Hydroponics and aquaponics systems can be used for efficient large-scale farming or for smaller operations. An indoor hydroponic garden doesn’t use much space, is relatively inexpensive, and can be a great education tool. This indoor hydroponics FAQ provides some of the essential information you need to get started.
The space required for a hydroponic garden can vary significantly. You can have a small herb garden on a kitchen countertop or windowsill. However, for larger crops or greater quantities of plants, indoor hydroponic systems can fill a walk-in closet or a basement. If you are starting out, we recommend a high-quality indoor hydroponic kit to educate yourself before spending large sums of money on a large and complex system.
Like size, the cost of a system can vary significantly depending on size and features. A starter system can cost as little as $100. An advanced starter kit will be in the $300-500 range. Larger systems, like grow tents that require complex lighting and plumbing can easily cost in the multiple $1000’s.
Yes, definitely. You can buy kits with all the parts or you can use plans from sites like instructables.com or github.com. Some of these systems feature advanced automation and may require some strong technical skills ranging from computer programming to woodworking and plumbing. Building a DIY hydroponic garden can be challenging, but you will learn a lot and have the satisfaction of creating something yourself. Note that a DIY garden is not necessarily cheaper after you buy all the parts separately, and that’s not even considering the many hours of effort to build and fine-tune the system.
There’s no single best system for everyone. However, for beginners, we recommend the Aerogarden products. They are simple to set up and easy-to-use and are priced very reasonably. Some things to consider are whether the product includes seeds and fertilizer, a grow light and some form of automation to control light schedules.
It depends on the size of the indoor hydroponics system. For small gardens, you can grow herbs like basil, parsley, mint, oregano and cilantro and possibly small tomatoes. In a larger garden, you can grow strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, hot peppers, radishes, kale, cucumbers, and potatoes.
Absolutely. This is called aquaponics, which is a variation of hydroponics. Unless you are very experienced, you’ll want to start with one of the commercial aquaponics kits. The advantage is you will have nice aquarium to go with your hydroponics crops. Kids love these systems.
The advantages include the ability to quickly grow crops in places where space is a premium. Since the climate is more controlled indoors, you do not need special greenhouses or ventilation. Another advantage is that you are able to watch your plants grow daily. You’ll find this personally satisfying and very educational for the children in the household.
Some challenges you might encounter include not having proper lighting (if your system doesn’t have built-in lights and a timer), incorrect fertilizer, wrong pH levels, water leaks and so on. Many of these issues are addressed by commercial hydroponics kits, but you’ll need to be much more careful with DIY hydroponic projects.
The commercial hydroponic starter kits will often provide the initial seeds and fertilizer and provide a way to reorder more when you need them. Other sources are local hydroponic gardening stores and online hydroponic gardening suppliers.
If there’s some question that we didn’t answer in this indoor hydroponics FAQ, please leave a comment.