While surges in funding for indoor farm operations has led to truly innovative technology, it’s still easy to find hydroponic systems for beginners.

From spare room operations to shipping container farms, there’s plenty of options for aspiring farmers to get started.

But you’re probably not ready to pour your life’s savings into a high-tech operation.

If you’re interested in growing your own food at home, you might be wondering what inexpensive easy options are available.

In this article, we’ll look at some hydroponic systems for beginners.

Basics of Hydroponic Systems

Hydroponic systems use nutrient solution and a growing medium to grow plants instead of soil.

The nutrient solution is often water mixed with a liquid fertilizer, which contains all of the necessary macro and micro nutrients for plant life.

This replaces the nutrients that plants usually get from soil.

The growing medium has no nutrients in it, but it supports the stem and roots of the plants.

This replaces the support that plants usually get from soil.

For your hydroponic system, you’ll need a sprouted plant, a growing medium, nutrient solution, and net cups.

Check out our article, “Picking the Best Growing Medium for Your Hydroponic System” for a list of common growing media.

And read, “Nutrient Solution: Controlling Your Plants’ Nutrients” to learn what to look for in a nutrient solution.

You can purchase net cups online, or construct some by cutting slits in the bottom of a disposable cup.

Soda Bottle Wick Hydroponic System

A wick system grows plants in one container above a reservoir of water, with a wick connecting them.

The wick absorbs water from the reservoir, which climbs up to the top container and waters the plant.

To create your own, you need:

  • A growing medium
  • Nutrient solution
  • A 12-inch cotton string
  • A clean and empty liter soda bottle

To create your own, you need a 12-inch cotton string and a clean, empty liter soda bottle.

Cut off the top of the bottle about 8 inches from the bottom.

Drill or puncture a hole in the center of the bottle cap. Then, screw it on tightly.

Thread the string halfway through the hole in the cap.

Place the top of the soda bottle inside the other half, so that the cap is pointing down.

Half of the string should be in the bottom container and the other half should be in the top container.

Mix your nutrient solution and water, and pour it into the bottom container, covering the string.

Fill the top container with the growing medium and transplant a sprouted plant into the top container.

The wick will draw up the water into the growing medium and the plants will absorb its nutrients. This system keeps plants watered without drowning them.

Thirstier plants like tomatoes aren’t well suited to this type of system, and it’s more prone to growing mold.

But leafy greens like lettuce and herbs will thrive.

The Kratky Method

The Kratky method is one of the most common hydroponic systems for beginners.

In this system, the plants and growing medium are held by a net cup, which sits in an opening on top of a reservoir of nutrient solution water.

The plants receive oxygen from the little space between their netting and the surface of the water.

As their roots grow longer and suck up more water, the water levels decrease, and oxygen is released.

To create your own, you need:

  • A container
  • Net cups
  • Growing medium
  • Nutrient solution

The type of container you use is up to you.

Just make sure you pick something large enough to support your chosen plant and its roots. Half-gallon mason jars, 5-gallon buckets and 10-gallon tubs, are some of the most popular choices for Kratky systems.

When using a bucket or tub, drill holes big enough for the net cups in the lids. For mason jars, simply pick net cups that fit snuggly in the opening.

Place the net in the container’s opening.

Fill it with growing medium and transplant the sprouted plant into the net.

Mix the nutrient solution with water and pour it into the container, until the water level is just below the bottom of the net cup.

Don’t refill your Kratky system until your plants absorb all the nutrient solution water, or are ready for harvest. Be sure to leave room at the top for oxygen when refilling.

The stagnant water may attract pests and algae, so secure the lid tightly and prevent light from hitting the water.

Water-loving plants like lettuce grow the best in a Kratky system.

These two easy hydroponic systems for beginners will help you start exploring hydroponics to learn if it’s right for you!

Once you see how great it is, why not look into something bigger?

Visit our website, or call 602-753-3469 to learn how you can start your own hydroponic farm.