Hydroponic gardening involves growing plants without soil. Instead, gardeners use mediums such as water, clay pebbles, stone wool, or expanded shale. A hydroponics system makes it easy for gardeners to create a perfectly balanced pH environment that helps the plants thrive. Hydroponically grown plants are often larger and healthier than those grown in soil. Homeowners interested in starting a hydroponic garden need to know what supplies are required and the steps to set up a successful system.
There are four basic supplies necessary to any hydroponics system: a grow bed container, nutrient reservoir, grow media, and nutrient solution. Each item plays a crucial role in the development of hydroponically grown plants. Together the supplies form a basic system.
Grow bed container
The grow bed container is located in an elevated position above the nutrient reservoir. Make sure the container is sturdy and waterproof. It becomes heavy when filled with media and nutrients, so it needs plenty of support. Plastic is the best material choice. Choose a container that is 15 to 25 cm deep, and drill large holes in the bottom for roots to fit through.
The nutrient reservoir goes directly beneath the grow bed container. Choose a plastic container with the same volume as the grow bed container. Make sure it is sturdy enough to hold the weight. Any depth should work just fine.
Choose a grow media that does not contain decaying plant or animal matter. Sand, vermiculite, Stone wool, perlite, gravel, water, sawdust, lava rock, or clay pebbles are some examples. Gardeners can choose one media or combine more than one.
It is important to feed plants with liquid or dry nutrients with a pH level of around 6.4. Gardeners can use a pH kit to measure the solution if they are unsure of the pH level. Some examples of pre-mixed solutions include FoxFarm Grow Big, Microbe Life pH Up, and Dip'N Grow.
Putting the system together
After gathering the supplies needed for the hydroponic system, including the seedling plants, it is time to set the system up and begin growing. Organise the supplies, and label them if necessary. Keeping everything handy in one area helps avoid confusion and mix-ups.
Plant the seedlings in the media of choice in the top tray. Make sure the seedlings' roots extend downward to reach the inside of the nutrient tray. Prepare the nutrient solution by following the directions on the solution bottle or package. If the instructions require dilution with water, use purified water. Allow the solution to stand for 24 hours before exposing it to roots so that any chlorine or other harsh elements in the solution can evaporate.
After the 24-hour evaporation period, place the plant tray securely on the nutrient tray. Flood the top tray at the base of the plants with the nutrient solution. The solution should drip through the drilled holes and completely cover the roots. Replace the nutrient solution weekly or when it evaporates. Flush the plants with purified water every two weeks, and add fresh nutrient solution. Occasionally add plant booster and tonic to promote the growth of healthy bacteria. Follow the directions for specific products to add the proper amount. Hormones and vitamins also help stimulate healthy root growth. A balance of nutrients and plant food help the garden thrive and resist diseases and root rot.
Check the pH
Frequently check the pH level of the nutrient solution to make sure it supports ideal growth. Safe levels range from 5.8 to 6.3. Slight variances in the levels are normal. If the pH gets too high, then add a small bit of phosphoric acid to lower it. Follow the directions on the phosphoric acid container to measure how much to add for the amount of liquid contained in the nutrient tray. Handle the acid with care, and do not deviate from the instructions.
How to buy hydroponic system supplies on eBay
You can purchase everything that you need for a hydroponic system on eBay. Start shopping by typing keywords, such as "hydroponic supplies", in the search bar located on any eBay page. Narrow the results with specific keywords, such as "hydroponic nutrient solution", "clay pebbles", or "sand". Apply filters, such as brand or condition, and sort the list of results by lowest price or closest seller location. Look for local sellers to obtain your product faster. Some sellers also offer discounts on bundled products.