Garden centers and online distributors sell many different kinds of hydroponic gardening systems. Wick, water culture, ebb and flow, drip, NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) and aeroponic systems are the six most common systems chosen by home growers. The wick system is passive and the most basic system. Water culture offers the simplest active system, requiring just a few simple items to build. Ebb and flow, drip and NFT systems are similar in design and set up. Aeroponic systems are the most high tech. All the systems have a few things in common. They require a way to hold or suspend the plants, a growth medium (nutrient source), a way to circulate water and a way to keep the water and grow medium oxygenated.
Choose a hydroponic grow system to suit your needs. Ebb and flow and NFT systems are good choices for most home growers. Purchase the complete hydroponic gardening system, table and grow medium.
Select a location for your hydroponic garden. It does not have to be a sunny location--a hydroponic garden can be set up in your basement or garage. The use of grow lights will make up for a lack of sun light.
Decide what type of plants you wish to grow and whether you will start them from seed or use seedlings. Flowers, produce, herbs, small trees and small shrubs all grow well in a hydroponic garden. Tomato seedlings are recommended for beginners.
Install rubber stall mats, which are available at your local feed store. Place the table on top of the rubber mats. Assemble your grow system according to the instructions included with your kit. Install grow lights above your hydroponic garden.
Place your plants into your hydroponic grow system. Add grow medium to the hydroponic system and check the pH level. The pH should be 5.5 to 6.5 for most plants. Adjust nutrient content as needed every two weeks by adding more or less to the grow system. Add more to raise the pH level, less to lower the pH level. Water should be completely drained and fresh water added to the system every three weeks.