How to Start Hydroponic Farming

Overview

Hydroponic farming is a method of growing a soilless garden. It depends on liquid rather than soil to deliver nutrients to the plants. Porous material such as sand, gravel, perilite or peat is used. A basic understanding of the life cycle and needs of individual plant types is required to make hydroponic farming work.

Step 1

Pick the location of the hydroponic farm or garden. Use an indoor location or greenhouse with plenty of lighting. Make sure there is enough power in the location to run lighting if you need grow lights or ballasts. Keeping the operation in an environmentally controlled setting will help ensure successful production.

Step 2

Choose the method of hydroponic farming you want to use. There are liquid-based systems and sand-based systems. For liquid-based systems, proceed to step 3 to narrow the choice further; for sand-based systems, proceed to step 4.

Step 3

Choose one of two methods. Sub-irrigation uses trays of porous material that are flooded with a nutrient solution periodically to feed plants. Water-culture hydroponics uses glass wool floated atop a liquid solution of nutrients.

Step 4

Identify both slope and drip methods with the use of sand in place of soil. Sloping requires pouring nutrients onto the sand as needed, usually on a scheduled basis. Drip systems are built with a constant drip of liquid into the sand.

Step 5

Choose the system you want to use--either active or passive. Active systems use a pump to move nutrients around the system. Passive systems use a porous material in a capillary action to provide roots with liquid nutrition.

Step 6

Get the supplies and material for your chosen setup. Hydroponic systems can be found in ready-made kit form; the nutrients and porous material used to support the plants can be found at retailers specialized in hydroponic farming material. Seeds and starter plants can be found at your local garden center.

Step 7

Assemble the kit according to the instructions. Hang the ballasts and string the electrical lines to connect each one. Make sure the lighting is secure before connecting the power to it. Set up the growing medium according to instructions on the packaging.

Step 8

Place the seeds or plants into the growing medium.

Step 9

Set up a schedule for providing the nutrients to the plants. Maintain the schedule to ensure proper feeding of the garden. Prune plants as needed. Harvest the produce when it reaches maturity.

Things You'll Need

  • Greenhouse
  • Grow lights
  • Ballasts
  • Glass wool
  • Perilite
  • Sand
  • Liquid nutrient
  • Hydroponic kit
  • Electrical wiring
  • Seeds
  • Starter plants

References

  • NASA: Hydroponics
  • Greentrees Hydroponics: Learning About Hydroponics
Keywords: hydroponic farming, alternative farming methods, alternative growing methods

About this Author

Jack S. Waverly is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles relating to business, finance, travel, history and health. His current focus is on pets, gardens, personal finance and business management. Waverly has been writing online content professionally since 2007 for various providers and websites.