Learn to make your own homemade hydroponics system to grow virtually any plant, vegetable and fruit without soil.
If you're planning on making a hydroponics vegetable system, you have six options to choose from and this article covers them all, detailing the advantages and disadvantages of each
Despite being around for a century, hydroponic vegetable growth technology as we know it today, was not popularized until the 1930s. Since then, this technology has gone far beyond being used in remote locations and is now a growing industry that rivals classical soil-based agriculture. Even more so, a lot of do-it-yourself and home based hydroponic vegetable growth systems have been marketed over the past few years, becoming an increasingly popular trend as people learn about their benefits. Six types of hydroponics vegetable growth systems have been defined and I plan on covering all of them as well as explaining how they work.
I recommend you buy your hydroponic system from a trusted hydroponics store that offers a large variety of hydroponic systems, cheap to expensive.
The Wick is the most basic hydroponics system and it's probably the easiest to create. It's basically a tray held on top of a reservoir, with a wick connecting the two. The nutrient solutions you'll be using to grow the vegetables are drawn from the reservoir to the tray and an airstone connected to an air pipe will filter and oxygenize the water based solution.
Another very simple design, which means it's great for do-it-yourself people. The principle behind the water culture system is that the plants are held in the water and nutrient solutions using a Styrofoam floating "plank" that is placed directly on the reservoir. Again, an air pump and airstone are used to oxygenize the system.
Drip systems are probably the most common of the six, but they're more popular with large greenhouses rather than home based hydroponics systems. Just like with the Wick systems, a growing tray is placed on top of a reservoir full of water and nutrients, but this time there's a submersed nutrient pump that's connecting the two. A timer is attached to the pump, controlling the flow of solution from the tank to the tray, drip by drip (hence the name). Some systems come with an overflow hatch in the tray, so if the pump floods the tray with too many nutrient drips, these fall back down into the reservoir.
Quite similar in design to the Drip, the Flood and Drain hydroponics system handles the nutrient pump a bit differently. Instead of dropping the solution into the tray where the vegetables are grown drip by drip, it temporarily floods the tray, shuts itself down and allows the excess solution to drain back down and so on.
Nutrient Film Technique, or NFT for short is a system that works without a timer and shares some similarities with all of the above mentioned hydroponics vegetable growth systems. Just like with water culture systems, NFT ones suspend plants over the nutrient solution, with only their roots dipped inside it. A nutrient pump continuously flows solution inside the tray where the plants are suspended, just like with wick systems. And like with drip or flood ones, the solution that is not absorbed flows down back into the reservoir, where it is recycled.
It might sound confusing that you're growing plants in a hydroponic (water based) system that is called aeroponic (air based) but in truth this one uses both mediums to work towards your goal. It's also the most high tech of the six, which means it's more expensive and less popular with home systems. Aeroponic growth systems have a rather different design from the rest, with the plants being suspended in mid air, with their roots in the reservoir. Nutrient solution fills the reservoir half-ways, with a pump inside it that regularly pumps out a mist inside the reservoir, which gets sucked in by the plants' roots. A timer will be attached to the pump, in order to control the release of mist every few minutes.