Growing your own – without soil

I have been experimenting with Hydroponic and Aquaponic Growing

the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil.

a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic creatures supplies the nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water.

I have a poorly lit greenhouse and a small green pond both in need of some TLC so I decided to see what I could do.

The previous year I made a solar powered artificial grow lighting system for the greenhouse but I wanted an automatic watering system and that’s when I decided to give hydroponics a go.

I have different shape and size containers but they all work in the same way. Seeds are sown into soilless mediums such as rock wool containers then when roots grow out of the medium they are ready for the main setup.

The main units for my cucumbers were made from 25 litres black buckets with a drain point at the bottom and two holes in the lid.I cut two holes in the lid,one about 100 cm to hold the net pot that will hold the plant and one about 10 mm for the air line. The air line is the same as you will find in most aquariums ie pump, tube and air stone and it is used to provide oxygen to the plant roots which are suspended in the nutrition solution in the bucket. The nutrient is filled so as to just cover the bottom of the net pot then the plants are placed in the pots and covered with clay balls so as to keep the light from the liquid.

The pond system consists of three troughs made from 4” plastic guttering, it uses a kind of nutrient film process. Water is pumped up to the top trough which then drains down to the others then back to the pond. Net pots with plants are then placed in the troughs and the plants remove nitrates from the pond.

I didn’t get a great deal of produce from the first season mainly peppers and basil but I have learned a lot and I would like to learn more from other growers.


This post was written by Steve Topp

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