Hydroponics carries a certain stigma within popular culture. Mentioning hydroponics conjures images of advanced nutrient regiments and a scientific approach to agriculture fitting for advanced applications or cannabis. This unfortunately is a stereotype that can easily discourage a beginner or intermediate gardener, but fret not, continue reading and you'll soon realize that hydroponics can be as simple as you make it.
To quickly preface, plants generally need a just handful of vital things:
3. Oxygen/Carbon Dioxide Gases
5. Adequate Humidity and Wind Conditions.
These conditions exist in optimal amounts, but as long as a plant has the minimum of ALL of these it WILL stay alive. What this means is that you don't need insanely expensive hydroponic systems and state of the art lights. Additionally you can save yourself from the whiplash of nutrient marketing as plants will thrive on any simple hydroponic nutrient mix as long as these conditions are met.
So, this is all to say that you can get creative with it! Most leafy greens such as lettuce, basil, mint, arugula, kale, chard, etc. grow extremely well in the most basic hydroponic systems. As per the kratky method, you can achieve amazing results with a 1 L plastic (foodsafe!) bottle, some general hydroponic nutrient mixture, and a well lit south-facing window.
IIt typically gets more difficult to grow fruiting plants as you have to account for larger growth, more nutrient needs, as well as stronger light requirements. Still, you can easily grow tomatoes, cucumbers, cannabis, and peppers using a slightly larger, more advanced system. My favorite is using a 5 gallon bucket with a modified top to fit a large net cup filled with expanded clay media, perlite, coco choir or any other hydroponically compatible substrate. The second most essential difference is a source of air for the larger roots. This is as simple as getting a small 10 gallon aquarium air pump and an air stone and throwing that into the bucket! Easy, right? Finally, since fruiting plants generally need more light, they'll require a grow light to achieve the best results. You can technically pull this off without one in a very well lit apartment, but for those with limited window options LED lights are the best choice. In the pictures below, I show that it's possible to grow with the cheaper "blurple" lights sold on Amazon (Vivarspectra and Mars Hydro), but if you're looking for the best results and highest yields I recommend the Spider Farm LEDs from Samsung or the Horticulture Lighting Group's Quantum Boards.
The main point I'm trying to make here is that hydroponics is simply a method of growing a plant without the use of soil. The biggest take away is that it can be as simple as your needs: if you just want to grow some leafy greens to add a splash of delicious flavor to your daily salad it's as simple as using a 1 liter bottle and a very basic hydroponic nutrient mixture. Fruit, legumes, and cannabis take a little more effort, but the reward is generally of higher dollar value so you can easily justify spending more money to make you system a high-performing produce machine.
While it's incredibly fun to experiment and let your creativity lead the way, you can always contact us at Kodaponics and set up a very affordable consultation to insure that your system is successful. If you have a system or design in mind, drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you make your gardening dreams a reality!