The first hydroponic garden I ever built was a DIY (do-it-yourself) drip irrigation system with copper tubing that fed water down into a double layer of framed burlap that had pockets cut into it to support the root systems of what would eventually become a living wall.
I faced all kinds of problems that I hadn’t anticipated. I thought, how hard can it be? Well it turns out when you’ve made it a goal to build your system entirely out of recycled or repurposed materials instead of making it a goal to create something sustainable well, you’ve already lost.
Here we share with you some things to consider before you build a hydroponic garden. Not all of these happened in my particular circumstance, but they are important to review nonetheless. This will help you avoid potential damage to your plants and to your home.
Algae Build-up In Your Reservoir
If you’re building a hydroponic garden with a reservoir to hold the water for irrigation then you should make sure it’s not a see-through container. Your reservoir should be a solid dark color and exclude light to prevent algae from building up in your nutrient solution.
Use A Sterile Medium
Just like if you were growing with soil, you’d want to use soil that was organic and sterile so that it didn’t already contain fungus and other bacteria. Well in hydroponic growing you should also utilize grow mediums that are sterile such as rockwool or perlite.
It’s way easier to prevent mold accumulation before-hand than to deal with it after. Believe me. The best way to prevent pests, mold, and other nasty things is to keep your garden and surrounding environment clean. Like bio-lab clean. Th problem with mold is that it can spread through your house quickly by being transferred from surface to surface.
- Wash your hands before you touch your plants.
- Remove dead and fallen leaves and dead plants entirely from the garden, ASAP. Then wash your hands again.
- Don’t over water and let your grow medium get soggy. This breeds mold.
- Keep humidity at a low level and properly ventilate the room i.e. place near a window and open it regularly.
- Disinfect and sterilize all components of your garden before hand.
Watch for Leaks
Whether your garden is being constantly irrigated or it’s on a timer you need to make sure that your reservoir is sealed, and that whatever tubes or drainage components you’re using don’t leak or spray water outside the confines of the garden area. This might seem like a no-brainer but I still believe it’s worth mentioning. You can cause damage to your flooring and/or walls without proper sealant and/or waterproof backing.
After I’d made some rookie mistakes I definitely learned from them. I needed to experience the failure in order to become better at hydroponic gardening. Hopefully these errors help you learn the easy way: From someone else’s mistakes.
Feature Image: Create a sterile plant environment by washing your wands. Image via Fotolia.