Supplies for my New Hydroponic Garden

by Rory
(Alabama)

After a failed attempt at a "pepper" garden this summer, nutso weather, high heat and lazy watering skills, I've decided I want to grow a hydroponic garden. I will be sealing...i.e. NO light transmission- off part of my carport. Flat level ground. I will be building your "most successful system" ever, and I have a few questions. Where can I get the supplies? There isn't a hydro store around here. And I'm kind of "iffy" about online retailers. Do you recommend a certain retailer and brand of testing equipment I would need? I'm fairly handy and what not but growing isn't my strong point. I have an inherited black thumb. You should have seen my tomatoes...well, lack of them this year.

Oh, and by far your site has been the most informative and easy to understand of the ones I have looked at. I really appreciate your time and learning you've put into this informative site.



Answer: Most of the supplies for this hydroponic system can be picked up locally at shops. The PVC pipes, elbows, glue, and cleaner can all be purchased from Home Depot or Lowes. The 32 gallon plastic storage tote (used for the reservoir) can be purchased from Kmart or Wal-Mart. The air pumps, air stones, and water pump can all be purchased at a pet supply store like PetCo, or can possibly be found at Wal-Mart. Water pumps can also be found in the "water garden" section at Lowes/Home Depot. Cheap 16 ounce disposable "party" cups can be bought at Kmart or Wal-Mart.

Other items will be needed to control the growing environment. A good squirrel cage exhaust fan can be purchased from Lowes or Home Depot (I don't think they sell centrifugal fans, which are more efficient and a little quieter). 4 inch air ducting and 6 inch air ducting can both be purchased at Lowes or Home Depot (you will need an air inlet and air outlet for the garden area). A 12 oscillating fan is sufficient for the 4'x 8' garden, and can be purchased at any of the stores I've mentioned (a floor-type with a 3' or 4' tall stand works very well). Also, a digital timer to control the lights can be purchased at any of the stores above....one of the less expensive ones I've found was at Lowes.

A couple of items will have to be purchased from a professional garden store, such as your grow lights. For this system, I recommend two 600 watt HPS lights with vented reflectors and digital ballasts. 6 inch vents are more beneficial than 4 inch vents. Digital ballasts will save you money on electricity, run quieter, and add less heat to the garden area. To maintain the nutrient reservoir properly, you will need a pH test kit and an EC meter or TDS meter.

The pH test kits are very cheap and easy to use, but can only be found at a professional garden store or through mail order from a hydroponic gardening catalog. Or you could buy a pH meter, but you will spend about $130 instead of $4 for a pH test kit. The TDS meter (or EC meter) will be crucial to your success and you must have one. I use a Milwaukee TDS meter (one of the higher quality meters in my opinion), which cost about $130. There are other types, some cheaper, some more expensive. Also, the expanded clay pellets for the system. For these kind of "one-time" purchase items, you may want to locate the nearest hydroponic gardening store to you and make a road trip. While you are there, you may also want to pick up a cheap indoor-outdoor digital thermometer....they come in handy (get one that also measures humidity).

If you are unable to make a "road trip", or if there really is no hydroponic gardening store anywhere close to you, you may be stuck ordering some of these items from a mail order catalog. Mail order can be convenient, especially for items you need to purchase again and again (like your nutrients). At least with mail order your personal information won't be sitting on a computer at your internet service provider for the next 30 years (as required by Patriot Act provisions).

For hydroponic gardening stores near you, search the internet for hydroponic stores + your state. Or, get a copy of the magazine "Maximum Yield", which is a hydroponic gardening industry magazine- it lists the stores in every state. For mail order, pick up an AGS catalog (Alternative Garden Supply) or a Discount Hydroponics catalog- both companies have been around for more than 10 years and both are very reliable/professional.

Well, that should be enough to give you a very solid start to your project. If you have any questions further on down the line, feel free to write me again. Until than, Happy Growing!

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All of the items that I personally use and recommend!

AffordableGarden Design&Setup

(10 week update below)


Find out the cheapest and easiest ways to garden productively in this article.

Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 24 years ago, my first garden used rockwool cubes and B.C. Nutrients....and I remember thinking to myself yeah, sure, there may be a lot of advantages to gardening with hydroponics, for example there are very few pest problems, therefore very little pest control, no weeding, no plowing or tilling the soil, no soil testing or having to add things into the garden soil, no watering the garden....but for someone who just wants to grow their own vegetables and have more control over their food supply and the quality of the food that they eat, the cost of constantly having to buy grow media and hydroponic nutrients makes this an expensive hobby for most people...


Epic Nutrient Change



I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn't have a whole lot of money to work with and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as possible....and in the last 24 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!

As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol)...


Homemade Cloner



And, regarding the cost of the nutrients....I experimented for about 3 years with making different compost teas and nutrient teas, but there is still a lot of expense $$$ associated with making high quality nutrient teas....like kelp meal, liquid seaweed, rock dust, bat guano, un-Sulfured molasses, worm castings. You can eliminate a lot of this expense by becoming an expert at making high-quality colloidal humus compost, and use your properly made compost as the basis of your hydroponic nutrient solution.

Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 24 years and I have only just recently mastered this difficult skill....and even then, only because I happened to find a very easy to follow, high quality technique and decided to follow the instructions to the letter. I produced more high quality compost in just one week than I was able to use in a whole year! If you can master the technique, I highly recommend it. It is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase the productivity of your food production efforts, while at the same time decreasing the amount of effort required to grow all of your own food, and decreasing the total cost of operating your food production system.

And when I say decrease operating costs, I mean decrease them to almost ZERO, especially if you are producing your own nutrients...



High Efficiency
Hydroponics

The ultimate solution to eliminate the cost of your hydroponic nutrients: Imagine a hydroponic system that does not require you to buy any nutrients, does not require you to make your own compost, and does not require you to brew your own nutrient tea. Seriously! No cost and no effort as far as providing nutrients to your plants! Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the system--->

Aquaponics

Click Here to learn more!

This solution is aquaponics. If you are serious about producing all of your own food and being self-sufficient, this is the ultimate solution for reducing expenses (as much as possible), reducing the total amount of work required, and maximizing the productivity of your gardening efforts. I have been gardening for over 24 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.


Produce garnden vegetables AND fish together. Eliminate fertilizer costs!

Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!



The Same System/ 10 Weeks Later!




If you've found this site helpful at all, I would really appreciate it