So you decided to start gardening hydroponically in your greenhouse.
This unique way of growing plants without soil is becoming increasingly popular among greenhouses as plants grown in hydroponic systems are less prone to disease, pests, and other environmental factors than traditional soil-based vegetables, resulting in higher yields and improved quality.
Adding a hydroponic system to your greenhouse can be a great idea to increase efficiency, space-saving, and year-round gardening of a wide variety of plants.
Hydroponic methods are more environmentally friendly compared to traditional soil-based agriculture, help reduce water and nutrient waste, and provide a reliable and efficient way to grow crops in less space so you can use every corner of your greenhouse.
Below you’ll find 6 steps to follow if you want to include a hydroponic system in your greenhouse:
1. Choose a Location for Your Hydroponic System
Firstly, make sure the location you choose has access to electricity and a water source. You should also consider the amount of sunlight the location receives and the size of the system you plan to install.
You can choose between wall-mounted and floor-standing home hydroponic systems, but you’ll need a firm and stable surface to support the weight of the hanging system or a leveled area to allow a proper water flow in a standing system.
The water point is completely up to you, as all hydroponic systems contain a closed tank that can be refilled. But connecting the system to a permanent faucet will make the maintenance more straightforward for you, and the water will be automatically refilled.
2. Choose the Right Hydroponic System
When deciding on a type of hydroponic system, consider factors like
- Type of plants you want to grow,
- Space available inside your greenhouse,
- Desired level of automation, and
- Size of production you expect.
There are several types of hydroponic systems to choose from, including nutrient film technique (NFT), deep water culture (DWC), and drip irrigation. Each type has its benefits and drawbacks, so weigh which would fit your needs best.
Also, ensure that the hydroponic system you choose is compatible with the size and type of greenhouse you have.
3. Gather Materials and Equipment
In hydroponic methods, the plants are nourished by a nutrient-rich liquid solution that is constantly circulated to the roots, so the amount of maintenance and the type of materials needed are different from the ones used in soil gardening.
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After choosing the right system, there are different possible add-ons to enhance your production and maintain your system in perfect condition.
- Growing lights to ensure that the plants receive the proper amount of light for photosynthesis, especially for indoor operations.
- Climate control equipment for temperature and humidity regulation inside the greenhouse.
- Plant support to prevent growing upward plants from falling over in vertical systems.
- Hydroponic maintenance kits to keep the system in good working condition, ensuring optimal plant growth and high yields.
- Inert media –clay pellets, rock wool, or perlite– to provide structural support, water retention, and aeration to the roots.
You can purchase these items online or at a local hydroponics supply store.
4. Choose the Plants You Want to Grow
Hydroponic systems allow for a wide variety of plants to be grown, including herbs, vegetables, and even some fruits. Choose plants that are well-suited for hydroponic systems and that you enjoy eating or using.
Most hydroponic systems cannot grow potatoes, carrots, and other root crops or plants that require a lot of space to spread or grow.
And remember this: the ideal hydroponic system will be defined by the kind of crops that you are going to grow. The system must meet your vegetable growing needs, stages, and the amount of space needed for root development.
So, before deciding on a system, it is crucial to understand the needs of your plants.
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Here are some examples of what you can grow and the systems you can use for them to thrive:
The growing period of hydroponic vegetable fruits takes longer than leafy greens, passing through growth, flowering, and fruiting stages. They require 5 or more hours of direct sun and more root space.
A great hydroponic alternative for them is the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) in wide channels and Dutch Buckets, for example.
Instead, spices and greens require relatively less space, from 2 to 5 hours of direct sunlight per day, a little fertilizer, and generally less work.
The best part is that most hydroponic systems are suitable for spices and greens, and some of them can be ready to harvest in as little as 2 weeks.
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Another option is growing hydroponic ornamental plants. All ornamentals have specific lighting and fertilization needs. Some of them grow great in full shade and almost without fertilizing. Don’t forget to check their special requirements before buying seedlings.
Ornamental plants often aim at perennials and long-term growth, so you should use a system that allows prolonged root development and monitoring.
5. Set Up The System
Once you’re ready to start planting, follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to assemble your hydroponic system.
Be sure to properly sterilize all equipment before use to prevent the spread of disease.
First, fill the reservoir with the nutrient solution and connect the pump to a timer. Then, place the medium in the reservoir and add the plants.
Finally, ensure the plants are securely rooted in the medium and the roots are submerged in the nutrient solution.
6. Maintain the System
Your hydroponic plants need specific maintenance steps to succeed in maximizing their growth potential, including monitoring the acidity balance, temperature, and nutrient levels of the water, cleaning the equipment, and replacing the nutrient solution as needed.
Hydroponic gardens are often easier to maintain, and their weekly maintenance routine can take only 10 minutes of your time.
Following these 6 steps, you can successfully set up a hydroponic system in your Planta Greenhouse and enjoy the benefits of year-round gardening and quicker harvests – even in colder climates.
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Why Planta Greenhouses?
- Wind resistant up to 65 mph (learn more about how our greenhouses hold up in high-altitude climates).
- Withstands a snow load of up to 98 psf (480kg/square meter).
- Made with a heavy-duty galvanized steel frame.
- Polycarbonate panels provide 100% protection against UV rays.
- The Sungrow greenhouse is bell-shaped - allowing the wind, snow, and hail to slide off the sides.
- Extendable (Sungrow, Sigma, and Farmer models can be extended beyond 100ft)
- Made in Europe and exclusively imported