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Hydroponic growing systems for the novice

Hydroponics is a method of cultivating plants without using soil


Image by: Antony Pranata

Typically, a nutrient solution is used, i.e. by supplying the plant’s water supply with all the required nutrients.

This technique has gained popularity in recent years, likely due to the fact that it allows harvest all year round, regardless of the weather conditions. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of such a system are listed below.



5 basic types of hydroponic systems are commonly used

Ebb and Flow Systems

In ebb and flow systems, a medium is used to stabilize the roots of the plant. Water is pumped up from a reservoir into the container containing the plant and the medium.
Excess water drains back into the reservoir.

Set it up yourself

You can even choose to buy a fully functioning system from Amazon.

Drip Systems

This technique is highly similar to the ebb and flow system, but instead of irrigating the entire flood tray, each plant will have its own solution dispensing tube to facilitate even distribution of nutrients.

Set it up yourself

The materials to be used for this system are similar to the ebb and flow system.
You can set one up easily with a budget of around $100 (October 2014)

Flood tray and stand

Nutrient solution

Growing medium (Perlite)

Submersible pump

All you need to do is to fill the flood tray with the growing medium and plants.
Prop it above the water reservoir and set up the pump.
Arrange a connecting tube system that dispenses nutrient solution to each individual plant.
Set up a drainage system to allow excess water to flow back into the reservoir to be reused.


Aeroponics is a system in which the roots of plants are suspended in air and nutrients are sprayed directly onto the roots in the form of fine mists.

Set it up yourself

Nutrient film technique

Nutrient film technique is one that doesn’t involve a growth medium.
Plants are placed in a flood tray at an inclined angle, the container is then suspended above the water reservoir, as in the ebb and flow system.
Water is continually pumped up into the container, from which it flows back to the reservoir due to the steep incline of the flood tray.

Materials needed

Flood tray and stand

See the Black Flood table above.
See the Flora Tray stand above.

Submersible pump

See above.

Set it up as you would the ebb and flow system.
Place plants into flood tray.
Set the flood tray at an inclined angle above water reservoir. Program the pump to pump nutrient solution continuously.
Add drainage pipes to ensure smooth flow of excess water, and you’re done.

Wick system

Arguably the simplest and cheapest system.

Instead of using a pump, the nutrient solution is drained into the the growth medium using a wick.
Hence, it’s labelled as a passive system, as it involves no moving parts. However, using this technique, the plants might not be properly aerated, and the growth medium might be unnecessarily saturated with nutrient solution.

Flood tray and stand
See above.

Place plants and growth medium into a flood tray above the reservoir. Connect the reservoir and the flood tray using a wick, and you’re done!

That’s all there is to hydroponic systems, happy planting!

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1 Comment

  • nativ says:

    Hi, could you please suggest some more sources where I could get reliable information about Blue Planet Nutrients 3-Part High Yield System? Thanks.

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