How To Start A Hydroponic Garden In 7 Steps

7 Steps to starting a hydroponic gardenThere is a little more that goes into the planning portion of your hydroponic garden compared to the traditional soil garden. A little pre-planning and time spent up front can mean less of a chance of hiccup during your grow. Here’s how to start a hydroponic garden in 7 steps.

1. Decide What To Grow

The first thing you should do when starting a hydroponic garden is decide what type of plants you’re looking to grow. This decision will help determine what type of hydroponic system you should use, the lighting, and the amount of space you will need. Different hydroponic systems work better than others for different plants. If it’s your first time growing using hydroponics, I would recommend starting with a leafy green like lettuce. Different plants grow better in different environments so research the variety of plant that you’re looking to grow so you can best recreate that environment.

2. Decide On Your Hydroponic System

Before starting a hydroponic garden you will need to choose your hydroponic system. There are many choices when it comes to purchasing a hydroponic system. There are several different types of hydroponic systems to choose from. A few factors will go into choosing the best system for your garden. The amount of space you have, type of plants you’re growing, your budget, and the amount you want to grow all factor into the choice of a hydroponics system. Whether buying a hydroponic system or making your own, after assembling let it run before adding grow medium to make sure there are no leaks. A malfunctioning or un-level hydroponic system can lead to a water overflow mess.

3. Choose A Light Source

If you’re not using the sun as your light source then you will need to choose grow lights for your hydroponic system. Proper lighting is going to be a major factor in the success of your garden. Several factors come into play when choosing the best light for your system. There are different types of lights that have their advantages and disadvantages. Do your research to find what light setup will work best for your hydroponic garden. Some things you will want to consider when choosing a hydroponic grow light are cost, light intensity, the light spectrum and the coverage area. When starting a hydroponic garden, if you want quality choosing the cheapest route is not the best option.

4. Choose A Hydroponic Grow Medium

When planning your hydroponic garden you will have to determine what type of grow medium will work best your system. The type of grow medium you should use depends on what you’re growing and what type of system you’re using. There are several types of grow mediums offering different advantages. Some things to consider when choosing a grow medium will be cost, water retention,  aeration levels and pH stability.

5. Purchase Hydroponic Nutrients & Additives

There many different types of nutrients that come in 1, 2, and 3 part systems. For beginners to starting a hydroponic garden, I would recommend a 1 part nutrient solution such as DynaGro Grow and DynaGro Bloom. If you have a good understanding of a plant’s nutrient needs, General Hydroponics makes a great 3 part series. Many companies also provide general feeding schedules on their website as a guide.

You should also purchase a pH up and a pH down to adjust the pH of your nutrient solution. Plants can only take in nutrients when the hydroponic solution is within a specific range so it’s important to have some on hand in case of a spike.

There are many additives that will assist in the sterilization of your system, growth rate of your plant, the taste, and the general size of your plants. Think of them as vitamins to plants. While they are not necessary, they can give your plant that extra boost to produce at the highest level.

6. Purchase A pH Meter

You have a few options when it comes to measuring pH. You can get a liquid kit,  test strips, or an electronic meter. I prefer to use electronic meters. They are pretty inexpensive off the internet and also the most convenient.

7. Start Your Seeds

Once you get your system set up and have purchased all your supplies it’s time to start the seeds. It’s important to have everything in order before starting your seeds, in case you run into delays with your set up. To start my seeds, I prefer to use rapid rooter and place them in a greenhouse dome. When roots start showing out of the bottom of your grow medium you’re ready to transplant them into your system.