The raft hydroponic system is a favorite amongst newcomers to the soilless plant growing, because they're fun to build, they're cheap and efficient at the same time. Follow the instructions on building a raft hydroponic system in the article below to find out how to get one up and running yourself.
Raft hydroponic systems are probably amongst the most common when it comes to start-up homemades, mainly because they're quite cheap to produce, they're efficient and they're easy to make. They might not be as aesthetically correct as a professional ebb and flow system, or something similar, but they will get you going. If you're just starting with hydroponics, or if you need some experience with building a hydroponics systems, then the raft is your perfect choice, because you won't risk losing a lot of money if something goes wrong. Read on for instructions on building a raft hydroponic system.
First thing's first, let me explain how a raft system works. At its core, the raft is a water culture system, meaning that plants will be suspended on top of a pool of water and nutrient solutions, with their roots dangling inside it. Several materials are used to hold the plants afloat, but the most common is probably Styrofoam, so we'll be using that in our raft hydroponic system. The best plants to grow in a raft homemade hydroponic system are short stature plants, like lettuces, salad crops, some flowers or kitchen herbs, so make sure you're not growing something that wouldn't be suited by such a system. Here are the steps to build a homemade hydroponic system using a raft.
1. You need to figure out what you want the raft system to work in. The container can range from a small 5 gallon bucket, to a kiddie pool, or anything in between. However, your choice will determine the size and costs of the other components. So for clarity reasons, I'll assume you're using the standard plastic 5 gallon bucket to make this system.
2. Measure the exact size of the container's top and be very precise about it, because you'll need to work with these dimensions from now on.
3. Using the dimensions you just got, cut your Styrofoam to match them, plus a few inches. The Styrofoam raft needs to be smaller than the container, so you can later add nutrients inside the water and you will also need a small space for the airtube to come out of the bucket and connect with the air pump (or if you have an underwater air pump, forget the extra space).
4. Your raft hydroponic system is almost set up, but you will need to make some room for the plants. Cut some holes in the Styrofoam so that the plants you'll be growing can fit through and reach the water with their roots, but not fall inside the container. You can just drill some holes, for most plants that will do it.
5. Now put the airstone and airpump in the container, connect them and fire them up. They'll be responsible for oxygenizing your plants' roots.
6. Gently place your plants in the Styrofoam raft and make sure they're stable and that their roots reach the nutrient solution below. At this point, if you followed these instructions on building a raft hydroponic system to the point, you should have a working, efficient complete system!