Just Beginning with Hydroponics

by Mark
(New Mexico)

As a beginner, from one to ten (ten being very, very difficult) how hard is it to grow peas and carrots and tomatoes with hydroponics? Also, how much should I look into spending for a new set up?

Answer: Mark- most of the difficulty with hydroponics comes from learning how to mix and maintain your nutrient solution properly. Once you are comfortable with this crucial part of the puzzle, most crops become very easy to grow....I would say tomatoes and peas are very trouble free, perhaps a 2 or 3 on your scale. Carrots, because they grow beneath the actual grow medium, are just a little bit more difficult....maybe a 4 or 5 on your scale. Of course, once you figure out what works well for a particular crop, almost any crop seems easy to grow.

I wrote this entire site just for people like you Mark. I want people to be able to get into the hobby cheaply, and have good results their first time (whenever possible), without the "learning curve" being too overwhelming. You can buy a new hydroponic system, and depending on it's size it can cost anywhere from the $70 range to the $1,000 plus range. Most home gardeners end up using a system that fits beneath a 600 watt high pressure Sodium light, would be about 4' x 8', or just a little bit shorter. Most of the systems of this size will cost about $400-$600, although this is a very general guideline.

With just a little bit of research into HOW these systems provide the water and nutrients to your plants (and maintain some Oxygen level in the root zone), it is pretty easy to build your own system for less money. Sometimes a lot less. To learn about the different hydroponic systems and how they work, I encourage you to visit my hydroponic systems page. Once you have received your "crash course", I recommend you visit my homemade hydroponics page, which includes homemade design ideas for each type of system.

A particularly inexpensive but effective homemade system is
my most successful homemade hydroponic system. Last, but not least, are the following pages I put together as a resource guide, just for visitors new to the hobby who want to make a homemade system themselves....

Choosing a Homemade System Design

Homemade Hydroponic Construction Tips

Common Problems in Hydroponic Systems

I hope these help you out Mark, and Happy Growing!

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Jun 15, 2013
tomatoes. help NEW
by: Christy

I planted tomatoes in a 5 gallon bucket i have air i used a 20/20/20 fertilizer 1tbs per gallon the water is bout 1 inch from the cup this was done yesterday today the lower leaves are drooped like its dying is this normal or what do i need to do

Sep 27, 2011
queries on nutrient solution
by: praveen

Dear jason,
I really appreciate what you are doing. This site is a lot of help to people like me (beginners).
I have been experimenting with hydroponics for the last 8 months. Stillhavent got the nutrient solution mix right.
I bought grow/ bloom/ root/ CaNo3/ Mgso4 off the shelf. The recommended dosage for general vegetables was for 30 ltrs of water- 1 Teespoon of Grow / >1.1/4 teespoon of CaNo3 and <3/4 teespoon of MgSo4. The solution works OK but i am not satisfied. When i checked the ppm of my solution after mixing as recommended it is always below 500 ppm. But from what i have read the recommended ppm for tomatoes is 1600-2400ppm. The ppm of my well water is only 85 ppm.
So how muchand in what amount must i add the nutrients to get the desired results. Please advice.

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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

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--->


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