I badly miss my own grown cherry tomatoes, squashes vines, sage, basil and many other plants in my home garden. Today I live in an apartment where I don’t have outdoor space to pursue my gardening love. All thanks to my new job. But life is all about change and uncovering new ways to follow your hobby. On a long weekend I was just browsing web and came across hydroponic systems for garden which quite interested me. I searched for more information about hydroponics and was pleased to find several cheap hydroponic systems which are cost effective and DIY gardening units. I then made up my mind to DIY cheap Hydroponic Systems and utilize my pretty large balcony for growing my hydroponic garden.
I had researched a lot and with quite a lot efforts was successful to DIY a cheap gardening unit. Then there was no looking back, I tried and tested many DIY hydroponic systems for garden. As per my learning on DIY cheap hydroponic systems, you can grow better produce at home on your own and for lesser money than the readymade systems. For DIY hydroponic system for your garden there is no need to use any expensive ready to use hydroponic system, costly nutrients, or even pricey grow lights. You can do it yourself a cheap and a very good hydroponic system. Use commercially made cheap yet cost effective nutrients and save on grow lights expenses if you can use the freely available natural sunlight for your hydroponic system. Apart from these you will need a few basic parts which may be readily available at your home.
Finally, here I share with you the 10 best hydroponic systems for your garden that are really DIY cheap and affordable gardening units.
The Dutch Bucket System
The Dutch bucket hydroponic systems are affordable and best system to Do it yourself. It requires few pots or buckets, generally filled with a fast-draining soil less media, such as coir or coconut fiber, placed in a row. It has a drain line hooked to the bottom of each pot or bucket which drains into a reservoir beneath. You have to water the buckets/ pots, wait for them to drain, and then take the water back in the reservoir. Add needed nutrients and use this nutrient solution to water the plants again. This cheap method needs a reservoir, buckets/ pots, drain pipe, nutrients and media. The nutrient rich water solution must be carefully supervised to adjust to match the plants feeding needs.
The Ebb/ Flow System
The Ebb/ Flow System are one of the easiest and best hydroponic systems for you to DIY. The Ebb/ Flow System are also known as flood and drain system. You can use a media bed, i.e. a large bed with raised sides similar to a raised garden bed. It usually contains a liner, like a pond, with a drain. Typically the media used in it is marble sized clay balls which are capable to absorb water and hold onto it for the plants to use. In this system the media bed is flooded with water for specific time i.e. nearly 15 minutes and then drained. This process is to be repeated periodically. You can drain water into a 5 gallon bucket and reuse it again.
The Tower System
The Tower Hydroponic Systems is best for you if you have limited horizontal space. On this system you use an upright piece of PVC tube with holes in it for the pots to reside. The pots contain media such as Rockwool that will firmly hold the plants and allow them to grow horizontally. Its unique watering system ensures minimal water is wasted – excess amount of water is soaked up by the next plant below. It is portable, reusable and needs basic things like a PVC tube, watering pipe, etc. making it a cheap and affordable system.
Small Nutrient Film Technique Hydroponics System
The small Nutrient Film Technique hydroponic systems utilizes nutrients rich water solution for the plants to fulfill its feeding needs. This system can easily be DIY with 4” PVC pipe, screws, Teflon tape, opaque bucket, clay ball as the medium etc. It requires lumber for the pipes so that the required openings for water flow could be created at the ends. The rotation at the end of the crop reduces the labor costs making it cheap and amongst the best DIY hydroponic system for garden.
Bell Siphon System
A bell siphon is used in ebb and flow aquaponics or hydroponics systems to regulate the flow of water. The use of bell siphon makes an easy way to drain a grow-bed. Here the water is pumped into the grow bed for plants to feed. You cannot actually have the plant roots submerged in water at all times otherwise the roots will rot. Thus, you will have to get a mean to empty the tank and prevent overflow. So, at a specific point, generally 2 inches below the surface the bell siphon is attached for the water to drain. Once the water reaches the bottom you will hear the typical gurgle sound indicating the end of the drain phase. It also signals you to repeat the process again. Using bell siphon in ebb and flow system is best as it will never allow your plants to starve for water.
Deep Water Culture Hydroponic Gardening Systems
The deep water culture hydroponic systems can be DIY to make several best variations possible. This system is also known as the bubble hydroponic system for garden. It uses plastic buckets or pots with a plant having a net poised above the nutrient rich water solution. An air pump takes care to continuously provide oxygen or the plant to flourish. An aquarium can easily be converted to this system. Its vertical sides can be used with Styrofoam 1 1/2″ to 2″ thick, few plastic pots/ cups, perlite and a hydroponic fertilizer can DIY your cheap hydroponic system.
Mini Aquaponic system
Mini Aquaponic system is a superior way to demonstrate aquaponic principles and the nitrification cycle in a re-circulating aquatic environment. For this system you can use a glass or plexi-glass aquarium or any other clean container plastic tub, bucket or barrel that can hold 3 – 20 gallons of water. The gravel for tank bottom is must to serve as a home for the nitrifying bacteria that convert ammonia to nitrite and then to nitrate, for your plants to use. The grow bed resides on top of the tank, which should be slightly larger in the length and width compared to the fish tank. This grow bed is filled with a growing medium usually perlite, expanded clay pebbles or coconut coir for the plants to grow in. You will also require a water pump, Air pump, air stone, tubing, etc. It is cheap though efficient and best hydroponic systems that serves your fish as well as plants.
Hydroponic Culture Raft Systems
Hydroponic Culture raft systems are a simple cheap raft that just sits on a pool of nutrient rich water. A small raft hydroponic system can be made of anything like a wading pool or plastic bin that can hold water. This system requires a 1-inch-thick sheet of polystyrene, cut holes on it, plant in each hole, and then allow it to float on the water. Keep a watch on plants and allow its bare roots to reach the water, or use net pots filled with perlite for plants to stand straight. This is best for plants that grow quickly and don’t grow too tall.
Multi Flow System
Multi Flow System is not much cheap but a medium cost system that is fairly not so easy to DIY. It works on the basis to flood plant trays with water and nutrient. It utilizes a timer and float switch to control water levels. It requires six pots to be placed on a stable and not tilted surface. Connect each pot using PVC fittings and tubes. The container designed for a multi flow system should automatically turn the power on and off as the water levels in the container change. This makes Multi Flow System a quite safer and more efficient flood/ drain system than ebb and flows. This hydroponic system is best to grow number of plants at the same time.
Quick and Easy Bubbler System
Quick and Easy Bubbler System is simplest and amongst those best DIY hydroponic systems. It utilizes a 5 gallon bucket with a lid or use ready made net cup or make your own plastic cup with lots of holes drilled in it. The cup needs to be filled with clay pellets or gravel. The air line passes through hole and attaches air stone, allowing air stone to lay flat on the bottom. Hook other end of air line up to an air pump and check whether bubbles are coming out of the air stone. Fill bucket with nutrient solution and place plants into net cups that are covered with media. This system works best for plants if you have roots hanging outside of the net cups.
Tips On DIY Cheap Hydroponic Systems For Garden
- Before building a hydroponic systems, firstly consider the type of plants you want to grow in it and the available space for plants to grow.
- Make sure you design the system to accommodate the sapling as well as fully grown plants needs such as plant size, root size, water consumption, and many more.
- One type of hydroponic systems may be perfect for growing some kinds of plants and may not be for growing others. So best is to grow them separately in different systems.
- Also consider cleaning and maintenance of the hydroponic system. You will have to take it apart and clean it thoroughly between plantings.
- Ensure to protect your reservoir from direct light to discourage the algae growth, which can disrupt plant growth by diverting oxygen.
- Growing plants generally will reduce the pH of the water severely, so keep a regular pH check using a kit.
Virtually you will find hundreds of variety of hydroponics systems, but you will have to decide a system that best suits your plants, is easy to DIY and maintain and above all is cheap. At the end, I must say that all variations in hydroponic systems are based on the major six types of systems – Drip System, Ebb & Flow, N.F.T., Water Culture, Aeroponics, and Wick. All the above mentioned DIY best hydroponic systems for garden are either one of these types, or a combination of two or more of these six types of hydroponic system. Decide on your own and select the one that works best for you.