Beginning your adventure in the world of hydroponic growing can be daunting as new concepts and technology are rapidly introduced to you. Beginning hydroponic gardening can be difficult at first, but the benefits of soil-free growing will outweigh any doubts you may have had about your skills. When you see your diverse, all-season garden filled to the brim with happy plants, you’ll be glad you made the switch.
Until you get your groove and learn the ins and outs of your preferred hydroponic system, you may need assistance with problems that are bound to pop up. This is completely normal for any beginner hydroponic gardener. If you need some tips to succeed in hydroponic growing, we have advice that can save you from stressful gardening scenarios.
Research Before You Grow
Each plant you decide to grow with hydroponics will be different from the next. Even one batch of tomatoes may behave differently than the next batch. Before you start growing, make sure to research each crop and learn about its pH, temperature, nutritional, and light preferences. This goes for any grower—even for the most experienced gardener. Once you know each of your favored crops’ ideal environment, you can begin to imagine which crops you will keep near each other and which you cannot grow at the same time in the same place.
When you’re doing research, learn about the different kinds of diseases that can affect your crops and what they look like. You can easily fix nutrient deficiencies with extra supplements in your fertilizer, but some diseases may be harder to recover from. Typically, you’ll need to completely remove a diseased plant and its grow medium and deep-clean its container. Knowing the most devastating diseases before you start growing can help you prevent them and notice them in time.
Double-Check That You Have All Your Equipment
You’ll need a long list of hydroponic equipment at every point in your growing experience, and keeping track of it all can be difficult. Make an initial checklist when you’re buying your hydroponic system. Once you have the essentials, you can begin to think about the extra accessories you’ll need and either buy them immediately or hold off until you gain more experience.
Your initial checklist needs to include a water basin, hydroponic containers, a grow table, growing mediums, lights, nutrients (or fertilizer), and the materials for your method. A wick method requires wicks, and a drip-feed method requires drip tubes and drippers. After you have your essential equipment, you can consider whether you need a feeding timer, a light timer, temperature control for your growing room, or air pumps. Depending on the quality of your water supply, you may need to begin buying pH-balanced water gallons for your plants.
Make a monthly checklist for equipment you need to refill, such as nutrients or water. Add new growing mediums to your list when you think it’s time for a replacement.
Set a Schedule
A regular plant care schedule will help you ensure your plants are growing properly. Hang up a whiteboard where you can see it with daily, weekly, and monthly hydroponic growing tasks. You may also want to leave room for any notes, such as plant growth progress or warning signs of malnourishment. Keeping your schedule organized can also help if you ever need someone else to step in and take care of the garden while you’re away. Stay motivated with your schedule and task list, and your garden will reward you for your hard work with a bountiful harvest of beautiful crops.
Pick the Right Hydroponic Method and Medium
Choosing the best hydroponic growing method can be difficult when there are so many different options to pick from. Each method comes with its own benefits and difficulties. You may begin with a wick or drip system before advancing to an ebb-and-flow system or nutrient film technique. An even more advanced system is an aquaponics system, which is a combination of a fish tank and a hydroponic garden. The fish provide your plants with fertilizer, and your plants provide the fish with clean, oxygenized air.
Once you have your bearings, you can begin to automate your hydroponic garden. Automating will save you time and effort that you would normally spend doing your daily gardening tasks. However, it may require more upkeep and maintenance.
The growing medium you choose is mostly based on preference, since each medium is different. Some may have varying pH balances or better water retention, or they may be easier to set up. Rockwool is commonly used in hydroponic systems due to its sterile nature—though the dust it produces during setup is dangerous to breathe. FloraFlex specializes in our own ready-to-grow cubes of rockwool growing medium that come ready for you to place in your FloraFlex PotPro pots. Our QuickFill coco coir growing medium is perfect for anyone who wants something similar to soil but without the hassles that come with real soil.
Keep Your System Clean
Regular maintenance on your hydroponic system is essential for a healthy harvest of crops. You need to make sure that grime and algae don’t build up and affect your plants. After every harvest, take the time to clean your system for a full refresh during the next growing cycle. As we mentioned, if a plant is diseased or afflicted with fungus, clean the area near it immediately and change out the water.
Start Small, and Be Patient
One of the best parts of hydroponic gardening is how quickly crops grow compared to in an outdoor garden. However, just because your plants grow quickly doesn’t mean you’ll learn quickly. Your first hydroponic crop may not turn out as well as you’d hoped—especially if you start with big dreams. Start small and learn the ropes with single hydroponic containers before blossoming into a beautiful hydroponic garden. Your hydroponic gardening skills will come naturally with time as you practice and research.
You’re not alone in your hydroponic gardening journey, and there are plenty of communities that are willing to share their own tips to succeed in hydroponic gardening. If you need help connecting with other growers, our social media platforms work as forums to display harvests and setups. FloraFlex products are here to grow with you as your gardening skills improve.