If you’d like to know how to build your own hydroponic garden and get started with indoor growing then this article will show you how!
Think of this as the “ultimate” hydroponics guide for beginners because we’re not going to bog you down with too many details or confuse you with a ton of jargon …
On this page you’ll just find the simple, 30,000ft view of how it all works and how you can get started as quickly as possible growing your own hydroponic plants!
Before we get started, let’s actually define what we are talking about here …
What is hydroponic farming anyways?
Wikipedia actually has the perfect definition because it’s so simple:
“Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture and is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral solution only, or in an inert medium, such as perlite or gravel. The nutrients in hydroponics can be from fish waste, normal nutrients, or duck manure.”
So basically, we’re looking to grow plants without actually having to plant them in the ground. That means we can grow them indoors if we choose!
Eljay from the YouTube series “How To Hydro” has a great explanation for why we want to do indoor gardening. He says, “Indoor growing is all about creating perfect Sundays, every day, for all your plants”:
The truth is that Hydroponics gardening has never been more popular than right now!
In fact, you can get started with your own indoor garden hydro setup by buying many of your supplies right off online sites like Amazon.com.
When it comes to hydroponics systems, there are six main types to choose from. These are:
Now, there are actually multiple variations of each of these different types of hydro systems, but these are the “high level” overviews and categories of basic designs.
Here’s the important thing to remember:
ALL these systems are hydroponics because they don’t use soil, and because you’re feeding the plants a nutrient-rich water solution instead of planting them in soil. The only difference between each type is HOW they deliver the water, oxygen and nutrients that you’re feeding the plants.
Without a doubt, most hydroponics experts would agree that a Deep Water Culture (DWC) hydroponics system is the easiest type of hydro system to use for indoor growing because it requires the LEAST amount of materials, supplies, and know-how to get started:
Then a continuous oxygen supply is added to the water. The most common way that growers oxygenate the nutrient solution reservoir is with an air pump and airstone to pump bubbles into it. This keeps your plant’s roots from “drowning” which — while it sounds weird — is a real concern because your plants will suck the oxygen they need out of the water.
Using the DWC system, you’ll find it’s extremely simple to setup (once you understand how it all works) and extremely low-maintenance (again, once you understand how it works) making it perfect for hydroponics beginners.
The good news is it’s easier than you think!
Probably the most simple way to get started is to use a traditional 5 gallon bucket for just one plant. From the picture diagram above, you can see this setup is extremely easy.
The fact is that your plants need light to grow.
The simple answer is that if you can locate your hydroponics system where your plants can get at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, that is the best. Sunlight provides all the lighting that your plants need to grow correctly.
If you can’t locate your plants in direct sunlight, then you will have to provide artificial lighting using your own indoor grow lights. The truth is that a complete discussion of the proper indoor grow lights is beyond the scope of this article, but you will need to select the proper lighting system with the correct spectrum of light, intensity, power and that covers enough “footprint” to work with your garden. For more information on choosing the right hydroponic grow lights, click here.
For a simple, 5-gallon bucket DWC hydro system like we’re encouraging on this page — you should try to just place your 5-gallon bucket system in direct sunlight.
That’s why we recommend starting from a live plant instead of trying to use seeds for your first grow. This is called “cloning” and more tips on how to do this can be found here.
To use herbs as an example, simply acquire an herb seedling and gently remove it from the soil and potting container it came in and wash away all the dirt from the roots of the plant. You don’t want to contaminate your water.
Once you have rinsed the plant’s roots with water, then you can simply add it into your net pot in the lid of your bucket. If the seedling already has roots that you can pull through the net pot into the water, that’s even better and going to make your job easier. Then you simply cover the root system with your growing media and let the system do the rest of the work!
If possible, you want to use Reverse Osmosis (RO) water for your nutrient solution because if you don’t you could seriously harm your plants. See our article “Why all hydroponics growers should use reverse osmosis water systems” for complete details.
Also, if you are using RO water and especially if you are using tap water, you need to know that pH is an important factor. Most tap water is in the 7.0-8.0 pH range. The recommended herbs in this guide thrive in water that’s a little lower pH than this, around the “sweet spot” of 5.5-6.3
How do you know? You’ll need to buy a pH testing kit to test your water. And if your pH is off then you will need to add pH-Up or pH-Down to adjust your pH levels.
Why is this so important? Because when the pH of your hydroponic system gets out of balance—which can happen quickly if some kind of stabilizing agent or mechanism is not put in place—the ability of your plants to absorb macro, secondary, and micronutrients, as well as vitamins, carbohydrates, and other beneficial sources, is limited.
The truth is that dealing with pH issues can be a real hassle. That’s the bad news. The good news is that, if you use the right products, you can completely eliminate all your pH issues and you will never have to worry about this!
The fact of the matter is that, no matter what you’re growing, the nutrients from Advanced Nutrients are the best nutrients for beginners (They’re also the best nutrients for professional growers too, but for different reasons that are beyond the scope of this article!).
How can we make such a bold statement?
Quite simply, it’s because all of Advanced Nutrients products are specifically designed for hydroponics growing. And they are the only nutrients to utilize scientific breakthroughs like pH Perfect Technology.
The fact is that Advanced Nutrients has spent many thousands of man-hours developing a technology that automatically balances your pH for you — putting it in the “sweet spot” and holds it there for weeks.
You can see more about pH Perfect Technology when you click here but the point is that for a beginner, again, the less variables the better. And utilizing the best nutrients in the world will only make your job easier.
Specifically, for the types of herbs we’re recommending on this page for beginners, we recommend using pH Perfect Sensi Grow A & B because you don’t actually want the herbs to bloom (because that could make them bitter).
Conversions: 1 Teaspoon = 5mL | 1 Tablespoon = 15 mL | 1 Ounce = 30mL | 1 Cup = 240 mL
Cutting and Seedlings: 1 ml/L | Small Plants: 2 ml/L | Mature Plants: 4 ml/L
If you enjoyed this article, then it would be great if you shared it with other growers who might benefit! Simply click any one of the social media buttons below to share it now!
And stay tuned because we’re going to be releasing many, many more of these helpful articles in the future. If there’s anything you’d like to see, we would love to hear your feedback!