Hydroponics Systems – The Ultimate Guide

If you’re new to gardening and agriculture, the term “hydroponics” may sound like a very modern and high-tech concept. However, hydroponics gardening has been around for hundreds of years and can be traced back to the infamous Babylon hanging gardens. Today, hydroponic systems are quickly becoming a popular gardening trend among many horticultural experts and professionals.

If you’re interested in learning more about hydroponics gardening, we’ve got you covered. This article has everything you need to know about the different types of hydroponics systems and how to maintain them.

What are Hydroponics Systems?

what is hydroponics

Hydroponic is a gardening technique that uses water enriched with nutrients and minerals, which results in a soil-less garden. It’s been scientifically proven that most trees and plants don’t need soil to thrive since the water, oxygen, and nutrients in the soil are what they need to for optimal growth, not the soil itself.

Hydroponics systems are man-made structures designed to supply your plants with all these through water, eliminating the need for soil.

Types of Hydroponics Systems

Hydroponics systems are made of various types of materials, including wood, metal, concrete, plastic, and glass. All hydroponics systems can be classified into 6 types based on the structure. Here’s a closer look:

1. The Wick Hydroponics System

This is the most primeval and basic hydroponics system. The plants are planted in a container with an alternative inert growing medium such as gravel, perlite, or sand. The container is placed above a reservoir filled with water containing nutrients and minerals. This rich water solution is then pumped up to the roots of the plants by using a wick such as a cord or rope.

This technique is most suited for small plants which don’t require a lot of nourishment to grow due to which reason it’s typically used in smaller settings.

2. The Deep-Water Culture System (DWC)

This system involves placing the plants in net pots which allow the roots to protrude through the netting. The roots are submerged or suspended directly into a tank with nutrient and mineral-enriched water. This way, the system ensures that your plants get a continuous supply of nourishment.

The DWC system can be made with very few materials that are easy to find at home. It’s a low-cost, low-maintenance, water-saving system in comparison to most other systems. The downside of this system is that it’s not ideal for bigger-sized plants.  

3. The Drip System

The drip system is not complicated, but it does require some technical and electrical support to make it work. Drip systems are mainly used in larger-scale cultivation projects that are mostly commercial.

Similar to the wick system, a container with plants is placed above a tank filled with nutrients and mineral enriched water. The water is pumped up using a submersible pump and sent through a network of pipes with holes in them. The water drips directly to the plant roots. When using this technique, it’s crucial to provide the plants with nutrients according to a fixed schedule.

If you’d like to check out some of the best drip irrigation systems available on the market, click here.

4. The Ebb and Flow System

In this method, plants are grown on a tray with the help of a growing medium. Then, the tray is flooded with the mineral and nutrient solution. The water reservoir is placed below the tray and water is brought up by an automated pump with a timer.

Once the growing medium has absorbed enough nutrients from the water, the rest of the solution drains back to the tank below with the help of an overflow pipe.

The ebb and flow system is not commonly used but when built properly it’s a really good system for thirsty plants such as lettuce and spinach.

5. The Aeroponic System

The aeroponic system is considered the most high-tech hydroponics method of all. The plants are suspended in the air above the water reservoir and the nutrient and mineral solution is pumped up by the use of a pump connected to a timer. Then, the roots are sprayed by nozzles with a mist of the nutrient solution.

aeroponics systems

A growing medium is not necessary for this method since the plant roots are dangling instead of submerged. They get an endless supply of oxygen which is what makes this system so effective. However, this system can be costly to build.

6. The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT System)

The Nutrient Film Technique is also a high-tech hydroponics system that’s mainly used for commercial purposes. In this system, the plants are planted in channels or on a growing tray, with the nutrient water reservoir placed on the bottom.

With the use of an automated pump, the water solution is constantly flowing through the channels or over the tray starting from one side to the other and then drains back into the tank.  

The nutrient and mineral solution can be reused by sending it through the system over and over. Due to this reason, the NFT hydroponic system can be identified as a water-saving system that doesn’t need a growing medium for the plants to grow.

How to Maintain a Hydroponics System

hydroponics growing system
20 Pods Hydroponics Growing System. See it here.

Maintaining a hydroponics garden does require a certain amount of time and effort, but it’s not too difficult to do. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • To get a good harvest, hydroponic gardens also should be kept constantly and well maintained. It’s important to keep the water at the right level and it’s also necessary to be aware of the differences of PH (measure of acidity in water) and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) levels. These should be kept at the right levels or your plants will suffer.
  • All equipment, automated or electronic, should be checked daily whether to see if everything is functioning properly. Any broken parts or equipment must be repaired or replaced immediately or the whole system will fail and your plants will wilt.
  • Always check your plants for diseases and pest infestations. If there are any infected plants, they should be removed or treated at once.
maintaining a hydroponics garden
  • Change the water at least once a week. By doing so, your plants will get a continuous supply of nutrients and won’t suffer from malnourishment.
  • After each harvest, the entire hydroponic system must be cleaned and disinfected with proper pesticides. That way, the possible threats and diseases that could be passed onto the next crop can be effectively eliminated.

Why Choose a Hydroponic System?

When comparing with the traditional method of substrate gardening (soil-based gardening) hydroponic gardening has much more to offer in various aspects. It’s scientifically proven that this method is 90% more water-efficient than soil-based gardening.

Hydroponic systems can be a bit more expensive to build and maintain than a normal garden. You may also require the help of a professional as well. However, according to most gardening experts, the benefits of hydroponics far outweigh its drawbacks.

FAQ’s about Hydroponic Gardens

1. What is hydroponics gardening?

Hydroponics gardening is a method of growing plants without soil, using a nutrient-rich water solution instead.

2. How does hydroponics gardening work?

In hydroponics gardening, plants are grown in a controlled environment and receive all of their necessary nutrients and water directly from the water solution. This method allows for faster growth rates and higher yields compared to traditional soil-based gardening.

3. What are the benefits of hydroponics gardening?

The benefits of hydroponics gardening include increased water efficiency, reduced space requirements, improved plant health, and greater control over growing conditions.

4. What types of plants can be grown in hydroponics gardens?

Almost any plant can be grown in hydroponics gardens, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Some popular choices include lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and basil.

5. What are the different types of hydroponics systems?

There are many different types of hydroponics systems, including deep water culture (DWC), nutrient film technique (NFT), drip irrigation, ebb and flow, and aeroponics. Each system has its own advantages and disadvantages and is suited for different types of plants and growing conditions.

The Take-Away

As you can see, hydroponics might seem like a very complicated topic and while it certainly can be, it’s well worth your time and effort. If implemented correctly, a hydroponics system can save you a lot of time, money, and resources down the line while giving you better yields and crops.