Crash Course: Open Source Hydroponic Systems

Imagine a gardening world where every droplet of water was scientifically calculated and timed for release before it ever reach the roots of your tomato plant? What if a computer calculated the nutrient intake, the pH level, the oxygenation, and the overall health of your plants?

Thanks to open source software and cloud technology this dream is now a reality. In this day of constant connectivity it was really only a matter of time before even the simplicity of tending a garden became technologically-controlled. There are now many open source hydroponic systems for growers to choose from.

What is Open Source

Open source is a software development model that provides anyone access to a product’s design through free licensing so that users may contribute openly to improvements, research, and development of a particular product. This form of open collaboration is becoming increasingly popular as a means of not only moving the product’s development ahead but gaining consumer loyalty and even its funding through tactics known as “crowdsourcing” and “crowdfunding”. This sharing model has infiltrated many tech-based and influenced industries including that of hydroponic gardening products.

The purpose of using open source in hydroponic gardens is to share growing techniques between gardeners around the world to improve the technology and science of soilless plant growth.

Bitponics, a cloud-based hydroponic garden monitoring system that shares user data and recommendations. Image via Mother Nature Network.

Features of Open Source in Hydroponic Gardening

In an open source hydroponic system the growers will be able to monitor and control the environment. Many of the open source hydroponic systems available now are equipped with lighting and watering timers that control the frequency of water cycles. The open source capability allows data to be gathered which indicates results based on different metrics of plant growth.

Benefits of Open Source in Hydroponic Gardening

The open source model offers many advantages over traditional gardening as well as potential future benefits. The controlled nature of these systems means improved energy and water savings through in-depth analysis and monitoring.

Typically anyone interested in growing their own food using hydroponics understands the important issues surrounding food security. Open source hydroponics systems are laying the foundation to build better, more efficient gardening techniques that will one day be readily available solutions offered to underdeveloped communities around the world.

MEG, and open source indoor greenhouse. Image via Yradia.

Open Source Hydroponic Gardening Systems

With the availability of crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter there are now many open source hydroponic systems available to the consumer for testing and sharing. Here are some examples:


This online community of Windowfarmers uses what they call the R&D-I-Y (Research & Develop It Yourself) approach to vertical hydroponic gardening. This particular garden is designed with stacked planters that have a water reservoir at the base that pump the nutrient solution up in order to trickle down reaching each plant.

Visit their online open source community to learn more.


Using the Bitponics Cloud you can design your own Grow Plan derived from open source blueprints. By connecting your own device to your garden you can track your plant’s growth progress over time and share your results with the online Bitponics community.

Check out to learn more about their system.


We recently profiled this open source indoor greenhouse and their Kickstarter campaign. This system uses Arduino-based open source software to monitor and share plant growth information and improve energy and watering efficiencies. The greenhouse can be customized to set-up any soilless growing method the user may choose.

For more information on the MEG indoor greenhouse check out their Facebook page.

Feature Image: Windowfarms open source connectivity in Helsinki, Finland. Image via Tomorrow Lab.

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