it. There are quite a few different options. This includes the following best hydroponic systems:
Passive hydroponics refers to a system that uses a growing medium. You will fill your flowerpot with the growing medium of your choice and then set your flowerpot in a tray with water.
As the growing medium dries, the roots will draw water from the tray. Though, you may still need to occasionally water the plants from above in order to flush the media. These systems are easy to setup and a good introduction to hydroponics.
Perlite is a commonly used grow medium for passive hydroponics. You will place it in a flowerpot, the same as you would soil. You will also need some type of nutrient solution to occasionally provide your plants with additional nutrients.
This method is referred to as passive hydroponics, as you are simply allowing the water to be absorbed as needed. You are not actively delivering water to the system.
An active hydroponic system requires the use of a pump system to deliver water. Typically, some form of a sprinkler system is set up in order to spray the tops of your plants and growing medium. The water is then absorbed by the grow medium and then absorbed by the root system.
With active hydroponics, the growing medium is allowed to partially dry before you add more water. This helps with aeration. The disadvantage of this system is that you will end up with wasted water, which defeats one of the main advantages of using hydroponics.
The water runoff is simply wasted. You are not recirculating the water. These setups are primarily used in professional indoor grow operations. The sprinkler system can be hard to concentrate on a small area, which makes it inconvenient for growing plants in a small space.
The drip hydroponic system is the system that most people think about when they picture hydroponics. With drip hydroponics, a drip irrigation system is used to constantly deliver a slow drip of water.
The water is slowly absorbed over a long period of time, which results in less water runoff and no uncontrolled water spray.
One of the advantages of drip hydroponics is that you do not need to deal with the hassle of a sprinkler system. There is less wasted water and fewer variables to control.
Nutrient Film Technique
The nutrient film technique works in a similar manner to the drip technique. Though, instead of delivering water through the slow drip irrigation system, you will be adding a nutrient solution. With the nutrient film technique, a growing medium may or may not be used.
Ebb and Flow Hydroponics
The ebb and flow hydroponic systems provide your plants with water and then allow the water to drain. As the water drains, the roots receive access to air. This prevents overwatering and gives your plants an optimal cycle of water and aeration.
Deep Water Culture Hydroponics
With deep water culture hydroponics, you will place your plants in a system that allows the roots to soak in a nutrient solution. In order to provide aeration, an air stone is often set in the flowerpot or system. Air gets pumped into the water so that the nutrient solution that you use does not go stagnant.
Final Thoughts on Choosing the Best Hydroponic System
Consider all of your options before choosing the hydroponic system that you would like to use. There are quite a few different choices.
Along with the choices described, you may also want to consider Aeroponics. This refers to a system similar to deep water culture. Though, instead of adding air with an air stone, you will spray a nutrient solution into the air and allow it to settle down into the roots.
The passive hydroponic system is perhaps the easiest for beginners. It requires the simplest setup. You do not need a complicated drip system. Though, if you have experience with gardening, then maybe you will want to try using one of the other methods.
Whichever method you choose, you will find plenty of starter kits that include almost everything that you need to get started. Consider the water delivery systems that each of these options requires.
In the end, the decision is yours. Remember to learn more about each method and thoroughly research the method that you choose. Make sure that you understand what you are getting into before setting up the best hydroponic system.