Hydroponics is a great, fun and clean way to grow plants indoors by supplying water, nutrients, and oxygen to their roots. Hydroponic growing is perfect for fruit bearing crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce and herbs. By synthetically controlling every aspect of the garden, almost any kind of plant imaginable can be grown using hydroponics! The majority of hydroponic gardeners plant crops similar to what they would grow in a soil garden. If it can be grown in a pot with soil it can also be grown by using hydroponics with a soilless medium. In your indoor Hydroponic garden you must be the sole creator of all aspects of the plants environment
A plant doesnt require soil to grow. There is no soil in a hydroponics garden, so the plants need to be anchored some how. There are many items which can be used to support plants, these are called soilless mediums. Clay pebbles and Rockwool are the most popular medium. These soilless mediums work best because they are pH neutral and provide plenty of support for plants. They retain moisture, and allow for good air circulation.
pH is one of the most disregarded aspects of gardening, pH is very important in hydroponics gardening. pH is measured on a scale of 1-14 with 7 being “neutral”. Anything lower than 7 is acidic and anything above 7 is alkaline (bases). All plants require a certain pH level in order to produce optimum results. The pH level will vary from plant to plant, but in general the majority prefer a slightly acidic level (between 6.0 – 6.5), though most plants can still tolerate an environment with a pH of between 5.0 and 7.5. The preferred method of checking and adjusting pH levels is to use a pH meter. pH adjustments can be made by simply adding a small amount of pH up or pH down solution to your reservoir.
Starting your garden out by planting seeds can be one of the most enjoyable parts of gardening. Seedlings dont require as an intense amount of light as does a more mature plant. You will want to use a florescent light about 2 above the top of your seedlings. Too much intense light and heat will burn them up and kill them. You will need a propagation tray and humidity dome. Use these to keep your medium and seeds in the perfect environment.
The preferred method for growing vegetables, flowers and herbs year round is with HID lighting, it stands for High Intensity Discharge Lighting, which is a special type of lighting that is much more intense than any other grow lights. Decide what size of light to use. First you need to figure out the square footage of your indoor garden. To do this you will need to measure the space. This is how to find the square footage of your grow space. (Width x Length= Square Feet) Example: if you want your indoor garden to be in your closet which is 3×4, you will find this room to be 12sq.ft. (You will also want the height of your room to be at least 4 above the canopy of your plants.) For most grow operations an 8-10 foot ceiling will work fine. This will allow you to keep your lamp at least a minimum of 18 above the top of your plants. (HID lights get hot and can burn the tops of your plants.) Next you will need to know how many watts/square foot of light your plants will require. For Example, tomatoes need to attain around 40-50 watts per square foot for optimal growth. You then would take 50 watts x 12sq. ft. = 600 watts. This means that you will need a 600watt light to maintain your plants optimal growth in this particular garden. (Plants wattage needs x Square Feet = HID light requirement.)