Easy Guide to Hydroponic Systems for Indoor Growing

If you are planning to grow indoors, chances are you are planning to grow hydroponically. Hydroponic kits for veggies, herbs, or cannabis produce bigger yields in a faster time, and all without the need for soil.

Instead of soil and sun, hydroponic systems use a sterile growing medium, water reservoirs, aeration pumps, and specific nutrient recipes to support plant growth. As a result, growers get complete control over the indoor environment.

If you are just getting into indoor growing, you don’t need to start from scratch. HydroGuide offers complete hydroponic kits to make your foray into hydroponics simple. No need to run back and forth to the hydroponic supplies store for gear and info. We’ve got you covered.

Hydroponic Systems Explained

In the words of Tom Blount, expert at US Hydroponic Association, hydroponics, “Achieve the greatest volume and highest quality of produce possible, while reducing operating costs, and maximizing your profitability by growing smart.”

But it’s not just a single approach. There are several kinds of hydroponic systems commonly used across the indoor growing industry. 

As you start researching hydroponic systems and hydroponic supplies, you’ll likely come across a few of the following options:   

Deep Water Culture (DWC):

deep water culture, plant roots in a nutrient solution
Deep Water Culture (DWC) is one of the simplest hydroponic systems to get into

The simplest and easiest hydroponic system is DWC. It starts with a single bucket filled with a nutrient solution. The bucket connects to an external water pump and an air stone, which serves to recirculate and aerate the nutrient solution. 

The bucket lid is pre-fitted with a simple net pot, filled with a sterile growing medium, like clay pellets. Each plant secures its roots into the growing medium but maintains access to a never-ending supply of nutrients circulated within the bucket. 

A DWC hydroponic kit can be expanded into any number of variations. For example, it’s easy to add extra buckets and plants or a separate reservoir for nutrient solution storage.

Ebb and Flow:

Ebb and flow, sometimes called flood and drain, is set up in much the same way as DWC, with a few key differences. Each plant still lives within a bucket filled with growing medium. Each plant connects with hoses to a reservoir, which houses the water pump, air stone, and nutrient solution.

The difference is the flow of nutrients. At scheduled intervals, the recirculating water pump kicks in to push nutrient-rich water through the system for a scheduled period. Then, it drains back out, back into the reservoir.

Drip Irrigation (Recirculating Top Feed):

Drip irrigation may feel like the most familiar hydroponic system because it looks a lot like traditional irrigation systems in your garden. Once again, each plant sits in its own bucket, nestled into clay pellets. There is also a separate reservoir containing the water pump, airstone, and nutrient solution, all connected to the system with hoses.

In this hydroponic system, the water pump pushes the nutrient solution through the drip irrigation system, tucked into the top of each bucket. Slowly, the solution drips down over the growing medium and the plant’s root system. Excess collects in the bottom of the bucket. A separate set of hoses collects the excess for recirculation,

A Guide to Setting up DWC Systems

As one of the most popular hydroponic systems, let’s focus on learning the basics of setting up a deep water culture system. It’s simple, affordable, and perfect for beginners.

There may be a bit of variation between one system and the next, but the following steps to set up a Grow1 Hydroponic system should be widely applicable to others.

  1. Unpack your hydroponic supplies, and do an inventory. You should have the following (with a few duplicates for every plant you plan on growing):
    • Buckets and lids fitted with net pots (one per plant)
    • Reservoir bucket
    • Black tubing and fittings
    • Clear tubing and fittings
    • Airstone (one per plant)
    • Water pump
    • Sterile growing medium (clay pellets)
  2. Working one bucket at a time, fill each with water. In the beginning, you’ll want the water to come up one inch into the net pot, so plants have easy access to the nutrients they need. As their root system grows, lower the water level so that just the bottom ends touch water. This encourages continued healthy root development.
  3. Using the black tubing, feed it through the associated hole in the lid and attach the inside end to the airstone. Set the stone at the bottom of the bucket and secure the lid.
  4. Connect the other end of the black tubing to the water pump, either hanging within the grow tent or sitting atop the reservoir bucket in a multi-bucket system.
  5. Fill each lid with just enough clay pellets to rise above the surface of the water. 
  6. Add nutrients to the bucket (or the reservoir if using), and don’t forget to test pH value. 
  7. Allow the system to run for several days, then test again. Adjust nutrients and pH as needed.
  8. Set the seedling or clone, rooted in a Rockwool cube, gently into the clay pellets. Top up with another layer of clay pellets to secure the seedling.

How to Choose a Hydroponic Kit

Hydroponics growing is increasingly popular among hobbyists, which means there are a hundred and one different systems and hydroponic supplies to dive into. Where do you start?

In the beginning, we recommend keeping it as simple as possible. Stick with a Grow 1 DWC 5 Gallon Complete Kit, which keeps it uncomplicated and small. Use this system to dial in your grow space and practice the basics of hydroponics growing. 

If you already have experience growing indoors, you’ll have the expertise to set up and cultivate with the Grow 1 DWC 4 Bucket and Reservoir System. Once again, it’s still just as simple to set up and use, but you’ll quadruple your harvests. 

But, DWC hydroponic kits are just the tip of the iceberg in the world of indoor growing. Every cultivator eventually tweaks their system to better suit their space, plants, and preferences. The beauty of hydroponics is the ability to customize and experiment to push the limits of yield and potency at harvest time.

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