Guide to Indoor Gardening
In this guide to indoor gardening, you will learn the basics of the hydroponic system. Hydroponics has been growing in popularity with gardening over the past few decades and today is more popular than ever.
What follows is an 8-step guide that will have you running a proper indoor garden using the hydroponics method. What you will need is all the equipment, materials, plants, nutrients and resources to have your garden ready to grow.
1) What is the Right & Correct Environment?
You will need to have the right environment for your garden in order to get results. There are a number of key elements needed to insure that your garden room is the right environment to grow plants;
CO2: Your garden room should have CO2 in the range of 350PPM (parts per million), give or take 50PPM.
Relative Humidity: Generally speaking, the range should be at 50%, give or take 10%.
Air Circulation or Exchange: This will help regulate the amount of CO2 in your garden room.
Temperature: The temperature should range between 68 and 75 F and remain relatively steady.
You do not want any drastic or sudden changes to the temperature level. Otherwise the humidity levels will be greatly affected.
2) What Type of Water Should I Choose?
The type of water you use will determine just how well your plants will grow. This is perhaps the most important step in the process because no matter the nutrients and supplements that you provide, the type of water is the most important factor in determining whether your plants will grow.
There are two factors that you will need to understand about the type of water that is best suited for your plants.
PPM: Parts Per Million
EC: Electrical Conductivity
Both PPM and EC are measurements of the salts that are contained in your water supply. The amount of salt and its ability to conduct electricity are the most important factors about the type of water that you choose.
Ideally, you will want to start with a low PPM or EC, then add in the nutrients that are specifically required by the plants that you choose to grow in your hydroponic garden. If you need to lower the PPM even further, you can do so with a device known as Reverse Osmosis Unit. Once you have achieved the right PPM, then you can add in the nutrients that are needed.
You will also need to measure the “potential hydrogen” or pH balance of the water. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 or below is considered acidic while a measurement of 7 or higher is considered base or alkaline. For your hydroponic garden, a pH reading that is slightly acidic and falls between 5.8 and 6.2 is considered ideal.
3) What Method Should I Choose?
Now that your garden room is ready along with the water, the next step is choosing the right method. Here are the primary methods;
Drip Garden: This method uses tubes and emitters to directly feed each plant.
Ebb & Flow: These run the nutrients through a tray of plants at scheduled intervals.
Nutrient Film Technique: This creates a “film” of nutrients over the roots of the plants.
Organics: Currently the most popular method as you can choose the container, organic solution, fertilizer and you water the plants directly.
Once you have chosen the method, you are ready for the next step in the process.
4) What Medium is Right of Me?
The medium is the anchor system for the roots of the plant. There are a variety of mediums that you can choose from which will help your plants grow. The typical mediums for you plant consist of the following;
Coco: This is created from the husks of coconuts, featuring stable pH and good moisture retention.
Hydroton: This is clay pebbles that have a neutral pH balance. Their benefits are they can hold water well and are perfect for both hydroponic and soil gardens. Plus, they can even be reused.
Rockwool: This is stone that is spun into fibers, compressed into cubes or blocks and tends to have a higher pH balance. Rockwool is best suited for ebb & flow, along with drip systems.
Silica Stone: Best used in garden rooms where the temperature exceeds 85 degrees, this substance is pH neutral and can be reused.
You may want to consult with a professional if you are not completely sure about which medium is best for your plants.
5) What Nutrients are Needed?
Knowing what your plants need is vital to having them grow. There are a number of different forms that nutrients can be delivered in their organic or synthetic varieties in either dry or liquid states. Nutrients come in two basic categories, micro or macro.
Macronutrients: Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur.
Micronutrients: Boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc
You will want to use the right kind in the proper amounts in order to grow your plants. There is a wide range of nutrients that are available on the market and they come in different forms as well. Whether you choose the organic or synthetic form, you’ll notice the “NPK” on the bottle. For the growth stage, use the bottle with the larger “N” (Nitrogen) and in the bloom stage, use the bottle with the larger “P” (Phosphorus).
You may also want to consider using supplements or additives into the mix as well to bolster microbial activity. This will help increase the size of the plant as well the overall health as well. When your basic nutrients and supplements are used properly, you will maximize your results.
6) What Lights Should I Start With?
Lights are vital to getting your garden to grow. Ordinary lights simply do not provide the type of energy your plants will need for sustained, healthy growth. What you’ll need are High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights that are specific for growing plants. There are two types of HID lights;
High Pressure Sodium (HPS): This delivers the type of light best used in the blooming stages of plants.
Metal Halide (MH): This type of light is better suited for the growth stage.
There is also T5 lighting which uses fluorescents. T5 lights are very popular because they last a long time and use very little energy compared to the HID lights.
Remember to change your lighting when the plants reach different stages. When they are still growing, at least 15 to 18 hours of light is recommended. Once they bloom, you can reduce the lighting to 10 to 12 hours. You’ll want to be consistent about when you run the lights as well so your plants can grow properly. Using a timer helps immeasurably as you don’t have to do it yourself.
7) What are Some Testing Equipment can I use for a Hydroponic System?
You will need to use meters for testing the CO2, EC, and humidity, levels of light, pH, and PPM. You can either purchase single or combination meters to monitor the conditions in the room. Your testing or monitoring equipment is vital for regulating the basic nutrients and environmental conditions in order to obtain maximum growth.
What Other Optional Accessories May I Use?
Many people use other accessories as well to monitor their garden. You will want to consult with professionals in order to know which the best are.
This has been a basic guide to indoor gardening that you can use to get started on your new adventure in growing the plants that you want. Always remember that gardening is learning process where you can consult with professionals to help you get the best results.