Hydroponic Setups

General hydroponics and Hydroponic Setups: Find the best hydroponic grow system information and illustrations to aide you in your hydroponic set up.

Types of Hydroponic System Plans /Hydroponic Methods

Water Culture Systems

Water culture systems include the nutrient film technique, aeroponics, and the aeration method.

Nutrient Film Technique

Nutrient Film Technique

Figure 1. NFT Hydroponics

Nutrient Film Technique (Figure 1) uses a plastic trough or tube as the container through which a constant, thin film of nutrient solution flows. Plants are suspended through holes in the top of the trough. The trough is gently sloped so gravity pulls the solution back to the nutrient reservoir. There are many variations of this system, making it one of the most popular for the home gardener.

Check out some of my recommendations for Indoor Garden Systems.

Aeroponics

Figure 2. Aeroponics

Aeroponics (Figure 2) is the growing of plants in a container in which the roots are suspended in a nutrient mist rather than in a solution. The most popular container for aeroponics is an enclosed A-frame constructed of styrofoam boards. The plants are placed in holes along the sloped sides of the frame.

The nutrient mist is delivered to the roots by a vaporizer or by special attachments available with drip irrigation kits. The mist clings to the roots. Any excess runs down the inside of the frame, is collected at the bottom, and is recycled back to the nutrient reservoir.


Aeration Method

Figure 3. Aeration Method

The Aeration Method (Figure 3), one of the first hydroponic setups to be developed, uses an aquarium air pump to bubble oxygen to the roots of plants immersed in the nutrient solution. Plants are suspended 1 inch above the solution by a 2-inch-deep mesh tray that is set into the container by placing the lip of the tray over the container's edge.

A layer of inert material, such as gravel, clay pebbles, or vermiculite, is placed in the tray to provide stability for the plants while allowing the roots to grow down into the nutrient solution.

Check out some of my recommendations for Indoor Garden Systems.

Aggregate Systems

Aggregate systems use some form of inert material to support and surround plant roots. The most common materials used are rockwool, clay pebbles, gravel, perlite, vermiculite, sand, or foam chips. The media provides plant support, allows good oxygen penetration to the roots, yet retains a thin layer of nutrients and water around the roots.





Flood and Drain Method

Figure 4. Flood and Drain Method

One of the most hydroponic setups using an aggregate media is the Flood and Drain Method (Figure 4). A water-holding container, such as a plastic dish pan, is filled with the aggregate and plants. The container is flooded periodically with the nutrient solution. The solution is drained back into the nutrient reservoir by opening a valve at the bottom of the container. During each cycle, the roots should be submerged in the solution for no more than 20 to 30 minutes.


Trickle Feed Method

Figure 5. Trickle Feed Method

Another common hydroponics setup is the Trickle Feed Method (Figure 5). The nutrient solution is continuously pumped from the reservoir through a 1/2-inch irrigation tube that branches into a number of 1/8-inch tubes. These smaller tubes deliver the solution to the containers. Any excess solution is collected at the base of each container and returned to the nutrient reservoir.


Tube Culture

Figure 6. Vertical Hydroponics

A modification of the trickle feed method is called Tube Culture ( Vertical Hydroponics ) (Figure 6). A 4 to 6-inch plastic tube or bag is filled with a lightweight aggregate. Holes are made on all sides of the container for the plants. The tube is hung vertically, and an irrigation tube is positioned at the top of the container. The nutrient solution seeps through the container and may or may not be recycled when it reaches the bottom.

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